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Zion Williamson Confident in His Health, Pelicans’ Prospects | Sports News

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By BRETT MARTEL, AP Sports Writer

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson credits his mother’s wisdom with helping him manage life’s unanticipated twists and inevitable assortment of successes and setbacks.

It has served the NBA’s top overall draft choice well during a highly unusual debut season that has gone nothing like he imagined, yet still holds plenty of promise.

“The last 12 months have been a different experience,” Williamson said Thursday, projecting his typically affable, smiling, easy-going manner during a video conference at the New Orleans Pelicans’ practice headquarters. “My mom tells me, ‘Life is life. You may go through a lot of bad times. You may go through a lot of good times. It’s just: Try to prepare yourself as best as you can.’”

Now Williamson and the Pelicans are preparing to make a “playoff push,” something that appeared highly unlikely when he was sitting on the sidelines with a surgically repaired knee, watching New Orleans labor through a franchise-worst 13-game losing streak that left the club with a record of 6-22.

“I think this team can be really special when we’re all healthy,” Williamson said.

The 6-foot-6, 285-pound Williamson was expected to be out six to eight weeks when he had surgery to repair his torn right lateral meniscus the day before the regular season. He wound up missing about three months and 44 games. When he finally returned on Jan. 22, fans packed the stands and Williamson routinely delighted them with around-the-rim highlights.

Williamson averaged 23.6 points and 6.8 rebounds in the 19 games he played. New Orleans won 10 of those games and looked to be gaining momentum when the season was suspended March 11 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Still, that stint kept the Pelicans close enough to the playoff picture – 3 1/2 games behind Memphis for the eighth and final playoff seed in the Western Conference — to be included among 22 NBA teams that will finish their regular seasons at a central location in Orlando, starting July 30, when New Orleans plays the Utah Jazz.

Pelicans guard Josh Hart said Williamson’s addition to the lineup “made us a more aggressive, more dynamic.”

“If we had him in the beginning of the year, the story wouldn’t be fighting for the eighth seed,” Hart continued. “It would have been, we’re the four or five seed in the West, honestly.”

Williamson quickly developed an on-court synergy with creative, play-making, up-tempo point-guard Lonzo Ball. Williamson was praised by teammates and coaches for an unselfishness that has allowed other players like Pelicans leading scorer Brandon Ingram to continue to flourish.

Because Williamson’s surgery and rehab had occurred this season, he qualified for an exception that allowed him to continue to seek treatment and work out at the Pelicans’ practice center after team training headquarters around the NBA had been closed to most employees and players.

But Williamson said he remained vigilant about not exposing himself to the coronavirus, performing on-court work only with his stepfather until this week, when the NBA allowed team facilities to reopen to all virtually players except those with positive coronavirus tests.

“At first, it was very tough because even now you don’t fully know what’s going on” with the virus, Williamson said. “Me and my stepdad just found different ways to stay in condition on the court, off the court, wherever we could find it. I do feel like I’m in good shape right now.”

Pelicans general manager David Griffin has caught glimpses of Williamson’s workouts. He said he couldn’t say for sure how Williamson’s game looked because he wasn’t able to work against other NBA caliber players.

“I can tell you he is handling the ball awfully well, and his shooting looks great,” Griffin said. “In terms of his preparedness and fitness for basketball, I can’t give you any indication of that at all.”

Williamson said his early priorities will include bonding with teammates again.

“We’ve got to stick together, keep our emotions high together and I think we’ll be fine,” he said.

Williamson’s eagerness to take on a leadership role comes despite his youth and relative inexperience in the NBA. He turned pro after one season of college basketball at Duke and doesn’t turn 20 until Monday. But he became a global internet sensation while he was still in high school and has been flooded with endorsement offers since his college career ended.

He also encountered another side of the sports business when he was sued for $100 million by his first marketing agent after he fired her in favor of another. That case is ongoing.

“In a weird way I haven’t felt like a teenager in a long time,” Williamson said, “so I feel like it’s not going to be anything different.”

Meanwhile, Williamson indicated that his disappointment over no longer playing in front of fans this season is outweighed by his enthusiasm for returning the sport he loves in games that matter.

“It’s definitely going to be different. You know, I love the fans,” Williamson said. “It’s crazy, man. We’re actually about to go. It’s a lot to process for sure, but I am excited.”

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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Edmonton Oilers’ virtual 50/50 draw shatters record for largest sports raffle – Edmonton

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The Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation’s 50/50 raffle surpassed $3.2 million on Monday night, setting a new record for sports raffle fundraisers.

The Oilers beat out the $2-million record set by the Toronto Raptors fans in the 2019 NBA Finals.

When it comes to the NHL, the Vancouver Canucks previously held the record, with a $1.4-million sale benefiting Canucks for Kids.

In Edmonton, the winner of Sunday’s pot — who has not yet been announced — will take home more than $1.6 million.

For EOCF’s executive director, Natalie Minckler, the interest in the new online 50/50 during the COVID-19 pandemic has been nothing short of impressive.

“It’s overwhelming. I’m almost speechless,” she said. “We’re thrilled, we’re surprised, we’re shocked, we’re humbled.”

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Season-ticket holder Brad Bartko is superstitious about buying 50/50 tickets. For him, that purchase is synonymous with watching hockey.

“We’ve been going to games for 20-plus years and it’s always been a tradition — grab a 50/50 on the way to the seats,” he said.

Bartko said his family and friends even have a system, with each of them buying from a 50/50 vendor in a different part of the arena to try and increase their odds of success.

With fans at home during the pandemic, the process has become virtual.

“I think online’s made it easier, I think online’s made it better. It’s all of Alberta, so anybody can purchase a ticket,” Bartko said.

And that interest sure has been piqued. During the 2019-2020 season, the combined jackpot from 38 home games was $5.8 million.

Now, in just two Stanley Cup qualifiers, fans have spent more than $4 million on 50/50 tickets.

READ MORE: Edmonton Oilers obliterate organization’s 50/50 draw record with over $3M in sales Monday night

The transition online hasn’t been a smooth ride, however. Many fans took to social media to voice concerns about the site crashing, and being unable to buy tickets.

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The process improved from Game 1 to Game 2, however, Ryan Kendall spent almost the entire game refreshing his phone before he finally managed to get in on the odds. He said the process was painful.

“If I’m getting froze out, how many other people are getting froze out?” he asked. “[Planning on] spending $50, $100, $200. How much more could that pot have been had there not been so many glitches?”

The issue is simply demand, according to the CEO of Ascend Fundraising Solutions, the company behind the online sales.

Daniel Lewis said at peak points Monday evening, including the hour before puck-drop, fans were purchasing $150,000 worth of tickets every 10 minutes.

“As we start to see that these volumes are something that we’ve never experienced before, we’ve been adding more server capacity as aggressively as we can,” he explained.

He noted part of the issue is a rule in Alberta that states the servers must be hosted locally.

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READ MORE: West Kelowna man wins $700K in Canucks’ 50-50 raffle

“I expect in the next 12 months, the Edmonton Oilers Foundation is going to crack $5 million,” Lewis said.

He’s hopeful the process will improve with each game, allowing for additional ticket sales.

As for those wanting to get in on the action, Minckler has a word of advice.

“Don’t wait,” she said. “If you are interested in buying a 50/50 ticket, our sales open at 9 a.m.”




© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.



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NTSB: Plane bounced 3 times on runway | News, Sports, Jobs

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This single engine Cessna suffered landing gear damage when it bounced two or three times while landing at Kahului Airport on Feb. 13. Photo courtesy of the National Transportation Safety Board

The Maui News

A single-engine Cessna flared too much in gusting crosswind conditions, bounced two or three times and ended up off the Kahului Airport runway nose down in a crash on Feb. 13, according to the pilot’s account in a National Transportation Safety Board factual report released recently.

The NTSB factual report came out in March; the probable cause report is expected around Sept. 1.

The plane sustained “substantial damage” to the engine mount and fuselage, the NTSB report said. The pilot, Norman Kaufman, of Lahaina and 63 years old at the time of the crash, was not injured. Two passengers aboard, a man and woman from California, were not injured as well.

The pilot reported no pre-accident mechanical failures or malfunctions with the plane that would have affected normal operation, the report said.

The plane, built in 1968, was owned by NV Aviation LLC of Wailuku with Kaufman indicating that he was the registered owner.

The plane took off from Kahului Airport at 12:10 p.m. and flew to Molokai. After about an hour, the plane returned to Maui and was cleared to land on the main runway at Kahului Airport. Conditions were clear with winds blowing from the east northeast at 17 mph with gusts up to 35 mph.

“Unremarkable approach, touch down . . . smoothly . . . and perhaps flared too much as nose lifted instead of dropping,” the pilot wrote in the NTSB report. “Then got two-three hard bounces, which damaged nose gear. We were able to maneuver aircraft off runway to infield grass area.”

The pilot said he and his two passengers walked out the plane through the doors. The crash occurred at 1:15 p.m.


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Youth golfers qualify for Marquette County Junior Golf Association finals | News, Sports, Jobs

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From left, Lincoln Sager, Owen Riipi, Brock Taylor and Tyler Annala competed at the Marquette County Junior Golf Association qualifying tournament held at the Marquette Golf Club on Thursday. (Photo courtesy Karla McCutcheon)

The nearly three dozen youngsters play in the MCJGA nine-hole league.

Their finals will be held Wednesday at Gentz’s Homestead Golf Course in Chocolay Township following a qualifying round for that was held at the Marquette Golf Club on Thursday. The MCJGA’s companion five-hole league is also scheduled to play its finals at the same place and day.

In each of 17 boys and girls nine-hole flights, the top two finishers will square off in match play, according to MCJGA vice president and nine-hole league secretary Karla McCutcheon. The third-place finisher will be an alternate if one of the qualifiers is unable to play.

Among the low scorers of the day were Jameson Sandstrom, who won the Boys 250 first flight with 36; Lincoln Sager, winner of the Boys Whites first flight with 37; and Adam Heikkila, who topped the Boys Reds first flight with 38.

A quartet of young boys carry their bags up a fairway during a past Marquette County Junior Golf Association event. (Photo courtesy MCJGA)

For the girls, the low score posted was 46 by Rachel Niskanen, who won the Girls Reds first flight, and Jenna Hassell, who won the Girls 200 first flight.

The tightest race had to be in the Girls 200 second flight, where the top three competitors — Savanna Ross, Lauren Houle and Sophie Skytta — each shot 55.

Here are the top three in each flight, listed in finishing order:

Boys Whites — 1st flight: Lincoln Sager 37, Tyler Annala 39, Owen Riipi 39; 2nd flight: Beau Belkowski 41, Boden Moore 42, Caleb Beerman 45; 3rd flight: Pavel McCutcheon 50, Brian Belkowski 52, Jackson Gladwell 53

Boys Reds — 1st flight: Adam Heikkila 38, Kaleb Chipelewski 41, Tanner Annala 43; 2nd flight: Jackson Rector 43, Charlie Kronschnabel 47, Connor Stade 48; 3rd flight: Corbin Erva 49, Kai Manis 56, Trent Lorens 59; 4th flight: Bodi Bennett 64

Girls Reds — 1st flight: Rachel Niskanen 46, Morgan Rhoades 49, Lexi L’Huillier 60

Boys 250 — 1st flight: Jameson Sandstrom 36, Eli Nutini 41, Seve Swanson 42; 2nd flight: Nolan McCutcheon 42, Jordan Gunette 43, Ian Sheltrow 45; 3rd flight: Clifford Fossitt 48, Jordan Erva 54, Ethan Jensen 54; 4th flight: Billy Krebs 45, Max Frustaglio 51, Jack Tiziani 51; 5th flight: Easton Bal 54, Cooper Andresen 55, Landon Brown 55; 6th flight: Max Haehnel 58, Evan Mattila 59, Pearce Ross 59

Girls 200 — 1st flight: Jenna Hassell 46, Olivia Stade 49, Roegen Hruska 50; 2nd flight: Savanna Ross 55, Lauren Houle 55, Sophie Skytta 55; 3rd flight: Kennidy Glasheen 62, Nora Skytta 64, Victoria Turausky 65

Information compiled by Journal Sports Editor Steve Brownlee. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.

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