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Houston Avoids Elimination with 124-103 Win Over Clippers

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Houston Rockets' James Harden, center, is pressured by Los Angeles Clippers' Spencer Hawes (10) and Blake Griffin, right, during the first half in Game 5 of the NBA basketball Western Conference semifinals Tuesday, May 12, 2015, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Houston Rockets’ James Harden, center, is pressured by Los Angeles Clippers’ Spencer Hawes (10) and Blake Griffin, right, during the first half in Game 5 of the NBA basketball Western Conference semifinals Tuesday, May 12, 2015, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

KRISTIE RIEKEN, AP Sports Writer

HOUSTON (AP) — James Harden received an IV Tuesday afternoon, his answers to postgame questions were peppered with coughs and he sniffled repeatedly between queries.

Harden clearly wasn’t feeling well. But faced with elimination in the Western Conference semifinals, Houston’s bearded superstar shook off his illness and had a triple-double in perhaps his best playoff performance to keep the Rockets alive.

Harden had 26 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists, Dwight Howard added 20 points and 15 rebounds, and the Rockets bounced back from two lopsided losses with a 124-103 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers.

“I’m all right,” Harden said when asked about his health. “We won, so that’s all that matters.”

The Rockets hadn’t lost three straight all season, and with their season on the line they ended their skid to send it back to Los Angeles for Game 6 on Thursday night.

Houston used a 36-point second quarter to take a commanding lead and withstood a third-quarter surge by Los Angeles to lead by 14 entering the fourth.

Blake Griffin had 30 points and 16 rebounds, and Chris Paul added 22 points and 10 assists for the Clippers.

“They were more focused,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “They played like they were the desperate team and we didn’t play very desperate.”

Harden made a 3-pointer with about two minutes to play to make it 121-100 and coach Kevin McHale cleared the bench. Harden’s triple-double was Houston’s first in the postseason since Steve Francis in 2004.

Howard was impressed with Harden’s ability to play so well when he was under the weather.

“This is win or go home and I’m pretty sure he wants this as bad as we all do and he showed that tonight,” Howard said.

Trevor Ariza added 22 points for Houston and Corey Brewer had 15.

McHale toyed with the starting lineup after losses by 25 and 33 points, inserting Josh Smith in place of Terrence Jones. Smith finished with nine points and seven rebounds, while Jones provided a spark off the bench with 12 points.

“I just wanted to shake things up a bit and … see if we could get more ball movement,” McHale said.

Houston was up by 14 with nine minutes left when Smith scored five quick points, capped by a 3-pointer, to make it 99-80. Smith, who joined the Rockets after being released by the Pistons, held out three fingers on each hand before beating his chest as fans rose to their feet.

Howard managed just seven points and six rebounds in Game 4 after getting into early foul trouble. He had no such problems on Tuesday night and had eclipsed his numbers in that game in the first quarter. His work helped Houston outscore Los Angeles 64-46 in the paint.

The Clippers had cut the lead from 22 points to 13 late in the third quarter when Houston started intentionally fouling DeAndre Jordan. They did it twice and he missed three of four before the Clippers returned the favor on Howard.

The Hack-A-Shaq stretch wasn’t anywhere close to what it was in the last game when the Rockets did it time after time, giving Jordan 34 free throw attempts. He made just 14 of them on Sunday. Both teams also did it some in the fourth quarter on Tuesday, with Houston fouling Jordan and the Clippers doing it to Howard, Smith and Brewer.

Four quick points by Howard gave the Rockets a 22-point lead with about seven minutes left in the third quarter. Jordan got his fourth foul soon after that, but coach Doc Rivers kept him on the floor. The Clippers got going after that, using a 13-4 spurt to cut it to 83-70 with three minutes remaining in the third. Griffin took over for Los Angeles in that span, scoring nine points.

Ariza led Houston early in the third quarter, scoring eight points in a 12-7 run that pushed the lead to 75-55.

Los Angeles got within 2 with 3 1/2 minutes left in the first half when Hawes hit a 3-pointer as the shot clock expired. But Houston scored the next nine points to extend the lead to 57-46. Griffin made a layup before the Rockets scored the last six points of the second quarter to make it 63-48 at halftime.

The Rockets led 27-22 at the end of the first quarter after getting nine points and eight rebounds from Howard.

QUOTABLE

Griffin on the chance to close out the series Thursday: “They outplayed us and played like they wanted it … we need to learn from this game and improve upon it. We have a chance to take care of business and play how we need to play.”

TIP-INS

Clippers: Spencer Hawes came off the bench to score 11. … Jordan finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds. … Rivers said he thinks Austin Rivers has a hip pointer after falling to the court hard late in the game. He said he’ll know more about the injury on Wednesday.

Rockets: Rookie Clint Capela had eight points. He had a one-handed slam over Hawes early in the second quarter. … The 36 points Houston scored in the second quarter were the most points they’ve scored in a quarter in this series.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Black History

IN MEMORIAM: Referee Jim Burch Got the Final Whistle in The Game

Jim Burch was also inducted into eight different halls of fame, including the CIAA John B. McLendon Jr. Hall of Fame (February 2019). To recognize the hard work of student athletes who exemplify the qualities of academic excellence, involvement in public service, and love of athletic competition, Burch established the James T. Burch Scholarship.

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jim burch
Jim Burch

By Tamara Shiloh

Created in 1953, the Atlantic Coast Conference, an athletic conference headquartered in Greensboro, N.C., quickly rose to prominence. Within 13 years, the university and college teams in its membership had a number of victories to its credit. North Carolina State University won the first three championships, and the conference was getting heavy exposure outside of the region. Several ACC teams went to the Final Four of the NCAA’s basketball championships. In North Carolina, Duke University took four titles, Wake Forest University took two and University of North Carolina had one victory as did the University of Maryland.

Life inside the ACC could not have been better, except for one minor but not overlooked detail: there were no Black players or officials.

But Jim Burch (1926–2019), who began his officiating career with the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association in 1959, would become the first, signing on with the ACC in 1969. His debut, however, was delayed for a season because “he reportedly refused to cut his hair and sideburns.”

A Raleigh, N.C., native raised in Larchmont, N.Y., Burch was a 1949 graduate of North Carolina’s Fayetteville State University. There he was a two-sport athlete – football and baseball – having large dreams.

Burch “talked about sitting in the ‘colored’ section of Reynolds Coliseum watching games, telling his friends that he was going to be on that court someday,” ACC referee Jamie Luckie told ESPN in 2019 referring to the sports complex in Raleigh, N.C. “They said he was crazy, and sure enough, he was on that court one day.”

Burch never made a big deal out of the historic mark, although many would benefit from his humility. He would train and mentor hundreds of officials over the years. In fact, it was Burch who gave Luckie his start in refereeing.

Throughout his 60-year career, Burch officiated in the CIAA, ACC, Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, and Southern Conference. He also worked 14 National Collegiate Athletic Association tournaments and was an educator and administrator within the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District.

Working as an educator made Burch “an unbelievable teacher of the game in terms of what he wanted us to do on the floor, how he wanted us to deal with coaches, how he wanted us to communicate, and just his delivery and style was one where he could get it across to you, but he was a teacher. That never stopped,” Luckie said.

Burch continued to make monumental achievements as well as give back.

Many of those he trained moved into CIAA, ACC, Southern Conference, and NCAA championship careers. He was twice featured in the NCAA Champions Magazine, served on numerous civic boards, and was the first African American to serve on the Charlotte Housing Authority board.

Burch was also inducted into eight different halls of fame, including the CIAA John B. McLendon Jr. Hall of Fame (February 2019).

To recognize the hard work of student athletes who exemplify the qualities of academic excellence, involvement in public service, and love of athletic competition, Burch established the James T. Burch Scholarship.

Before retiring in 2018, he served as the head coordinator of officials for the South Atlantic Conference and the CIAA.

Burch died at his home in North Carolina in 2019 at the age of 91.

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Bay Area

Skyline High Girls Volleyball Team Makes History

The team played in Orange County, taking on Santa Clarita Christian School in the California Interscholastic Federation Division 5 CIF State Championship match.

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The Skyline High School Girls Volleyball team
The Skyline High School Girls Volleyball team.

As the season comes to a close for the Skyline High School Girls Volleyball team, the members are celebrating that they went farther than any Skyline or OUSD/OAL volleyball team ever has. On the final day, November 19, the team played in Orange County, taking on Santa Clarita Christian School in the California Interscholastic Federation Division 5 CIF State Championship match. Skyline fell short 3 games to 1, coming in as runner-up. The photo above shows the team posing with their trophy after the match.

 

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Commentary

OPINION: Would You Pressure Your Kid’s Coach to Apologize for Winning by 106-0?

“Regarding Inglewood H.S. vs. Morningside H.S. Friday night 10/29 game, we at the Inglewood Unified School District (IUSD) are saddened beyond words by the events that transpired at the football game Friday between Inglewood and Morningside high schools,” the IUSD stamen read. “We will conduct a full investigation and take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that a similar outcome never happens again under an IUSD athletic program.”

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Inglewood Football Coach Mil’Von James (Nick Koza/Photo)
Inglewood Football Coach Mil’Von James (Nick Koza/Photo)

By Kenneth Miller | Inglewood Today

Coaches push the athletes they train to put their all into mastering the mental and physical aspects of their sport, preparing them to edge out competitors and perform at the height of their abilities.

But there are real-life situations, it seems, when attaining excellence proves to be too much – or maybe just not good enough.

This seems to have been the case October 29 when an impressive shut-out victory for Inglewood High School in Los Angeles County ended up turning into a bitter crosstown game of guilt, blame and grievances. That day, Inglewood High football coach and former Cleveland Browns defensive back Mil’Von James led his team to a 106-0 victory over rivals Morningside High School.

Since that shellacking, education authorities have blasted James and Inglewood High for being too focused on winning that they failed to exhibit a spirit of compassion and sportsmanship.

The California Interscholastic Federation -Southern Section (CIFSS), the governing body of high school athletics in the state, released a scathing statement regarding the wide margin of the game’s final score.

“The CIF Southern Section expects that all athletic contests are to be conducted under the strictest code of good sportsmanship. “We expect coaches, players, officials, administrators and students to adhere to the Six Pillars of Character – Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring and Citizenship,” CIF-SS fired off in a statement.

“A score of 106-0 does not represent these ideals,” the statement continued. “The CIF-SS condemns, in the strongest terms, results such as these. It is our expectation that the Inglewood administration will work towards putting in place an action plan so that an event such as this does not repeat itself.”

James, 38, said it was not his intention to degrade or demoralize the Morningside High team.

“I apologized for the way things turned out,” James said even though, during the game, he benched his defensive starters after the second quarter and most of his other frontline players in the second half.

But Inglewood continued to run up the score on its hapless opponent.

Anyone who knows James personally would know – and can attest to the fact — that his intent was never to bring shame to the game that he loves.

Coaches like James who have played college and pro football understand the fierce competitiveness it requires for young people to succeed when pursuing careers as professional athletes. They train their students to be warriors, to dominate their opponents. Varsity sports is the highest level of competition in high school.

Today, the advancement of training techniques and year-round coaching and development increases the likelihood that schools with the resources will outperform schools with sports programs that are underfunded or under-supported.

Since he became coach at Inglewood High three seasons ago, James has taken the team from a losing streak to being nearly undefeated. During that time, the team has moved from CIF-SS Division 13 to Division 2.

Inglewood student athletes have advantages in coaching and preparation that Morningside and many other schools do not.

James was a star on the football squad at Fremont High School in Los Angeles where he graduated in 2003. In college, he first played for the UNLV Rebels where he led the nation in passes; before transferring to UCLA and playing for the Bruins from 2003-2005.

After brief stints in the NFL and the Canadian Football League on the roster for the Cleveland Browns and the Vancouver Lions respectively, James began coaching high school football.

He is the founder and director of one of most successful ‘7 on 7’ leagues in the nation, responsible for scores of future and current high school, collegiate and professional players.

Chances are, if you have observed any top football program in California, you have you witnessed his impact on young players, their development and their unmatched leadership skills – on the field and off it.

The Inglewood Unified School District also blasted James and Inglewood High.

“Regarding Inglewood H.S. vs. Morningside H.S. Friday night 10/29 game, we at the Inglewood Unified School District (IUSD) are saddened beyond words by the events that transpired at the football game Friday between Inglewood and Morningside high schools,” the IUSD stamen read. “We will conduct a full investigation and take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that a similar outcome never happens again under an IUSD athletic program.”

High school sports, in many schools, is a training ground for college and pro athletes. Schools that have better resources will always have an edge.

It is unfortunate that this incident has placed a dark cloud over a high school sports program. Inglewood High’s football program should be celebrated for its league championship and undefeated record in a school district that is still in state receivership.

Kenneth Miller is the publisher of Inglewood Today.

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