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Austin’s record night powers Bruins

LIBERTY — A record performance from junior Alex Austin helped the Rock Bridge boys’ basketball team overcome a slow start and sloppy play on Monday.

The Bruins defeated Kansas City Central 73-62 in the first round of the Holiday Basketball Classic at William Jewell College.

Rams stay in playoff chase

ST. LOUIS — The Rams desperately needed a win and played like it. The Eagles desperately wanted to stay healthy and played like it.

Rookie Steven Jackson’s best NFL performance carried St. Louis to a 20-7 victory against Philadelphia that kept the Rams in the NFC playoff race. Jackson rushed for 148 yards and a touchdown, but he also limped off midway through the fourth quarter with a bruised right knee.

Vermeil seeks win in finale

KANSAS CITY — If ever an NFL game might seem meaningless, it’s Sunday’s regular-season finale between playoff-bound San Diego and the going-nowhere Kansas City Chiefs.

Nevertheless, there are several ways for each team to approach things, and Dick Vermeil can only guess what path the Chargers will take.

McNabb remembers

ST. LOUIS — For Donovan McNabb, the heartache began at the hands of the St. Louis Rams.

For three straight years, the Philadelphia Eagles have finished their season one victory away from the Super Bowl. The trend began in January 2002, a 29-24 loss at St. Louis where McNabb remembers jealously watching the celebration on the field.

Surging Chiefs going nowhere

KANSAS CITY — The football year is winding down for Kansas City the way it was supposed to start.

With one game left, there’s not enough time for this season-ending surge that has reached four straight victories to accomplish a thing.

Top NFL defender dies at 43

CORNELIUS, N.C. — Reggie White, a fearsome defensive end for the Philadelphia Eagles and Green Bay Packers who was one of the great players in NFL history, died Sunday, his wife said. He was 43.

The cause of death was not immediately known, but White had a respiratory ailment for several years that affected his sleep, according to Keith Johnson, a pastor serving as family spokesman. An autopsy was to be performed.

Up to the challenge

There’s always uncertainty when a player is elevated to the varsity team.

For Brett Gifford, a 6-foot-9 junior center at Rock Bridge, the increased competition has showcased his skills.

Tigers’ improvement shows

ST. LOUIS — The Missouri men’s basketball team is not playing at the level coach Quin Snyder said he wants them to, but the Tigers came closer against Illinois on Wednesday night in the Braggin’ Rights game at Savvis Center.

Entering the game, few believed the Tigers could compete with No. 1 Illinois (11-0). Missouri, though, stayed in the game and in the end came close to winning, but the Fighting Illini held on for a 70-64 victory.

Bulger says he will play

ST. LOUIS — Marc Bulger said Thursday he is ready to return from a bruised shoulder, good news for a suddenly feeble St. Louis Rams’ offense that totaled one touchdown during the two games he missed.

“When you’ve got your best players on the field, you feel a lot better, no question about it,” defensive tackle Tyoka Jackson said. “He’s a Pro Bowl quarterback in my opinion.”

MISSED CHANCE

ST. LOUIS — It’s not too often the nation’s best team has an off night.

When No. 1 Illinois did, Missouri was in position to take advantage but failed to convert on several late opportunities, and the Fighting Illini held on to beat Missouri 70-64 in front of 22,153 fans in the Braggin’ Rights game Wednesday at Savvis Center.

Illini guards wear down McKinney

In his hometown, guarding two of the best players on the No. 1 team in the country, Missouri’s No. 1 was nowhere to be found for the first 35 minutes.

Nothing seemed to be going right offensively for Tiger guard Jimmy McKinney, who wears No. 1, in Missouri’s 70-64 loss to top-ranked Illinois.

Horton shines for Tigers

Missouri freshman Jason Horton probably had the game of his life Wednesday night against Illinois.

His superior play didn’t show up on the stat sheet. He scored eight points and had four assists in 35 minutes, but he played great defense against one of the best point guards in the nation.

Taguchi back in fold with Cards

The St. Louis Cardinals have agreed to one-year contracts with outfielder So Taguchi and pitcher Mike Myers, the club announced Wednesday.

Taguchi will earn $550,000 plus performance bonuses. Myers agreed to $600,000.

St. Louis ready for Final Four repeat

ST. LOUIS — One hundred days away from St. Louis’ first Final Four in 26 years, organizers are looking forward to the next one.

“We want this to be a basketball town forever,” Saint Louis University athletic director Cheryl Levick said Wednesday at a news conference that marked the proximity of the event. “And we want the Final Four back.”

Horton has an inside track on handling Illini

Missouri’s freshman guard Jason Horton will have a secret weapon when the Tigers play Illinois today. Horton has a personal scout watching the Big Ten Conference for him.

He also has his own private teacher, mentor, trainer and coach a phone call away. He only has to dial his brother’s cell phone number.

Weber says rivalry good for teams, fans

Most people think this year’s annual Braggin’ Rights game is going to be a blowout for Illinois, but Illini coach Bruce Weber knows nothing in college basketball is certain.

It isn’t outlandish to think the match-up between No. 1 Illinois and a young, shaky Missouri team at St. Louis’ Savvis Center will be ugly. However, Weber said he’s certain the game will be closer than most people expect because of the strong rivalry between the two teams.

Bigger and better

The season began in October amid an aura of pessimism. The seasoned seniors, Travon Bryant and Arthur Johnson, were gone, and so was their presence in the post. In their stead emerged junior Kevin Young and freshman Kalen Grimes, big men full of talent but unproven at the collegiate level.

Together they sought to quell the negative chatter surrounding the Missouri men’s basketball team.

No. 1 teams stir emotions, memories

It’s inevitable. It happens every March.

Phone calls and television highlights provide friendly reminders of a day Jason Sutherland can’t seem to forget.

Tough Illini not the only challenge

Missouri won’t just be facing a formidable opponent in No. 1 Illinois on Wednesday.

The Tigers will also be trying to overcome a disappointing start by snapping a four-game losing streak in the Braggin’ Rights game. .

Hickman boys lose in overtime at home

Hickman’s boys’ basketball team isn’t a model of consistency.

With the Kewpies’ 56-52 home loss in overtime Tuesday night to the Jefferson City Jays, Hickman (3-8) dropped its third consecutive close game.

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