Saturday, March 25, 2017

Ehrler Will Lead The Field Into The Final Round Of The Bassmaster Classic

Brent Ehrler of Newport Beach, Calif., maintains the lead on the second day of the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods at Lake Conroe, bringing 20 pounds, 1 ounce to the scales on Saturday for a two-day total weight of 43-4. Photo by Seigo Saito/B.A.S.S.
HOUSTON, TEXAS (25 March 2017)  Brent Ehrler is trying his best to stay grounded. He’s saying all the right things. But after two big days, there’s just no denying that he’s one step away from the biggest accomplishment of his professional bass fishing career.
The 40-year-old California angler caught five bass Saturday that weighed 20 pounds, 1 ounce and pushed his two-day total to 43-4 in front of a giant crowd at Minute Maid Park, home of Major League Baseball’s Houston Astros. That was good enough to lead the 47th annual GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods on Lake Conroe by more than 2 pounds going into Sunday’s final round.
“I didn’t know what I could catch today in the area where I’ve been fishing,” Ehrler said. “I thought I could go in there, and if I caught a limit, they’d weigh 15 to 16 pounds. You just don’t know what’s there until you start pulling on more of them.
“I could go in there tomorrow and not have a limit. I could go in there and catch 13 or 14 pounds, or I could have 25 pounds.”
Unlike Day 1 when the winds blew 20- to 30-mph, things were relatively calm on Conroe Saturday. Ehrler said that helped his cause — even though his weight was slightly lower than the 23-3 he caught Friday.
“I think it was better,” said Ehrler, who still hasn’t been open about how he’s catching his fish with one more day to go. “I would prefer to have less wind.
“I think in the best-case scenario, if it was slick calm, I could probably really catch them.”
After taking the early lead Friday, Ehrler said he prefers to start a little farther back and slowly work his way up the leaderboard by the final day. But he knows he’ll begin Championship Sunday as the man everyone is trying to top with a $300,000 first-place prize on the line.
The tournament has long been considered the Super Bowl of professional bass fishing, with a total purse of $1 million — and this year’s event is considered perhaps the biggest in history with chances for all-time attendance records to be set. Thousands of people have already lined up each day for takeoffs at Lake Conroe Park, the Outdoors Expo presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods at the George R. Brown Convention Center and the daily weigh-ins at Minute Maid Park.
Many of the 52 anglers in the field have never experienced this kind of pressure — and Ehrler admitted he’s feeling it a little bit.

“You have that target on your back, and it’s really a hard thing to do,” said Ehrler, who still leads the race for Berkley Big Bass of the event with the 9-12 largemouth he caught Friday. “It’s harder to sleep. I would like to be back and have that confidence that if I caught a big stringer, I’d have that ability to win.
“Right now, I have to worry about stumbling. In this position, you have to worry about everything.”
Ehrler certainly doesn’t have much margin for error with six anglers within 7 pounds of his total, including three former Classic champions. Pennsylvania pro Dave Lefebre is second with 41-1, followed by defending Classic champ Edwin Evers of Oklahoma (39-0), Oklahoma angler James Elam (37-13), Bradley Roy of Kentucky (37-10), the 2003 Classic winner Michael Iaconelli of New Jersey (37-8) and four-time Classic champion Kevin VanDam of Michigan (36-3).
Lefebre, who won the 2009 Toyota Texas Bass Classic on Conroe, said he has stayed in one creek all week and used just one lure on one rod.
“I’ve got 100 spots to fish on this lake, and 25 of them are in that creek,” said Lefebre, who caught 20-6 Friday and 20-11 Saturday. “I don’t think I’m going to leave that creek. I tried to leave about 10 of them for Sunday, but I had to hit them all today.”
Predictably, with the better weather, Lefebre said there was more boat traffic in the area he was fishing Saturday. But he thinks his technique is different enough to help him overcome the crowds.
“You can’t just fish around in there any way you want to and catch them,” Lefebre said. “I’m fishing areas the size of a light socket, and I’ve got a bait that I think the fish are keying on. I might have to make seven casts to that light switch, but they’re eventually eating it.
“I pulled in behind some of the best fishermen on Earth today and still caught them.”
Evers, who fished three distinctly different patterns to win last year’s Classic on Oklahoma’s Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees, said he’s been making subtle changes each day this year as well.
“Friday was a little bit different from today,” he said. “There’s a lot of stuff you can try on this lake. I’ve probably used six or seven baits — just switching up a little bit, depending on the time of day and the conditions.
“As for the wind and the conditions tomorrow, I’ll take it either way.”
The Top 25 remaining anglers will take off at 7:20 a.m. CT from Lake Conroe Park in Montgomery, Texas. The final weigh-in will take place at Minute Maid Park, with doors opening at 3 p.m. for B.A.S.S. Life and Nation members and at 3:15 p.m. for the general public.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Careers At Stake In 2017 Bassmaster Classic

The 2016 Bassmaster Classic champion Edwin Evers of Talala, Okla., is looking to defend 
his title at the 2017 Bassmaster Classic in Houston, Texas, Friday through Sunday. 
Evers is the third angler in a row to win the Bassmaster Classic in his home state. Photo by B.A.S.S.

HOUSTON, TEXAS (22 March 2017) Aside from the impressive $300,00 first-place prize and internationally renowned world title, the stakes are high at the 2017 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods taking place in Houston and on Lake Conroe, Texas, Friday through Sunday.

The world’s Top 52 bass anglers will vie for a title that has been known to change lives, make relatively unfamiliar anglers into superstars and turn struggling professional fishing careers into overnight successes.

For some, the stakes couldn’t be higher.

Randy Howell of Guntersville, Ala., came from behind on the final day to win the 2014 Bassmaster Classic on famous Lake Guntersville.

“It was a dream come true, no doubt about it,” said Howell. “The Classic is the pinnacle of professional fishing, just like the World Series and the Super Bowl. It’s a title that sticks with you forever, and makes you a part of history.”

The 18-year veteran pro angler said his Classic victory not only impacted his personal life by fulfilling a long-time dream, but it also tremendously benefitted the business side of his career.

“Earning that title was such a huge blessing for my family and me,” he said. “It has created countless opportunities for me to meet with other dedicated anglers and talk fishing, share my personal story and my faith with the fishing community all across the country.”

Fully understanding the gravity of winning the Classic, Casey Ashley of Donalds, S.C., won the 2015 Bassmaster Classic in front of his hometown crowd on Lake Hartwell.

“There’s no doubt that making a living in this sport can be very challenging,” said Ashley. “After winning the Classic, I found there to be more opportunities to work with sponsors and better earn a living. But winning in South Carolina, where I grew up and learned how to fish, was the icing on the cake for me.”

Ashley believes winning a second title would be monumental, joining only a select few who have claimed multiple Classic wins.

“My high school baseball coach taught us that being satisfied turns into complacency, and that’s when success ends,” the 33-year old angler said. “My dream as a kid was to win the Classic, and to say I’m living my dream is absolutely the truth, and something I’m very thankful for. I know being unwilling to settle has been very important to my career. I promise you there’s something special about winning the Bassmaster Classic, especially your first one, but I want to do it again, and it doesn’t matter where.”

In its near 50-year history only five anglers have won multiple Classic titles, including: Rick Clunn (4), Kevin VanDam (4), Bobby Murray (2), Hank Parker (2) and George Cochran (2). Only Clunn and VanDam won back-to-back Classics, 1976-77 and 2010-11 respectively.

At this point, the only angler with a shot at joining the ranks of winning two in a row is the reigning 2016 Bassmaster Classic champion Edwin Evers of Talala, Okla.

“Tournament anglers are a competitive bunch of people, and every one of us on the Elite Series wants to win every event, especially the Classic,” said Evers. “I’ve had a great career, and I feel very blessed and fortunate to do what I do. Winning last year’s Classic after competing in so many before, and coming so close numerous times, is a championship I’m very humbled by.”

The 16-time Classic qualifier said winning a second title in Houston would mean just as much as it did on Oklahoma’s Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees last year.

“I’m a long ways from hanging it up,” Evers said. “Every opportunity I’m given to compete at the Classic, you can bet that I’m going to give it everything I’ve got and fish for the win. Winning the Classic is the best thing that can happen to a bass angler. But winning several or even back-to-back titles? That’s an experience I truly hope I get to have this year.”

He said winning the Classic has lasting impacts for anglers across the age and experience spectrum.

“The Classic is the biggest stage in fishing, and earning the title of world champion is surreal. By winning, you’ve become a part of history,” he said. “Looking at many of the young anglers fishing this year’s Classic in Houston, I realize a win would propel them to a whole new level. It would easily make their careers, and I’d be truly happy to see that happen. But I’m not going to just let them have it; I’ll be there to win again, too.”

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Rice Owls down UTRGV in 2nd round of WBI

Photo by Robert H Kelly
Copyright 2017 All Rights Reserved
By Robert H Kelly
Copyright 2017 TexSport Publications

HOUSTON, TEXAS (March 19, 2017) The Rice Owls moved to the semifinals of the 2017 Women’s Basketball Invitational (WBI) with a 73-63 win over the UT Rio Grande Valley Vaqueros by the score of 73-63 at Tudor Fieldhouse on Sunday, March 19, 2017. They will face the winner of the Idaho vs. Eastern Washington game, which is to be played on Monday, March 20 in Cheney, Washington.

Senior Jasmine Goodwine tallied 23 points and 14 rebounds for her sixth career double-double. The Killeen, Texas native shot 9-of-16 from the field and 4-of 6 from the free throw line. Sophomore Lauren Grigsby added 24 points for the Owls while going 12-of-12 from the line. The Vaqueros were 20-of-65 from the field (31%) and 18-of-26 from the free throw line.

The win was the first time since the 1998-1999 season that the Owls have won two games in the post-season. Playing in the Women’s NIT, they downed Miami 65-58 and Baylor 82-20 before falling to Arkansas 76-70 in the third round.

Houston Dynamo fall 4-2 to Portland Timbers

File photo by Darla S Tamulitis
La Vita Loca Photography
Copyright 2017, All Rights Reserved
By Robert H Kelly
Copyright 2017 TexSport Publications

PORTLAND, OREGON (19 March 2017) The Houston Dynamo fell to the Portland Timbers by the score of 4-2 on the road on Saturday evening,  18 March 2017. The loss drops the Dynamo to 2-1-0 on the season. Houston trailed for the first time this season when Portland midfielder Diego Valeri converted a penalty in the 11th minute. The penalty was awarded when referee Allen Chapman ruled that Dynamo defender DaMarcus Beasley was guilty of a handball on the edge of the Houston penalty area. 

Forward Erick Torres scored on a penalty kick in the 38th minute, giving him three goals in as many games. Forward Alberth Elis registered his first assist as a member of the Dynamo and first in MLS play when he collected a ball near midfield and drove toward the Portland penalty area before laying off a pass to FW Romell Quioto, who was unmarked in front of the goal. Houston will next play on 1 April 2017 with a matchup against the New York Red Bulls.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Houston takes 4-1 win over Alabama State

Photo by Robert H Kelly
Copyright 2017 All Rights Reserved
By Robert H Kelly
Copyright 2017 TexSport Publications

HOUSTON, TEXAS (18 March 2017) The Houston Cougars took down the Alabama State Hornets by the score of 4-1 at Schroeder Park in Houston on Saturday, March 18, 2017. On Friday, they also beat the Hornets 10-2 to set up a series sweep on Sunday, when they play the final game of their current weekend series.

Corey Julks got the Cougars on the scoreboard in the fourth inning with a two-run single off Alabama State starter Burke Echeimeier on an 0-2 pitch. He scored Lael Lockhart and Jordan Monacy. Lockhart reached base on a walk and advanced to third on a double by Monacy. The Cougars got out of the inning with a two-run lead. They added an insurance run in the fifth when Lockhart singled on a to send Joe Davis home from third and closed out their scoring with a seventh inning home run by Jake Scheider. The round tripper was the fifth of the season for the Cougar shortstop. The Hornets finally scored in the sixth when designated hitter Cage Cox singled to send center fielder Edgardo Rivera home from third.

Houston starting pitcher Mitch Ullom received the win, throwing 7.1 innings and giving up five hits and one earned run while striking out four. Aaron Fletcher, throwing 1.2 innings in relief, got the save, hos fourth of the season. Offensively, Julks went 1-for-4 with two RBI. Scheiner was 3-for-4 with a home run.

Next up for the Cougars is a 12-noon first pitch against the Hornets on Sunday, march 19 to close out the series.

2017 NCAA Division 1 Men's Basketball Tournament, First Round Results

By Robert H Kelly
Copyright 2017 TexSport Publications

DEER PARK, TEXAS (March 18, 2017) Here are the scores for the first round games of the 2017 NCAA Division 1 Men's Basketball Tournament. My picks are underlined.


No. 1 Villanova 76, No. 16 Mount St. Mary’s 56
No. 8 Wisconsin 84, No. 9 Virginia Tech 74
No. 5 Virginia 76, No. 12 UNC-Wilmington 71
No. 4 Florida 80, No. 13 East Tennessee State 65
No. 11 USC 66, No. 6 SMU 65
No. 3 Baylor 91, No. 14 New Mexico State 73
No. 7 South Carolina 93, No. 10 Marquette 73
No. 2 Duke 87, No. 15 Troy 65

No. 1 Gonzaga 66, No. 16 South Dakota State 46
No. 8 Northwestern 68,  No. 9 Vanderbilt 66
No. 5 Notre Dame 60, No. 12 Princeton 58
No. 4 West Virginia 86, No. 13 Bucknell 66
No. 11 Xavier 78, No. 6 Maryland 65
No. 3 Florida State 86, No. 14 Florida Gulf Coast 80
No. 7 Saint Mary’s 85, No. 10 VCU 77
No. 2 Arizona 100, No. 15 North Dakota 82

No. 1 Kansas 100 No. 16 UC Davis 62
No. 9 Michigan State 78 No. 8 Miami (FL) 58
No. 5 Iowa State 84, No. 12 Nevada 73
No. 4 Purdue 80, No. 13 Vermont 70
No. 11 Rhode Island 84, No. 6 Creighton 72
No. 3 Oregon 93, No. 14 Iona 77
No. 10 Oklahoma State 91 No. 7 Michigan 92
No. 2 Louisville 78, No. 15 Jacksonville State 63

No. 1 North Carolina 103, No. 16 Texas Southern 64
No. 8 Arkansas 77, No. 9 Seton Hall 71
No. 12 Middle Tennessee 81, No. 5 Minnesota 72
No. 4 Butler 76, No. 13 Winthrop 64
No. 6 Cincinnati 75, No. 11 Kansas State 61
No. 3 UCLA 97, No. 14 Kent State 80
No. 10 Wichita State 64, No. 7 Dayton 58
No. 2 Kentucky 79, No. 15 Northern Kentucky 70

Current results: 26 correct, six missed, 26-of-32, .8125
Previous results: Three correct, one missed, 3-of-4, .750
Total results (to date): 29 correct, seven missed, 29-of-26, .805...

Friday, March 17, 2017

Houston to host 2017 Bassmaster Classic

Photo courtsey of Walton LaVonda,
By Robert H Kelly
Copyright 2017 TexSport Publications

HOUSTON, TEXAS (February 17, 2017) Beginning on March 24 and continuing until March 26, the city of Houston and surrounding area will play host to the 2017 GEICO Bassmaster Classic. The competition which will be presented by DICK’s Sporting Goods will bring 52 of the best bass anglers to H Town in the 47th edition of the world championship of bass fishing.

The competitive fishing will occur at Lake Conroe Park, which is a short 30-minute drive from Houston, in Montgomery, Texas.  Beginning at 7:20 a.m. CDT each day, with the official weigh-in daily at 3:15 p.m. at Houston’s Minute Maid Park. The park, which is the home of the Major League Baseball’s Houston Astros will be the central location for the Classic, along with nearby George R. Brown Convention Center. The Center, which is two blocks from Minute Maid Park, will host the Bassmaster Classic Outdoor Expo. The Expo, along with the afternoon weigh-ins, is free to the public. Hours at the Expo are Friday, March 24, 12 p.m to 8 p.m., Saturday, March 25, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday, March 26, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Rice Owls advance in WBI with 73-72 win over Lamar

Photo by Darla S. Tamuitis
La Vita Loca Photography
Copyright 2017
All Rights Reserved
By Robert H Kelly
Copyright 2017 TexSport Publications

HOUSTON, TEXAS (March 16, 2017) Leading at halftime 35-27 due largely to the shooting of senior Jasmine Goodwine (No. 33, shown right), the Rice Owls (19-13) went on to down the Lamar Cardinals (22-8) by the score of 73-72 in a first-round game of the Women’s Basketball Invitational (WBI) at Tudor Fieldhouse on Thursday, March, 16, 2017. With the win, the Owls will face UT-Rio Grande Valley in the quarterfinals of the tournament at home on Sunday, March 19 with a 2 p.m. CDT tipoff. The Owls and Lady Cardinals have played each other 31 times, with the current win raising Rice’s record to 9-22.

Goodwine, who played her prep ball at Killeen (Texas) High School, scored 21 points along with pulling down six rebounds and three assists. Both Maya Hawkins and Shani Rainey each added 14 points for the Owls. Lamar had three players in double figures; with Kiandra Bowers and Chastadie Barrs each scoring 14, while Moe Kinard chipped in 11. The Owls led by a game-high 11 points at the 9:50 mark in the third period while leading the game for 32:40. Rice head coach Tina Langley stated after the game:
Photo by Darla S. Tamuitis
La Vita Loca Photography
Copyright 2017
All Rights Reserved

 “I couldn’t be more proud of our team and staff. This season has been a journey that we’ve really enjoyed so far and we definitely don’t want it to end. I’m really excited about the progress we’ve made this season.”

The win was the sixth victory in post-season play for the Owls, with their last previous win coming during the 2005-2006 season when the downed Jackson State 64-48 in the first round of the WNIT. That win was also the last time the Owls hosted a post season game.

When Rice faces UT-Rio Grande Valley on Sunday, they will be looking at a team that finished fourth in the regular season of the Western Athletic Conference (WAC). In the conference tournament, the No. 4 Vaqueros dropped a 77-69 decision to the No. 5 University of Missouri-Kansas City Kangaroos in Las Vegas.

2017 NCAA Division 1 Men's Basketball Tournament, First Rounds Picks

By Robert H Kelly
Copyright 2017 TexSport Publications

DEER PARK, TEXAS (March 16, 2017) Here are my picks for the first round games of the 2017 NCAA Division 1 Men's Basketball Tournament. 


No. 1 Villanova over No. 16 Mount St. Mary’s
No. 8 Wisconsin over No. 9 Virginia Tech
No. 5 Virginia over No. 12 UNC-Wilmington
No. 4 Florida over No. 13 East Tennessee State
No. 6 SMU over No. 11 USC
No. 3 Baylor over No. 14 New Mexico State 
No. 10 Marquette over No. 7 South Carolina
No. 2 Duke over No. 15 Troy 

No. 1 Gonzaga 66 over South Dakota State
No. 8 Northwestern over No. 9 Vanderbilt 
No. 5 Notre Dame over No. 12 Princeton
No. 4 West Virginia over No. 13 Bucknell 
No. 6 Maryland over No. 11 Xavier 
No. 3 Florida State over No. 14 Florida Gulf Coast 
No. 7 Saint Mary’s over No. 10 VCU
No. 2 Arizona over No. 15 North Dakota 

No. 1 Kansas over No. 16 UC Davis
No. 9 Michigan State over No. 8 Miami
No. 5 Iowa State over No. 12 Nevada 
No. 4 Purdue over  No. 13 Vermont 
No. 11 Rhode Island  over No. 6 Creighton
No. 3 Oregon over No. 14 Iona 
No. 10 Oklahoma State over No. 7 Michigan
No. 2 Louisville over No. 15 Jacksonville State 

No. 1 North Carolina over No. 16 Texas Southern
No. 9 Seton Hall over No. 8 Arkansas
No. 5 Minnesota over No. 12 Middle Tennessee
No. 4 Butler over No. 13 Winthrop
No. 6 Cincinnati over No. 11 Kansas State
No. 3 UCLA vs. No. 14 Kent State 
No. 7 Dayton over No. 10 Wichita State 
No. 2 Kentucky over. No. 15 Northern Kentucky 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

2017 NCAA Division 1 Men's Basketball Tournament; "First Four" Results

By Robert H Kelly
Copyright 2017 TexSport Publications

DEER PARK, TEXAS (March 15, 2017) Here are the scored for the "First Four" games of the 2017 NCAA Division 1 Men's Basketball Tournament. My picks are underlined.

No. 16 Mt. St Mary 67 over No. 16 New Orleans 66 
No. 16 UC Davis 67 over No.16 N.C. State 63
No. 11 USC 75 over N0. 11 Providence 71
No. 11 Kansas St. 95 over No. 11 Wake Forest 88

Results: Three correct, one missed, 3-of-4, .750

Houston Cougars fall to Akron Zips in first round of NIT

Photo by Darla S. Tamulitis
La Vita Loca Photography
Copyright 2017 All Rights Reserved
By Robert H Kelly
Copyright 2017 TexSport Publications

HOUSTON, TEXAS (March 15, 2017) Rob Gray (shown right) led all scorers with 24 points, but it was not enough to enable the No. 2 Houston Cougars to down the No. 7 Akron Zips in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament. The Zips beat the Cougars by the score of 78-75 at the Health and Physical Education Arena on the Campus of Texas Southern University on Wednesday, March 15, 2017. The loss eliminated the Cougars from the NIT and gave Houston a 21-11 record for the season.

(To view a slideshow from the game, click here.)

The game, which was the third meeting between the schools, was a physical affair with 40 personal fouls being called and three players fouling out. Five players, including Gray, scored in double figures. Damyean Dotson (shown below) scored 19 with Devin Davis added 10. Isaiah Johnson tallied 21 points for the Zips with Jimond Ivey added 10. 

Photo by Darla S. Tamulitis
La Vita Loca Photography
Copyright 2017 All Rights Reserved
Houston led at halftime 35-34, but were outscored in the second half 44-40. The Cougars pulled out to a game high seven-point lead at the 4:34 mark in the first half, but could not contain the Zips in the second half.

Houston head coach Kelvin Sampson talked with the press after the game. His comments can be viewed by clicking here.

Previously, the teams had played twice before. Their first meeting, on November 27, 1983 with the Cougars coming out on top 69-53 at Hofheinz Pavilion. The second meeting came a little over a year later, on December 3, 1994, with Akron winning 66-56 at home.

The loss closed out the college careers of five Houston seniors. Kyle Meyer scored four points and pulled down six rebounds with fellow seniors Dotson (19 points, six rebounds) and Bertrand Nkali (two points, three rebounds). Fellow seniors Danrad Knowles and Xavier Dupree did not see action.

With the win, Akron moved to 27-8 for the season and will face Texas-Arlington, who was 105-89 winner over BYU, in the second round.

Monday, March 13, 2017

NCAA Division 1 Men's Basketball Tournament 2017 "First Four" Picks

By Robert H Kelly
Copyright 2017 TexSport Publications

DEER PARK, TEXAS (March 13, 2017) Below are my picks for the "First Four" games of the 2017 NCAA Division 1 Men's Basketball Tournament. 

No. 16 New Orleans over No. 16 Mt. St Mary
No. 16 UC Davis over No.16 N.C. State
No. 11 USC over N0. 11 Providence

No. 11 Kansas St. over No. 11 Wake Forest

Lamar and Rice to faceoff in first round of Women's Basketball Invitational

By Robert H. Kelly
Copyright 2017 TexSport Publications

PASADENA, TEXAS (March 13, 2017) The Lamar Cardinals women’s basketball team has received a bid to play in the 2017 Women’s Basketball Invitational (WBI). The Cardinals will face the Rice Owls at Tutor Fieldhouse in Houston on Thursday, March 17, 2017. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. CDT.

Lamar is coming off a 22-7 season in which they posted a third-place finish in the Southland Conference with a 15-3 record. In the first round of the Southland Conference tournament, the Cardinals fell to Stephen F. Austin 62-48. Rice finished the regular season with a 18-13 record and an 8-10 record in conference play.

The Cardinals hold a 22-7 record all time against the Owls. The WBI is a 16-team postseason tournament that started in 2010. The Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns have won the past two tournaments.