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VOLUME 10 ISSUE 16 |

APRIL 25 - MAY 1, 2014

|

YOUR SOURCE FOR SPORTS IN GEORGIA

SAGER’S STORY Go Time | Pg. 4 The Hawks have a chance to end decades of frustration.

Region Rivalries | Pg. 8 Springs sports teams clash in region meets, tournies.

Score reporter details father’s diagnosis, weekend with TNT at the NBA Playoffs | Pg. 5


THEY’RE ALL INSPIRING. BUT ONLY ONE WILL BE COMEBACK ATHLETE OF THE YEAR. Help choose our Comeback Athlete of the Year. Visit choa.org/vote between May 1-15, 2014, to watch these 8 amazing stories and cast your vote.

©2014 Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Inc. All rights reserved. For official contest rules, visit choa.org/comeback.


Vol. 10 Iss. 16 | April 25 - May 1, 2014

STARTING LINEUP PUBLISHER/EDITOR I.J. Rosenberg GENERAL MANAGER Melanie Snare ART/CREATIVE DIRECTOR DJ Galbiati Blalock SENIOR MANAGING EDITOR Stephen Black BUSINESS MANAGER Marvin Botnick ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE Marcus Nabors BEAT WRITERS Ricky Dimon (Braves) Joe Deighton (Gladiators) Robert Tinter (Hawks) Brian Jones (KSU) Joe Deighton (UGA) Craig Sager II (Falcons) Stephen Black (Tech) Jay Underwood (GSU) STAFF WRITERS Paige Morton Alex Ewalt Paris Freeman Robert Tinter Jalisa Smith

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Copyright 2014 Score Atlanta Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved. Score Atlanta is published in print every other week on Fridays and a digital version is posted to ScoreAtl.com in-between print issues. Views expressed in Score Atlanta are not necessarily the opinion of Score Atlanta, its staff or advertisers. Score Atlanta does not knowingly accept false or misleading editorial content or advertising nor is Score Atlanta responsible for the content or claims of any advertising or editorial in this publication. No content (articles, photographs, graphics) in Score Atlanta may be used for reproduction without written permission from the publisher.

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COLUMNISTS

SCORE LIST | NUMBERS GEORGIA STATE | KENNESAW STATE GEORGIA | GEORGIA TECH BRAVES | FALCONS HAWKS | GLADIATORS

COVER PHOTOS COURTESY OF JON BARASH, RICHARD CRAINE AND TURNER BROADCASTING.

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ON THE COVER

ON THE INSIDE AT SCORE

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INSIDE THE PREPS

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SCORE ATLANTA | www.ScoreAtl.com

BREAKING BLACK

THE ONUS IS ON THE HAWKS; SAGER GETS HIS MOMENT BY STEPHEN BLACK | SBLACK@SCOREATL.COM

he Hawks need to make a stand. They had T little trouble winning Game 1 in Indy, but fell flat on their faces in Game 2 when they had a chance to put their foot on the Pacers’ throats. Too often, as Atlanta sports fans, we have seen our teams give us hope, then timidly fall short in the end. Will this year’s Hawks break the mold? In 2013, the Hawks held homecourt twice against the Pacers, who would go on to push Miami to the brink. But Atlanta lost the final two games of the series after tying it at two. The 2011 squad won the opening game of the conference semifinals at Chicago, then lost four of the next five. The 2008 squad famously took Boston to seven games, only to get blown out in

Game 7 in Beantown. In a situation similar to this season, the Hawks were young and rising in the league. Fans were ecstatic with taking the eventual-NBA champs to the brink, thinking the best was yet to come. But Atlanta, as the trend goes, would not get past the second round in any of the following seasons. The 1997 bunch, led by Mookie Blaylock and Steve Smith, upset Michael Jordan and the Bulls in Chicago in Game 2 of a seven-game series. With homecourt edge in their pockets at that point, the Hawks lost the next three games to go out with a whimper. Those of us who were alive and/or lived here at the time remember the exciting teams of the 80s that featured Nique, Doc, Spud and Tree, among others. While we loved watching

DIMON CLUB

MOMENTUM GONE, BUT HAWKS DID WHAT WAS NEEDED BY RICKY DIMON | RDIMON@SCOREATL.COM

he Atlanta Hawks went 38-44 during the T regular season, including a horrendous 1427 on the road. The Indiana Pacers went 56-26

during the regular season, including a dominant 35-6 at home. Two games at Bankers Life Fieldhouse later and Atlanta is tied 1-1 in the series and has seized home-court advantage. As a fan of the No. 8 seed, you cannot ask for more than that. Yes, it’s true that it could have been better. But anyone associated with the Atlanta Hawks franchise at any point from, say, 1968 (when it moved from St. Louis) up to the present day knows that being greedy is not an option. Nobody (clearly not even the Hawks, themselves!) expected to steal each of the first

two games in Indiana. Few anticipated the underdogs getting out of there with even one win. 1-1? We’ll take it. We have to. LICKETY-SPLIT … A 2-0 lead would have been ideal, of course. Heck, for momentum purposes even a win in Game 2 instead of Game 1 would have been preferable. Again, though, let’s not be greedy. The Hawks got their split. The score says Atlanta edged Indiana by eight points last Saturday, but anyone who actually watched the game obviously knows otherwise. It was a 14-point margin going into the fourth quarter and the visitors had ballooned it to 20 before the proceedings were wrapped up

them play (they were bigger than the Braves or Falcons then), we are saddled with the fact that they never made the Eastern Conference Finals. As the ESPN 30-for-30 on Detroit’s Bad Boys reminded me, the Hawks could not get past Boston, then it was Detroit, and then Jordan’s Bulls in the playoffs. Always good, never great. Will this just be another flame out by an Atlanta sports team? Are they teasing us again, like the Braves, Falcons, Tech and Georgia have on many occasions? If the Hawks somehow get past Indiana, a date with Washington (up 2-0 on Chicago) seems like a gift. While the Wizards beat Atlanta three times in four regular-season games, the task of advancing past them seems like a breeze compared to beating the top-seeded Pacers. As it stands, I think a conference finals berth would do wonders for the franchise and the city. While the history of Atlanta pro sports is riddled with moral victories, the Hawks making the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time would be a significant achievement for a No. 8 seed. SPOTLIGHT ON SAGER … It was surreal seeing Craig Sager II, my partner in crime on the content side here at Score, interviewing Spurs coach Gregg Popovich Sunday during the NBA Playoffs. Craig

with six minutes of meaningless basketball. “It’s great,” Kyle Korver told reporters when asked about stealing home-court advantage. “The mindset when you are the road team coming in is to get one of the two. That is what everyone always says, right? We got the first one. We’ll try to get another one. At this point, we really just want to keep playing good basketball.” The Hawks did not play good basketball during the second half on Tuesday, but it must be noted that they have endured only two disappointing quarters out of eight so far. They led by four points at halftime of Game 2 and they could have broken that contest open just as they had done in the opener had it not been for Indiana’s Luis Scola, who caught fire with 11 points during a five-minute span in the second quarter. HIGHLIGHT FACTORY … If it wasn’t panic time for the Pacers when they got manhandled in Game 1, it’s certainly no time for the Hawks to wave the white flag after Tuesday’s shortcoming. They have returned home to the friendly confines of Philips Arena, where they are 24-17 this season. No, 24-17 is by no means spectacular, but it still bodes well for a team that went 1-for-2 away from home despite previously being 14 games under .500

has been with us for two years and has always impressed me by asking pertinent and compelling questions each time he interviewed a coach or player. The professional way he handled the Popovich interview did not surprise me. He has been interviewing everyone from Mike Smith and Richard Sherman to local high school coaches during his time here at Score. Since news hit that his dad, Craig Sr., was diagnosed with Leukemia, Craig’s Twitter following has grown from less than 500 to more than 10,000 in a matter of a few days. The Washington Post, ESPN, the AJC and many others picked up his tweets breaking the news of his father’s illness, which led to Turner asking him to be a part of their coverage of the Spurs’ series against Dallas. What a classy gesture by Turner to make Craig such a big part of their playoffs coverage. Even more impressive than that were Popovich’s kind words to both Craig and his father. The fact that “Pop” went out of his way to demand that Craig fill the role his father normally does and then how he handled the interview says a lot about the man and his character. Also, what NBA coach takes the time to write a hand-written letter to a reporter? Doesn’t happen often. Photo courtesy of Turner Broadcasting.

on the road. Atlanta went 2-1 against Indiana at the Highlight Factory during last year’s six-game playoff loss and it had won an amazing 14 of its last 15 home games against this particular opponent until an 89-85 setback on Feb. 4. If those numbers are not reason for encouragement, I’m not sure what is. Additional good news is that the Hawks’ two best players are in fine form, while one of Indiana’s best—Roy Hibbert—has been rendered almost worthless in this series. Paul Millsap has made 13 of 25 shots through two games, scoring 25 in the opener and 19 in the second. Jeff Teague went for 28 in Game 1 and 14 in Game 2 and got to the basket almost at will with big men like Millsap and Pero Antic extending Hibbert outside the paint. In the approximate words of former Arizona Cardinals coach Dennis Green, the Hawks “are who we thought they were”. They are a mediocre basketball team that can contend against a mediocre Eastern Conference (other than Miami, of course). Eighty-four games into the season, we still have no idea who the Pacers are. That being said, we know that the Pacers’ best would beat the Hawks’ best. The fate of this series is in Indiana’s hands. And that just may be a good thing for Atlanta. Photo courtesy of Jon Barash.


Vol. 10 Iss. 16 | April 25 - May 1, 2014

ON THE COVER

SPECIAL MOMENT

SAGER REFLECTS ON FATHER’S ILLNESS, WHIRLWIND WEEKEND IN SAN ANTONIO BY CRAIG SAGER II | CSAGER@SCOREATL.COM

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ust over two weeks ago, I was at my desk at Score Atlanta listening to my Dad on 680 the Fan. It was the 40th Anniversary of Hank Aaron’s record-setting 715th home run and my Dad was on the show to talk about how a 22-year-old version of him had the courage to meet Aaron as he rounded third base to get the first interview. Tuning into interviews and watching my Dad on television is where I see and hear him the most. He is omnipresent in the world of sports, but hard to get face-toface with. It is new cities and different games almost every day and not even his family can keep up with him at times. I went home that night and had a neighbor tell me, “Hey congrats, I heard you were coming on 680 the Fan earlier today to talk about some big interview.” I told him, “No, that wasn’t me, that was my Dad.” He, not knowing my Dad had the same name or the circumstances of what the interview was for, said, “No, they said ‘with Craig Sager and some big interview’. It was you, congrats.” I did not have time to explain and with a

smile I said “thanks” and went inside. From the time I was a toddler pointing to my Dad on television, I have always wondered what it was like to do what he does. His interview with Hank Aaron has always stuck with me. I’ve been in the sports industry with Score Atlanta for two years, but I have always thought about what it would take for me to get my own big interview. Little did I know, exactly two weeks later I’d be on the same station I had just heard my Dad on, talking about my big own interview. And never did I think it would be while my Dad was in the hospital with leukemia. On Sunday, April 13, I was at the Dogwood Festival in Atlanta. I had only been one other time, and it was when my Dad took me probably 12 years ago. I left to go catch the end of the Masters and tried to call my Dad, but it did not go through. Right after Bubba Watson sealed the tournament, I saw my Dad return the call. I answered and figured he’d talk about how great Bubba just played and we would catch up on his latest games.

The first thing he told me was that he’d been in the Dallas hospital for three days and had just arrived at Piedmont Hospital today. Then: “They think it’s leukemia,” he told me. “I’ve already had six blood transfusions.” Those are the only words I remember from the rest of the conversation. I got in the car and went straight to see him. That night he was still talkative, but was too tired to be his true self. I had never seen him this drained before. As he would doze off mid-conversation, I finally left to let him rest. On Monday, the doctors would do a bone marrow test and that is when we could actually diagnose what was causing my Dad his recent ailment. We were hoping for good news and that it was something other than cancer. He’s been all over the world and had been gone from home for 30 straight days for March Madness, so I figured it could be anything. Monday did not reveal anything, but Tuesday I got the call that my Dad was leukemia free. They did not know what it was but told me specifically, “The tests show that it is definitely not leukemia.” I was so happy I went for a 6.5 mile run after work and racked up a nice bar tab of Bud Light, my Dad’s favorite. Wednesday, however, was not so kind. As I walked into the gym after work, I saw my sister’s best friend on the machine right by the door of LA Fitness. I was happy to see her, but I could see a concerned look on her face. My sister had just called her 30 seconds before I walked into the gym and had just gotten off the phone with my Dad. She handed me the phone and my sister was surprised to hear my voice. “No, they can’t do this,” she said. “They can’t do this after telling us no.” I asked her what she was talking about and I was barely able to understand her but she said, “The doctors have been apologizing all day. They are taking Dad to the hospital right now and he has leukemia.” My frustration overpowered my sadness at this point. I hung up and I called my Dad to hear it from him. After that difficult conversation, I knew how hard this was going to be for him and his five kids. It also hurt, knowing that for the first time I would not get to see my Dad on the sidelines for this year’s playoffs. I do not get many vacation days, but I was going to spend mine this year going with my Dad to the Western Conference Finals for a father-son trip. This is, without a doubt, our favorite thing to do. In the back of my mind, I wished that I

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could fill in for him for a game. I had no experience doing what he does though, and no way would someone trust me to fill in for him in a playoff game. I never expected someone to actually ask me to do that. Knowing that my Dad was going to miss the playoffs, I made the decision to send out a tweet Thursday night wishing him a speedy recovery. I did not want NBA fans to turn on the playoffs and not see him there and then find out later the reasoning. With the first day of games two days away on Saturday, I pushed “send”. I wanted my Dad to receive the respect and support he deserves and I wanted the opportunity for him to get positive momentum heading into the treatment. I knew people would rally for him. But, obviously, nothing to the level I’ve seen. I went to see him on Friday in his new home for the next four-plus weeks deep in the maze of the Atlanta hospital. My stepmom and little sister Krista were with me. I entered the floor and the sanitation corridor leading into his hall. It was surreal to put on the smock and foot covers and see the pamphlets for leuke-

Continued on page 10...


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Jeff Teague

Kennesaw State

Matt Kuchar

The Hawks have seized home-court advantage in their first-round series against Indiana in part thanks to their trusty point guard. Teague scored 28 points in a Game 1 rout of the Pacers. The former Wake Forest star has reached double-figures in points in 14 straight games after going for 14 in Tuesday’s Game 2 loss.

Kennesaw State’s baseball team has won eight games in a row after beating Georgia 3-1 at home on Tuesday. The Owls’ stretch includes a three-game sweep of Stetson and a pair of victories over USC Upstate. They have not lost since April 5 at Florida Gulf Coast. Junior catcher Max Pentecost is in the midst of a 22-game hitting streak.

Kuchar has nine top-10 finishes in his last 11 events and at long last one of those nine performances is a win. The former Georgia Tech standout triumphed last week at the RBC Heritage on Hilton Head Island by capping off a finalround 64 with a birdie out of the sand on the 18th hole to prevail by one shot.

SCORE LIST By Brian Jones

FLYING HIGH

Regardless what happens in the first-round playoff series against the Pacers, the Hawks caught everyone’s eye with a dominating performance in Game 1. If the Hawks win the series, it will be because the play of Jeff Teague. He was on fire toward the end of the regular season and is showing no signs of slowing down.

LOCK IT UP

The Falcons are working on a deal to keep Julio Jones for a long time and the deal could be done in the very near future. Jones is still recovering from foot surgery and should be ready to go at the start of the 2014 season. Having Jones signed is a must because he’s by far the Falcons’ most dangerous weapon.

MAC DADDY

Parkview pitcher Mac Marshall can make history on Friday. If he doesn’t allow an earned run in his game against Grayson, he will finish the regular season with a 0.00 ERA—which could very well be the best regular season for any pitcher in state history. Watch out Craig Kimbrel; Marshall could take your spot soon!

CAMP BOHANNON

KSU football head coach Brian Bohannon announced this week he will hold four different football camps over the summer. The age groups range from youth to high school and all the camps will take place at Fifth Third Bank Stadium. This is only good news for the KSU football team as it gains more exposure before playing in 2015.

SAGER DOES GOOD

If you have not seen Craig Sager II interviewing Greg Popovich, make sure you YouTube it because he does a great job filling in for his dad, who has Leukemia. It was good to see Craig get an opportunity like that because it was something he always dreamed of. Awesome job, Craig, and we are all pulling for your father.

WHO’S NOT

By Ricky Dimon

WHO’S HOT

SCORE ATLANTA | www.ScoreAtl.com

Supporting Cast

Georgia Baseball

Freddie Freeman

The Hawks may be in pretty good shape at 1-1 in the series, but Teague (22 ppg through two games) and Paul Millsap (21 ppg) will need some help if the entire upset is to be pulled off. No other Hawk has scored more than a total of 15 points in the two contests. Kyle Korver is a modest 3 for 11 from beyond the arc.

Two streaks continued with the Bulldogs’ recent setback against Kennesaw State on Tuesday. While the Owls have won eight straight, Georgia has lost five in succession. The team fell at Georgia Tech 4-1 last Tuesday then got swept in three games at Florida over the weekend. UGA has scored at total of eight runs in its past five games.

Evan Gattis picked up the slack with late-game heroics in both of Atlanta’s wins in a three-game home series against Miami, but Freeman is in a slump—especially by his lofty standards. The first baseman, dealing with vision issues as a result of dry eyes, went 0-for-12 against the Marlins and struck out six times.

NUMBERS

OUR TWO CENTS

By Paris Freeman

Our email newsletter is something we take a lot of pride in at Score. If you aren’t familiar with it, it is a high school sportsheavy publication that we produce each day to fill in our readers on the latest happenings in Georgia prep sports. We send it out Monday through Friday throughout the year and Monday through Saturday during the fall. Not only do we cover popular sports like football, basketball and baseball, we also cover every other varsity sport the GHSA fields. If you like Georgia high school sports at all, sign up for our email newsletter by visiting www.tinyurl.com/scorenewsletter and enter your email address(es) that you’d like added to the distribution list.

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TRIVIA QUESTION

SINCE THE NBA WENT TO A 16-TEAM PLAYOFF FORMAT IN 1984, HOW MANY NO. 8 SEEDS HAVE ELIMINATED A NO. 1 SEED? ANSWER ON PAGE 14

SANITY AT LAST

“Arrived this morning to do a taped interview with Pop. He goes no, we’re doing this live 3rd qtr just like your Dad.” Craig Sager II’s tweet on how Spurs coach Gregg Popovich handled their interview during Game 1 of the Spurs-Mavs series.

42 52.9 56

The Pacers’ field goal percentage in Game 1

The Pacers’ field goal percentage in Game 2 Years since the Hawks won an NBA Championship; at the time they were in St. Louis

4

NBA Finals appearances by the St. Louis Hawks between 1957 and 1961

0

Berths in the Eastern Conference Finals by the Hawks since moving to Atlanta in 1968

3

Playoff series wins in the past 15 years by the Hawks

450

Twitter followers of Score’s Craig Sager Jr. before the weekend

10,985

Twitter followers of Score’s Craig Sager Jr. as of Wednesday at 2 p.m.


SPRING SPORTS UPDATE

GRAYSON GIRLS WIN REGION SOCCER TITLE BY RICKY DIMON, BRIAN JONES AND CRAIG SAGER II

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rookwood and Grayson played for the Region 8-AAAAAA girls soccer title and visiting Grayson snagged it by powering its way to a 3-0 victory. Jennifer Westendorf scored all three of the Rams’ goals off assists by Brittney Montgomery, Chelsea Norton and Ella Stevens. Westendorf’s scoring barrage took place in a span from 12 minutes remaining in the first half to 13 minutes into the second half. With the region’s No. 1 seed already locked up for the state tournament, Grayson concluded its regular season by beating Etowah 6-0 on Tuesday. In Region 7-AAAAAA, Peachtree Ridge battled past host Mill Creek 5-2 last Wednesday. The game was tied 2-2 with 20 minutes remaining, but the Lions finished incredibly strong by finding the back of the net three more times. Amanda Ferry, Allie Hoxie, Courtney Miller, Jordyn Missel and Sydney Kohne scored for Peachtree Ridge. The Hawks got

both of their goals from McClaine Logsdon. The Lions defeated Collins Hill 5-3 Tuesday in their regular-season finale, while the Hawks will host West Forsyth. Marist’s girls had a successful and surprisingly routine week on the pitch as they played their way into a Region 6-AAAA title match while also crushing Class AAAAA No. 1 McIntosh 6-0 last Wednesday. Region action saw Marist get a forfeit victory against Booker T. Washington before beating Carver-Atlanta 10-0. Marist shutout Grady 5-0 Tuesday in the region championship, while Chamblee beat Carver-Atlanta 8-0 for third place. ON THE COURT … The state playoffs began this week and the Buford girls opened the Class AAA playoffs with a 5-0 win over Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe. Annalea Stevens, Baily McCammon and Katie

Quinn played singles for the Wolves and each came away with a win. In the Class AAAAA playoffs, the Gainesville girls defeated North Atlanta 3-0. Katherine Wright won at No. 2 singles while Brinkley Frankum won at No. 3 singles. The No. 2 doubles team of Haley Frankum and Josie Every each came away with a victory. The Lassiter boys defeated Mill Creek 3-0 in the Class AAAAAA playoffs. Daniel Yun, Christopher Yun and Johnathan Jemison got singles wins for the Trojans.

overall with 53 points with Rockdale County winning the Region 2-AAAAAA title. The top finisher for Druid Hills was Ermais Tewolde with a third-place finish in the 3200-meter run. The other qualifiers for the state sectionals were Hasaan Enis, Kuenley Tsheowang and Javier Lee. Enis came in fourth place in the 100-meter run, Tsheowang finished fourth in the pole vault and Lee finished fourth in the shot put. The Region 4-AAAAAA championships took place on Saturday and both Marietta boys and girls took home first-place finishes.

TRACK & FIELD … Druid Hills will be well represented in the state sectionals this weekend as 10 athletes will compete in State Track Sectional B at Tift County. The girls finished fourth overall in the Region 2-AAAAAA meet with 75 points. Luella came in first place followed by Newton and Rockdale County. Paulette Juieng led the Druid Hills girls, finishing first in the 1600-meter run and second in the 3200-meter run. Gabrielle Buckley came in second in the 100-meter hurdles and third in the 300-meter hurdles. Teammate Shari Brown came in third in the 100-meter hurdles and Shameeka McInnis came in third in the discus throw. Rounding out the girls’ qualifiers for the state sectionals was Kegan Peppers, who finished fourth in the 100-meter dash. The Druid Hills boys’ team finished sixth

AUBURN ACE … Lambert junior Michaela Owen signed a scholarship last week to play college golf for Auburn University. Owen, daughter of Oglethorpe University men’s golf coach Jim Owen, will skip her senior year of high school and join the Tigers in the fall of 2014. Owen’s varsity records include lowest score in a nine-hole match (34), best round at a state tournament (71) and lowest stroke average at 18-hole events (74.0). Brookwood hosted the Bronco Invitational at Summit Chase Country Club in Snellville. Even without Owen, the Lambert girls had no trouble winning the team title. Their top three golfers combined for a 222 total, 14 strokes clear of second-place Gainesville. Photos courtesy of Richard Craine, Sonny Kennedy and Brookwood.

Score Atlanta/AJC Lacrosse Rankings BOYS

GIRLS

Class AAAAAA

Class AAAAA-A

1.............................. Milton 2.......................... Harrison 3............................. Walton 4............................Roswell 5...........................Lambert

1........................Northview 2....................Westminster 3...............................Lovett 4............................Decatur 5.............................. Marist

6.......................Centennial 7................North Gwinnett 8....................Johns Creek 9............. Peachtree Ridge 10........................Hillgrove

6..................................GAC 7................ Blessed Trinity 8...................... Cambridge 9......................... Allatoona 10.......................St. Pius X

Class AAAAAA

Class AAAAA-A

1.............................. Milton 2........................... Lassiter 3................Chattahoochee 4............................. Walton 5........................Mill Creek

1.................................. Kell 2........................Northview 3....................Westminster 4................................ Pope 5...................... Cambridge

6.......................Centennial 7................... West Forsyth 8.............................Etowah 9....................Johns Creek 10..................... Collins Hill

6.........................St. Pius X 7......................... McIntosh 8................ Blessed Trinity 9.......................Starr’s Mill 10............................ Marist


Vol. 10 Iss. 16 | April 25 - May 1, 2014

Score Atlanta/AJC High School Baseball Rankings Class AAAAAA 1...................... Lambert 2.....................Parkview 3.......................... Milton 4............Mountain View 5.........................Walton

Class AAA 6................ East Coweta 7...Kennesaw Mountain 8......... Peachtree Ridge 9...................Tift County 10...................... Etowah

Class AAAAA 1................. Whitewater 2.....................Allatoona 3.................. Greenbrier 4.................. Gainesville 5.......... Houston County

6............Blessed Trinity 7..................... Callaway 8....................North Hall 9................. Cartersville 10....................Ringgold

Class AA 6................... Loganville 7.................. Starr’s Mill 8.................Stephenson 9...................Dunwoody 10.................Creekview

1.....................Jefferson 2............... Westminster 3....................... Bremen 4.......................Calhoun 5.................Benedictine

6............................Cook 7.......................... Lovett 8....................Fitzgerald 9.......................Bowdon 10......................Berrien

Class A

Class AAAA 1..........................Marist 2............... Crisp County 3..........................Redan 4...............Locust Grove 5......................Veterans

1......................... Buford 2.................Pike County 3............. Pierce County 4..................... Thomson 5.....................St. Pius X

6.............. Worth County 7..........................Griffin 8....................Columbus 9....................Carrollton 10..............Cross Creek

1............................ELCA 2............... Mount Paran 3................ Charlton Co. 4........ King’s Ridge Chr. 5.........Athens Christian

6............Pace Academy 7............ George Walton 8................. Brookstone 9.........Hebron Christian 10.............................ECI

Score Atlanta/AJC Soccer Rankings 1..................... Brookwood 2....................... Mill Creek 3........................ Campbell 4.............................Walton 5...........................Lassiter 6.............. Douglas County 7.......................... Lambert 8.............Central Gwinnett 9............................. Duluth 10.....................Collins Hill

AAAAA Boys

1.........................McIntosh 2......................Gainesville 3........... Lakeside-DeKalb 4.............. Glynn Academy 5......................Greenbrier 6................ Clarke Central 7...................... Starr’s Mill 8.................. North Atlanta 9...................... Riverwood 10............ Houston County

AAAA Boys

1..............................Dalton 2......Johnson-Gainesville 3.............................. Grady 4......................... Spalding 5....................... Columbus 6........Southeast Whitfield 7........................LaGrange 8...............................Perry 9.......................Jonesboro 10..................... Chamblee

AAA Boys

1......Woodward Academy 2............... Oconee County 3........................ St. Pius X 4..................North Murray 5.....................Cartersville 6...............Dawson County 7........................North Hall 8.........................West Hall 9.................... Pike County 10..............Blessed Trinity

AA Boys

1................................. GAC 2...........................Calhoun 3................... Westminster 4......... Westside-Augusta 5................Murray County 6.......................... Spencer 7........................ Jefferson 8...........................Bremen 9...............Toombs County 10............................Coosa

A Boys

1...................................AIS 2............ Hebron Christian 3........Pinecrest Academy 4...... Fellowship Christian 5.....................Brookstone 6..........Our Lady of Mercy 7...................Mount Paran 8.......... First Presbyterian 9................Pace Academy 10.........................Aquinas

AAAAAA Girls

1..........................Harrison 2.......................... Grayson 3.........................Parkview 4..................... Brookwood 5.............Peachtree Ridge 6.............................Walton 7..............................Milton 8............................. Duluth 9...........................Lassiter 10..................East Coweta

AAAAA Girls

1.........................McIntosh 2................................Pope 3........................Northgate 4...................... Starr’s Mill 5.......... Heritage-Conyers 6.......................Loganville 7....................... Northview 8............... North Paulding 9.........................Villa Rica 10.......................Allatoona

AAAA Girls

1..............................Marist 2......................... Veterans 3....................... Columbus 4.............................. Grady 5......................... Spalding 6...........Heritage-Catoosa 7....................... Alexander 8............................... Cairo 9.....................River Ridge 10..................... Chamblee

Kids’ Tickets $10!

AAA Girls

Good on All Performances

1........................ St. Pius X 2................Blessed Trinity 3.............................Buford 4............... Oconee County 5......Woodward Academy 6.................... Pike County 7...............Dawson County 8.....................Cartersville 9..................North Oconee 10.........................Decatur

Ages 2-12. Restrictions, exclusions and additional charges may apply. Subject to availability. Excludes premium seats.

APR. 26 & 27

Buy Tickets: GwinnettCenter.com 888-9-AXS-TIX Venue Box Office

A Girls

1... First Presbyterian Day 2............ Hebron Christian 3............................Paideia 4...... Fellowship Christian 5.............. Holy Innocents’ 6.................... Calvary Day 7..... Providence Christian 8........ Mt. Paran Christian 9................Pace Academy 10.................................AIS

Sat. 7:30 PM Sun. 2:00 PM

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AA Girls

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Cover story continued from page 5... mia in the family waiting room. As I saw his room for the first time I was happy to see that it was big and in the corner of the hall with lots of windows. He was in great spirits when we walked in, but I knew he was fighting back a lot of emotion. Tara August, Vice President of Talent Relations at Turner, came in and gave my Dad a hug before sharing one with each of us. After setting down a massive stack of probably $60 of magazines, August talked about how amazing the support has been. August pulled out her phone and showed my Dad the Keith Olbermann piece that ends with “Leukemia picked the wrong opponent.” The four of us were in tears watching my Dad see it for the first time. He was smiling the whole time and said, ”Wow” before jumping in the air and giving each of us high-fives. My Dad had an hour-long procedure to do and we

were asked to step outside. August motioned me over to talk to her and says, “We have an idea,” she said. “How would you like to go to San Antonio tomorrow and interview Coach (Gregg) Popovich in place of your Dad for Sunday’s game?” “That would be a dream come true and that would mean so much to my Dad,” I told her. She explained that it would be a sit-down interview that would air in the pregame show and later on Inside the NBA. “Do not worry, it will be taped so we can edit it and do it over again if we need to,” assured August. I thought about how big that moment would be and how much it would mean for my Dad and family to have a Sager on the sideline. I was emailed a flight time and was being picked up for the airport just 12 hours later. But first, what was I going to wear? I drove up to my Dad’s house that night to try and pick out an outfit. I was on deadline for work at 10:15 p.m. so I did not have much time. My Dad has over 90 coats in there, what seemed like 400 ties and I did not even count his dress shirts that come in every shade and pattern imaginable. Finally, I found one jacket that still had a tag hanging from it. My Dad never wears the same outfit on the air twice and I knew that it would be only fitting to christen a new jacket for him. I had my groovy nine-dollar maroon velvet pants I got at Kohl’s last year, and I was set. Once I landed in San Antonio, I attended the production meeting with producer Craig Silver and the rest of the crew. We planned out the broadcast and talked specifics with how my sit-down would go. I tried my best to hide how nervous I really was. I went out that night to the River Walk. My dad and I are regular “river rats” when we head to San Antonio and I made a beeline to Mad Dogs right after the two-hour dinner meeting. I kept finding myself wanting to call him to tell him I was at our favorite spot, but would remember that he had no idea about any of this. Hardly anyone did. That was a lonely feeling, not being able to share my experience with anyone.

I stayed up until 2 a.m. and woke up in pretty rough shape. I did what I thought my Dad would be doing as a 25-year-old version of himself and enjoyed the night out. After a fourmile run at the hotel gym straight out of bed, I started receiving texts from a very select group of friends and family members I told about the big day. This woke me up and made me realized that this was going to be a big moment in my life that I’ll never forget. I tied my hair in a ponytail, went down to the lobby fully dressed and rode down to the game with Reggie Miller. “Oh yeah, I love it, Sages,” said Reggie when he saw me rocking the ponytail and red velvet pants. We got to the arena just before 10 a.m. and I was to interview Popovich at 10:30 a.m. I stood in the hallway minutes away from the interview, rehearsing in my mind the two questions they told me to ask him. “You guys have dominated the Spurs this season…. Oh my gosh, did I really just say Spurs to myself? I’m screwed,” I thought. Popovich came out and introduced himself. He told the audio guys and camera crew that he just wanted to talk to me. I stepped into his office and he opened up to me about the level of appreciation he has for my Dad. He handed me a hand-written letter that he wanted me to give him. Then he dropped the big news, “I do not want to tape this thing,” Popovich told me. “That won’t work. Let’s do this live and after the third quarter, just like your Dad would.” I could not believe what I had just heard come out of the 2014 NBA Coach of the Year’s mouth. I came out of my private meeting with Coach Pop and told the surprised crew what was going to happen at the end of the third. I had never gone in front of a camera for anything and I texted my mom and sisters and a couple friends. “Change of plans. I’m doing the interview live at the end of the third quarter.” My Dad still did not know and I had my stepmom make sure he was going to be watching to see the surprise. Then, I found out that the broadcast opened with them announcing that I would be filling in for the third quarter interview. Now everyone knew and I really felt the pressure. My phone was blowing up. It was a tie ballgame at the end of the third and

I stepped out onto the court with sideline reporter Jaime Maggio, who was going to come out of the commercial break and introduce me for the interview. Popovich, surprised to see Jaime out there, asked “I thought Junior was doing this?” “He is,” answered Jaime, “We’re going to throw it to him.” Popovich: “No, just hand him the mic.” I grabbed the mic and looked for a cue or something to help me. I stared at the camera having no idea when to start talking. I did not have an ear piece and it was just me and Pop out there together. “Five seconds,” Jaime told me. I did the countdown in my head. It was so loud I could barely think. After two quick opening questions, I threw it to Pop. He looked directly into the camera, which gave me the chance to capture every word he was saying. I was able to hear every word. When I heard him close the interview the way he did, walking off the court, I was thinking it was the coolest moment of my life. I got a phone call about 10 minutes later from my Dad. I stepped outside the noise of the intense playoff game and my Dad told me how much he enjoyed it. “Great job, son. Now go drink some Bud Light for me at the River Walk.” It started to hit me that I had done my first big interview in honor of my Dad and I began to feel all of the emotions of the roller coaster that was the last several days. I couldn’t have asked for a better situation on Sunday under these circumstances. It is horrible to think this came at such a difficult time for my Dad, but this is definitely when we all needed it the most. I want to personally thank everyone that has messaged me and helped me this weekend and everyone that has made my Dad feel like the most loved man in the world. Photos courtesy of Craig Sager II and Turner Broadcasting.


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UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA

DIAMOND DAWGS STUMBLE TO FIFTH STRAIGHT LOSS BY JOE DEIGHTON | JDEIGHTON@SCOREATL.COM

eorgia’s baseball team had all the right inG gredients for a victory on Tuesday night at Kennesaw State. The Bulldogs had their leadoff

batter reach base five times and the bullpen gave up no runs and just two hits. However, they failed to capitalize on the opportunities in a 3-1 loss to the Owls. Georgia freshman catcher Skyler Weber went 3-for-3 and scored the team’s only run, while freshman outfielder Stephen Wren had three hits and an RBI. Starting pitcher David Sosebee gave up six hits and three runs in three innings of work. The sophomore out of Cleveland, Ga. took the loss. Georgia left 10 men on base, which ultimately cost it a much-needed win. The Bulldogs have lost five games in a row, a stretch that also includes a setback at Georgia Tech and a three-game sweep last weekend at Florida. They are now 21-19 overall on the season and will travel to Nashville to face Vanderbilt this weekend. RARE DEFEAT … The softball team went into Tuesday’s

GEORGIA STATE

WOMEN’S TENNIS WINS SUN BELT TITLE BY JAY UNDERWOOD | JUNDERWOOD@SCOREATL.COM

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he women’s tennis team was crowned champion last weekend at the Sun Belt Championship in New Orleans. Georgia State entered the tournament as the top seed and was able to confirm such a status after all the matches had been decided. The Panthers went one step further than they did in the Sun Belt last year, when they finished runner-up. This season’s championship win came over thirdseeded South Alabama by a score of 4-1. Linn Timmermann clinched the winning point for Georgia State at No. 3 singles with a 3-6, 6-1, 6-3 comeback win, giving the program its first Sun Belt title in history. As usual, Abigail Tere-Apisah led the way with a dominating performance in the No. 1 singles showdown. She defeated Michaela Meszarosova 6-1, 6-0, setting the tone for the rest of the match. Tere-Apisah and partner Masa Grgan also scored an 8-2 victory at the No. 1 doubles spot. The No. 2 doubles team of Marcia Tere-Apisah and Tarani Kamoe

game against Georgia State as one of the topranked teams in the nation. Things looked like they should as the Bulldogs took a 2-0 lead in the second inning. Tina Iosefa and Katie Brown both hit solo home runs to account for the early scoring. However, those would be the only two runs for Georgia on the night, as the home team fell to State 4-2. The loss was the second straight at home for the Bulldogs but just the fourth loss in Athens in 34 games. Pitcher Chelsea Wilkinson has been one of the most consistent pitchers in the country, with a 24-6 record thus far. Against the Panthers, Wilkinson gave up 10 hits, three walks and four runs. In 35 appearances this year, she has a 2.11 ERA and gives up an average of three hits per start. UGA AWARDS … The University of Georgia Athletic Association held its annual awards banquet on Monday. Quarterback Aaron Murray received the award as UGAAA Male Athlete of the Year. Swimmer Allison Schmitt won the UGAAA Female Athlete of the Year after setting American records in the 200-meter and 400-meter freestyle. Murray will likely be chosen by one lucky team in next month’s NFL Draft. The senior was one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time in the Bulldogs’ program, becoming the first player in SEC history to throw for at least 3,000 yards in four straight seasons.

defeated their opponents 8-6. The Panthers won all three doubles matches, good for one point in the overall match between GSU and South Alabama and ensuring they would need to win only three of the following six singles matches. Marcia Tere-Apisah also notched a victory at No. 4 singles, 6-3, 6-3 over Monica Mitta, to set the stage for Timmermann. Now the Panthers will wait until next Tuesday to find out where they will be going for the NCAA tournament. The men’s tennis team lost in the Sun Belt semifinals to No. 2 seed South Alabama 4-0. Georgia State was going up against an opponent that featured the conference’s player of the year, which made it difficult to defend its 2013 crown. The Panthers also struggled to adapt to having so many new players on the team this season. They will return seven of nine players for the 2014-15 campaign, so they will again look to compete for the title of the best team in the Sun Belt. UPSET ON THE DIAMOND … This week also saw the softball team upset 13th-ranked Georgia 4-2 on Tuesday. The visiting Panthers were led by freshman Mandy Blackwell, whose two-run home run gave them a 3-2 advantage in the sixth inning and they never looked back. Georgia State also pulled off a win over No. 19 South Alabama during a three-game series on the road last weekend. The team is now 26-23 on the season.

GEORGIA TECH

JACKETS AVOID SWEEP; WOMEN’S TENNIS INKS RENAUD BY STEPHEN BLACK | SBLACK@SCOREATL.COM

he Ramblin Wreck began a three-game series at Maryland by losing the first two T games over the weekend. However, the No.

25 Yellow Jackets rallied and in the last game managed a 13-6 victory. Tuesday, the game at Mercer was cancelled due to a rain-out. It has not yet been announced when this game will be rescheduled but this weekend, the Yellow Jackets play another road ACC series, this time against North Carolina State. The Tech softball team was defeated in a five-inning game by Georgia. Later in the week, in Tech’s three-game series at Pittsburgh, the Lady Yellow Jackets lost the first two games of the series before rallying to win the final game 7-1. The Jackets have their final home game of the season against Kennesaw State at 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday. SPRING FEVER … In football’s spring game, the White toppled Gold in a 20-12 victory. Though game conditions were dismal, there were still plenty of highlights in the rain. Junior quarterback Tim Byerly showcased his talent rushing for 101

KENNESAW STATE

BASEBALL TEAM STAYS HOT WITH WIN OVER GEORGIA BY BRIAN JONES | BJONES@SCOREATL.COM

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o say Kennesaw State’s baseball team is on fire would be a huge understatement. Before their contest against Georgia at Coolray Field on Tuesday, the Owls had won their last seven games thanks in large part to Max Pentecost, who had hit safely in his last 22 games. The Owls made it eight consecutive wins as they defeated Georgia 3-1 to sweep the season series. They got the scoring started in the first inning when Pentecost drove in Jacob Bruce to extend his streak to 23. KSU scored its other two runs in the second inning. Dylan Ivey crossed the plate via a Bruce single and Pentecost hit his 16th double of the year to drive in Bruce. The Owls will look to make it nine, 10 and 11 wins in a row when they face visiting East Tennessee State for a three-game series this weekend. RIVERS JOINING LALLATHIN ��� The men’s basketball coaching staff is staring to take shape as it hired David Rivers to be its associate head coach on Tuesday. Rivers

yards and scored a touchdown for the White team while the Gold team’s defense, highlighted by senior safety Isaiah Johnson and junior Demond Smith, scored touchdowns on fumble returns. The football team will return midsummer to begin fall practice. ON THE TRACK … Three Georgia Tech track and field athletes earned All-ACC honors during the 2014 ACC Outdoor Track and Field championships at Chapel Hill, N.C.. Junior Brandon Lasater took second in the men’s 800-meter run, junior Nikita Kirillov placed third in the men’s pole vault and senior Julienne McKee took second in the women’s triple jump. Overall, men’s track team earned 12th place, while the women’s team earned 14th. This week both teams prepare for the prestigious Penn Relays in Philadelphia. The golf team beat out Auburn and Georgia in matches during the Capital City Club Match Play Championship. The team hopes to carry this momentum into the ACC Championships, which take place this weekend. NETTERS … The men’s tennis team ended their season with a loss to Clemson. Though the women’s team suffered a loss to No. 7 North Carolina, Tech came back to beat the No. 1 Duke. In other news, Lady Yellow Jackets head coach Rodney Harmon announced that the No. 3 recruit in the nation Johnnise Renaud will join the women’s team for the 2014-2015 season. The women’s tennis team will also prepare for the ACC Championships this week.

joins first-year head coach Jimmy Lallathin and brings 17 years of pro basketball experience. “I’m extremely excited and fortunate to add a coach with the background that David has as both a player and basketball mentor,” Lallathin told ksuowls.com. “Most importantly, David exudes the type of character that I want to surround this basketball program with. I will rely heavily on his knowledge and expertise to help to continue to build this program into what we know and expect it to be.” Rivers started his basketball career as an All-American point guard at Notre Dame. He went on to play for the Los Angeles Lakers with Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabar and James Worthy. Rivers spent three seasons in the NBA before joining the CBA and eventually playing in Europe. He will join the Owls immediately and work with Lallathin in player development on and off the court. CAMP BOHANNON … Football head coach Brian Bohannon will host four different levels of player camps this summer. Registration began this week and the first camp will start on June 15 with the Elite Prospect Camp that will feature 11th and 12th grade players. The Future Owls Camp is a youth camp and will take place on June 16. The Varsity Team Camp will feature high school teams in the area and will take place July 9-11. The 7-on-7 Team Passing Camp will feature middle school teams and it will take place on July 8.


Vol. 10 Iss. 16 | April 25 - May 1, 2014 ATLANTA HAWKS

HAWKS SPLIT TWO GAMES IN INDY BY ROBERT TINTER | RTINTER@SCOREATL.COM

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he Atlanta Hawks entered Game 2 against the Indiana Pacers with confidence. Staying hot, the Hawks opened up the game with a 2621 lead at the end of the first quarter, and ended the first half with a 52-48 lead and all indications were they were going to come out with the same tenacity they did to open the third quarter of Game 1. Unfortunately, it was the Pacers who came out and hit the Hawks with a haymaker that Atlanta could not shrug off. The Pacers dominated the third quarter, holding the Hawks to 25 percent shooting and outscoring the Hawks 31-13. An 11-0 run to end the third quarter gave the Pacers a 79-65 advantage. The fourth quarter saw the lead expand, and was rather uneventful. When the buzzer sounded the final score was 101-85 and the Hawks were left licking their wounds. Paul Millsap led Atlanta with 19 points and Jeff

ATLANTA BRAVES

GATTIS CLUTCH AS BRAVES WIN ANOTHER SERIES BY RICKY DIMON | RDIMON@SCOREATL.COM

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he story was the same as it has been all season during this week’s three-game home set against Miami: a whole lot of pitching, not much hitting and fair amount of winning. Atlanta (147) took the series over the Marlins with a 3-1 victory on Wednesday afternoon. That was preceded by a 4-2 win in 10 innings on Monday and a 1-0 setback on Tuesday. Julio Teheran, Alex Wood and Aaron Harang all turned in outstanding starts during the series, while Evan Gattis provided the hitting heroics. Gattis won the opener with a two-run blast in the bottom of the 10th and accounted for the winning runs of the rubber match courtesy of a two-out, two-run double in the bottom of the eighth to break a 1-1 tie. The Braves’ catcher has his batting average up to .298 after registering right at the Mendoza line as recently as April 11.

Teague added 14. For the game, the Hawks shot an ugly 39.2 percent from the field. The Pacers were led by Paul George’s near triple-double. George responded from a mediocre game on Saturday to score 27 points, grab 10 boards and dish out 6 assists. Veteran Luis Scola scored 20 points in less than 20 minutes. AWAITING YOUR RESPONSE … Game 2 was a disaster, but the trip to Indianapolis in its entirety was not. Taking one out of two games means the Hawks return home with the opportunity to take control of the series. Game 3 is always a critical game, but for the Hawks it is even more crucial after Tuesday night’s poor second half. The Hawks were derailed by their poor defense in Game 2, as missed shots led to easy transition offense for the Pacers. The Pacers only scored eight fast-break points, but George and George Hill were able to dictate the tempo in the second half as the Hawks’ defenders played on their heels. However, there is no need for Hawks fans to panic. The offense was working well; the Hawks were just not hitting shots. Being at home should help Atlanta recover from their poor shooting night. Making shots will lead to less scattered defensive possessions for the Hawks.

PLETHORA OF PITCHING … The Braves had a major problem on their hands at the end of spring training, with both Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy going under the knife for Tommy John surgeries. Fast forward one month and they suddenly have a much different problem: too much pitching. Many fans probably expected to see both Mike Minor (shoulder soreness) and Gavin Floyd (in month 11 of his recovery from Tommy John surgery) by this point in the season. Rushing them back, however, has obviously become an afterthought thanks to the dominance of a patchwork starting rotation. Atlanta’s ERA’s is the best in baseball—by far—at 2.16 in part thanks to Harang (0.85), Ervin Santana (0.86), Wood (1.54) and Teheran (1.80). “They’ve been doing great,” Minor told reporters. “I feel like our hitters, our pitchers, defense, they’re playing really well without me. I want to be back. I want to help out, but I don’t want to mess up anything either.” Minor almost never messed up last year. The southpaw led Atlanta in innings pitched (204.2) and strikeouts (181) while going 13-9 with a 3.21 ERA. Floyd, meanwhile, signed a one-year deal worth $4 million this offseason. The 31-year-old righty went 12-11 with a 4.29 ERA during his most recent full season, with the White Sox in 2012.

ATLANTA FALCONS

FALCONS BEGIN OFFSEASON CONDITIONING WITH TOUGHER MENTALITY BY CRAIG SAGER II | CSAGER@SCOREATL.COM

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ne week after the Falcons finished their 4-12 2013 season, Falcons owner Arthur Blank came out with this statement pointing to his team’s need to get tougher. “If I asked you ... give me a brief definition of what toughness is, I think you might say something else, but you might say to me it’s how you control the line of scrimmage,” said Blank. “Can you run the ball? Can you stop the run? ... And I don’t think we did either one of those things very well this year. So I would say, if you looked at toughness from that perspective, I don’t think we were as tough as we needed to be.” Falcons personnel has been boosted on the lines and now phase one of the offseason is underway to build toughness and set the tone for this season. Monday marked the start of this journey and players met at Flowery Branch for Day 1 of their offseason workouts. “The first two weeks will be spent in the classroom and in the weight

GWINNETT GLADIATORS

GLADIATORS WRAP UP SEASON WITH A BANG BY JOE DEIGHTON | JDEIGHTON@SCOREATL.COM

he beginning of the ECHL’s Kelly Cup playT offs have coincided with the NHL’s postseason quest for the Stanley Cup, but the Gwin-

nett Gladiators’ 2013-14 campaign has ended. Other than clinching a playoff berth, however, the season could not have ended on a better note. The Gladiators simply dominated their last game at home against Elmira on April 12, scoring seven goals in a 7-0 whitewash of the Jackals. Forward Brenden Walker notched his first hat-trick of the season and the only hat-trick for any Gwinnett player this year. Casey PierroZabotel was brilliant with two goals and two assists. Goalie Mark Guggenberger made 21 saves and recorded just the third shutout for the team this season. The shot total reflected the scoreboard, as the Gladiators pummeled the net with 42 shots. Gwinnett’s goal tally could have been even greater had it converted more power-play opportunities. The team went 1-for-4 with an extra attacker. The game drew 6,179 fans to the Arena at Gwinnett Center and they saw their beloved

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room,” said head coach Mike Smith. “And then the next two weeks will be on the field.” Last season, the Falcons entered this phase coming off five straight winning seasons and hosting the NFC Championship game. With a ton of new faces and more to prove, player attendance and intensity should be much improved from last year. SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY … The NFL Draft begins next week (May 8) and the Falcons will host some of the best prospects in the upcoming days. One of the best available cornerbacks, Justin Gilbert, took a visit to Flowery Branch this week. Outside linebacker Khalil Mack visited the Falcons on Wednesday. Mack is approaching the draft as one of the hottest available prospects. The Falcons are thin at linebacker and he put up solid numbers in the combine and is a consensus first-round pick in mock drafts. Atlanta is especially in need of a safety after releasing starting safety Thomas DeCoud on March 11. Louisville’s Calvin Pryor is among the possible selections that could come in and fill the starting role. Pryor posted 75 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, three interceptions, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and four passes defensed last season with Louisville.

Glads turn in arguably their best performance of the year. FINAL STATS … Walker led the team with 22 goals in 2013-14. Walker’s total got a big boost with his three goals in the final game, which sent him past Marshall Everson in that department. Everson finished with 21 goals and 22 assists to lead the Gladiators with 43 points. Forward Maxime Legault paced the team in assists with 25 to go along with 17 goals. The Glads used eight starting goaltenders throughout the season, but Guggenberger emerged as Gwinnett’s starter for the last two months. He started 16 games and posted 10 wins with one shutout. The 6’3 goalie had a .913 save percentage and 2.75 goals-against average. Had Guggenberger been the starting goalie all season, the Glads just may be still skating in the playoffs. CONCLUDING THOUGHTS … The Gladiators finished their 11th season in Gwinnett on the outside looking in regarding the playoff picture. There were more downs than ups this year, but the ups came at the end—which inspires hope for next season. The 7-0 win over Elmira gave everyone a taste of what this team is capable of producing. In two of their last four contests, the Glads scored seven goals. This team can score and play with any team in the league and fans can look forward to a more determined group in 2014-15.


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