Sports

LITTLE LEAGUE BASEBALL

THE CALL is out for wannabe batters and pitchers, with five leagues around the county still among those collecting player names and making plans for the coming season.
Here’s a roundup of what’s happening and where:
• The Dickinson league will hold registration at its Mowatt Drive park from 9:00am to noon on Saturday and tryouts will be held on February 4. The cost is $155 per player from ages seven to 12.
E-mail questions regarding player eligibility should include the player’s birthdate and be sent to dickinsonlittleleague@yahoo.com.
For information, go online to dickinsonlittleleaguebaseball.org.
• Final registration for the Hitchcock league will be held at its 8324 Robinson Road, Hitchcock, from 6:00-8:00pm on Friday and from 9:00am-10:00am and 4:00-6:00pm on Saturday.
The cost for T-ball is $80 per player, with major and minor league at $100 per player and junior league at $120 per player. A 50 per cent down-payment option is available, with full payment due by March 1.
For information, contact Chris Armacost at 409-682-5809 or chris8381@gmail.com.
• The La Marque-West Texas City league is holding registration sessions from 11:00am to 3:00pm each Saturday this month at 800 Westward Avenue, La Marque.
Fees are $70 for T-Ball players and $80 for players in the minors, major and junior divisions. A birth certificate and proof of residency are required
when registering.
For information, contact president DJ Harris at 409-896-4843, baseball vice-president Mike Wev at 409-503-2082 or player agent Carl Dickey at 832-887-1368, or visit the league’s Facebook page.
• While registration for the League City league is already complete, a handful of roster spots is available in some divisions. In divisions that are full, new applicants will be placed on a waiting list and notified via e-mail if a spot becomes available.
Tryouts will be held at the League City Sportsplex, 1251 League City Parkway, on Saturday, with National League players given the field from 8:00am to noon and American Leaguers from 1:00pm to 5:00pm.
A makeup date is scheduled for January 31 for players unable to make the original tryout.
For information, visit the league’s Facebook page.
• Online registration for the Texas City league is open until January 31. Registration is available for all divisions from pee-wee to junior for players from ages four to 14.
Fees are $125 per player with a $10 sibling discount and a $15 concession-stand fee per player, refundable in return for a two-hour shift in the stand. Cash and charge are the only methods of payment.
Registrants must attend Our Lady Of Fatima Roman Catholic school at 1600 Ninth Avenue North, Texas City, from 9:00-11am on February 4 to provide birth certificates and school enrollment forms as proof of residence.
For information, go online to tclittleleague.org.

N THE FIELD … ON THE FIELD … ON THE FI

BY TONIGHT we will know the two NFL teams that will play at NRG Stadium in Super Bowl 51 on February 5, while hoopsters the Houston Rockets take a rest before heading to Milwaukee tomorrow, Monday.
Today, Sunday:
Who’s coming to Houston to take home the Vince Lombardi Trophy? It’s a question that will be answered this afternoon as Green Bay Packers meet host Atlanta Falcons in the NFC title game at 2:05pm while Pittsburgh Steelers travel to New England Patriots to decide the AFC crown at 5:40pm.
All four teams have appeared in at least one Super Bowl, yet the Falcons are the only one not to experience championship glory.
The Packers have won four Super Bowls, while the Patriots have captured five, with one coming in Super Bowl 38, the last time the game was played in Houston, an event made infamous by Janet Jackson’s half-time-show “wardrobe malfunction”.
However, all three of those teams look up in awe of the Steelers, who have won six championships, the most in Super Bowl history.
Tomorrow, Monday:
Having roasted Milwaukee Bucks at home on Wednesday, the Rockets will hope for better hospitality when they visit Wisconsin in their only appearance in the state this year.
Houston routed the Bucks 111-92 last week behind 38 points from James Harden, yet Rockets fans were left impressed by the play of the visitors’ budding superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo, who amassed 32 points, 11 rebounds and six assists in his team’s defeat.
The 7:00pm NBA contest will be the second of a five-game roadie for the Rockets, who were due to visit Memphis yesterday, Saturday, and will next head to Boston, Philadelphia and Indiana before returning home against Sacramento Kings on January 31.
Tuesday:
A busy night of home-and-way high-school basketball will see the boys of Clear Creek at Clear Springs, Clear Falls at Clear Brook, Dickinson at Friendswood, Galveston Ball at Galena Park and Texas City at Santa Fe, with each game starting at 7:00pm, while Hitchcock’s game at East Bernard and La Marque’s at Danbury both start at 7:30pm.
Except for La Marque and Hitchcock, the schools’ girls will travel in the opposite direction and tip off at 7:00pm.
La Marque’s girls will go to Danbury ahead of their boys’ team for a game that begins at 6:00pm, while the Hitchcock girls will go to East Bernard ahead of their boys’ team for a 6:15pm start.
Two district 23-5a high-school boys’ soccer matches are on tap, with both Galena Park at Galveston Ball and Santa Fe at Texas City starting at 7:00pm.
The schools’ girls will travel in the opposite direction, while Goose Creek Memorial’s Patriots visit Clear Brook at 7:00pm in a non-district match.

HIGH-SCHOOL BASKETBALL 

Everybody knows one more makes four teams in TABC rankings

FOLLOWING a week that saw coach Chris Mason’s Texas City knock off two top-10 teams, the Stingarees found themselves ranked among the top programs in class 5a on Monday.
As a result, they entered this week’s play in ninth spot in the Texas Association Of Basketball Coaches top 25, sporting a 17-6 overall record and a 7-1 record in district 23-5a.
The Stings rolled past now 17th-ranked Fort Bend Marshall 78-64 on the road on Tuesday last week before toppling current 16th-ranked Fort Bend Elkins at home on Friday, when Johan Rodriguez’s three-pointer with four seconds left gave them a 52-51 victory.
The Stingarees are now tied for first place in 23-5a with the state’s fourth-ranked team, Manvel’s Mavericks, who handed Texas City their only 23-5a setback by escaping with a 52-49 win on the Stings’ home court on January 6.
Scheduled to play Galveston Ball yesterday, Tuesday, Texas City will be off this Friday and will resume play at Santa Fe on January 24.
The addition of the Stingarees gives the area four teams ranked in this week’s TABC polls, with La Marque boys and the girls of both Clear Springs and Hitchcock remaining in the positions they held last week.
A pair of victories might be the spark needed by La Marque, ranked fifth in the class 3a poll, to shake off the doldrums that left the team with a 10-14 record entering the week.
The Cougars defeated Stafford on Monday last week and started district 24-3a play with a win against Rice Consolidated on Friday.
Coach David Montano’s boys were due to play at Brazos yesterday and will host their Hitchcock rivals on Friday.
Having defeated Clear Falls and Clear Brook by a combined 124-70, the Clear Springs girls keep their place as the third-ranked team in the class 6a poll. The Chargers were 21-3 overall and 7-0 in district 24-6a play entering their game at Friendswood yesterday and coach Pamela Crawford’s squad will host Clear Lake on Friday.
Hitchcock’s girls are still ranked sixth in the class 3a poll after they moved to 3-0 in district 24-3a play with a 58-38 road win at Rice Consolidated and a 103-19 pasting of Brazos at home. At 23-3 overall, coach Andrew Hubbell’s Bulldogs were due to host Danbury yesterday before traveling to La Marque on Friday.

NFL FOOTBALL

Coach insists he has to ‘evaluate’ QB Osweiler

BILL O’BRIEN wants Texans fans to be crystal clear about one thing – he is studiously refusing to make up his mind whether Brock Osweiler will open next season as the team’s starting quarterback.
But the Texans will definitely be without offensive coordinator George Godsey, whose fate was sealed on Monday when they fired the coach mostly responsible for the ineffective attacking unit.
And the future of Romeo Crennel, who coordinated the league’s top defense, is also in doubt as his contract is about to expire.
Head coach O’Brien stopped naysayers in their tracks during Monday’s final press conference of the 2016 season, which ended with a 34-16 loss at New England Patriots in the AFC divisional round on Saturday.
Despite an inept offense that finished 29th of the 32 teams in points per game, O’Brien deflected questions regarding the team’s quarterback position, which ranked near the bottom of the league in most categories.
“I know you guys are doing your job and I respect that but, before I talk about those types of things, I have to evaluate it myself”, O’Brien said of the position, which saw Osweiler struggle for most of the season.
When he was benched in favor of Tom Savage in late December, Savage rallied the team to an AFC South-clinching victory over Jacksonville Jaguars, yet struggled in a win over Cincinnati Bengals before being knocked out of the regular-season finale away to the Tennessee Titans with
a concussion.
O’Brien, who also shot down a question asking if the Texans would consider recruiting a quarterback in April’s draft, added: “I wouldn’t be a good head coach if I stood up here and told you, hey, this what we are planning to do”.
The franchise has a list of key matters to address beyond who starts under center. The Texans will have to decide whether to invest in a long-term deal with cornerback AJ Bouye and punter Shane Lechler, both of whom are unrestricted free agents along with kicker Nick Novak and safety Quintin Demps.
Nose tackle Vince Wilfork is expected to retire after a 13-year career.
O’Brien said he feels confident defensive end JJ Watt will be at or near full strength by training camp. The return of the three-time NFL defensive player of the year will only bolster a unit that saw linebacker Whitney Mercilus and defensive end Jadeveon Clowney emerge as elite performers.
Houston will have the 25th overall pick when the draft commences in Philadelphia on April 27. How the team handles free agency, which begins on March 9, will determine where the Texans embark with their choice of first-rounder.
Mercilus said: “The future looks bright. Honestly, we’ve got a great group of guys who stepped up their game this year and did a great job for us to be in the position we’re in.”

 THE FIELD … ON THE FIELD … ON THE FIEL

AS WE PASS the midpoint of the month, district races in both boys’ and girls’ high-school basketball are taking shape, with a loaded set of games on Friday to advance the cause.
While district 23-5a soccer play has begun, the teams in district 24-6a will use the final week of non-league action to prepare for what will be a spirited clash once the season begins on January 27.
Today, Wednesday:
A pair of soccer matches is on tap, each beginning at 7:30pm. Dickinson’s boys will visit Pearland, while the girls of Friendswood will welcome Fort Bend Ridge Point.
With the Texans officially done, the focus for fans of Houston professional sports is now solely the Rockets, who host Milwaukee Bucks at 7:00pm.
The game will feature a pair of strong most-valuable-player award candidates, as Rockets guard James Harden faces off against 6ft11in point guard Giannis Antetokounmpo, who has emerged as one of the NBA’s most exciting players this season.
Nicknamed the Greek Freak, Antetokounmpo is one of the reasons the Bucks are in contention for an eastern-conference playoff spot.
Tomorrow, Thursday:
There’s just one soccer game on the schedule, as the Clear Springs Chargers begin Govonor’s Cup tournament play against Austin Bowie at 8:00pm. The tourney will be held at Georgetown high school.
Friday:
Home-and-away basketball play will see the boys of Alvin at Friendswood, Clear Creek at Clear Falls, Clear Springs at Clear Lake, Dickinson at Clear Brook and Santa Fe at Galveston Ball at 7:00pm. Hitchcock will be at La Marque at 7:30pm in the first meeting between the two schools as intra-district rivals.
The schools’ girls will go in the opposite direction and begin at 7:00pm, with the exception of the Hitchcock at La Marque game, which begins at 6:15pm.
A pair of boys’ soccer games has Clear Brook at La Porte at 6:00pm and Galveston Ball at Santa Fe at 7:00pm. Girls’ action has Clear Creek at Pasadena Memorial at 4:00pm, Brazoswood at Clear Creek at 5:00pm, Santa Fe at Galveston Ball at 7:00pm and Clear Springs facing San Antonio Johnson in a second-round match at the Govonor’s Cup tourney at 8:00pm
The sports day is also highlighted by the Rockets hosting Golden State Warriors at 7:00pm. The game is the second this season between the two powerhouses, with the Rockets winning a 133-127 double-overtime thriller in Oakland on December 1.
Saturday:
In soccer action, Friendswood boys visit Houston Chavez at 7:30pm, while Clear Springs girls wrap up their Govonor’s Cup play against Odessa at 10:00am.