Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

March 5, 2014

Sports briefs for Wednesday, March 5

Kokomo Tribune

---- — Balentine lands spot on All-MVC first team

ST. LOUIS — Evansville sophomore D.J. Balentine on Tuesday earned All-Missouri Valley Conference first-team selection.

The 6-foot-2 guard, a Kokomo High School product, is the sixth Purple Ace in program history to earn a nod to the first team. He was selected after averaging a league-best 23.3 points per game, a scoring average which also ranks seventh overall in NCAA Division I.

Starting in all 31 of Evansville’s games, he also led the conference in free throw shooting at 85.2 percent (201 for 236), averaged a team-leading 4.3 assists per game and shot 40 percent from 3-point range (70 for 175).

League champion and No. 2-ranked Wichita State put three players on the six-player first team — guard Ron Baker, forward Cleanthony Early and guard Fred VanVleet. Indiana State guard Jake Odum and Northern Iowa forward Seth Tuttle also are on the first team.

Evansville (13-18) opens MVC tournament play Thursday against Drake (15-15) at 6 p.m. at St. Louis. The winner will face Wichita State (31-0) at noon Friday.

Heart condition ends career of Boiler player

WEST LAFAYETTE — Purdue men’s basketball coach Matt Painter announced on Tuesday that redshirt freshman big man Jay Simpson’s career is over due to the heart condition, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM).

“Obviously, this is very tough and upsetting news to take. You never want to see a young athlete’s career end in a fashion like this. Jay had a very bright future in our program and we are disappointed that he will not be able to continue his basketball career,” Painter said. “We are very fortunate that our doctors were able to detect this condition early, which will enable Jay to live a long and healthy life.”

Hank Gathers, Reggie Lewis, Kevin Duckworth and Jason Collier all died from the same heart condition.

Simpson played in 26 games this year. He averaged 4.3 points and 3.6 rebounds per game.

Simpson will remain on scholarship at Purdue.

– Purdue sports information department

Western’s Givens earns District 2 honors

Western senior Jessica Givens was named the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association’s District 2 girls player of the week after helping lead the Panthers to a Class 3A semistate victory last week.

A 5-foot-10 wing, Givens scored 10 points and grabbed nine boards, helping No. 6-ranked Western (22-3) defeat Norwell 41-31 Saturday in the northern semistate at Warsaw. She shared game-high scoring honors with teammate Carley O’Neal and was the game’s top rebounder.

The Panthers face No. 2 Evansville Mater Dei (26-1) in Saturday’s Class 3A state final at The Hulman Center in Terre Haute. Tipoff is slated for 6 p.m.

Western has tickets, priced at $15, on sale in the athletic office.

Travel hoops program schedules signups

The Carver Cougars summer basketball travel program will hold signups from 5-7 p.m. Monday and Wednesday, March 12, at the Carver Community Center. The program is open to boys and girls grades 3-12. Teams will play approximately 27 games including a tournament in Fort Wayne.

The cost is $240 per player.

Anyone interested in playing or coaching or in need of more information should contact Josh McFarland at 765-434-6956.