Streak for the Cash July winner: Me!

For the first time in the 30 months we’ve been playing ESPN’s Streak for the Cash game … I won the damned thing. I … I am in shock, but thankful to finally win for the first time EVER.

It came down to Jackson Irvin, Randy Capps and I — and I had a lucky final day. Since I won, I get the Free Press prize package, so I’m going to raid my boss’ office tomorrow for something nice for me and the HB.

If you’d like to play along with us, go here. It’s a blast — and it’s FREE! How much better is it than that?

July’s top 10

1. Hanks — 79

2. Jackson Irvin — 76

3. Randy Capps — 75

4. J. Osterberg — 70 (.504 winning percentage)

5. David Pollock — 70 (.490)

6. C. Pollock — 69

7. J. Barrow — 63

8. Michael Moon — 56 (.589)

9. Kelly Rouse — 56 (.496)

10. Hot Blonde — 51

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

March: S. Jones (Beale St. Buc) — 96

April: Flagan (Franc Jones) — 90

May: D. Pollock (David Pollock) — 90

June: D. Pollock (David Pollock) — 81

July: Bryan Hanks — 78

Morning Sports Report; July 28, 2011

CHAOS IN CHAPEL HILL

UNC football coach Butch Davis was fired yesterday and at a presser in Chapel Hill that is taking place as I type this, UNC AD Dick Baddour has announced he is stepping down, too.

My take: This has been a bad year for you Tar Heel advocates … and it’s only getting worse. You have about a half-dozen 2012 NFL draftees on your roster (mostly on the defensive side), so UNC is not going to be bad this season.

But … changing your coach a week before the season? Your AD resigning? This sure can’t help the program. ABC folks everywhere are laughing, that’s for sure.

If I’m Butch — who headed up this scandal-ridden program but has not been directly tied to any of the wrongdoing — I get another job in the ACC and stick it to Carolina as hard as possible.

SOUTH JOHNSTON FOOTBALL COACH RESIGNS UNDER PRESSURE

After an NCHSAA investigation, the football coach at South Johnston, Joe Salas, has resigned under pressure from the school’s administration.

My take: Evidently, Coach Salas cheated — so good for the SJ administration for forcing him out of his position.

And thank God for karma. Gotta tell you, it didn’t break my heart one iota when this news started breaking. Coach Salas showed what kind of person he was and what kind of program he heads up when he ran up an 84-6 loss on North Lenoir on Oct. 30, 2009 on NL’s Senior Night (here’s Michael Moon’s column on that game).

I truly hate to see anyone lose their livelihood. But … no pity from me about Coach Salas. Karma is a BITCH and it just bit Mr. 84-6 boy on the ASS.

UMPIRE ADMITS MISTAKE IN BRAVES-PIRATES GAME

The umpire who blew the call in Monday’s 19-inning win for the Atlanta Braves against Pittsburgh, Jerry Meals, admitted his mistake yesterday, as did MLB.

My take: Admittedly, I’ve never seen such an egregious mistake by an umpire than the one where the Braves player was out by a solid 4 feet. It certainly has re-started the video replay argument for baseball, which I wouldn’t have a problem with seeing.

The iPod shuffle

Whatever You Like — T.I.

Where The Streets Have No Name — U2

Speak To Me/Breathe — Pink Floyd

Look At Me Now — Chris Brown feat. Lil Wayne & Busta Rhymes

Lemon — U2

P.S.: I am on vacation this week, so I apologize for the lack of MNRs/MSRs. However, I have been updating my Twitter feed (@BCHanks) throughout the week … so follow me, won’t you?

Morning News Report; July 25, 2011

MISSING WOMAN’S BABY’S MUSICIAN FATHER, HIS WIFE ARRESTED IN KINSTON FOR MURDER

The father of Laura Jean Ackerson’s two young children, Grant Ruffin Hayes – along with his wife — has been arrested for Ackerson’s murder this morning in Kinston. The investigation stretched to Texas overnight, where Ackerson’s dismembered body parts were allegedly discovered.

Evidently, Mr. Hayes — or ”Grant Haze” as his musical website calls him – is a musician of some sort who graduated from Kinston High School in 1997. You can also check out his Facebook page here, where there are plenty of photos of him with his and Ackerson’s children.

My take: This story keeps turning for the worse. I seriously feel for Ackerson’s two young children, along with her family. Keep clicking over at Kinston.com — our crime reporter Wesley Brown is all over this story and will continue updating it all day long.

Also — thanks to the anonymous source for hooking me up with the info on Hayes/Haze. Much appreciated.

NFL PLAYERS TO VOTE TODAY; FAVRE AS VICK’S BACK-UP?

The NFL players could vote today to approve the collective bargaining deal sent by the owners and the 130-plus day lockout could end with player moves later today.

Also … stop me if you’ve heard this before … but Brett Favre could be back in the NFL AGAIN this year, this time as Mike Vick’s back-up in Philly. For his part, Vick likes the idea.

My take: If all lockouts/strikes could go like this, like would be great.

As for the possibility of Fav-ruh coming back, please say it ain’t so. But seriously — who is going to be surprised if he does?

ALOMAR, BLYLEVEN, GILLICK INDUCTED INTO BASEBALL’S HALL

Roberto Alomar, Bert Blyleven and Pat Gillick were inducted into baseball’s hall of fame yesterday.

My take: And that is arguably the weakest class the hall has seen in its proud history.

It’s only going to get worse: with all the players from the steroid era retiring, there are going to be some mighty weak classes being passed off as hall of famers in the next few years.

The iPod shuffle

Can’t Stop Lovin’ You — Van Halen

Victim Of Love — The Eagles

Emotions — Mariah Carey

For What It’s Worth — Buffalo Springfield

Urgent — Foreigner

Self-promotion time…

If you just can’t get enough of my ugly mug or voice, here are a couple more opportunities for you to get your fill:

  • I appeared on TACC-9 this week with the honorable Reece Gardner, where we talked about the Dr. Cline situation, Molly Ringwald Hughes Hanks the Puppy Dawg, the Kinston City Council race … and rainbows. OK, we didn’t talk about rainbows, but we would have if we’d had more time
  • Myself, David Anderson and Jon Dawson take part in The Free Press’ first podcast, in which we discuss the six Democratic candidates in the Sept. 13 primary for the Kinston City Council. Give it a listen — I’m pretty pleased with how it came out and would love to get your reaction

Morning News Report; July 22, 2011

NFL OWNERS APPROVE DEAL; WAITING ON PLAYERS

The NFL owners unanimously approved a labor deal last night and are now waiting for the players to vote on it. The deal is through the 2020 season and means there wouldn’t be another lockout until at least then … if approved by the players.

My take: If it’s over — and that’s still a might big “if” — this is the type of lockout/strike I can deal with: one that doesn’t mess up the “real” season! Y’all ready for some football … and fantasy football?

TIGER’S FIRED CADDIE IS PISSED OFF

Tiger Woods’ former caddie, Steve Williams, was recently fired by the philandering duffer. Williams isn’t happy with it — and is letting everyone know about it.

My take: Now I have to admit, if Williams wrote a book about all his cover-ups of Tiger’s affairs … I might have to read it. Of course, the book would be — at least — rated R and maybe even NC-17!

BEAVIS AND BUTTHEAD … ALMOST BACK!

Yes, it’s almost time for the triumphant return of one of the greatest TV shows in the history of that medium — MTV is on the threshold of bringing back “Beavis and Butthead,” which is set to be back in October.

A sneak peek:

My take: Yes, it’s stupid. Yes, it’s gross. And yes … it’s one of my favorite shows of all time. I CAN’T WAIT TO LOSE BRAIN CELLS WATCHING IT AGAIN.

I am Cornholio!

The iPod shuffle

Bad — U2

A Man And A Woman — U2

I Saw Red — Warrant

I Will Survive — Gloria Gaynor

Bustin’ Surfboards — The Tornadoes

Top 20 shooters in Lenoir County — last 10 years (UPDATED)

OK, it feels like 115 degrees outside and it’s the middle of summer, but a Twitter post by former Kinston star and current Mount Olive standout Dory Hines intrigued me. In his tweet, he ranked the top 5 shooters at Kinston High School over the past 10 years.

His list included Michael Jenkins, Curtis Hines, Reggie Bullock and a “pick two” out of Willie Flowers, Marquez Jones and Mike Small. An excellent list, to be sure — and especially since Dory has played with many of these guys and knows what they’re like from his position as a point guard.

From a reporter’s point of view, I have to agree with some of his picks — and I’m going to expand the list to the top 20 shooters I’ve seen in Lenoir County in the past nine years (I’ve covered hoops in the county since the 2002-03 season, so the upcoming 2011-12 season will be my 10th).

Now bear in mind — these are the top 20 (with several honorable mentions) shooters, not overall players. That’s why you won’t see recognizable names like Dory, Miguel Starkey, Paul Novicki, Brandon Rouse, Samuel Edwards, Maurice Morgan, Akeem Sutton or any of the successful post players from the area.

I know there are going to be some disagreements — and I want to see them. Let me know what you think and let me know who I left off the list! And a special thanks to Justin “The Kid” Hill for his help in putting this together.

UPDATED SATURDAY, JULY 23: I knew there would be at least one — and he was a good one. Inserted John Cobb at No. 16 and shifted everyone down a spot.

1. Reggie Bullock, KHS Class of 2010 – Sure, the UNC jersey Reggie wears today speaks volumes about his abilities, but I have to say this: every time he released the ball, you thought it was going to go in. I once saw him hit 13 consecutive 3-pointers at a practice. His motion was fluid and his aim was true. If he’d been able to play more of a guard position at Kinston (his 6-foot, 8-inch frame forced him inside sometimes for the good of the team), he would’ve averaged 35 points a game for the Vikings as a senior. Finished his career as the state’s top player in 2010 and a McDonald’s All-American, among countless other honors (including being one of the nicest guys around).

2. Justin Dunn, North Lenoir Class of 2005 – Justin was as pure a shooter as Reggie and was able to accentuate his shooting eye with the considerable talent that surrounded him in Wheat Swamp in the mid 2000s. He signed a full-ride with High Point University, was named to the all-freshman team for the Big South, then abruptly stopped playing basketball before his sophomore season. He transferred to UNC-Greensboro, but didn’t play again.

3.  Michael Jenkins, KHS Class of 2004 – Michael’s jumpshot was awesome — but obviously not good enough to get him a ride at ECU, where he really wanted to play. Instead, he signed late with Winthrop and proceeded to destroy ECU over the next four years. He’s now one of Europe’s best players, where he’s earned hundreds of thousands of dollars knocking down jumpshot after jumpshot.

4. Curtis Hines, KHS Class of 2007 – Nootsie was an excellent shooter before he became a Vikings starter, as he had won an international free throw contest sponsored by the Knights of Columbus as a sophomore. As a varsity player for Kinston, he was the designated sharpshooter with a motion as pure as silk. He signed with Louisburg and played at LCC but is not on a college roster at the moment.

5. Bo Ingram, KHS Class of 2008 – If we were ranking on best overall players, I’m not so sure Bo wouldn’t challenge Reggie (and Jeremy Ingram further down this list) for that title — all were multi-dimensional talents. But while Reggie’s game was predicated on the jumper, Bo’s inside-out game (he was once forced to guard future NBA draft pick Samari Samuels one-on-one despite giving up about 70 pounds and 4 inches) helped him earn a scholarship to one of the top junior colleges in America, South Plains College in Texas. He’s a rising senior at Texas-Arlington and is expected to be a borderline NBA Draft pick in 2012. He was the state’s top player in 2008.

6. Tyler Potter, Bethel Christian Academy/NL Class of 2009 –This will be the pick that gets me some grief, I’m sure, but anyone who watched TP’s shot during his freshman and sophomore campaigns at BCA and his junior season at North Lenoir came away impressed. He won the 3-point contest at the United Way Day of Basketball in 2006 as a freshman at BCA (beating Nootsie) and was runner-up to Reggie in 2008 after he’d transferred to North Lenoir. He struggled a bit with his timing when he got to North Lenoir, but if you left him open, he’d dot your eye in a heartbeat. He gave up basketball his senior season to concentrate on his baseball career, where he signed a scholarship to play at UNC Pembroke.

7. Steven Walker, BCA/Arendell Parrott Academy Class of 2004 – Arguably the best overall player at Bethel in my tenure in Kinston and certainly one of the best at Parrott after he transferred across town. He also had a deadly shot that went down if you weren’t guarding him. Won the inaugural UWDOB 3-point shootout in 2004.

8. Michael Small, KHS Class of 2004 – Michael was one of the most-respected shooters in the game in his tenure at Kinston — and he remains one of them today. The two-sport star has a jumpshot that should be taught to kids who want to play the game.

9. Josh Benoit, KHS Class of 2010 – Very understated and always tried to avoid the spotlight, but his shot was one of beauty. Without his efforts, Kinston doesn’t win the 2010 title. Reggie won three of four UWDOB 3-point titles in his freshman, sophomore and senior campaigns; the only one he didn’t win his junior season (because he was sitting out with an injury), Josh won.

10. Josh Kennedy, NL/South Lenoir Class of 2005 – Transferred midseason through his junior campaign from North Lenoir to South Lenoir with the blessing of then-NL coach Charlie Stevens — and became a shooting star in Deep Run. I’m not sure what his overall shooting percentage was, but it was about 80 percent on big shots. Along with Paul Novicki and Brandon Rouse, helped lead South Lenoir to its first league title in 25 years.

11. Ashley Mills, BCA Class of 2005 – The Jones County native was one heck of a basketball player — and he had the beautiful shot that helped. Another understated player that didn’t blow his own horn; he let his shooting speak for him. And a bit of blog trivia for you: I wrote about Ashley in my very first blog entry on April 11, 2005. Of course, you can’t see that now because the powers-that-be took it down in August 2006, but you’ll just have to take my word for it.

12. Marquez Jones, KHS Class of 2009 – Gorgeous jump shot for a player I felt was sometimes under-utilized in his Vikings career. Then again, there was so much talent at Kinston from 2007-2010 it was hard for everyone to get “theirs.” As can be said for a lot of players in that timeframe from KHS, he would’ve been the star at any of the surrounding schools if he’d gone there.

13. Claude Shields, APA/New Bern Class of 2006 – He had a rare blend of height, ball-handling — and a spectacular shot to boot, all in a 6-foot, 4-inch package. He transferred to New Bern for his senior season when former Greene Central coach Tod Morgan took over the Bears program. After playing for the UNC junior varsity team, he is now an assistant basketball coach at Guilford College.

14. Omar Jones, NL Class of 2006 – OK, some are going to remember Omar as a strong 6-foot, 5-inch forward … which he was. But he also had a jumper that was ridiculously beautiful. After graduating from North Lenoir, he signed with UNC Greensboro, where he was redshirted and never ended up playing. He ended up at Elizabeth City State University and finished his career by averaging 7.3 points and 3.3 rebounds per game. He also shot 40 percent from the 3-point line (14-of-35) his senior season.

15. Adrian Brewer, NL Class of 2006 – A teammate of Omar’s, Adrian was a pure shooter — and one of the streakiest I remember covering. He wasn’t afraid to fire it up, as evidenced by the night he set the school scoring record with 42 points – that included 10 3-pointers. Of course, three nights later, teammate Justin Dunn scored 43 points to break the record he had previously held until Adrian broke it!

16. John Cobb, NL Class of 2004 – On Charlie Stevens’ first Hawks team in the 2003-04 season, Cobb was a multiple threat from outside and in the lane. On a team chock full of stars, Cobb carved his own niche by taking the pressure off Dunn by effortlessly knocking down jumpers for the Hawks.

17. Josh Dunham, SL Class of 2003 – One of the best shooters I witnessed in my first basketball season at TFP. He didn’t exactly play on any of Jimmy Smith’s best teams, but he was a well-disciplined shooter that would knock it down if you left him alone.

18. Jeremy Ingram, KHS Class of 2003 – Jeremy’s forte wasn’t his jumpshot — although he certainly used it when it was needed. He wasn’t afraid to attack the rim and his moves in the paint are those of legend, including his incredible slam that won the dunk contest at the inaugural UWDOB in 2003. Injuries shortened what likely would’ve been an NBA career. In my nearly 20 years as a reporter, he’s one of my top 3 favorite people to interview.

19. Antwaine Wiggins, NL/Greeneville, Tenn. Class of 2007 – A kid whose name I spelled about 10 different ways when he was in Wheat Swamp. He was a lot like Omar Jones — tall (6-foot, 7-inches), lanky and could shoot the lights out. Transferred to Tennessee before his senior season to be closer to his father and then played at College of Charleston under Bobby Cremins, where he just finished his senior season averaging 7.9 points and 5.6 rebounds a game. Attempted 116 3-pointers last season, hitting 41 of them (35.3 percent).

20. Mark Tyndall, SL Class of 2004 — Another sharpshooter for Jimmy Smith who absolutely had to be covered or a 3-pointer was going to be made. Didn’t average a ton of points in Deep Run, but knew how to effectively create his own shot.

Honorable mentions: Zach Cutlip, APA; Tyler Fields, BCA; Chris Hall, KHS; Darryl Jones, KHS; Courtney Killinger, APA; Chris McPhail, NL; Nathan Perry, APA; Emanuel Rosber, NL; J’Mell Walters, KHS

Morning News Report; July 20, 2011

MORE JOBS COMING TO SPIRIT, KINSTON

Gov. Bev Perdue announced the addition of 150 to 200 jobs at Spirit AeroSystems this morning.

My take: Good news and all … but let’s get some of those people to live in Lenoir County, OK? Adding jobs is solid, but what good is it for Kinston and Lenoir County if those new employees live in Greenville, Goldsboro or Cutter Creek?

SPONSOR DROPS MENDENHALL OVER 9/11 TWEET

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall has sued the parent company of Champion after it dropped him following a controversial 9/11 tweet. In the tweet, Mendenhall implied the U.S. government was behind the 9/11 attacks.

My take: I can’t believe he has the nerve to file a lawsuit. Yes, there is freedom of speech in America and there’s even the freedom to be an idiot. But if it says specifically in your contract that you can’t be an idiot and represent the company that’s paying you $1 million in a bad way … you forfeit that money and that contract.

And what’s happened to the formerly squeaky-clean Steelers image? With Big Ben’s sexual escapades, Hines Ward’s DWI, James Harrison’s ridiculous rants and Mendenhall’s conspiracy theories, the Steelers are becoming the Cincinnati Bengals right before our eyes.

KUDZU JESUS, MEET JAY LENO

It was bound to happen — Jay Leno featured Lenoir County’s Kudzu (not Kudzu) Jesus in his Headlines segment of last night’s “Tonight Show.” Watch for yourself (starts around the 45-second mark):

My take: Wish he’d used our front page instead of an AP report, but oh well; still a funny story!

The iPod shuffle

Head Games — Foreigner

Change The World — Eric Clapton

Gangsta’s Paradise — Coolio featuring L.V.

Feelin’ Satisfied — Boston

Faithfully — Journey

Morning News Report; July 18, 2011

U.S. WOMEN LOSE TO JAPAN IN WORLD CUP FINAL

Despite never losing to Japan in soccer — going 22-0-3 over the years — the United States women found the wrong time to lose to their friends from the East, falling in the World Cup final in penalty kicks.

My take: Admittedly, I watched most of the first half of the final before heading to Grainger Stadium to PA the Kinston/Winston-Salem game. And admittedly, I was disappointed our girls didn’t come away with the title.

But as our good friend Randy Capps says in his excellent blog about the final, this was a feel-good story about a team playing for their fallen countrymates after that terrible tsunami that devastated Japan.

Can we now start talking about a REAL sport; you know, the NFL?

CASEY ANTHONY RELEASED FROM JAIL

Casey Anthony, who finds herself as America’s persona non grata at the moment, was released from jail early yesterday morning.

My take: And exactly where she is right now, no one knows. I don’t have a problem with it if she’s paying for her forced anonymity. But if the taxpayers are having to pay for her protection — I have a HUGE problem with that.

And I’ll say this: if anyone pays for the book that she’s inevitably going to write about this, they are idiots. I agree that she was found not guilty of murder by a jury of her peers, so she should be free. But there is no way under God she should be kept from the lynch mobs by our tax dollars.

HATCHER OPTIONED BACK TO DOUBLE-A JACKSONVILLE

A day after making a historic MLB debut as a pitcher, former Kinston star Chris Hatcher was optioned to Double-A Jacksonville.

My take: He knew this was probably going to happen, but I know this much about Chris — this is going to be a large motivation tool for him. He’s reached the show twice (including his uber-successful showing on Saturday) and all it’s going to take is a break to get him up there for good. No one is going to out-work him, that’s for sure.

Some other links on Hatch’s amazing Saturday:

The iPod shuffle

Kissing A Fool — George Michael

Always — U2

Suicide Blonde — INXS

Losing My Religion — R.E.M.

Free Fallin’ — Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

Hatcher makes MLB pitching debut (with video update)

The circle is complete: Former Kinston High School star Chris Hatcher made his debut on the mound this afternoon for the Florida Marlins in their 13-3 rout of the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.

Here’s Freedom ENC’s Randy Jones’ write-up:

CHICAGO — Exactly 300 days after making his major league debut as a catcher for the Florida Marlins, Kinston native Chris Hatcher pitched a perfect inning of relief in his debut as a pitcher in the Marlins’ 13-3 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Saturday afternoon.
Hatcher relieved Florida starter Javier Vazquez in the top of the eighth inning at Wrigley Field and threw a ball to Darwin Barney on his first pitch — a 94 mile per hour fastball.
After another 94-mph ball, Hatcher got Barney to pop up to shortstop Henley Ramirez for out No. 1.

Tony Campana worked a full count off of Hatcher — fouling off three pitches before grounding out to second base.

Kosuke Fukudome then would take two straight fastballs to fall down 0-2 in the count before swinging at a 94 mph fastball to end the inning.

My take: Congrats, Chris! Kinston is very proud of you.

Updated: Click here for the MLB video

Morning News Report; July 15, 2011

BULLOCK CLEARED TO PLAY

Kinston’s Reggie Bullock has laced ‘em back up and is back on the court for UNC following rehabilitation from a knee injury.

My take: From everything I’ve heard — he’s 100 percent back. This is going to be a breakout season for him and the Tar Heels — who are pretty much everyone’s pick to win the national title in 2012.

CLEMENS TRIAL ENDS IN MISTRIAL

The perjury trial for former baseball star Roger Clemens ended in a mistrial yesterday when the government screwed up. Experts aren’t sure there’ll be a retrial because of possible double jeopardy concerns.

My take: He might’ve gotten away with this but know this — he’ll never be in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Guess he’ll just have to make do with his millions of dollars…

FINAL HARRY POTTER OPENS

The final installment of the Harry Potter movie series opened at midnight to packed theaters full of geeky goodness. It is expected to have the largest financial opening of any movie in history.

My take: I can proudly say I haven’t watched one minute of any of the HP movies — but more power to those who have lived and died with this series.

The iPod shuffle

Signs — Tesla

I Will Survive — Gloria Gaynor

Funky Cold Medina — Tone-Loc

What’s Going On — Marvin Gaye

Look At Me Now — Chris Brown feat. Lil Wayne & Busta Rhymes