Dayton women win 11th straight game

Published: Wednesday, January 31, 2018 @ 9:05 PM

Highlights: Dayton beats Duquesne in women's basketball

The Dayton Flyers women’s basketball team won its 11th game in a row and maintained sole possession of first place in the Atlantic 10, beating Duquesne 79-70 on Wednesday at UD Arena.

Dayton coach Shauna Green took the public address announcer’s microphone after the game and thanked the crowd of 3,223. It was Dayton’s second-biggest crowd of the season.

JaVonna Layfield led the Flyers with 18 points and 17 rebounds. Jenna Burdette also scored 18 points and made 10 of 10 free throws. Jayla Scaife scored 16. Alex Harris had 13.

» RELATED: 10 things to know about winning streak

The Flyers (17-4, 10-0) lead Duquesne (18-4, 8-1) by 1½ games. Fordham (17-6, 8-2) sits two games back after losing 91-85 in double overtime Wednesday at Saint Louis (12-10, 6-3).

Dayton scored the first eight points of the game and stretched its lead to 20-9 at the end of the first quarter and 41-27 at halftime. Dayton led throughout the second half, but Duquesne got as close as 71-65 with 56 seconds to play.

» PHOTOS: Dayton vs. Duquesne

Dayton ended Duquesne’s eight-game winning streak. The Flyers have won four games in a row against the Dukes. Dayton returns to action at 2 p.m. Sunday against Virginia Commonwealth at UD Arena. VCU (5-16, 2-7) beat St. Joseph’s 56-54 on Wednesday.

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Hunter Greene reaches another milestone in latest Dayton Dragons start

Published: Thursday, May 24, 2018 @ 8:44 PM

Highlights of Dragons 2-1 win Thursday night

Mark Thursday night as another step forward in Hunter Greene’s development. 

Many, many steps remain, but the talent is tantalizing for the 2017 first-round pick of the Cincinnati Reds. 

In his eighth start for the Dayton Dragons, the righty struck out six and walked two. He allowed four hits, including a home run with one out in the top of the fifth inning by Lake County’s Tyler Friis. 

RELATED: What should the Reds do with Scooter Gennett and Matt Harvey? 

After Oscar Gonzalez singled to right, Greene’s night was done. 

He threw a career-high 73 pitches, 50 for strikes. 

He pitched into the fifth inning for the first time in his professional career but is still looking for his first win. He left trailing 1-0. 

Greene hit triple digits with his fastball multiple times, and the Captains rarely made hard contact. 

Aside from Friis’ home run, a high fly that hit off the top of the wall, Will Benson got the best swing on Greene, socking one to centerfielder Stuart Fairchild to start the second inning. 

Jose Vicente followed Benson’s laser by slapping a single through the hole on the left side, and Greene found himself in trouble when Dragons second baseman Jeter Downs threw away a potential double-play ball off the bat of Jose Medina. 

With runners on the corners and one out, Greene bore down, striking out Jonathan Laureano looking before blowing away Miguel Eladio with three straight fastballs, the last of which was measured at 101 miles per hour on the stadium radar gun. 

Greene also stranded two in the third inning when JJ Berardi singled and Nolan Jones walked ahead of Benson, the first-round pick of the Cleveland Indians two years ago. 

He got the heater three times in a row, taking it for a strike before back-to-back swings and misses to end the inning. 

After three straight poor outings, Greene has been strong in two of his last three, and he credited making better use of scouting reports and a more consistent routine. 

Cincinnati Reds prospect Hunter Greene overcame some adversity to turn in one of his best starts yet in Dayton.

On May 12, Green shut out Peoria over four innings, walking none and striking out five while giving up just two hits. 

A week later, Greene gave up four runs on seven hits with three strikeouts and no walks in 3.1 innings against Great Lakes. 

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No joke: Northwestern goes 1-3 in D-II regional discus

Published: Thursday, May 24, 2018 @ 11:46 PM

Northwestern discus throwers Adam Riedinger and Korbin Spencer went 1-3 in the D-II regional at Piqua on Thu., May 24, 2018. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

Korbin Spencer wasn’t himself. Things like that happen to unsuspecting sophomores in track and field meets the magnitude of a regional.

And as always, Northwestern High School junior teammate Adam Riedinger was there to offer comforting words. How did that go?

“He said, don’t be nervous and he started telling me jokes,” Spencer admitted after they went 1-3 in the discus. “I was nervous at the beginning. I just worked on my nerves.”

»ONE FOR THE RECORD: Butler senior matches regional best set in 1971

»REGIONAL TRACK: “It’s all about moving on”

The top four in each Division II regional event at Piqua advance to the season-ending state track and field meet at Ohio State University’s Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus next week.

Northwestern sophomore Korbin Spencer was third in the discus. The first day of the D-II regional track and field meet was at Piqua on Thu., May 24, 2018. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

The 4x800 relay was Thursday’s only running final, along with half the field events. All the other racing was to qualify for Saturday’s finals.

»IT’S A RECORD: Lakota East flash passes mark that stood since 1990

»PHOTO GALLERY: D-I district track at Wayne

As they have all season, Riedinger and Spencer nearly dominated in their specialty. Riedinger led from his opening throw and won with a final heave of 164 feet, 11 inches.

Spencer (159-4) was overtaken by Eaton’s Chase Smith (164-6). Those 16 points were enough to vault Northwestern to the top of the boys team scoring, 16-15 over runner-up Versailles.

»FACEBOOK: For more high school sports you should like Marc Pendleton

»RELATED: Butler making surprise D-I baseball run

Riedinger will attempt to add a regional shot put title on Saturday. He was third at state in the discus last season and is looking to better that.

Northwestern junior Adam Riedinger won the discus. The first day of the D-II regional track and field meet was at Piqua on Thu., May 24, 2018. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

“That would mean the world to me (to win state),” he said. “That’s when it really counts.”

»RELATED: Elks’ vaulters push each other to the limit

• Greenon sophomore Delaney Benedict and Shawnee sophomore Robie Glass each posted top qualifying times. Benedict was first in the 400 finals qualifying (57.75) and Glass did likewise in the 200 (22.14).

»OHSAA: No more stacking teams

Glass will have a big part in Shawnee’s bid for a team title. He’s the defending D-II state high jump champ and will go in that event on Saturday. He also ran on Shawnee’s finals-qualifying 4x200 (1:30.05) and 4x400 (3:21.11) relays.

Shawnee also advanced in the 4x100 relay (43.72) and senior Jack McCrory in the 100 (11.35).

»RELATED: D-I baseball sectional photo gallery

• Kenton Ridge advanced in the boys 4x100 relay (43.77) but will have to overcome Dunbar (43.32) in that event. The Wolverines won a D-II boys state team title last season without winning an event, but are loaded in sprints, hurdles and relays.

»RELATED: Senior basketball standout a one-season wonder

»TWITTER: You should like @MarcPendleton

• Saturday’s field events start at 11 a.m. and running finals at 12:30 p.m. The Divisions I (Wayne) and III (Troy) regionals were scheduled to conclude on Friday.

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Here’s how Ohio State wants youth football coaches to teach tackling

Published: Thursday, May 24, 2018 @ 5:34 PM

Ohio State football assistant coach Alex Grinch explains how the Buckeyes are taught to tackle without using their heads and notes using the head is inefficient anyway.

Alex Grinch had two big selling points as he laid out the tackling method Ohio State football has adopted in recent years. 

Not only is the Buckeyes’ system safer, it is effective. 

The latter is important, he noted to an audience of roughly 170 youth and high school coaches, because otherwise it won’t be used. 

The former – safety – is key at a time when youth participation has fallen across the country. 

RELATED: Ohio State coaches bring passion, knowledge to Dayton-area clinic

“Our game is changing,” Grinch said. “If we don’t do something about it, then we’re at the mercy of the powers that be. Who are they? They’re the moms and dads that don’t let their kids play sports, specifically ours. So we can’t bury our heads in the sand.” 

Here are the key teaching points from Grinch, Ohio State’s co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach: 

1. The Ohio State’s “deductive tackling system” relies on three core principles. 

Use the hip as an aiming point, keep the eyes up and keep those feet moving. 

The low aiming point helps prevent helmet-to-helmet contact. Eyes up prevents using the crown of the helmet and moving the feet basically brings it all together by providing the force needed to complete the tackle. 

2. Out is the old “head across the bow” approach. 

Coaches used to teach players to cut off a runner’s path head first. That didn’t mean leading with the helmet, per se, but it did tend to put a player's head in the path of a pending collision. 

Instead, Ohio State teaches players that while aiming for the offensive player’s hip, the head will go behind the ball-carrier — and that’s OK. 

3. In is the “wrap and roll” tackle. 

Going behind the ball-carrier necessitates bringing him down with both arms and using a player’s momentum to bring him down. 

The upshot of this: Since we’re usually tackling a moving target, this ended up happening anyway no matter how many straight-on tackling drills a team might have held in the summer heat. 

By encouraging what was often a by-product of the old tackling method, Ohio State coaches have found the new method more effective and easier to adopt. 

4. They still stress the “athletic position” and “see what you hit.” 

These are two things I can say coaches have been stressing for at least 25 years. It’s probably longer than that, but 25 years ago marks the first time I was taught to tackle so that’s as far back as I can go. 

A player in the “athletic position” will be on his toes with knees bent, chest forward and butt down. If players are taught to maintain that posture, they are less likely to bend forward naturally and lead with the head. 

“See what you hit” is also an old mantra intended to make sure players keep their eyes up at all times because if they are looking down at the ground, they will lead with the top of their helmet. 

That is dangerous for both the ball-carrier and the tackler because it causes the spinal column to line up, increasing the potential for fractured vertebrae and spinal injuries such as the one Ryan Shazier suffered against the Bengals last season when he delivered a hit with the crown of his helmet. 

5. Arms are the new chest.

Grinch demonstrated a way to reduce helmet-to-helmet contact is to stress leading with the arms instead of the upper body. 

That goes for players on both sides of the ball. Whether they are making a block, disengaging from a block or attempting a tackle, by establishing contact with the arms and using the body as a counterbalance, players can be physical and effective without involving their heads in direct contact. 

6. Use bags as tackling dummies as much as possible. 

Throughout his presentation, Grinch showed the Buckeyes hitting different types of bags instead of players smashing into each other. 

This obviously reduces the number of collisions players have overall, which cuts down on injury and prevents overall wear and tear. 

Another added benefit of doing more reps with bags than a live ball-carrier: Players will develop muscle memory of the right technique rather than doing anything necessary to get a player on the ground, which is what tends to happen in old-fashioned mano-a-mano tackling drills.  

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Butler grad comes up huge as Raiders roll in HL tourney opener

Published: Thursday, May 24, 2018 @ 1:33 PM

WSU wins tourney opener

Even after jumping out to a comfortable early lead, Wright State coach Jeff Mercer admitted he had some concerns about following his plan to pull staff ace Ryan Weiss early from Thursday’s Horizon League tournament opener in order to save him for Saturday’s finals.

But Mitch Gremling dismissed all worries with five impressive innings of relief to enable the top-seeded Raiders to coast into Friday’s winners bracket final with an 11-1 victory against Youngstown State at Nischwitz Stadium.

“He struggled at times earlier this year and battled some injuries, but I told him there’s going to come a day when this team is going to rely on you and the team is going to be on your shoulders and you’re going to have to carry the load, and he did that,” Mercer said of Gremling.

›› WSU offense in high gear entering the the tournament

A sophomore right-hander from Butler High School, Gremling (2-3) allowed just two hits while striking out four and walking none in his longest outing of the year, which came on the heels of one of Weiss’ shortest.

A first-team All-HL selection, Weiss threw just 58 pitches while limiting the Penguins to two hits through four innings. He struck out six and walked none while retiring 11 of the final 12 batters he faced before Mercer pulled him with an 8-1 lead.

“There was a lot of trepidation,” Mercer admitted. “But we spent the last three weeks planning for every possible scenario. And for us to win a championship, we’ve got to have our best players on the field in the championship game. So if the game presents an opportunity to do that and be able to bring Ryan back, you have to take advantage of it.”

›› WSU slugger named HL Player of the Year

The WSU offense gave Mercer the luxury of doing it by scoring in each of the first five innings.

Bentley Jones had a tie-breaking two-run double in the second inning, and Chase Slone added a three-double in the third to give the Raiders a 6-1 lead.

Both hits came with two outs.

“That’s something we take a lot of pride in, being able to hit with two outs,” Slone said. “Coach Mercer told us in the meeting that championships are won with two strikes and two outs. If we can capitalize in those opportunities, we’re going to have a good chance to win the tournament.”

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Mercer said he considered removing Weiss after the third with a 6-1 lead. The Raiders made the decision easier, upping the lead to 8-1 on Peyton Burdick’s RBI single and HL Player of the Year Gabe Snyder’s sacrifice fly made it 8-1 after four.

“We were able to score early and get a little bit of a cushion and really manage the game in a best-case scenario situation,” Mercer said.

JD Orr scored three runs while going 3 for 4 with a double, walk and RBI while upping his HL-leading stolen base total to 34 with two of the six steals the Raiders recorded.

“We’re taught to steal bases and be aggressive and no lead is out of the question, especially when you don’t have your ace on the mound,” Orr said. “So it was really important to play our ballgame.”

Zach Weatherford added two steals and a run scored, while Matt Morrow went 2 for 4 with a run and an RBI and Burdick drove in two runs and stole a base as WSU won for the 10th time in its last 11 home games and improved to 17-3 at Nischwitz this season.

The Raiders will play at noon Friday against No. 2 seed UIC, which beat No. 3 Milwaukee 6-0 in Thursday’s second game.

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