Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

April 3, 2014

Sports briefs for Thursday, April 3

Kokomo Tribune

---- — NM tops Eastern softball by a run

GREENTOWN — The North Miami softball team’s first batter got on base via a passed ball and two batters later came around to score on another ball that got around the backstop. That was the only run of the game as North Miami topped Eastern 1-0 Wednesday in the Comets’ opener.

The game settled into a pitching duel where Eastern’s Abby Oyler fanned 10 batters and allowed just one hit. North Miami’s Josie Wood fanned 11 and also gave up just one hit, a second-inning single to Quinlyn Hochstedler.

“Pitching was good, our defense was good other than the first batter of the game,” Eastern coach Jerry Haines said. “The batters weren’t quite as far along at this point in the season as the pitchers were and it showed.”

Kat wrestling club fares well at state

PERU — The Kokomo Wildkat Wrestling Club took part in the Hoosier Youth Wrestling Association’s state tournament on Saturday.

Kokomo had five champions — Michael Gaines, Koveyontez Balentine, Jabin Wright, Gavin Herrera and Keair Ross.

Also for the Kats, Aulani Davis, Garrett Taylor, Aiden Altman, Kyler Harlow and Amari Barbary had runner-up showings, C.J. Washburn and Jankobe Sparger had third-place finishes and Justin Brantley, Kymani Howard and Dashawn Barbary had fourth-place finishes.

SMU, Minnesota set for NIT title game

NEW YORK (AP) — With two famous names on the sideline, the NIT championship has a New York feel.

One coach is a rising young star, the other is in the twilight of his Hall of Fame career. Both with boyhood ties to the Big Apple.

Richard Pitino leads Minnesota into the title game Thursday night against 73-year-old Larry Brown and SMU at Madison Square Garden, a building both basketball junkies revere.

Born in Brooklyn and raised in nearby Long Beach, Brown grew up going to games at the Garden and coached the resident New York Knicks to a 23-59 record during the 2005-06 season.

The 31-year-old Pitino, of course, is the son of Louisville coach Rick Pitino, a Hall of Famer himself who guided the Knicks to a division crown and two NBA playoff appearances from 1987-89.

So it seems all too appropriate that Brown and the boy wonder will play for a postseason trophy on Seventh Avenue.

SMU (27-9) and Minnesota (24-13) were both disappointed to be left out of the NCAA tournament on Selection Sunday. But each squad received a No. 1 seed in the NIT and made the most of it.

Gardner takes reins of IUPUI basketball

INDIANAPOLIS — IUPUI on Wednesday officially introduced Jason Gardner as its new men’s basketball coach.

Gardner, 33, is an Indianapolis native. He was the 1999 Indiana Mr. Basketball after leading North Central to the Class 4A state title. He went on to star at the University of Arizona, then played professionally overseas.

Gardner spent the 2013-14 season as an assistant coach at Memphis. He is happy to return home to lead the Jaguars.

“I think being a head coach for the first time in a city where you grew up is unbelievable, I think it’s amazing, and I’m just thankful for it,” Gardner said.

Gardner plans to recruit Indiana hard.

“I think there’s a lot of kids here that are going other places. I want to come back here and keep these kids home,” he said. “I think that all over Indiana is amazing, the best thing about it is they get taught basketball and a skill set.”