Streak for the Cash February winner: D. Guido!

D. Guido last won in December 2009 — but took February with 71 victories, her second victory in our version of SFTC. DG held me off by two wins and Randy Capps by seven.

DG — contact me at bhanks@freedomenc.com and we’ll hook you up with a prize.

Want to win cash from ESPN or goodies from The Free Press? Go here to enter and have fun with us.

February’s top 10:

1. D. Guido — 71

2. B. Hanks — 69

3. R. Capps — 64

4. S. Jones — 62

5. D. Pollock — 54

6. K. Rouse — 46

7. J. Osterberg — 41

T8. B. Barrow — 40

T8. D. Jones — 40

10. J. Barrow — 36

All-time blog winners

2009

February: Flagan (F. Jones) – 43 wins

March: B. Pelletier – 60 wins

April: Flagan (F. Jones) – 59 wins

May: Flagan (F. Jones) – 57 wins

June: B. Pelletier – 53 wins

July: Flagan (F. Jones) – 69 wins

August: S. Jones (Beale St. Buc) – 69 wins

September: S. Jones (Beale St. Buc) – 69 wins

October: S. Jones (Beale St. Buc) – 62 wins

November: S. Jones (Beale St. Buc) – 83 wins

December: S. Jones (Beale St. Buc) & D. Guido – 91 wins

2010

January: S. Jones (Beale St. Buc) – 71 wins

February: S. Jones (Beale St. Buc) – 68 wins

March: S. Jones (Beale St. Buc) – 82 wins

April: J. Irvin (Jackson Irvin) – 77 wins

May: R. Capps (Randy Capps) – 75 wins

June: P. Howard (WolfpackPete) – 69 wins

July: J. Irvin (Jackson Irvin) – 80 wins

August: R. Capps (Randy Capps) – 87 wins

September: J. Irvin (Jackson Irvin) – 73 wins

October: J. Irvin (Jackson Irvin) — 79 wins

November: R. Capps (Randy Capps) — 79 wins

December: J. Osterberg — 79 wins

2011

January: S. Jones (Beale St. Buc) — 81

February: D. Guido — 71

Afternoon News Report; Feb. 28, 2011

‘KING’S SPEECH’ CLEANS UP AT OSCARS

“The King’s Speech,” a movie that … well, I haven’t seen or knew nothing about until last night, cleaned up at the Academy Awards last night, winning four Oscars, including Best Picture.

Ratings are expected to be down for the telecast, though, due to James Franco and Anne Hathaway having the host duties.

My take: I actually watched more of the Oscars telecast this year than I have of any in a decade … mostly due to our good friend Randy Capps running a chat page for the Fayetteville Observer.

OK, I watched it to see Ms. Hathaway, too:

Giggity, indeed.

SAMPSON TO BE INDUCTED INTO COLLEGE BASKETBALL HOF

The best center in the history of ACC basketball, former Virginia star Ralph Sampson, will be inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame Nov. 20 in Kansas City, Mo.

Seven others — including former UNC star (and Gastonia native) James Worthy, former Indiana coach and now-terrible ESPN analyst Bobby Knight and former St. John’s and NBA star Chris Mullin — will also be inducted.

My take: IT’S ABOUT TIME. I didn’t look up this hall’s criteria for induction, but how the heck did it take 27 years for this hall to consider the greatest center in ACC history and one of the top centers in NCAA history?

Next up for Ralph? The Basketball Hall of Fame — and here’s a great argument for his induction that NO ONE can argue with.

CHARLIE SHEEN HAS LOST HIS DAMNED MIND

Charlie Sheen, the star of CBS’ “Two and a Half Men,” blitzed TV talk shows this morning, spreading his crazy all around.

Among his nuggets of wisdom he shared included telling CBS that they’d have to pay him $3 million an episode for him to come back to the show the network has already canceled for the rest of the season.

And he said he’d only come back with an apology from CBS: “A big one. While licking my feet,” he said.

My take: So, Britney Spears and Anna Nicole Smith aren’t the only ones who can have public breakdowns. Somebody needs to get this dude some help before it’s too late…

The iPod shuffle

Numb — U2

We Right Here — DMX

Murder By Numbers — The Police

Fast Cars — U2

Imagine — John Lennon

P.S.: Kinston baseball coach Jason Wade has announced all three Vikings baseball games scheduled for this week have been postponed due to the boys’ basketball team’s success in the postseason. Today, the Vikings were to play at North Lenoir; Wednesday at South Lenoir; and Friday at home against Jones Senior. The game in Wheat Swamp has been moved to March 30; the others haven’t yet been rescheduled.

Kinston boys to face High Point Andrews, girls to play Graham in 2A East Regionals

The NCHSAA released the pairings for next week’s 2A Eastern Regionals in Fayetteville and the Kinston boys will face a familiar foe in its regional semifinal game. The Vikings (22-5) will take on High Point Andrews (26-2) at 8:30 p.m. on Friday, following the other semifinal between Pittsboro Northwood (26-4) and West Bladen (23-4), which is slated to begin at 7. The regional championship game is Saturday at 6 p.m. in Fayetteville.

Kinston and Andrews played in the summer for the championship of KHS Coach Wells Gulledge’s East Coast Invitational in Jacksonville — and Andrews won. I covered the game and remember talking to the Kinston players who were really upset about losing and hoping for another shot at Andrews. Well … now they have it.

In fact, this is what senior point guard Chris Hall said: “I really, really hope we get another shot at (Andrews). We’ll be ready for them.”

Sweet.

The Kinston girls (24-4) — who have enjoyed an incredible renaissance under the steady leadership of head coach Ira Jones — will open regional play against Graham (22-6) at 7 p.m. on Thursday; their game will be followed by East Bladen (28-1) vs. Pittsboro Northwood (20-9) at 8:30.

This is the Kinston girls’ first trip to the regionals since 2003 — but with talented freshman guard Brittany Drumgoole (who dropped 37 points in last night’s sectional championship against Bertie) and junior forward Tisha Dixon, this is not going to be their last.

Want to be a sports reporter?

If you do, there’s no better primer than what this dude wrote – including not looking at guys’ junk while you’re interviewing them.

In my career, I’ve pretty much covered every sport — from the NFL, NBA, MLB and NASCAR to collegiate athletics to every prep sport you can imagine. This writer, Chris Jones, has hit the nail on the head; in fact, I wish I had written this because it’s so complete.

A warning, though: the language is rated R, so if your mommy is going to get mad that you’re reading this, you’ve been warned.

Still — a fantastic read for anyone who wants to be a true sports reporter.

Morning News Report; Feb. 25, 2011

WISCONSIN ASSEMBLY PASSES BILL TO ELIMINATE UNION RIGHTS

In a late-night vote, the Wisconsin Assembly passed a bill that would take collective bargaining rights from public workers. The bill now goes to the Wisconsin Senate — but it will be a hot minute before it is voted upon there, as all the Democrats have left Madison and are allegedly hiding out in Illinois.

My take: What a mess in Madison. What I don’t understand, though, is why these Democrats aren’t held in some sort of contempt of their office.

When President Obama and the Democrats were pushing the stimulus mess through Congress, I don’t remember Republicans becoming no-shows — they worked through the process even though they knew they didn’t have the votes.

For those Senate Democrats to leave their state smacks of dramatic overload. Just go back and take your lumps — if/when your party wins back the Senate, then you can push your own bills and agenda.

As for the bill itself, I have done some reading on it — and frankly, I agree with the Wisconsin governor and the Republicans. If something isn’t done to rectify the situation there, the Wisconsin government is going to go broke. This is a practical and intelligent way to stem the tide.

As I’ve said before — once upon a time, unions were important. But like other agencies and organizations, their time has mostly passed — and unions are killing American productivity.

NBA TRADE DEADLINE PASSES WITH TONS OF ACTION

One certainly can’t say this was a boring NBA trade season; with the deadline passing yesterday, there were 14 trades executed in the days leading up to it.

There were some confounding trades, including Boston parting with Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson for Oklahoma City’s Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic.

The most confounding to me, though, was Charlotte trading away the face of the franchise, Gerald Wallace, for Joel Przybilla, two other stiffs, two first-round draft picks and cash. Team owner Michael Jordan and the Bobcats also traded backup center Nazr Mohammed to Portland for Morris Peterson and D.J. White.

My takes: I am still puzzled by the Celtics deal with OKC — I just don’t see what Boston gets out of the deal. They’ve patiently waited while Perkins healed — only to trade him away for a player not nearly as valuable as he is? And they also traded the instant offense off the bench of Robinson? I hope Danny Ainge knows what he’s doing, because this could certainly blow up in his face.

As for the Bobcats … I’m almost ready to wash my hands of them. Wallace was not only the face of the franchise, he was also the heart. They’re only 1 1/2 games out of the playoffs, but MJ has thrown the white flag and given up on this season — for scrubs and two CONDITIONAL first-round picks in 2011 and 2013. Kids, conditional means if the pick is a lottery pick, the original team holds onto it until it has improved.

MJ has more money than God. If he wanted to truly put a winning team in Charlotte, he could take the financial blow — although it wouldn’t be that bad if there was a product on the court that was productive.

What the trades do, though, is put a lot of pressure on former Dookie Gerald Henderson, who will likely step into Wallace’s spot in the starting rotation. While Henderson, in his second year, is having a better season, I’m not so sure he’s ready to assume that role. We’ll see.

KINSTON TEAMS BATTLE BERTIE FOR REGIONAL APPEARANCE; FREEDOM CLASSIC STARTS TODAY

The Kinston girls and boys basketball teams will face Bertie today at 6 and 7:30 p.m., respectively, in sectional championship games. Regardless of what happens tonight, it will be the final prep basketball game played in Lenoir County in the 2010-11 season.

Also this weekend, the Freedom Classic — a three-game series between Navy and Air Force – will be held at Grainger Stadium. The series begins with a 6 p.m. game today, a 2 p.m. game on Saturday and a 12:30 p.m. start on Sunday.

My takes: It’s a sports fans’ paradise this weekend in Lenoir County.

If Kinston wins both games, both teams will play in the 2A Eastern Regional in Fayetteville next week. Free Press SE Ryan Herman will be updating who the Vikings will be playing on Saturday, so be sure to check out freepresspreps.com for all the details.

I’ll be updating my Facebook page and my Twitter feed (@BCHanks) at the end of each quarter tonight, so you can check that out if you can’t make it to Viking Gymnasium.

Kudos to Bill Ellis for forming his vision of the Freedom Classic — and for making it happen. He ultimately sees this as a beginning — within a few years, he’d like to see Army, The Citadel and VMI, along with other military schools, taking part in a tournament-type setting at Grainger.

With the possibility of the Kinston Indians disappearing from the landscape, it’s vitally important for events like this to take place at Grainger Stadium.

The iPod shuffle

Rodeo — Garth Brooks

You Made Your Bed — Robin Rogers

Come Back To Me — Janet Jackson

Against The Wind — Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band

21 Questions — 50 Cent featuring Nate Dogg

Your 2011 prep baseball thread

Here it is, y’all: Your thread to talk about prep baseball 2011. Admittedly, I’ve been out of the loop for a couple of year now (other than working the PA at some KHS games), so I’m not the best one to hit up for projections.

I do know this, though: With Montague, Eason and Wade at the public schools, THAT’S a lot of coaching talent. And even with Sutton at Bethel — who has won a couple of state titles, there is quality baseball played in Lenoir County.

And I apologize for not knowing who the Parrott coach is since Kearney left.

Anyhoo — tear this up; I’d like to see who is the consensus team to beat and who are the players to watch.

Afternoon News Report; Feb. 23, 2011

KINSTON CITY COUNCIL VS. MAYOR MURPHY: GETTING UGLY

The Kinston City Council has fired another shot in its battle against Mayor B.J. Murphy; they’ve taken away his ceremonial signing of all council-approved documents. Instead, City Manager Scott Stevens will sign the documents.

My take: OK … what’s next? Are they going to try to muzzle Murphy the way the Jones County commissioners have attempted to do to fellow commish Sondra Ipock Riggs? And there is a parallel there, too: Riggs has been removed from the East Carolina Council by the Jones County Commission after she stirred the pot in Trenton in December.

What I appreciate about Murphy and Riggs is that both are living their conscience — and not bowing or kowtowing to pressure from their respective boards. It takes strength of character to do that and both are exhibiting it.

As for what Joe Tyson, Alice Tingle and Robbie Swinson did in the 3-2 vote (Will Barker and Bobby Merritt voted against it) — it’s well within their rights, but that doesn’t make it right. You know, sort of like how forced annexation is within their rights, but it isn’t right, either.

DERON WILLIAMS TRADED FROM JAZZ TO NETS

In what is shaping up to be one of the busiest weeks before the NBA trading deadline, the Utah Jazz are in the process of trading All-Star point guard Deron Williams to the New Jersey (soon to be Brooklyn) Nets.

My take: A great deal for the Nets — if they can re-sign Williams (who I consider one of the top three PGs in the NBA). If not, they’ve traded their No. 1 pick this year (Georgia Tech’s Derrick Favors) and two future No. 1s … for nothing.

NOW … I want my Celtics to get Shane Battier to Beantown.

UNC-ASHEVILLE PLAYER STEALS BALL, HITS BUZZER-BEATER FROM 30 FEET TO DOWN COASTAL CAROLINA

A UNC-Asheville guard named Matt Dickey stole an inbounds pass at half-court, then hit a shot from about 30 feet to help his team defeat hoast Coastal Carolina, 61-58, Tuesday night. Check out the amazing video here:

My take: The HB is fond of saying — even when her team is up by 30 with five minutes left: “It isn’t over ’til it’s over.” This is a classic example of that adage. Great finish!

The iPod shuffle

My Life — Billy Joel

The Inevitable Return Of The Great White Dope — The Bloodhound Gang

Say, Say, Say — Michael Jackson & Paul McCartney

What Have I Done To Deserve This? — Pet Shop Boys

Dirty White Boy — Foreigner

P.S.: Here’s Nancy Saunders’ story on the passing of Lee Raynor, which I mentioned here on the blog. I’ll add this to what I said yesterday: she was a tough old bird. I learned some things from her — good and bad — that have helped shape me into the manager I am today.

Afternoon News Report; Feb. 22, 2011

CARMELO TRADED TO KNICKS

With the trade deadline looming, the Denver Nuggets and N.Y. Knicks finally made a deal to send Carmelo Anthony to the Big Apple.

My take: Good for all parties involved — maybe now (as our good friend Heelatious said on his Facebook feed) the talking heads at ESPN can finally talk about something else.

COULD THERE BE A ‘MAJOR LEAGUE 4?’

Evidently … yes! Charlie Sheen, the star of the original “Major League” is in contract talks to reprise his role as the Wild Thing.

My take: The original  was AWESOME, the second was eh and the third was unwatchable. But this is a movie I’d have to go see.

SAMPSON A FINALIST FOR HALL OF FAME

Don’t know how I forgot to include this in yesterday’s MNR, but former Virginia and NBA star Ralph Sampson is one of 12 finalists for the Basketball Hall of Fame, along with Chris Mullin and Dennis Rodman. The class will be announced on April 4.

My take: I hope Sampson makes it — but he’s gone this long without being a finalist, so I’m not holding my breath. But if he does … I will be in Springfield for the ceremony.

The iPod shuffle

From This Moment On — Shania Twain

Whenever, Wherever — Shakira

Shut Up — The Bloodhound Gang

I Saw The Light — Todd Rundgren

When I’m Sixty-Four — The Beatles

P.S.: I had a postscript up here yesterday about former Free Press managing editor Lee Raynor passing away but I pulled it after we found out her entire family had not been contacted. However, that has been rectified. Lee was, a lot of times, a tough person to work for (I was the sports editor for her final three years or so at TFP). And although we didn’t see eye-to-eye sometimes, I respected her as a journalist. My favorite moment working alongside her was following the West Pharmaceutical explosion when she and our publisher, Patrick Holmes, made us a real team — not just sports, news and entertainment, but a team.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the CSS Neuse Foundation, P.O. Box 251, Kinston, NC 28502.  Friends may visit www.williamstonfunerals.com to sign the online register.

Rest in peace, Lee.

Morning News Report; Feb. 21, 2011

SOMEONE YOU’VE NEVER HEARD OF WINS DAYTONA 500

… and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Trevor Bayne, who turned 20 on Saturday, won Sunday’s 53rd running of the Great American Race at Daytona. Bayne drove a Ford owned by the Wood Brothers, one of the great families in NASCAR. It was only Bayne’s second start in the Winston Nextel Sprint Cup Series.

My take: And yes, I watched a good chunk of it because of the young man up front. I grew up a Ford fan but (as many of you know) have fallen out of love with the sport over the past few years for many reasons I won’t bore you with here.

But yesterday was old school — and a joy to watch (other than Darrell Waltrip’s stupid yammering). The kid was genuinely excited, the racing was good (I, for one, don’t mind the two-by-two racing; it beats the hell out of 10-car drafts) and, for one day at least, NASCAR was fun … which it hasn’t been in a long time.

DUKE WINS, LIKELY TO ASCEND TO NO. 1 AGAIN

Duke easily defeated Georgia Tech last night in Durham; with the No. 5 Blue Devils winning — and the top four teams losing — it’s likely Duke will be No. 1 again when the polls are released.

My take: Like last year, there’s not a breakaway No. 1 or national champion contender, which means we’re going to have a heck of a NCAA Tournament.

‘UNKNOWN’ TOPS WEEKEND BOX OFFICE

Liam Neeson helped lead “Unknown” to the top of the weekend box office; in its first week, the action thriller finished with $21.8 million in receipts, narrowly defeating “I Am Number Four,” which had $19.5 million and ”Gnomeo & Juliet” ($19.4 million). “Just Go With It” was fourth with $18.2 million and “Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son” ($17 million) were fourth and fifth, respectively.

My take: I wouldn’t mind seeing “Unknown,” although it looks nearly identical to “Taken,” another Neeson movie that came out last year — and it wasn’t bad. However, when is Martin Lawrence going to stop making Big Momma movies? Seriously, who watches those?

The iPod shuffle

Burning Love — Elvis Presley

Something — The Beatles

Hustlin’ — Rick Ross

Kiss Me Where It Smells Funny — The Bloodhound Gang

You May Be Right — Billy Joel

P.S.: I spoke too soon … in yesterday’s column, I announced I’d be back today at The Free Press. I’ve had a setback, as now I’m having severe muscle spasms in the middle of my back; I’m unable to take a deep breath without a lot of pain. So I’m heading back to the doc this a.m. (when I get a call back). I’ll keep you guys up to date.