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Local Roundup: WJMS boys track wins third straight title

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    The William James boys track team won its third straight Coastal Empire title over the weekend, besting seven other teams.
    WJMS finished with 130 points, ahead of second-place Burke (108) and third-place  Southeast Bulloch (54).
    The William James girls finished third, and only five points separated the first three places. WJMS tallied 77 points, behind SEB (81.5) and Burke (82).

SEB to host Plankenhorn meet
    Southeast Bulloch will host the fifth annual Derrick Plankenhorn Invitational track meet Saturday at 10 a.m. featuring 15 schools.

Gator tennis gets sweep
    The Bulloch Academy tennis team swept Edmund Burke Monday at Forest Heights Country Club. Both teams improved to 6-1 on the year.
    The boys won 5-0 and winners were: Paul Son (No. 1 singles, 7-5, 6-1), Brandon Walker (No. 2 singles, 7-5, 6-4), Casey Webb (No. 3 singles, 6-4, 6-3),  Rob Mallard/Matt Williamson (No. 2 doubles, 6-3, 6-0) and Taylor Lanier/Troy Poulin (No. 2 doubles, 7-5, 6-2).
    The Lady Gators won 3-2 with wins from McKenzie Webb (No. 2 singles, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6), Kate Anna Akins/Betsy Woodrum (No. 1 doubles, 6-1, 6-1) and Sally Smith/Morgan Anderson (No. 2 doubles, 5-7, 7-6, 7-6). The Gators host Pinewood today 3:30 p.m.

Portal JV rolls to win
    PORTAL — The Portal JV baseball team beat Effingham County 13-3 in five innings Monday. Jordan Dampier helped lead the Panthers at the plate with one hit, two RBIs and three runs scored. Other top hitters were Corey Deloach (one hit, 2 RBIs, one run), Bart Dutton (one hit, 2 RBIs, two runs) and Garrett Hodges (two hits, one run). Chad Busby tossed a complete game for the win and struck out five.

SEB tennis splits
    BROOKLET — The Southeast Bulloch tennis team split their Region 3-AA home meet against Westside Monday with the Yellow Jacket girls winning 3-2 and the boys falling 1-3.
    Girls (5-5, 3-1) winners were No. 2 singles — Victoria Herndon (6-4, 6-4), No. 1 doubles — Kaitlin Brannen/Emily McGwire (6-4, 6-4) and No.   2 doubles — Sarah Burkhart/Sarah Waters (forfeit).
    Sam Dickerson (6-1, 6-1) in the No. 2 singles was the lone winner for the boys (7-3, 3-1). The No. 2 doubles was suspended because of darkness.
    The Jackets travel to Swainsboro today for a 4 p.m. meet.

Hawks build big lead, beat Grizzlies
    MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Josh Smith had 26 points, eight rebounds and six assists as the Atlanta Hawks built an early lead and beat the Memphis Grizzlies 116-99 on Monday night.
    Atlanta led by 38 in the third quarter and seemed to be coasting to the victory. However, Memphis opened the fourth with 13 consecutive points, part of a 23-4 run that made the game more interesting, and forced Atlanta to put its starters back in the game.
    Fans who had booed the Grizzlies earlier in the half suddenly were on their feet — at least those who hadn’t given up and headed home — as Memphis cut the lead to 12 midway through the period.
    But the Hawks’ advantage was just too much to overcome.
    Six Atlanta players finished in double figures as the Hawks won for the fourth time in five games and kept a solid hold on the eighth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
    Al Horford and Joe Johnson scored 19 points apiece for Atlanta, and Mike Bibby had 17, Josh Childress 14 and Marvin Williams 12. Johnson also had eight assists and Bibby seven.
    Smith shot 11-of-13 from the field, part of Atlanta’s 56 percent effort on the night.
    Rudy Gay led Memphis with 29 points, while Juan Carlos Navarro and Kyle Lowry finished with 17 each.
    The Grizzlies never made the game competitive through the first three quarters. The Hawks shot 69 percent in the first half, and their 73 points at the break surpassed the most surrendered by Memphis in the opening two periods this season.
    All five of the Hawks’ starters had reached double figures by halftime. At that point, it appeared to be just a matter of Atlanta keeping its focus to finish the final two quarters.
    The Grizzlies were met with periodic boos from those in attendance, particularly when they showed little effort early in the second half, and Atlanta extended the lead to 38.
    One of the biggest cheers in the third period came with about 4 minutes left when the Hawks missed their only free throw of the game after hitting the first 19.
    From the opening tip, the Hawks’ shooters had little resistance from the Memphis defenders. Atlanta was still shooting almost 70 percent from the field in the final minutes of the furst half. The Hawks not only were scoring inside, but they were hitting 58 percent on 3-pointers while building the lead to as many as 29 before halftime.
    The Hawks already had reached 100 points with 2:46 left in the third period and carried a 103-72 lead into the fourth.
    Memphis outscored Atlanta 27-13 in the final period.
    Notes: The crowd appeared much less than the 10,281 announced. The Grizzlies are a bit of an afterthought right now, taking a back seat in community interest to the University of Memphis’ Final Four run that resumes with the national semifinal on Saturday against UCLA. ... The Grizzlies were trying to win their sixth game in March, which would have been the most for any month this season. ... Bibby, who was acquired by the Hawks in a Feb. 16 trade with Sacramento, started his career with the Grizzlies. He played three years with the team while it was in Vancouver after he was the Grizzlies’ first-round draft pick (the second overall) in the 1998 draft. ...The Grizzlies had given up 72 points in the first half twice this season, the last time coming March 11 at Phoenix.

Kovalchuk scores twice in 2-0 win
    TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — In a season worth forgetting for the Atlanta Thrashers, Ilya Kovalchuk has been as good as ever.
    The All-Star scored two third-period goals, Kari Lehtonen stopped 36 shots, and Atlanta defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-0 on Monday night.
    Kovalchuk tied his career-high in goals with 52, matching his total for the 2005-06 season. His performance has been one of the few bright spots for the Thrashers, who are in 14th place in the Eastern Conference.
    ‘‘I just want to forget (the season) like a bad dream,’’ he said.
    Kovalchuk has been expecially good lately. He has 16 points (11 goals, five assists) in 15 games during March. He also has eight goals in the past seven games against Tampa Bay.
    ‘‘He’s had a great season,’’ Thrashers coach Don Waddell said. ‘‘He carried this hockey club for a couple of months early in the season. He’s a goal scorer. If he gets opportunities, he’s going to bury them.’’
    Kovalchuk scored with 5:06 left in the game. Bobby Holik sent a cross-ice pass to a charging Kovalchuk, who put it past out of position goalie Mike Smith.
    Kovalchuk scored into an empty net with 58 seconds remaining and Lehtonen picked up his fourth shutout of the season.
    Smith, who made his first start in three games due to a sprained left knee, had 23 saves on 24 shots.
    The Thrashers stayed out of last place, which is held by the Lightning with 71 points. The two teams were scoreless through 55 minutes, despite Tampa Bay having five power-play opportunities in the first two periods.
    ‘‘It’s embarrassing to me, for both teams,’’ coach John Tortorella said. ‘‘Don’t talk to me about effort.’’
    Lehtonen found little comfort in staying out of last place.
    ‘‘I haven’t looked too much at the standings in the last couple of weeks,’’ Lehtonen said. ‘‘It really doesn’t matter if you’re in last or second to last.’’
    ‘‘Both teams were playing for pride,’’ Waddell said.
    Lightning defenseman Dan Boyle said Monday summed up an awful season for Tampa Bay as well.
    ‘‘(The season) has got to come to an end at a certain point,’’ Boyle said. ‘‘I think tonight symbolizes, to me, a lot of what’s happened this year where we played hard for most of the game and we don’t capitalize. (Then) the other teams score late in the third and they win the game.
    ‘‘Tonight was a pretty good illustration of what’s happened this year.’’
Notes: Thrashers LW Jordan LaVallee-Smotherman made his NHL-debut Monday, after being recalled from AHL Chicago Wolves on Sunday. ... Atlanta defenseman Ken Klee missed his sixth game with a groin injury. ... The Lightning are 0-6-1 in their last seven home season finales.

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