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SPORTS BRIEFING

Pierson wins an OAC title

WESTERVILLE — John Carroll University junior Ian Pierson and Otterbein College freshman Cameron Christopher raced to high finishes at the Ohio Athletic Conference Men’s Indoor Track and Field Championships Saturday, but they couldn’t slow down nationally-ranked Mount Union.

The eighth-ranked Purple Raiders won six of the 19 events contested and scored 217 1/2 points for their ninth straight league title and 40th overall. John Carroll was second with 185 points.

Pierson, a former South Range High School standout, was a member of John Carroll’s winning distance medley relay team in 10 minutes, 22.33 seconds.

Christopher, who was a Salem High School state qualifier, was sixth in the 3,000 meters (8:50.89).

Miller leads Pioneers to G-MAC championship

HILLSDALE, Michigan — Justin Miller scored a collegiate-high 20 points in leading the Malone University men’s basketball team to its first Great Midwestern Athletic Conference championship, beating Cedarville 77-59 in the title game Saturday.

Miller, a former Wellsville All-Ohioan, shot 8-of-17 from the field, including 3-of-5 from three-point range, with eight rebounds, three assists and one steal in 34 minutes off the bench.

“I’m blessed and thankful with the coaches and teammates I have and the trust they have in me in those moments,” Justin Miller said afterwards. “Coach says at the beginning of the season and we have one goal, making the NCAA tournament. After the adversity we faced early in the season, we battled, matured and came together to have this special moment. It means everything!”

The Pioneers opened up a 33-17 lead in the first half before Cedarville rallied to take the lead. A Miller three-pointer gave Malone a 44-42 advantage with 12:54 remaining in the game and the Pioneers never trialed after that.

Malone (17-6) claimed an automatic qualifying spot for the NCAA Division II Tournament and will play in the Atlantic Regional at West Liberty University.

LeBron’s a perfect All-Star

ATLANTA (AP) — Even in the strangest NBA All-Star Game of them all, LeBron James was still the perfect captain.

Team LeBron showed off its high-flying and long-range skills during a dominating run to close out the first half, setting up a 170-150 romp over Team Durant in the league’s 70th midseason showcase Sunday night.

This one sure was different than the previous 69 All-Star contests.

Determined to pull off an exhibition that is huge for TV revenue and the league’s worldwide brand, the NBA staged the game in a mostly empty arena in downtown Atlanta, a made-for-TV extravaganza that was symbolic of the coronavirus era.

The top vote-getters in each conference pick the teams, a duty that James has earned all four years.

He’s now 4-0, having defeated Stephen Curry’s squad in 2018 and teams selected by Milwaukee’s two-time reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo the last two years.

This time, James drafted his two former adversaries to assemble a dominant squad that blew away Kevin Durant’s team.

Antetokounmpo was the game MVP after shooting 16 of 16 for 35 points. Curry chipped in with 28 points, while Damian Lillard had 32. James spent most of the night admiring his drafting skill, playing less than 13 minutes and finishing with four points.

Hall on way to NCAA tournament

TULSA, Oklahoma — West Virginia University freshman Peyton Hall finished fourth at the Big 12 Wrestling Championship on Sunday.

Hall, a four-time state champion at Oak Glen High School, went 3-2 at 165 pounds on the weekend to capture an automatic qualifying berth in the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships.

“We are happy,” West Virginia coach Tim Flynn said. “We have three automatic qualifiers, and there is chance we can get an at-large. We also had six guys place, and they all wrestled pretty well today. Again, I think the team did notably better than last year, especially without 133 and 149 competing.”

The second-seeded Hall opened Sunday’s competition at the BOK Center with a 13-7 decision over Oklahoma’s Troy Mantanona in the consolation semifinal. Then Hall dropped a 9-3 decision to top-seeded and defending league champion Travis Wittlake of Oklahoma State in the third-place match.

Hall is 13-4 on the season with two losses to Wittlake.

On Saturday, Hall won two of his first three matches.

He decisioned Utah Valley’s Koy Wilkinson, 7-6, and then seventh-seeded Northern Iowa’s Austin Yant, 5-4.

Hall fell 5-4 to third-seeded Cole Moody of Wyoming in semifinals.

Fourth-seeded Luke Weber of North Dakota State won the 165-pound with a 10-7 decision over Moody in the finals Sunday night. They were tied 3-3 at the start of the third period and Weber opened up a 10-5 lead. He transferred after three season at Nebraska.

The top five finishers at 165 pounds earned automatic berths to the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships on March 18-20 in St. Louis, Mo.

There will be 33 qualifiers in each weight class.

Indians isolated after virus violations

CLEVELAND (AP) — For the third time in less than a year, the Cleveland Indians are having to isolate players because they broke COVID-19 protocols.

Third baseman Jose Ramirez and slugger Franmil Reyes are being kept away from their teammates at spring training in Arizona after they reported to the team that they went out to dinner in violation of team and Major League Baseball regulations.

Manager Terry Francona said Sunday that the two players were sent to their temporary homes as the Indians await word from the league as to when they can rejoin the team.

Francona said Reyes, who had a virus-related misstep last season, and Ramirez went out to dinner on Friday following an exhibition game in Mesa against the Chicago Cubs.

They reported to the team’s complex on Saturday and were immediately sent home. They did not have contact with any other players or team personnel.

DeChambeau brings big drives, big putts

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Bryson DeChambeau received a text message Sunday morning from Tiger Woods to keep fighting, good advice for a final round that turned out to be the toughest at Bay Hill in 41 years.

Inspiration from Arnold Palmer is everywhere, and DeChambeau was particularly drawn to the King’s motto to play boldly.

DeChambeau needed every bit of that Sunday to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational, playing the final 17 holes without a bogey, entertaining thousands with another monstrous drive over the water and delivering one last par with a 5-foot putt on the final hole for a one-shot victory over Lee Westwood.

He looked dapper in his tam o’shanter cap and red cardigan sweater that goes to the winner.

“I think this red cardigan is not only for Mr. Palmer, but I would say it’s a little bit for Tiger, as well, knowing what place he’s in right now,” DeChambeau said.

Larson goes from parked to victory lane

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Kyle Larson wasn’t sure he’d ever race again in NASCAR, and if he could, he didn’t know who would even hire him.

It was Rick Hendrick who took the chance on a driver many believed was radioactive for sponsors. Larson’s use of a racial slur while participating in an online race last April cost him his job, his reputation and his ability to attract the corporations that fund a race team.

Hendrick said he’d pay for the car himself because he was that confident that Larson, reformed after months of self-work, could be redeemed.

On Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Larson raced to his first NASCAR victory since he was reinstated from a nearly yearlong suspension. He ran just the first four races last season and was hired by Hendrick Motorsports when NASCAR said the suspension would lift at the start of this year.

“Thanks Mr. H. for believing in me,” Larson radioed to boss Rick Hendrick after crossing the finish line.

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