High Country Sports Roundup.... (2016-12-05 20:48:10)

Camellia Bowl Bound: App State Will Face Toledo on Dec. 17....NEW ORLEANS – Appalachian State will face the Toledo on Dec. 17 in the 2016 Camellia Bowl at the Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, Ala. Kickoff is at 5:30 p.m. ET. The game will be televised on ESPN.


 The Sun Belt Conference-Mid-American matchup was announced on Sunday afternoon as the 2016-2017 bowl schedule was unveiled.

App State (9-3, 7-1 Sun Belt) claimed a Sun Belt Championship for the first time in 2016 behind a record-setting defense and the Sun Belt’s top offense during league play. The Mountaineers finished the regular season with back-to-back one sided wins over UL Monroe and New Mexico State, allowing only 94 points in Sun Belt play, the fewest allowed in conference history in an eight-game schedule.

Toledo (9-3, 6-2 MAC) finished second in the MAC West behind Western Michigan to earn the Camellia Bowl berth. The Rockets have wins over Arkansas State and Fresno State.

The Camellia Bowl will feature two of college football’s active rushing leaders in App’sMarcus Cox (4,960 career yards) who needs 40 yards for 5,000. Toledo’s Kareem Hunthas 4,825 career yards and will also be chasing 5,000 yards.  

The bowl berth is the second in as many seasons for App State, both in the Camellia Bowl. App went 11-2 last season and claimed a 31-29 win over Ohio on a last season field goal in the 2015 Camellia Bowl. App rallied from a 24-7 deficit to set a Sun Belt record for wins in a season (11) and became the first team to win a bowl game in their first FBS bowl eligible season.

The Sun Belt regular season was completed on Saturday. All-conference awards will be released on Wednesday afternoon. A bowl practice schedule, media availability, and bowl travel plans for the Apps will be announced on Monday.



App State Head Coach, Scott Satterfield

“Very excited to be going bowling for our second straight year, and it's the third year in a row we're bowl eligible. That's exciting for our program, our players, our fans. Going back to the Camellia Bowl, we had a great experience last year going to our first bowl game. It was new to everyone, and I thought they treated us great down there. The city was great to us, and Johnny (Williams) running the bowl really did a first-class job of setting us up with a lot of different things.”


On facing Toledo…

Going back, I think most of our staff and players will be accustomed to what's going to happen there. Playing a different opponent, another MAC school, but a team in Toledo that I'm pretty familiar with. I'm familiar with their coach, Jason Candle, we were on the same staff together that one year we were there.


On bowl and opponent preference…

I really didn't have any preference, to be honest, because I don't have any control over it. None of us do, so the things I can't control, I don't really worry about. We've always been that way here. The hand we're dealt, we deal with it and attack it.


On what’s different from a season ago…

For me, it doesn't matter. For me, it's all about going there and getting a win. It's been a good week to heal up. We're actually in better shape now then we were in this time last year. i remember coming out of the South Alabama game last year and we were really beat up. That would have been like yesterday since we had to play the last week of the season. We're in better shape physically. We should be well rested and very healthy.


App State Director of Athletics, Doug Gillin

“We'll draw better in Montgomery than maybe we would have in New Orleans, even though there's a lot of excitement in playing in the first-pick bowl, not necessarily the championship bowl. I think our fan base is excited about anywhere. I think we'll travel well. A lot of folks that I've talked to over the last couple days have said, if we got to Camellia, we're still going. I think if you look at our history, Chattanooga three years in a row, some of the folks I talked to, more people went every year. Now, the Camelia second year in a row, we're familiar with that, a lot of folks can get there in 7-hour drive. I think we'll draw really, really well. As (Scott Satterfield) said, I continue to be amazed and grateful for the fan support Appalachian State has and I expect us to draw as well as we did last year.”


Fourth-Quarter Push not Enough in Loss to Radford

BOONE, N.C. - Despite 11 straight points from redshirt sophomore Q. Murray(Baltimore, Md./George Mason) in the final 3:43 of the game, Appalachian State University women’s basketball fell short against Radford, 57-54, on Sunday afternoon in the Holmes Center.

In a back-and-forth game that never saw a lead for either team grow past nine points, the Mountaineers (4-4) battled tough defensively, holding the Highlanders (5-1) to 18.2 percent from downtown and forced 19 turnovers.

For the first time this season, Appalachian dropped a game while having at least three double-digit scorers. Senior Joi Jones (Duluth, Ga./Duluth) led the pack, having 19 points to go along with a season-high eight rebounds. 

Junior Madi Story was one rebound shy of a double-double, scoring 13 points and grabbing nine boards, while Murray finished with 11 points.

The trio scored 43 of the team’s points and hit 17 of the Apps’ 19 field goals.  App State would connect on a season-high six 3-pointers in the game and shot a season-best 42.9 percent from beyond the arc. 

On the defensive side, senior Ashley Bassett-Smith (Pickerington, Ohio/UT Martin) grabbed three boards, had one steal while blocking two shots on the day. With the blocks, Bassett-Smith became the seventh player all-time in program history to amass 100 blocks and is now tied for sixth all-time with 101 with Jessica Jank (2001-05). 

Trailing the entire game, Appalachian wouldn’t capture its first lead until the 1:54mark when Murray hit a pair of free throws during her 11-point barrage to put the Apps ahead, 49-47. But the Highlanders’ leading scorer, Destinee Walker, scored the next seven points to put the visitors ahead, 53-49, with 26 seconds left in the game.

After Murray came down for her third trey of the quarter, the Apps and Highlanders traded a pair of free throws and a layup from Jones to kept the RU lead to 56-54. Jen Falconer hit the front end of a pair at the line, giving the Mountaineers a chance to tie, but Murray’s tying attempt fell short off the trim, giving RU its fifth consecutive win. 

In what has been App State’s formula in its four wins getting inside the paint and turning turnovers into points,  Radford turned the tide, holding a 14-6 edge in points off turnovers and a 30-16  advantage in points in the paint. 

Despite the opening quarter being close, the Highlanders held onto the lead for the entire frame. RU held App to 25 percent shooting from the field. Jones helped the Apps stay within striking distance scoring nine of the team’s 10 points, while the visitors went into the second quarter with a 13-10 lead. 

RU extended the lead to as much as nine, 23-14, with 3:05 left in the half following an 8-2 run over a 3:28 span. App State responded scoring the next seven points thanks to a pair of jumpers from Jones and a 3-pointer byBrooklyn Allen (Canton, N.C./Pisgah) before the break to slice the deficit to two, 23-21.

Coming out of the half, RU scored seven of the next eight points to push the lead to eight, 30-22. App State once again crawled back to keep the deficit to one possession, but the Highlanders answered as they went into the fourth quarter with a 41-34 lead.  In the third quarter alone RU outscored App State 14-4 in the paint and seven points off of turnovers.

Appalachian kept grinding to get back into the game until Murray caught fire in the final minutes to help App State have a chance to tie the game before regulation. 

Destinee Walker scored a game-high 22 points for the Highlanders with 11 boards while Jayda Worthy recorded a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Sydney Nunley posted 13 off the glass along with nine points.

The Mountaineers now have a full week off before traveling to Atlanta where they will take on Georgia Tech on Sunday, Dec. 11. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m.


Tar Heels Dominate Radford, 95-50

CHAPEL HILL—Kenny Williams III finally had the shooting flurry that third-ranked North Carolina has been waiting to see.

The sophomore had 14 of his career-high 19 points in the opening five minutes, helping the Tar Heels build a huge early lead and beat Radford 95-50 on Sunday.

Williams made his first five shots, including all four 3-point tries, during that opening flurry. Quite a change for a player who was buried on the bench for a veteran team last year, making just 1 of 13 3-pointers and seeing his confidence suffer as a result.

''I've been waiting a year-and-a-half for a game like that,'' Williams said. ''I don't want to say I knew it was coming, but with the confidence I have right now, I kind of expected it.''

While Williams' play stood out, the Tar Heels (8-1) got a scare when they lost point guard Joel Berry II to a sprained left ankle early in the second half. The junior, averaging 16 points, came up hobbled as he drove into the paint and fell to the floor. He got up and walked slowly to the locker room for evaluation with 17:36 left, but didn't return to the UNC bench with the Tar Heels up big.

Coach Roy Williams said Berry would have X-rays to confirm the sprain diagnosis and he was hopeful that Berry would be able to practice before Wednesday's game against Davidson.

''We'll have to wait and see what they say (Monday),'' Williams said, ''but I'm encouraged about it right now.''

The Tar Heels (8-1) were coming off a loss at No. 13 Indiana in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. They had no trouble in this one, running out to an 18-4 lead behind Kenny Williams' opening burst and shooting 57 percent in the first half to build a 51-27 lead by the break.

Justin Cousin scored 14 points to lead the Highlanders (3-5), who shot 31 percent.

''Tough team, man,'' Radford coach Mike Jones said. ''They're so big and physical. We played some good defense inside and they made the shot over us and that's going to happen.''


Radford: The Highlanders, picked sixth in the Big South Conference, had no way to slow the Tar Heels' early tear. And that led to a fourth loss by double-digit margins, three coming by at least 21 points. Still, Radford isn't likely to run up against a team such as UNC in the Big South, either.

UNC: The big shooting performance from Williams and Berry's injury stood out here, with the Tar Heels potentially bolstering their perimeter scoring punch while seeing their floor leader go down to an injury.


The Tar Heels will slide a bit in the AP Top 25 when the new poll comes out Monday, though losing on the road to a team ranked No. 13 nationally likely won't cause a big drop.


If Berry sits out, senior Nate Britt - who has played both guard positions in his career - would appear to be the next man up at the point. Freshman Seventh Woods also will figure into the mix; he had nine points in 22 minutes - both season highs - while getting plenty of work after Berry's exit.


Williams, a 6-foot-4 wing from Midlothian, Virginia, made 5 of 6 3-pointers with a good-looking and confident stroke. Four of those came in the opening minutes, the last one a wide-open look from the left wing that brought Smith Center fans to a roar.

Williams said he worked in the offseason to minimize how much his guide hand pushes on the ball to affect his release.

''He's put in a lot of time,'' Roy Williams said. ''I said even last year when he wasn't putting the ball in the basket that he was going to be a good defensive player and I'm not sure he's not our best perimeter defender right now.''


Radford: The Highlanders host Elon on Saturday.

UNC: The Tar Heels play at home against Davidson on Wednesday night.


'Dads 2017 Coaching Staff Announced
Hickory, NC- The Texas Rangers, Major League parent club of the Hickory Crawdads, have announced the 2017 coaching staff for the 'Dads, with Spike Owen tabbed as the new manager. Owen will become the 16th manager in Crawdads history and fifth since the start of the affiliation with the Rangers. 
Owen highlights a group of four newcomers, including hitting coach Kenny Hook, coach Sharnol Adriana, and strength and conditioning coach Adam Noel. Both pitching coach Jose Jaimes and athletic trainer Dustin Vissering will return for their second season in Hickory.
Owen, 55, originally named the Crawdads manager for the 2016 season, spent last year with the Texas Rangers as the interim third base coach. He made his managerial debut with the Class-A Advanced High Desert Mavericks in 2015, where he guided the team to a 78-62 record and a Second Half South Division title in the California League. Owen originally joined the Rangers organization in 2009 and served two seasons as minor league infield coordinator before spending four years as a member of the coaching staff at Triple-A Round Rock. Drafted by Seattle in the 1st round (6th overall selection) in the 1982 Draft, Owen went on to hit .246 with 46 home runs and 439 RBI over 1,544 big league games. In addition to almost four seasons with the Mariners (1983-86), he also spent time in the Boston (1986-88), Montreal (1989-92), New York - AL (1993) and California (1994-95) organizations before ending his playing career with the Rangers Triple-A affiliate in Oklahoma City in 1996.   

Hook, 41, will be in his first year as hitting coach for the Crawdads and his fourth full year in the Rangers organization. He served in the same capacity last season with the short-season Spokane Indians as well as the two previous seasons with the AZL Rangers. The Texas native spent three seasons with the Kansas City T-Bones of the independent American Association, including two years as manager from 2012-13. Hook played professionally for the Amarillo Dillas from 1997-2000 and was a part of their 1999 Texas-Louisiana championship club.

Jaimes, 32, returns to Hickory for his second year as pitching coach and his ninth full year in the Rangers organization. The former Texas farmhand began his coaching career during the 2008 campaign, when he served in a dual role as a player and pitching coach in the Arizona League. The Venezuela native would go on to spend four seasons as a pitching coach with the DSL Rangers before making his stateside debut in 2013 with the AZL Rangers and serving in the same capacity in 2014 with the Spokane Indians. Jaimes was originally signed by the Rangers as a non-drafted free agent in 2001 and went 12-8 with a 4.93 ERA over six seasons in the Texas farm system.
Adriana, 46, joins the Crawdads after serving as coach for the Double-A Frisco RoughRiders last season. He joined the Rangers organization in January 2016 after previously working as a hitting coach for Veracruz in the Mexican League following a playing a career that spanned 23 years. The Curacao native was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 15th round of the 1991 June Draft out of Martin Methodist University in Pulaski, TN. Adriana went on to play eight seasons in the Blue Jays minor league system prior to 15 seasons in the Independent and Mexican Leagues. In 2014, he played his final season at age 43 with Veracruz and Reynosa in the Mexican League.
Vissering, 29, returns to the Crawdads for his second season as the team's athletic trainer and fourth overall with Texas. He was previously the trainer with the AZL Rangers in 2014 and for Spokane in 2015. Prior to joining the Rangers, Vissering spent the 2013 season as a minor league athletic trainer in the Kansas City organization before working as an assistant athletic trainer in the Arizona Fall League. The Illinois State graduate worked as a student athletic trainer during his time on campus, in addition to time as trainer at Normal West Community High School. Vissering was also a graduate assistant at Western Illinois University, where he obtained a M.S. of Science in Sport Management.
Noel, 27, enters his first year as strength and conditioning coach for the Crawdads after serving in the same role with the AZL Rangers last season. He joined the Rangers organization in September 2015 after spending the previous two years as a graduate assistant athletic performance coach at San Jose State University, where he earned a Masters of Art degree in Kinesiology and worked with Olympic Sports. Noel has also worked as an intern athletic performance coach at UCLA and performance coach at Velocity Sports Performance. He graduated from Cal State Fullerton in 2012 with a Bachelors of Science in Kinesiology.
For more information on the Crawdads 2017 coaching staff, call the 'Dads front office at (828) 322-3000.

Sun Belt shatters record, sends six teams to bowl games

NEW ORLEANS – Six Sun Belt Conference football programs accepted bowl invitations Sunday – a new record number for the conference.

The six postseason teams breaks the previous Sun Belt record of four set in 2012 and tied last season.

The R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl will feature the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns, the Dollar General Bowl will have the Troy Trojans, the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl will welcome back the Appalachian State Mountaineers, the AutoNation Cure Bowl will have the Arkansas State Red Wolves and, in its first game with a primary tie-in with the Sun Belt Conference, the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl will host the South Alabama Jaguars. The Idaho Vandals will participate in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
For the fifth time in the last six years, Louisiana (6-6, 5-3) will be making the short trip down I-10 to play in the New Orleans Bowl. The Ragin’ Cajuns, which secured their sixth win on the final day of the regular season, have won all four of their appearances in the bowl game.

Troy (9-3, 6-2) will play in a bowl game for first time since 2010 and its sixth time in program history. The Trojans will be making a second appearance in a Mobile, Ala., bowl game after it played in the 2010 game. The Trojans played in four bowl games in five seasons from 2006 to 2010. The 2016 campaign saw the Trojans become the Sun Belt Conference’s first ever top-25 ranked team as they entered the poll after defeating Appalachian State on Nov. 12. 

Appalachian State (9-3, 7-1), the co-champions of the Sun Belt this year, will make a second consecutive appearance in the Camellia Bowl after defeating Ohio in last year’s rendition 31-29 for its first bowl win in program history.

Arkansas State (7-5, 7-1), which clinched at least a share of the Sun Belt title for the fifth time in the last six seasons, will play in a postseason bowl game for the sixth consecutive season when it plays in the Cure Bowl.

The Arizona Bowl welcomes South Alabama (6-6, 2-6) this season. The bowl game, which played its first game last season, is in its first year with a primary bowl tie-in with the Sun Belt Conference. The Jaguars will be making a second bowl appearance in just their fifth year as a FBS program. The Jaguars own wins against a top-25 opponent (San Diego State) and an SEC foe (Mississippi State) this season.

The Idaho Vandals (7-4, 5-2) are bowl eligible for the first time since 2009 and their selection in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl comes as from outside of the Sun Belt’s five bowl agreements.

“This was an unprecedented year for Sun Belt Conference football with our first AP Top 25 team and six bowl representatives that have all had impressive seasons,” Sun Belt Commissioner Karl Benson said. “Our bowl partners are excited to host these teams that are all veterans of postseason bowl play. Arkansas State is making a sixth straight bowl appearance while Louisiana is in the New Orleans Bowl for the fifth time in the last six years with four wins in those games. Troy has completed an exciting turnaround to return to a bowl game and Appalachian State is in a bowl game for the second time in three years as a FBS program. South Alabama turned in two of the most exciting non-conference wins in recent history this year to get its second bowl bid in three seasons. Idaho has undergone a remarkable turnaround to get to its first bowl game since 2009.”

Photo Courtesy: Six SBC Teams Headed to Bowl Games, SBC Athletics