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Published: Friday, February 09, 2018 @ 3:18 PM
Updated: Friday, February 09, 2018 @ 3:17 PM
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — The Atlantic Coast Conference's stretch run looks more like a coronation than a race.
Second-ranked Virginia has all but wrapped up the league's regular-season championship and could rise to No. 1 in the Top 25 on Monday for the first time since the Ralph Sampson era. The rest of the league is far behind — No. 16 Clemson is the closest at three games back — and playing for postseason positioning amid a jumbled mess in the standings with roughly three weeks left.
Consider: six teams are within two games of the second-place Tigers in the loss column, including No. 9 Duke, No. 21 North Carolina and No. 25 Miami.
"Somebody is going to come out of that pack," Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said after Wednesday's loss to Virginia. "We hope that's going to be us."
The intrigue now is focused on who will claim the remaining top-four seeds at next month's ACC Tournament in Brooklyn and the double-round bye that comes with them.
At this point, that's all anyone can hope for considering how well the Cavaliers are playing.
Virginia (23-1, 12-0 ACC) has won 15 straight games and is poised to go back to No. 1 in the Top 25 on Monday after Villanova's loss to St. John's on Wednesday night, assuming the Cavaliers beat Virginia Tech at home on Saturday. That would also keep them on course for something that seemed unthinkable when they were picked to finish sixth in the preseason: the possibility of becoming an unbeaten regular-season champion.
In all, only eight teams have ever gone unbeaten through the ACC regular season, the last being Duke (16-0) in 1998-99. The challenge is even tougher since the league moved to an 18-game schedule in 2012-13.
"The guys have done a terrific job," Virginia coach Tony Bennett said after his team rallied from 11 down to win at Florida State on Wednesday. "Would I have thought we'd be 12-0 at this point? Probably not, but they're playing the right way and they don't quit, that's for sure."
The Tigers (20-4, 9-3) have won four straight since managing just 36 points in a loss at Virginia on Jan. 23 to climb into sole possession of second place, as well as to put the Tigers within reach of their first NCAA Tournament trip since 2011.
"It's not like we have this great margin for error," Clemson coach Brad Brownell said after Thursday's win against Pittsburgh. "We still have to play really well to win games. Fortunately for us, we have. But we can't be looking and worrying about a lot of other things and take our eye off of our preparations."
Then there's the Blue Devils (19-5, 7-4), the preseason ACC favorite and No. 1-ranked team. Touted freshman Marvin Bagley III has been terrific (21.2 points, 11.4 rebounds), but Duke has struggled defensively nearly all year and didn't match North Carolina's aggressive second-half edge in Thursday's rivalry loss in Chapel Hill.
Now Duke has lost three of four, including the home loss to Virginia on Jan. 27 along with a loss to a St. John's team that was 0-11 in the Big East at the time.
"We've got to figure out something," Bagley said. "We can't continue to lose games like this."
Behind the Tar Heels and Hurricanes, Syracuse (No. 37 in the RPI), Florida State (41st) and Louisville (43rd) are in solid position for NCAA Tournament bids. North Carolina State (No. 65 in the RPI with several marquee wins ) and Virginia Tech (67th) are also in the mix — the Hokies beat the Wolfpack on Wednesday — to give the league a shot at 10 bids a year after getting a record nine teams into the field of 68.
There's a bit of intrigue at the bottom of the league standings, too.
Pittsburgh (8-17, 0-12) is flirting with becoming only the seventh team to go winless in ACC regular-season play. Kevin Stallings' Panthers have suffered 10 of their 12 league losses by double-digit margins and have failed to reach 60 points in nine of those games.
Boston College went 0-18 two seasons ago, but before that, the ACC hadn't had a winless team since Maryland (0-14) in 1986-87. The Panthers' best chances to avoid that fate could come in two home games: Tuesday against Boston College (14-10, 4-7) and Feb. 21 against Wake Forest (9-15, 2-10).
AP Sports Writer Joedy McCreary in Chapel Hill; and Associated Press Writers Jeffrey Collins in Clemson, South Carolina; and Joe Reedy in Tallahassee, Florida; contributed to this report.
More AP college basketball: http://collegebasketball.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_Top25
Published: Saturday, February 24, 2018 @ 9:00 AM
MIDDLETOWN — To be successful in high school sports, four criteria must be in place: Quality facilities, coaching consistency, talented athletes and a youth program.
In Middletown, where the district renovated Barnitz Stadium and built a state-of-art Wade E. Miller Arena on the high school campus, facilities can’t be blamed for the two worst football and boys basketball seasons in the school’s once-proud athletic history.
The football team, under Lance Engleka, who resigned after two seasons citing death threats he received on social media, finished 0-10 in 2016 and 1-9 in 2017.
The boys basketball team — for a school that has won seven state titles, but none since 1957 — was 8-16 last season and 6-16 this season heading into the Division I tournament.
Add up those two-year records of the football and boys basketball teams — the district’s marque teams — and you get 15 wins, 51 losses, a .227 winning percentage. After reviewing records for the last century, that appears to be the worst two-year, win-loss mark in Middletown High School history.
The Middie Magic, it seems, has vanished. And there’s plenty of blame to go around.
Let’s start with the coaching staffs. Middletown used to be known for its long-tenured coaches, but of late, it’s been more like a coaching carousel. There have been three football and three basketball coaches in the last five seasons.
Supporters of the program and MHS athletic director Aaron Zupka believe Darnell Hoskins, who’s completing his second season, and first-year football coach Don Simpson were the proper hires.
Lynn Darbyshire, a member of the selection committee, has been impressed by Hoskins, Hoskins’ assistant and former Dayton Dunbar coach Pete Pullen and former Miami University Middletown coach Jim Sliger, who is the freshmen coach.
“We got it right,” Darbyshire said. “Things are in place.”
But to be truly successful, these coaches — all coaches — need talented players, especially to compete in the powerful Greater Miami Conference with the likes of Colerain, Princeton, Lakota East, Lakota West and Mason.
Middletown used to churn out Division I players every year. At one time, five former Middies started on the Ohio State University football team and rosters of Division I college basketball teams were littered with Middies.
But the Middies haven’t produced a Division I basketball player since Vince Edwards signed with Purdue four years ago. Jalin Marshall, a wide receiver for the New York Jets, was the last Middie to earn a scholarship at OSU in 2014.
So where did all the players go? Middletown, once the largest school in the GMC, now has an enrollment of about 1,500, the lowest of the 10 schools in the league. The largest school, Mason, has about 3,500 students.
The biggest reason for the Middies’ athletic struggles appears to be its lack of a youth program.At one time, Middletown offered youth baseball and football leagues, but over the years, as interest waned, those leagues folded and the fields were converted for soccer. There are no baseball diamonds at Smith Park, the city’s largest park, and the youth football games have been moved to Douglass Park.
When was the last time you saw a pick-up basketball game at Douglass Park or Sunset Park?
“It’s painful at times,” said Lynn Darbyshire, a member of the selection committee for Middletown coaches who has attended most of the boys basketball games. “We are not prepared at this level to be competitive.”
For that to change, the district must retain students and attract families, Zupka said. Middletown certainly benefited when the Carter family (Butch, Cris, John, George) and Edwards family (Bill Jr. and Vince) moved to the Middletown area. More athletes are leaving Middletown than enrolling.
Zupka also wants the varsity coaches to get more involved at the lower levels.
“We have to offer more support to organizations and kids,” said Zupka, who has instructed his coaches to provide youth camps and skill development opportunities. “We got the facilities and we need to use our facilities to get kids to our doors, to engage kids at a younger level. We got to get the kids earlier. That’s our biggest challenge. Building that consistency from the bottom up. Shame on us. We got to do a better job. That’s a point of emphasis.”
He called them “gaps in areas of opportunities.”
If the athletic department does “one thing right” in the next few years, it will “get that youth infrastructure together,” Zupka said.
Published: Saturday, February 24, 2018 @ 5:32 AM
Updated: Saturday, February 24, 2018 @ 7:55 AM
— Flood advisory issued for:
Shelby, Darke, Central Auglaize and Southern Mercer Counties until 11:30 a.m.
At 7:34 a.m., radar indicated an area of heavy rain over the advisory area. Gauges in the area have indicated that up to three quarters of an inch of rain has fallen in the past hour, with another half to one inch possible in the next several hours. Minor flooding of low-lying and poorly drained streets, highways and underpasses will occur. In addition, farmland near creeks, streams and drainage ditches will experience minor flooding.
Some locations that will experience minor flooding include:
Sidney, Greenville, Wapakoneta, New Bremen, Minster, Versailles, St. Henry, Newport, Union City, Anna, Fort Loramie, Jackson Center, Ansonia, Botkins, New Knoxville, Waynesfield, Hardin, Webster, Russia and Gettysburg.
TODAY: A flood watch will be in effect for all counties until 10 a.m. Sunday. Rain develops and may be heavy at times, especially toward the evening. A few thunderstorms are possible in the evening and overnight. Isolated damaging winds and flooding will be the main threat tonight. Rainfall amounts of 1 inch to 3 inches will be possible by Sunday morning. Temperatures will rise into the lower to middle 50s into the evening, then will fall late tonight as a cold front passes.
TOMORROW: Any rain early will end quickly then clouds linger. Flooding still possible as rivers and streams continue to rise. Highs will be in the lower 50s and it will be windy at times. There will be gradually decreasing clouds through the night and chilly with temperatures falling into the lower 30s. Watch for isolated slick spots late with any leftover standing water.
MONDAY: There will be a lot of sunshine and mild with highs in the lower 50s.
TUESDAY: There will be mostly sunny skies with mild temperatures in the upper 50s.
Published: Saturday, February 24, 2018 @ 4:58 AM
Updated: Saturday, February 24, 2018 @ 5:16 AM
DAYTON — UPDATE @ 6:15 a.m.:
Crews are no longer at the scene of North Main Street at Miami Boulevard, according to regional dispatch.
North Main Street at Miami Boulevard are closed after a small fire at Quincy’s Saturday.
A neon sign caught fire outside of the restaurant at 865 North Main Street around 3:30 a.m., according to our first responder.
Published: Friday, February 23, 2018 @ 10:03 AM
— Dayton city leaders said this week they’re concerned about two potential threats to well fields along the Mad River from firefighting foam contaminants.
One potential source of contamination is at the city’s firefighting training center on McFadden near the Tait’s Hill well field. The other potential source of contamination is from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, where a tainted groundwater plume was believed to be approaching production wells at Huffman Dam, city and state officials say.
The contaminant is known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS.
The city shut down both well fields over the past two years as a precaution, Dayton officials said. The two well fields stand about three miles apart.
State and city officials say the water is safe and the contaminant has not been found in finished product to consumers.
Here’s a look at key developments this week:
1. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and Wright-Patterson officials say they did not know of the firefighting training center concerns until recent days. Among other actions, the state EPA this week directed Dayton to test treated water at its Ottawa treatment plant near the Mad River monthly for the contaminant beginning March 31, and to determine the source of the contamination. Late last year, the city detected PFAS at less than 10 parts per trillion in a raw water intake at the plant, officials said. The U.S. EPA has a health advisory threshold of 70 parts per trillion for lifetime exposure to drinking water.
2. Dayton asked area city managers this month to co-sign a letter urging Wright-Patterson and the Air Force to act more quickly to resolve concerns a groundwater contamination plume could reach the Huffman Dam well field. The response to the city request thus far has been mixed.
3. Dayton, Ohio EPA, and Wright-Patterson authorities most recently met this week in ongoing talks about how to handle groundwater contamination concern.