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VOLUME 10 ISSUE 20 |

MAY 23-29, 2014

|

YOUR SOURCE FOR SPORTS IN GEORGIA

BREAKING GROUND Minicamp Review | Pg. 4 Columnists Craig Sager II and Dan Mathews give their thoughts on the Falcons’ recent rookie minicamp.

Baseball Finals | Pg. 8 We preview the baseball state championship series, the last sporting event of the school year.

Falcons kick off new Atlanta stadium project with a bang. | Pg. 5


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SCORE ATLANTA | www.ScoreAtl.com

FEARLESS ATHLETES DESERVE

NATIONALLY-RANKED

SPORTS MEDICINE. From repairing broken bones to rehabbing torn ligaments, Children’s Sports Medicine helps young athletes get back to full speed. For more information visit choa.org/sportsmed.

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Vol. 10 Iss. 20 | May 23-29, 2014

STARTING LINEUP PUBLISHER/EDITOR I.J. Rosenberg

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COLUMNISTS

05

ON THE COVER

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INSIDE THE PREPS

GENERAL MANAGER Melanie Snare

ART/CREATIVE DIRECTOR DJ Galbiati Blalock SENIOR MANAGING EDITOR Stephen Black ASST. MANAGING EDITOR Craig Sager II

BUSINESS MANAGER Marvin Botnick

ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE Marcus Nabors

BEAT WRITERS Ricky Dimon (Braves) Matthew Cason (Dream) Robert Tinter (Hawks) Brian Jones (KSU) Dan Mathews (UGA) Craig Sager II (Falcons) Alex Ewalt (Tech) Robert Tinter (GSU)

TO ADVERTISE IN SCORE ATLANTA:

404.256.1572

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

COVER PHOTOS COURTESY OF JIMMY CRIBB/ATLANTA FALCONS, ATLANTAFALCONS.COM AND DUANE FARKAS.

ON THE INSIDE AT SCORE

STAY CONNECTED!

Score Atlanta is looking for interns. Please visit www.scoreatl.com/internships for more information on our program.

/SCOREATLANTASPORTS

For state playoffs coverage, go to ScoreATL. com and AJC.com throughout the rest of spring season. On AJC.com, we are updating dropdown menus that feature brackets, scores and schedules for baseball, lacrosse and soccer.

@SCOREATLANTA

On ScoreATL.com, you can find our comprehensive scoreboard, which will have every final score from the playoffs on it the night of the games. Also, read our stories on the baseball, lacrosse and soccer playoffs for up-todate information.

WWW.SCOREATL.COM WWW.GAPREPNEWS.COM

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SCORE ATLANTA | www.ScoreAtl.com

SAGER SAYS

MATTHEWS HIGHLIGHTS ROOKIE MINICAMP AT FLOWERY BRANCH BY CRAIG SAGER II | CSAGER@SCOREATL.COM

he Falcons have never been acknowledged T as a franchise driven by superstar offensive linemen, but 2014 No. 6 pick Jake Matthews looks poised to break the mold after his strong debut at Atlanta’s rookie minicamp. Right tackle Tyson Clabo (now with Miami) is the only Falcons offensive lineman to make a Pro Bowl since 1991 and despite being a rookie, the sky is the limit for Matthews, who is slated to fill in the starting right tackle role this season. The two-time, First-Team All-SEC lineman helped set the tone at rookie minicamp and took the first steps to establishing leadership on an offense packed with veteran leadership and experience. HANDLING HAGEMAN … Day 1 of minicamp proved to be a physical

practice and Matthews impressed the coaching staff during the glorified “walk-through” and one-on-one drills. “He [Matthews] is everything we anticipated he’s going to be,” said Falcons head coach Mike Smith after the first day. “Jake is very mature, not only physically, but mentally in terms of understanding what it takes to be an NFL player and I like the way he moved today.” Matthews lined up with Falcons’ secondround pick (No. 37 overall), defensive tackle Ra’Shede Hageman for some one-on-one pass protection drills under the close watch of Falcons offensive line coach Mike Tice. Matthews stood his ground and corralled Hageman out of the marked pocket in both matchups between the 6-foot-6 rookies. Hageman exploded through interior line the next play and

DAN THE MAN

HAGEMAN HELPS FALCONS DEFENSE WITH VERSATILITY, SIZE BY DAN MATHEWS | DMATHEWS@SCOREATL.COM

he Falcons held a three-day rookie miniT camp over the weekend for the newly drafted players, as well as undrafted free agents, tryout players, and a few players that were on practice squad in 2013. All in all, the Falcons had 57 players on the field for these three days of workouts with the coaches.

TALKING TOUGH … This has been a team that hasn’t necessarily been known for its toughness on the field over the past few seasons. Mike Smith has voiced his wish for a bigger and stronger football team to take the field starting in 2014. According to rookie offensive tackle Jake Matthews, that toughness might have already started with the rookies that were

in camp last week. Smith had to calm down some of the physical play on the field. “It was a walkthrough and guys were going full speed,” Matthews said. “There were busted lips and I busted my nose up, started bleeding. We were getting after it. That’s the biggest thing I take away from this group and glad to be a part of the group.” Another player that grabbed a lot of eyeballs last week during the mini-camp was defensive tackle Ra’Shede Hageman. Like Matthews, Hageman is being looked to as a game changer on his side of the football. When you see him in person, that 6-foot-6, 318-pound frame is not as wide as you would think. He’s very athletic looking and tries to play that way on the field.

dominated the undrafted free agents, but was handled by Matthews. Adapting to the NFL game while facing Matthews every day in practice is something Hageman believes will help him shoot up the learning curve. Matthews shows the patience of a veteran and Hageman already has that experience as he prepares to challenge the veterans during camp this season. Matthews was pleased with the competition and the way Hageman was working. “Everyone was getting after it today,” said Matthews last Friday. “Coach Smith had to tell us that this is a walkthrough because guys were going full speed and we were busting lips and hitting guys and I busted my nose up. … We were getting after it and that’s the big thing I’ve taken away from this group is that these guys love to work.” TOUGH TEAM … The edge that the newcomers are providing the Falcons is a good sign for a franchise that was at the receiving end of a lot of criticism last year regarding toughness in the trenches. In 2013, the line allowed 2.8 sacks per game and ranked 28th in the League in its pass protection. In the final game of the season against Carolina, quarterback Matt Ryan was brought down a

“I definitely put a lot of pressure on myself just to be good,” Hageman said. “Obviously you don’t want to be average. Just to convert from college to the NFL, it actually takes time you have to be patient. I’m just taking baby steps and listening to (defensive line) coach (Bryan) Cox about how to be a better defensive tackle.” Hageman was drafted as a defensive end in the second round this season out of Minnesota. However in that Friday mini-camp workout, most of his reps came at defensive tackle. He’s fine with trying to learn as much as he can. “You’ve got to know the whole d-line,” Hageman said. “I feel like being with these coaches, they’re teaching me the whole defense like why the Sam (strong-side linebacker) is moving this way and why the safety is moving that way. I feel like once I get a better understanding of the whole defense, I’ll be more comfortable.” JUDGING JAKE … Most eyes were on Matthews, the Falcons’ newly drafted offensive tackle and how he would look in the red and black of his new team. Head coach Mike Smith liked what he saw from the very first day of practices. Matthews says that he’s picked up on

career-high nine times. Atlanta has surrendered a total of 19 sacks in the last four games to the NFC South-champion Panthers. Preparing Matthews to keep Atlanta’s $120.6 million quarterback upright this season is Tice, who was hired as the new offensive line coach in January. Tice radiated energy at practice and brings an intensity that matches his 6-foot-7 frame. “When I first got here I felt like me and Coach Tice really clicked,” said Matthews. “I love to see that [high energy] in your offensive line coach. That’s someone you want to play for. He’s fired up every day and I’ve loved going out there and working for him.” On the final day of camp, Smith stated his approval on the progress made in the three-day phase 1 for the newest Falcons. “We got a lot of work done,” said Smith. “The thing that stands out the most to me is their work ethic. These guys work hard…It’s a quiet bunch and I think they’re very focused and they understand the importance of coming out and competing every day.” The Falcons begin OTAs the day after Memorial Day (May 27-29) and will start the second of three OTA sessions June 2-4. Photo courtesy of Atlanta Falcons.com.

the offense pretty fast since coming to Flowery Branch. Remember after he was drafted, Matthews reiterated numerous times that he clicked with new offensive line coach Mike Tice and Mike Smith. Fans and owner Arthur Blank no doubt want to see quarterback Matt Ryan stay on his feet more in 2014. So many would think that comes with pressure from others and not Matthews to be the emphasis for change on the offensive line. The rookie offensive tackle expects the best out of himself on the field with the Falcons. “Obviously I’ve got to go one day at a time learning new things,” Matthews said. “Most of that pressure comes from myself I don’t let anyone put it on me. I put all the scrutiny on myself I want to be the best player I can be.” In 2013, the Falcons’ offensive line allowed for Ryan to be sacked more than 40 times in that disappointing (4-12) season. The Falcons will get their first look at the entire football team on Tuesday with the start of OTAs. These will go on for three weeks until June 13. Then the team will hold a team wide mini-camp the following week. Photo courtesy of AtlantaFalcons.com.


Vol. 10 Iss. 20 | May 23-29, 2014 ment last month, compared Blank to a certain comic book character. “I would like to thank Arthur Blank,” said Reed. “Or as I like to think of him, Atlanta’s Bruce Wayne. If the mayor of Atlanta has a red phone, it would ring Arthur Blank’s house.” Blank was seen wearing a Batman lapel pin on his suit.

ON THE COVER

BREAKING GROUND

FALCONS BREAK GROUND ON WORLD-CLASS STADIUM WITH EPIC CELEBRATION BY STEPHEN BLACK | SBLACK@SCOREATL.COM

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he new Falcons stadium will not just be another football arena. It won’t just be for football, either. A bevy of national sports personalities and local celebrities were in attendance Monday night near the site of the new stadium to celebrate the opening of what the Falcons are aiming to be the worldwide standard for sports facilities. “Our goal was real high,” said Falcons team president Rich McKay. “We’re not trying to build the next stadium, we’re trying to build an iconic stadium that makes a statement for Atlanta, not for the next five years, 10 years, 15, but for a long, long time. There are plenty of elements to the stadium that are really cool, but to take it as an entire package, we’re trying to build something that’s truly world class.” HE’S BATMAN … McKay was joined by all of the Falcons’ top brass including, of course, owner Arthur Blank. As he appeared at the MLS announcement last month, Blank seemed giddy that the day had finally arrived. The dapper owner made it clear that the stadium was being built not just for the Falcons, but to host many other opportunities as well. “Atlanta needs a stadium for a variety

of reasons,” said Blank. “One is to secure the National Football League franchise here for the next 35-40 years. We want to be able to attract a Major League Soccer franchise here, have a competitive environment here so that we can compete (to host) the SEC Championship game, the Chick-fil-A (Peach) Bowl, the NCAA Final Fours, and, hopefully, compete for the FIFA World Cup, when it’s back in the United States, as a host city and maybe a Super Bowl as well.” The Super Bowl theme was obvious throughout the evening as important speakers such as NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed, as well as Blank, mentioned it in their brief monologues. “I’d like to extend an open invitation for (Goodell) to come back any time he likes, especially if he wants to announce that we’re going to win the Super Bowl (host bid),” joked Reed. Blank tried to dispel to memory of Atlanta’s last Super Bowl (2000), which was roundly criticized due to icy conditions and poor weather around the city. “This weather is normal for Atlanta yearround,” he said of the perfect conditions Monday night. Reed, as he did during the MLS announce-

UNCLE ARTHUR … Another comical part of the evening came from a group of the new “Terminus Legion,” loyal fans of Atlanta’s MLS franchise. They yelled and clapped loudly for anything and everything seen or mentioned that referred to their team. MLS commissioner Don Garber, another speaker at the event, referred to them during his speech and joked that he paid them to come and make noise. But Blank was clearly the group’s favorite person there; they chanted “Uncle Arthur” as he took the stage. “He is Atlanta’s uncle,” said J.R. Francis, one of the boisterous members of the Terminus Legion, loyal fans of Atlanta’s MLS franchise. “We were really touched when, at the (MLS) announcement, he turned during his speech and said ‘We’re here for the fans,’ and that was not lost on us. We saw that and we want to thank him and let him know that we consider him family as well.” The ceremony itself was a sight to behold. The audience was given 3D glasses to wear during a short video presentation that featured a Falcon flying through Atlanta and eventually ending up at midfield of the new stadium. Flame-shooting machines and fireworks surrounded the screen throughout the presentation. The podium from which the speakers presided was shaped like a large Falcons logo, which sank into the stage before the video. It made for a groundbreaking like no other. “I’ve been to about three of four of them, but none quite like this,” said McKay. “They did a really nice job. The “other” Roddy White (the Falcons vice president of events) did a real nice job.” Following the video and fireworks, Blank, McKay, Reed, Goodell and several other key members of the stadium project donned shiny silver work helmets, grabbed brand-new shovels and began the ceremonial digging. The event took place just across the street from the actual location of the new stadium, as preliminary construction work was taking place on the future stadium grounds. The $1.2 billion facility will seat 71,000 fans for football games, although temporary seating will be brought in for events like the Super Bowl and World Cup. It is scheduled to open in 2017. Photos courtesy of Jimmy Cribb/Atlanta Falcons.

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NEW ATLANTA STADIUM TIMELINE is broken on the new staMAY 19 Ground dium at a lavish ceremony near

2014

the current site.

FEB 18 Falcons hire Scott Jenkins as

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general manager of the new Atlanta stadium.

FEB 14 Falcons release 17 design

2014

concepts.

Georgia World Congress Center

OCT 29 Authority Board of Governors

2013

unanimously $1.2 billion preliminary budget.

announces site choice for SEP 30 Atlanta the new stadium just south of the

2013

Georgia Dome.

unveils new design SEP 26 Atlanta concept and animations from the

2013

renderings of 360 Architecture.

at Friendship Baptist SEP 22 Parishioners Church sell their historic house of

2013

worship for $19.5 million.

announce the completion JUN 18 Falcons of a conceptual design of the new

2013

Atlanta stadium.

Falcons announce team of gen-

JUN 18 eral contractors, led by Atlanta-

2013

based Holder Construction Company.

360 Architecture selects three

JUN 14 Atlanta-based firms to partner

2013

with the design phase of the new stadium.

owners approve a $200 milMAY 21 NFL lion loan for construction of a new

2013

stadium in Atlanta.

Kansas City based architecture

APR 30 firm 360 Architecture is formally

2013

approved as the lead design firm.

The Georgia World Congress Center Authority and Atlanta agree to a term sheet DEC 10 Falcons that provides the basic business 2012 framework for the next step of reaching a binding memorandum of understanding.


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Justin Upton

Max Pentecost

Brendon Todd

The Braves’ bats have awoken, perhaps none more than that of Upton. He has homered in three straight games as of Wednesday afternoon, giving him 12 dingers on the season—tied for fourth most in the majors and tied for second in the National League. He has five hits, six RBIs and four runs scored in his last three games.

Kennesaw State’s star catcher has extended his nation-best hitting streak to 35 games as of Wednesday, heading into the Atlantic Sun tournament. Pentecost, a possible first-round MLB draft pick this summer, is batting .422 with eight home runs, 54 RBIs and 50 runs scored for the Owls, who are 19-1 in their last 20 games.

It has been a good spring for former Georgia Tech and University of Georgia golfers on the PGA Tour. One week after Bubba Watson (UGA) won the Masters in early April, Matt Kuchar (GT) prevailed in Hilton Head. Todd (UGA) captured his first PGA title last week at the Byron Nelson Championship in Dallas.

SCORE LIST By Brian Jones

BREAKING GROUND

Monday was a historic day for Atlanta as city officials broke ground on the new stadium that will host the Falcons and the new MLS team. Falcons’ owner Arthur Blank, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and MLS commissioner Don Garber were all in attendance for the event that lasted an hour. The stadium should be a site when it’s done.

FIRST MINICAMP

Speaking of the Falcons, they held their first minicamp of the year—only for the rookies. All the draft picks were in attendance and Atlanta even signed five of the nine draftees during camp. I was there for two of the three sessions and I really like the way Jake Matthews and Devonta Freeman looked.

NEW COACH

The Walton Raiders got a new football coach as they hired Mo Dixon on Tuesday. Dixon was the defensive coordinator for Byrnes High School in South Carolina last season, but he is better known for being the defensive coordinator for North Gwinnett from 2007 through 2012. As a Walton alum, I love the hire and he will do a great job.

BASEBALL FINALS

It’s down to the final sport of the high school year. The baseball finals will take place on Saturday and there will be some good teams in action, including Lambert and Cartersville. Be sure to go to scoreatl.com and ajc. com for the latest scoring updates and recaps for all five championship series.

SAD DAY

It was dark moment for sports radio in Atlanta as 790 the Zone announced that it will no longer have local programming on the station. I have done my share of radio spots and shows on the station and I enjoyed every minute of it. I hope guys like Mike Bell and John Michaels find work very quickly.

WHO’S NOT

By Ricky Dimon

WHO’S HOT

SCORE ATLANTA | www.ScoreAtl.com

Braves vs. Winning Teams

UGA Baseball

NBA Lottery

The Braves are playing much better baseball now than they were during a seven-game slide earlier this month, but they are still 5-9 in their last 14 games against opponents with winning records. They are 3-9 in their last 12 against winning opponents other than the Brewers, against whom Atlanta is 4-1 so far this season.

A disappointing season came to an end for Georgia’s baseball team on Tuesday. The Bulldogs lost to Mississippi State 5-4 in 10 innings during first-round action at the SEC tournament in Hoover, Ala. They wrapped up their 2014 campaign with a 2629-1 record, including 1-5 in their last six games and 4-14-1 on the road.

If the Hawks had been overtaken by New York for the Eastern Conference’s final playoff spot, they likely would have had a 0.7 percent chance of winning the lottery (not much worse than eventually winner Cleveland’s 1.7 percent) and a 1.54 percent chance of getting one of the top three picks (well better than Cleveland’s odds). Oh well.

NUMBERS

OUR TWO CENTS

By Ricky Dimon

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

IN WHAT YEAR WILL THE NEW ATLANTA STADIUM HOST ITS FIRST EVENT? ANSWER ON PAGE 14

SANITY AT LAST

“Our goal was real high. We’re not trying to build the next stadium, we’re trying to build an iconic stadium that makes a statement for Atlanta, not for the next five years, 10 years, 15, but for a long, long time.”

Falcons President Rich McKay on the new Atlanta stadium

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Quality starts made by Aaron Harang this season in nine appearances, five with no more than one run allowed

12

Home runs this season, including three in the last three days, by Justin Upton (second most in the NL)

29

Braves’ ranking out of 30 Major League Baseball teams in both runs scored and onbase percentage

.029 35

Points by which Jason Heyward, on an 8-game hitting streak, has raised his average since May 11 Current hitting streak for Kennesaw State catcher Max Pentecost, who is batting .422 this season

19-1

Kennesaw State’s record in its last 20 games heading into the Atlantic Sun baseball tournament

2019

Year in which the Falcons hope to host the Super Bowl in their new stadium, which opens in 2017

71,000

Attendance goal for the new Major League Soccer team’s first game in the new Atlanta stadium


of their semifinals Game 3 with Gainesville. Jackson patiently worked the count to 3-2 and then roped a double off the left-field fence to drive home Nolan Wallace and Justin Jones. Jackson’s heroics earned the Bears their firstever trip to the state title.

BASEBALL FINALS

FIVE CHAMPIONSHIPS AT STAKE IN BASEBALL FINALES BY CRAIG SAGER II | CSAGER@SCOREATL.COM

T

here have been 418 postseason baseball games played across the state this month. One hundred sixty teams in Class AA-AAAAAA earned trips to the playoffs and just 10 are left standing. We have witnessed another competitive school year within Georgia’s high school athletics and it is time to crown the final five GHSA state champions of the 2013-2014 year. NO. 1 VS. NO. 2 … In Class AAAAAA, top-ranked Lambert has made it to the state championship with an astonishing 34-1 record. The Longhorns’ only loss of the season came on May 6 in a 6-5 defeat to Mill Creek in the quarterfinals. The explosive bats and deep pitching handled business in Game 3 and Lambert bounced back with a 7-3 victory. Lambert opened its doors as a school in 2009 and the young Forsyth program is searching for its first baseball state championship.

Defending Class AAAAAA state champion Milton added a third title to its shelf last season (1955, 2004) and like its championship team from a year ago, has caught fire in the playoffs. The No. 2 Eagles swept their way past North Gwinnett, Grayson, Kennesaw Mountain and Johns Creek while averaging 6.4 runs offensively and surrendering just 2.3 runs per game. NEW TO THE PARTY … In Class AAAAA, finalist Whitewater survived two Game 3s this postseason while Houston County punched its ticket in the championship with a 7-4 Game 3 win at Gainesville. This is the only state championship matchup this year that has two opponents both searching for their first-ever state titles. Houston County is led by Georgia Techsignee Blake Jackson, who came up to bat with his team trailing by one run in the sixth inning

OLD-TIMERS … In Class AAAA, Carrollton looks for its first state title in 52 years (1962) while finalist Crisp County aims to return to the podium for the first time in 53 seasons (1961). Crisp County survived three rubber games to get to the semifinals before sweeping Alexander 7-2 and 3-0 in the final four. Carrollton was forced to a third game by defending Class AAAA state champion Redan in the second round, but dominated the rubber match 12-0. BATTLE OF TITANS (AND CANES) … In Class AAA, defending state champion Cartersville needed to rally from a three-run deficit to beat Buford 7-5 in the decisive Game 3 of the semifinals on Tuesday. Cartersville was without head coach Stuart Chester, who was served a two-game suspension for having video cameras in the dugout. Blessed Trinity dominated Hart County 13-5 and 10-2 in the semifinals and is searching for its second state title in program history after winning the Class AAA title for the first time in 2006. Junior Cody Roberts batted 4-for-6 in the semis and drove in four RBIs.

DIFFERENT PATHS … In Class AA, the two semifinal rubber matches could not have been any more different. Benedictine scored a 19-16 victory in an offensive explosion to advance to the state championship, while Greater Atlanta Christian edged Westminster in a 1-0 pitching dual to reach the finals. GAC has held opponents to four runs or fewer in 8-of-10 games this postseason and a total of one run in its two Game 3s this postseason. Benedictine head coach Kevin Farmer hit a milestone with his 300th career win in the finals-clinching victory on Tuesday. The Cadets gave up six homers including four from Wesleyan catcher Grant Colton. Wesleyan cut the lead to 13-9 and Benedictine scored another six runs off a Patrick Maguire base hit and a Stevie Powers two-run single before a Mike Huggins two-run blast. GAC is the four seed out of Region 6 and has had battled through 10 straight road games to reach the finals. The Spartans have won with their defense and senior southpaw Ben Childers, who pitched a complete-game shutout in their 1-0 Game 3 win over Westminster. Photos courtesy of Duane Farkas, Blessed Trinity, Whitney Reddin and Georgia Bennett Photography.

Score Atlanta/AJC Lacrosse Final Rankings BOYS

GIRLS

Class AAAAAA

Class AAAAA-A

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

1........................Northview 2...............................Lovett 3....................Westminster 4............................Decatur 5................ Blessed Trinity

6.......................Centennial 7................... John’s Creek 8............. Peachtree Ridge 9................Chattahoochee 10..............North Gwinnett

6................................ Pope 7.............................. Marist 8..................................GAC 9......................... Allatoona 10.......................St. Pius X

Class AAAAAA

Class AAAAA-A

1.............................. Milton 2............................. Walton 3........................... Lassiter 4.............................. Hooch 5.......................Centennial

1.................................. Kell 2....................Westminster 3...................... Cambridge 4.........................St. Pius X 5................ Blessed Trinity

6.......................... Harrison 7................... West Forsyth 8.............................Etowah 9........................Mill Creek 10..................... Collins Hill

6......................... McIntosh 7................................ Pope 8........................Northview 9.......................Starr’s Mill 10.............Holy Innocents’


Vol. 10 Iss. 20 | May 23-29, 2014 ATLANTA MOTOR SPEEDWAY

EXCITING TIMES AT ATLANTA MOTOR SPEEDWAY BY DAN MATHEWS | DMATHEWS@SCOREATL.COM

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or the past couple of weeks, we’ve been telling you about the exciting action that is happening out at Atlanta Motor Speedway. This weekend is serving as an off-weekend for racing with the Memorial Day holiday coming up on Monday. AMS Director of Marketing and Promotion Dustin Bixby says the first couple of weeks of the O’Reilly Auto Parts Friday Night Drags and Shown-Shine have been quite successful. “We’ve had two races and folks have had the opportunity to get out to see what’s been working for them and what hasn’t,” Bixby said. “We’ve had some great competition and looking for some more great exciting action here at AMS.” The opening races have served as nonpoints tune-ups for drivers competing in the numerous different divisions. The points series for the Friday Night Drags kicks off next Friday,

May 30. More information on the O’Reilly Auto Parts Friday Night Drags and Show-n-Shine series can be found by heading to www.AtlantaMotorSpeedway.Com. Last week, we discussed the Thursday Thunder racing series that kicked off last Saturday. This is a series of racing for Legends and Bandolero cars that can be seen racing almost every Thursday night out at Atlanta Motor Speedway. It gives many current NASCAR drivers a place to hone their craft before making it stock car racing’s major leagues. Drivers like Joey Logano, Dave Ragan, Chase Elliot and Reed Sorenson all have taken part in the Thursday Thunder series. Race fans got their first look of the season at this series of races last Saturday, May 17. This is another event that Bixby says the track is really excited to get fully underway. “We had a really good car turnout and we’re really looking forward to getting the sea-

son going in earnest on June 5,” Bixby assured. “We’ll run eight straight weeks including the week of June 23, where we’ll run really three times that week. We’ll have the Bandolero Nationals (that week) here at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Saturday June 28.” Fans who want to get out and see some exciting Legends and Bandolero car races during the summer can do so at a very familyfriendly affordable price. Adult admission is just $6 and kids (ages 6-11) get in for just $2. Children under the age of six get in for free. Atlanta Motor Speedway also wants you to bring your birthday parties to Thursday Thunder. How about a group outing to the speedway? If you want to do this, then head over to www.AtlantaMotorSpeedway.com for more information on how to make that happen

for your group. You can also call the speedway at (770) 946-4211 to find out how to get your group out to the races. With Memorial Day coming up this weekend, it’s another reminder that the huge Labor Day Sunday night race as part of the Sprint Cup series is fast approaching. The Labor Day weekend series of NASCAR races kicks off on Friday Aug. 29. This is something for which Bixby is constantly planning. Additionally, AMS is also getting the O’Reilly Auto Parts Friday Night Drags and Show-n-Shine off and running for the summer. “We’re really starting to kick into high gear,” Bixby explained. “We’re excited about getting everything going for the season and looking to put on the best show for all three of those events.”

NIKE TENNIS CAMPS SERIOUS. FUN.

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GEORGIA Emory University

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MISSISSIPPI University of Southern Mississippi

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ON SALE NOW! JUNE 3-8 FoxTheatre.org/Evita


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

Class AAA 6................ East Coweta 7......... Peachtree Ridge 8...Kennesaw Mountain 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...................Dunwoody 7................... Loganville 8...........................Rome 9.....................McIntosh 10................Sprayberry

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

6....................Fitzgerald 7............... Westminster 8........................Berrien 9.............. Union County 10.................. Jeff Davis

Class A

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

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

6.............. Worth County 7....................Carrollton 8..........................Griffin 9......................Veterans 10..Northwest Whitfield

1............................ELCA 2............... Mount Paran 3..........Charlton County 4........ King’s Ridge Chr. 5............Pace Academy

6.................Hebron Chr. 7..George Walton Acad. 8.............Schley County 9................. Gordon Lee 10............... Brookstone

Score Atlanta/AJC Final Soccer Rankings AAAAAA Boys

1..................... Brookwood 2....................... Mill Creek 3.............. Douglas County 4..........................Harrison 5........................ Campbell 6.............................Walton 7...........................Lassiter 8.............Central Gwinnett 9......................... Hillgrove 10................. Johns Creek

AAAAA Boys

1.........................McIntosh 2......................Greenbrier 3.............. Houston County 4................ Clarke Central 5......................Gainesville 6.............. Glynn Academy 7........... Lakeside-DeKalb 8............... Warner Robins 9.......... Heritage-Conyers 10.................... Riverwood

AAAA Boys

1..............................Dalton 2......Johnson-Gainesville 3......................... Spalding 4......Southeast Whitefield 5........................LaGrange 6...............................Perry 7...................... Statesboro 8............................. Lanier 9.............................. Grady 10..................... Chamblee

AAA Boys

1........................ St. Pius X 2............... Oconee County 3.........................West Hall 4...............Dawson County 5......Woodward Academy 6........................North Hall 7................Savannah Arts 8...............Coahulla Creek 9..................Peach County 10..........................Islands

AA Boys

1................................. GAC 2................... Westminster 3...........................Calhoun 4.................... Thomasville 5........................ Wesleyan 6.................... Benedictine 7.................Lamar County 8...............Toombs County 9..............................Lovett 10...................... Jefferson

A Boys

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

AAAAAA Girls

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

AAAAA Girls

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

AAAA Girls

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

AAA Girls

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

AA Girls

1................................. GAC 2..............................Lovett 3................... Westminster 4........................ Wesleyan 5...........................Calhoun 6....................St. Vincent’s 7.......................Armuchee 8.................. East Laurens 9.............................Vidalia 10...........................Jordan

A Girls

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


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SCORE ATLANTA | www.ScoreAtl.com

UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA

SEC SCHEDULE SET THROUGH 2025; DIAMOND DAWGS DONE BY DAN MATHEWS | DMATHEWS@SCOREATL.COM

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n Monday the SEC announced its future schedule rotation for football and Georgia has some interesting matchups on the horizon. This season, in addition to their yearly meeting with SEC West rival Auburn, the Bulldogs will take on Arkansas in Fayetteville. Next season is when it gets interesting, with UGA bringing Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide to Sanford Stadium. Barring a rematch of the 2012 SEC Championship this season in Atlanta, this will be the first meeting against the Tide since that gut-wrenching loss. The following season in 2016, Georgia will make its first trip back to Oxford, Miss. since 2011 to take on Mississippi. The rotation moves on for Georgia to get Mississippi State at home in 2017, visit LSU in 2018 and host Texas A&M in 2019. Unless Georgia faces the Aggies in the SEC Championship, that will be their first meeting with the maroon and white in SEC football play. As for those who want to book that trip to Alabama’s

GEORGIA STATE

MEN’S GOLF ADVANCES TO NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP BY ROBERT TINTER | RTINTER@SCOREATL.COM

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he Georgia State men’s golf team advanced to the NCAA championship after finishing a school-best second place in the San Antonio Regional. The Panthers shot a 1-over 289 to advance to the championship for the fifth time in school history and the first since 2007. Tyler Gruca shot an impressive 6-under par after 54 holes to finish the event in third place, which is the best finish ever by a Georgia State player in NCAA regional play. Georgia State, ranked No. 43 in the nation by Golfstat, finished ahead of six teams ranked higher than it in the poll. The Panthers will head to Hutchinson, Kan. to begin their quest for a National Championship. Thursday is a practice round and Friday will mark the official start of the tournament at Prairie Dunes Golf Club. Thirty teams with six individuals apiece will play 54 holes before the top eight teams advance to match play to determine the national champion. SENIORS GO OUT ON TOP … After being eliminated from the Sun Belt

Bryant-Denney Stadium in Tuscaloosa, they will have to hold off until 2020. It will be fun to see Alabama go to Sanford Stadium during the 2015 season, but how come Georgia has to wait until 2019 to see Texas A&M for the first time? The Aggies will have faced Florida in both College Station and Gainesville by the time they run into Georgia. BASEBALL SEASON ENDS … It took extra innings at the SEC tournament on Tuesday night for Georgia’s season to end in a 5-4 loss to Mississippi State. The Bulldogs finished their first season under new head coach Scott Stricklin at 26-29-1. Trailing 4-2 going into the top of the ninth inning, UGA managed to tie up the game at 4-4. Nelson Ward and Skylar Weber delivered hits before the team got clutch two-out RBI singles from designated hitter Sean McLaughlin and pinch hitter Jess Posey. The Dawgs retired Mississippi State in the bottom of the ninth, but things went south for the visiting team in the first extra frame. Jared Cheek gave up a leadoff single then hit a batter before MSU’s Jake Vickerson put down a bunt in an attempt to advance the runners to second and third. It did more than that, because catcher Brandon Stephens’ throw to first sailed into right field and allowed the runner from second to score a walk-off run.

Conference baseball tournament last Friday, the Georgia State Panthers ended their season with a thrilling ninth-inning comeback against Western Kentucky that their 10 seniors will surely never forget. With the game tied at 2-2, senior Chad Prain found an opening down the right field line for a three-run double to put the Panthers up 5-2. The Hilltoppers scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth, but Kevin Burgee got the final two outs for his eighth and final save of the season. All 10 seniors played in their final game and leave quite a legacy behind them. The group includes All-Americans, all-conference players, National Players of the Week and 60 wins over the last two years. GEORGIA TECH INVITATIONAL … Katharine Showalter ran a career-best 10:25.69 to win the 3,000-meter steeplechase and lead Georgia State’s track and field team last Friday at the Georgia Tech Invitational. Her time was 31st best in the NCAA East region and keeps her in position to qualify for the NCAA East Preliminary Championships later this month. Coming off a win in last week’s Sun Belt championship in the same event, Showalter missed the school record by less than a second. Freshman Alysiah Whitaker continued her historic freshman campaign, finishing seventh among 19 throwers in the shot put. Whitaker is also expected to qualify for the NCAA East Preliminary Championships.

GEORGIA TECH

JACKETS ADVANCE IN ACC TOURNEY; MEN’S GOLF MAKES FINALS BY ALEX EWALT | AEWALT@SCOREATL.COM

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fter taking two of three games from South Florida in its final series of the regular season, the Tech baseball team defeated Wake Forest 5-3 in the opening round of the ACC tournament in Greensboro, N.C. Wednesday. Daniel Spingola went 3-for-4 with a double, triple, two RBIs and a run in the victory. Sam Clay worked three scoreless innings in relief of starter Matthew Grimes to get the win, and Dusty Isaacs retired the final four batters to get the save. Tech, the No. 9 seed, dispatched the No. 8 seed Demon Deacons to advance to three games in Pool A play against Miami, Duke and Clemson. The winners of Pool A and Pool B meet Sunday in the ACC championship game. ON THE LINKS … The men’s golf team cruised to a 17-stroke victory in the Raleigh NCAA Regional last weekend to advance to this weekend’s NCAA championship in Hutchinson, Kan. It was the 27th regional appearance for the Jackets, the

KENNESAW STATE

BASEBALL SWEEPS NORTH FLORIDA, PENTECOST HONORED BY BRIAN JONES | BJONES@SCOREATL.COM

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ennesaw State’s baseball team started play in the Atlantic Sun Conference championships on Wednesday, but the result of their first-round game against East Tennessee State was not available at press time. Before the Owls kicked off their playoffs, they had their final regular-season series of the year last week against North Florida. After losing to Western Carolina 8-6 to break their 16-game win streak, the Owls took their frustration out on North Florida, winning 3-2, 5-4 and 1-0 last Thursday through Saturday. Saturday’s game was an exciting way to end the 2014 regular season. It went to extra innings and it was Matt Bahnick who ended up being the hero. In the bottom of the 10th, Bahnick hit a solo homer to give the Owls 19 wins in their last 20 games. Friday’s contest had a little more action when it came to scoring runs and it was just as thrilling. Max Pentecost hit a walkoff single in the bottom of the ninth to give the

fifth Regional win in program history and the sixth tournament win this season. Ollie Schniederjans, recently named the ACC Player of the Year, finished second overall in the field. The Jackets are one of 30 teams that will take part in 54 holes of stroke play starting this Friday, after which the top eight teams will advance to match play next Tuesday. The Jackets are seeded No. 4 in the tournament. Demarco Cox has announced his transfer to the men’s basketball team from Ole Miss. The 6-foot-8, 275-pound post player averaged 4.2 points and 3.9 rebounds last season for the Rebels in a reserve role. Cox has already graduated from Ole Miss and will be eligible immediately to play for the Jackets. His transfer may soften the blow of Robert Carter Jr.’s departure last week, as he joins another senior, Robert Sampson, in the post. The football program announced the hiring of Dan Rychleski as special teams coach this week. Rychleski replaces Dave Walkosky, who abruptly resigned earlier this month. Rychleski brings more than 30 years of college and professional coaching experience to The Flats. He spent 2013 as an assistant with the Montreal Alouettes of the CFL and coached special teams for the Indianapolis Colts from 2009-11. Kick times were also announced for the first two football home games of the year. The Aug. 30 opener against Wofford will kick off at 12:30 p.m., and the Sept. 30 game against Georgia Southern will start at noon.

Owls a 5-4 win. Pentecost was one of three players with three hits that evening, joining Bo Way and Chris McGowan. It was also senior night for the Owls, who recognized their three seniors: Way, Andrew Austin and James McConnell. Pitching was the theme in Thursday’s game as Jordan Hillyer allowed four hits and four strikeouts in 6.2 innings of work. The relief duo of McConnell and Justin McCalvin allowed a combined two hits in two innings. Pentecost and Way each had two hits in the win. PLAYER OF THE YEAR … With all the production Pentecost has contributed this season, the higher-ups at the Atlantic Sun would surely recognize it, right? Absolutely, because they named Pentecost the Player of the Year and also assigned him to the All-Atlantic Sun First Team. Pentecost leads the nation with 97 total hits and also has a .422 batting average, which is currently a school record. “Max has done a great job for us all the way around,” said KSU head coach Mike Sansing. “He’s gotten the job done defensively, offensively and with his base running. Things the regular fan may not always see, he’s done it all. It’s been a great year for him and a great year for us all around as a team.” McCalvin also made the all-conference first team along with Pentecost. He leads the Owls with 12 saves, which is a team record since it joined Division I.


Vol. 10 Iss. 20 | May 23-29, 2014 ATLANTA HAWKS

HORFORD TO PARTICIPATE IN BASKETBALL WITHOUT BORDERS BY ROBERT TINTER | RTINTER@SCOREATL.COM

awks’ two-time all-star Al Horford will H travel to Rome, Italy this summer to help lead Basketball Without Borders camps. BWB

is the NBA and FIBA’s global basketball developmental program. The program has had 1,700 campers in more than 120 countries. Twentyeight campers have been drafted into the NBA. Horford will be joined by Italians and former participants Andrea Bargnani, Danilo Gallinari and Gigi Datome. Brandon Jennings is the other non-Italian participant. The camp, which is being held from June 2 through June 5, will bring the top 50 players born in 1997 from more than 25 European countries to compete. RUMORS … According to Sam Smith of Bulls.com, the Hawks are one of the teams pursuing a trade for Houston Rockets’ center Omer Asik. The Rockets are trying to unload Asik in order to free up cap space to make a run at Kevin Love either in a trade or via 2015 free agency. Asik, 27, signed with the Rockets as a free

ATLANTA BRAVES

COMEBACK IGNITES BRAVES’ WINNING STREAK BY RICKY DIMON | RDIMON@SCOREATL.COM

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y recent Braves’ standards and in a division that is separated by just 1.5 games at the top (Atlanta to Washington) and by five games from top to bottom (Atlanta to New York), three wins in a row counts as a “streak”—and an important one, at that. The Braves have done just that, salvaging a series at St. Louis on Sunday before taking the first two of a fourgame home series against Milwaukee. They are now a respectable 8-4 since their brutal seven-game losing streak earlier this month. The current three-game surge started from just about out of nowhere. Atlanta had lost three in a row and was trailing at St. Louis 5-4 going into the ninth inning on Sunday. Needing a win in the worst way, the Braves rallied for two runs on two hits—a single by Freddie Freeman and a two-out double by Ryan Doumit. Walks to Evan Gattis (intentional) and Jordan Schafer brought in Freeman and Doumit scored the eventual game-winner on a wild pitch by Carlos Martinez, who had relieved

agent two seasons ago and had a breakout 2012-2013 season, averaging 10.1 points and 11.7 rebounds per game. Injuries and the signing of Dwight Howard did not leave Asik much room to operate and his numbers severely suffered. The Turkish seven-footer is a defensive force who would be able to control the paint and the boards in Atlanta. With only one year left on his contract, Asik is someone the Hawks can afford. He would also allow Horford to move to his natural position of power forward. Asik is a screener on the offensive end and does not demand the ball in the post, which would allow Horford and Paul Millsap the continued freedom to man the offensive paint. NBA COMBINE … The NBA held its annual draft combine last week in Chicago, Ill. Invited players first had their measurements taken and then were split into groups based on height, weight, wingspan, standing reach, body fat percentage and hand size. Next, the groups participated in basketball simulation drills, including fastbreaks, weaves, three-on-three scrimmages and set shooting. Each player was also tested on bench press, vertical leap, three-quarters court sprint and lane agility. The tests and drills were conducted in a two-day time period. After the combine, many analysts have the Hawks taking Duke shooting guard/small forward Rodney Hood with the 15th pick. Hood measured at 6-foot-9, posted a 36-inch vertical leap and connected on 69.3 percent his shots.

Trevor Rosenthal. Craig Kimbrel closed out the Cardinals in the bottom of the ninth with little trouble. “It’s big,” Freeman said in his post-game interview. “I don’t know if you can say it was a must-need win, but it’s definitely nice to get one. And going back to our home crowd, hopefully this can give us some momentum going against the Brewers, who are playing unbelievable baseball. We have a tough four-game series but at least we have some momentum and salvaged at least one win against the Cardinals.” BATS COME OUT … The Brewers certainly are not playing unbelievable baseball against Atlanta this season. Each of the first two games of this week’s series went the Braves’ way as they improved to 4-1 versus Milwaukee so far in 2014. The home team pounded out 15 hits in a 9-3 victory on Monday before cruising to a 5-0 win on Tuesday. Atlanta has scored 20 runs in its last three games heading into Wednesday’s third of four contests with the Brewers. This is the Braves’ largest three-game haul since it crossed the plate 32 times in a four-game stretch April 11-14. Justin Upton (.288, 12 HRs, 25 RBIs) has heated up with home runs in three consecutive games. The left fielder also has five hits, six RBIs and four runs scored in his last three.

ATLANTA FALCONS

FALCONS ROOKIES SIGN DEALS; OTA’S SET TO BEGIN BY CRAIG SAGER II | CSAGER@SCOREATL.COM

he top two Atlanta picks reached deals on Wednesday as first-round pick Jake MatT thews and second-round selection Ra’Shede

Hageman inked their first contracts. Sevenof-nine rookies have reached agreements and just third-rounder Dezmen Southward and fourth-round pick Devonta Freeman await their rookie deals. Rookie camp was about as basic as it gets, but the team will begin diving deeper into the playbook in June to prepare for Sept. 7, its first home season opener in five years against one of its biggest rivals, the New Orleans Saints. The Falcons closed their three-day rookie minicamp on Sunday and five of the nine 2014 draft picks were signed to deals (all defensive players). Four of the signees were linebackers as Prince Shembo, Marquis Spruill, Yawin Smallwood and Tyler Starr agreed to deals. The fifth was cornerback Ricardo Allen, Atlanta’s fifth-round pick. Shembo was the highest selection inked on Sunday and the 137th overall pick (fourth round) and former Notre Dame linebacker had a solid rookie camp.

ATLANTA DREAM

ATLANTA BEGINS EAST TITLE DEFENSE WITH TWO WINS BY DARRIN HEATHERLY | DHEATHERLY@SCOREATL.COM

he Atlanta Dream tipped off their 2014 T campaign at home against the San Antonio Stars last Friday. The defending Eastern Con-

ference champions raised their banner and began their first season under new head coach Michael Cooper. Cooper, an NBA, WNBA (coach) and NBA D-League champion, is hoping to control the East and take Atlanta back to the WNBA Finals after being swept by the Minnesota Lynx last year. Erika de Souza scored 23 points and picked up 11 rebounds as the Dream pulled out a 79-75 victory over San Antonio. Rookie Shoni Schimmel added seven points and a franchiserecord 11 assists, including seven in the first half. A late charging foul on San Antonio’s Danielle Robinson and theft work from Schimmel clinched the first win for the Dream. The two teams combined for 32 turnovers. DOUBLE-OVERTIME THRILLER … The Dream traveled to Indiana last Saturday in a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference Finals. Coming off a 74-71 loss at Chicago,

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VETS TO REST … OTAs will begin on Tuesday and the rookies will take the field with the veterans and the team will begin preparing for training camp and the regular season. Following Sunday’s rookie minicamp, Falcons head coach Mike Smith mentioned players that won’t be taking part in OTAs or will be limited and Sean Weatherspoon and Julio Jones were both brought up. Atlanta started the most rookies in the NFL last season on defense and Weatherspoon is one of the few veterans left on the defense that can mentor the rookies. After the first OTA session May 27-29, the second phase will go from June 2-4 before the final OTA session on June 10-13. Mandatory minicamp is slated for June 17-19 and that will prepare the team for training camp in July. TOAST OF THE TOWN … The new Atlanta stadium officially broke ground on Monday with a spectacular ceremony to mark the occasion. Local celebrities and big names from across the sports world were in attendance as the surrounding excitement and initial stage of construction accumulated. The presentation came complete with a 3D presentation and firework show that lit the sky from the Falcon-shaped stage. FAMILY TRAGEDY … On the eve of Day 3 of rookie minicamp, Falcons receiver and four-time Pro Bowler Roddy White’s half-brother Tyrone Moore Jr. was gunned down and killed outside a nightclub in James Island, S.C., White’s hometown.

the Fever were looking to start things off at home with a win. They would, however, have to get through two-time defending WNBA scoring champion Angel McCoughtry. That proved to be a futile attempt, as McCoughtry led the Dream with 27 points, five assists and six steals. The Fever were missing Tamika Catchings, who was out with a back injury. Despite being an all-star down, Indiana got a double-double (17 points, 13 rebounds) from Erlana Larkins and 21 points from rookie Natasha Howard to keep the game close. Indiana’s Karima Christmas missed a wide-open layup with less than three seconds remaining, thus helping Atlanta force overtime. McCoughtry soon proved she has ice in her veins with a late, cold-blooded threepointer to seal a 90-88 win for the visitors. NEW LEAD AT THE HELM … Cooper looks to add more rings to his collection from his playing and coaching career and he may just have the right team to do it. The Dream have come close to the WNBA Championship three times in the last four years. A proven winner, Cooper knows the taste of titles and he has been talking championship since his first day with the Dream. During the preseason, Cooper reiterated that believes championship teams are built from the inside out. He intends to do this with this year’s Dream and he may have convinced de Souza. “Cooper is always asking everybody to play inside so this helps me a lot,” she explained. “This is going to be the year for us.”


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