DANICA PATRICK ATTENTION GETTING OLD
Before I say this, I want to say that I think it’s awesome that a woman is getting the opportunity to race in NASCAR.
As someone who has done all he can to promote equality in sports coverage, I wholeheartedly support Danica Patrick getting her chance.
However, do we need to hear about her every five seconds?
You would think that instead of racing in the Nationwide Series, she was on the pole for the Daytona 500 Sunday.
I was watching Nationwide practice on ESPN2 today and when Tony Stewart was asked about Patrick, he replied “I was surprised I was getting an interview. I thought she was done for the day.”
ESPN takes a story and blows it out of proportion. It’s almost as bad as the Tiger Woods thing.
Patrick is a good story, but folks, she’s not going to win Saturday. She finished sixth in an Arca race, probably the single A of stock car racing.
My friend Jeff Birchfield of the Johnson City Press wrote a column on this subject today and he brought out some good points.
This is not Kurt Busch or Jeff Gordon, this is someone who is a rookie.
I wish Patrick very well, but it’s time for ESPN to get back to reporting relevant stories.

WAY TO GO DUKE!
Congratulations to Duke for finally ending a long losing streak against North Carolina last night.
Jon Scheyer to over at the end of the game and the Blue Devils were able to celebrate.
What is wrong with North Carolina? This is the worst Carolina team I’ve seen in a long time.
You can’t spell North Carolina Tar Heels without NIT, only they may not make that tournament.
Now it sets up a matchup for first place in the ACC between two bitter rivals, Duke and Maryland.
Expect Duke to win on its home floor and take the ACC.
A SUPER BOWL FOR THE SAINTS
I know I’m a little late writing this, but congratulations to the New Orleans Saints for winning the Super Bowl and the NFL Championship.
I know not many people here were pulling for the Saints because of the love for Peyton Manning, but I was happy for the city of New Orleans.
The Saints fans have been through so much over the year, including the destruction of Hurricane Katrina.
So when Manning threw that interception and it was returned for a touchdown, I was elated.
I was watching the game at the Community Center at my church’s Super Bowl party.
I was surrounded by Colts fans, but there were a faithful few pulling for the Saints.
Now the city has a Super Bowl title and it’s well deserved.
And they did it in one of the best Super Bowls of all time.

PATRIOTS ON THEIR WAY TO ENDING UNICOI LEGACY
The last several years, Unicoi County has dominated Class AA high school basketball in this region.
However, a group of Patriots took a big hit to the Blue Devil legacy last night.
Sullivan East defeated Unicoi County 66-59 to take a one game lead in the Three Rivers standings with one game left to play against each other.
Unicoi County has dominated our conference in almost every sport, but John Dyer and company went a long way in ending that.
Sullivan East has an advantage coming over from the Big Nine last year, but granted they are a very good team.
Don’t count out Unicoi, but it looks like some Patriots from Bluff City have taken control of this league.

THE NIGHT THE TABLES WERE TURNED ON APPALACHIAN STATE
About two and a half years ago, the world turned its attention to Boone, N.C. when the Appalachian State Football Team pulled off a miracle by defeating Michigan.
The Division I-AA school (currently called FCS) did something that had never been done before in beating a ranked Division I-A opponent.
Michigan’s program has not been the same since.
It seems like some of the luster of the Michigan win has worn off and now the Mountaineers are finding themselves on the other end of the spectrum.
Monday night, another nearby school and one with many Johnson County alums, King College, went to Boone to tangle with the Mountaineers and pick up a nice check.
What they did was not expected.
King defeated Appalachian 87-76 in a game similar to the football contest from two and a half years ago.
King College is making the transition from NAIA to NCAA Division II. They seem to be doing it quite nicely.
The Tomahawk covered a King game during one of the big snowstorms a few weeks ago and I thought they were a good team, but this came as a total shock.
What was the difference? I believe it was coaching.
George Pitts is as sharp of a basketball mind as anybody in the country. And I believe he is a better coach than Appalachian State’s Buzz Peterson.
I would like to see King play ETSU now. I think it would be interesting.
I remember watching Pitts’ Science Hill teams in the mid-90s and though there was a lot of talent, Pitts’ elevated them to the highest level.
It’s a great win for King College and unfortunately we are going to be unable to do it justice in the paper due to an onslaught of local stuff.
But I want to take this time to congratulate King’s team and all the King College alums in Johnson County. You must be very proud right now.

WHO DAT! GO SAINTS
I know this is very unpopular to say in these parts, but I will not be pulling for the Indianapolis Colts next Sunday in the Super Bowl.
Sorry Peyton, I’m pulling for your childhood favorite, the New Orleans Saints.
I’m so happy for the city of New Orleans after all they went through with Hurricane Katrina.
It’s nice to see a city can bounce back lack this, all over a football team that’s never been good.
Here in Johnson County, my good friend Karla Prudhomme has had a Go Saints sign in her yard this week. She is a Louisiana native who showed her Saint pride.
She told me that she loved the Mannings, but her heart is with the Saints.
At least for one night, my heart will be with the Saints too.
I hope for a good game, but in the end the Saints will go marching out with a victory.

GOODBYE KURT WARNER
Today it was announced that Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner has retired from the NFL.
It was fun to see him back with the Rams when he was the leader of the greatest show on turf, winning the Super Bowl in 2000.
Just when it appeared his career was over, Warner landed in Arizona and once again reasserted himself as an elite quarterback.
More than anything, Warner was a quality person who put his faith and family above everything else.
I hope he has a great retirement. He will be missed.

AUSTRALIAN OPEN TO HAVE TWO GREAT FINALS
You couldn’t ask for two better Australian Open finals.
Saturday morning, the women’s final features the comeback kid Justine Henin against Serena Williams.
Sunday morning will be Roger Federer against Andy Murray.
These are among the elite of tennis and should be great matchups.
I want to say thank you to ESPN2 for all the coverage of the first Grand Slam of the Year. I feel three of the four slams we’re able to get good coverage of the tournaments and I’m grateful for that.
It’s been a great tournament and here are my picks for the finals.
WOMEN’S: I like Henin in this one. I think she’s playing a little better than Williams right now and won’t be in awe of her. Henin in three.
MEN’S: Until he’s beaten, I like Federer. His match with Jo Wilfred Tsonga was as good as I’ve seen him play in a long time, though Murray has a winning record against him. Grand slams are a different story. Federer in five.

FLIP FLOP ON TOBACCO ROAD
Last night something weird happened in the state of North Carolina. Duke and North Carolina lost big to the other North Carolina schools.
Duke fell 88-74 to N.C. State while the Tar Heels lost to Wake Forest.
Since the late 80s, Duke and UNC have ruled tobacco road while Wake Forest has had some success.
N.C. State for the most part has struggled since the death of Jim Valvano.
Don’t worry about Duke, they’re going to be OK. Losing on the road in the ACC is going to happen.
Carolina was playing at home and the Tar Heels have lost four of their five games and are in danger of missing the NCAA Tournament.
The Heels are not the same as last year’s NCAA championship team, but will be back soon.
But for one day, bragging rights in North Carolina have shifted.

GREAT ACTION AT THE AUSTRALIAN OPEN
Wednesday’s action at the Australian Open was as good as any grand slam tennis I’ve seen in the early rounds.
On the men’s side, James Blake pushed U.S. Open Champion Juan Martin Del Potro to 10-8 in the fifth set, before Del Potro pulled it out.
The fifth set was unbelievable tennis with both players making great shots.
At the same time, the blockbuster second round match between Justine Henin and No. 5 seed Elena Dementieva was a classic with Henin winning 7-5, 7-6.
These two women never should have been playing each other this early, as Henin just returned from a year and a half retirement.
Henin has looked just like she did before, if not better. I wouldn’t be surprised if she won the tournament.
So if you can’t sleep at night, turn on this grand slam event on ESPN2.

YOUTH BASKETBALL REPORT
(EDITOR’S NOTE: The Youth Basketball Report has been moved to the Hill’s Spills Sports Blog due to an overflow of sports.)
RCE Games Mon Jan 11

C Team RCE1 4 RCE2 20
Dylan Simcox 4 Jayden Jainer 18
Emily Brown 2

C Team Laurel 3 RCE3 10
Emily Garr 1 Will Henson 2
Corie Neely 3 Dalton Snyder 2
Jonathan Wilcox 4
Adam Vanover 2

B Team RCE1 5 Laurel 30
Eli Eller 3 Bud Icenhour 16
Destiny Cole 2 McLain Carlton 4
Matt Harris 3
Tristin Norris 3
Alex Eastridge 2
Zachary Winters 2

A Team RCE2 54 Laurel 4
Bob Stout 6 Danny Eastridge 2
Ray Holman 8 Evan Martin 2
Bradley Wright 10
Dakota Wright 19
Isacc Campbell 2
John White 9

RCE Games Tues Jan 12

A Team MCE1 46 Doe 22
Justin Pardue 7 Aaron Steele 2
Logan Sargent 10 Brandon Roarke 7
Caleb Throop 9 Wesley Bodenhamer 2
Nick Lewis 5 Dillon Johnson 7
Cody Bailey 7 Trevor Luckett 2
Nick Whitener 2 Justin Smith 2
Alex Mahala 2
Jesse Jarvis 2
Zack Porter 2

A Team RCE3 29 MCE2 20
Samuel Wilson 2 Ronnie Stonesifer 10
Cole Yarber 4 Spencer Stanley 6
Brandon Vannoy 14 Ethan Woods 2
Devin Lewis 7 Hunter Green 1
Takoda Roarke 2 Joe Icenhour 1

A Team RCE1 22 MCE3 28
Hunter Tester 13 Alex Tressler 12
Brycen Norris 4 Daniel Cunningham 10
Austin Dowell 3 Joseph Lawson 4
Bailey Epperly 2 Dalton Eller 2

RCE Games Sat Jan 16

C Team RCE1Laurel 7 MCE1 8
Mason Bragg 3 Pete Pavusek 6
Emily Garr 4 Zack Whitehead 2

C Team MCE2 10 MCE3 2
Luke Phillips 8 Tyler Burleson 2
Preston Smith 2

B Team MCE1 12 MCE2 7
Shane Greer 8 Taylor Hannah 2
Austin Roarke 2 Josh Tierney 5
Brandon Lunceford 2

B Team Laurel 34 MCE3 6
Bud Icenhour 13 Philip Dugger 6
McLain Carlton 10
Josh Widener 4
Matt Harris 3
Tristin Norris 2
Alex Eastridge 2

Girls MCE1 16 MCE2 12
Jayme Jennings 10 Macala Cretsinger 6
Celena Herman 2 Kimberlie Hannah 2
Kelsey Terrill 2 Kelsie Duperry 4
Marly Eggers 2

A Team MCE2 17 MCE1 44
Ronnie Stonesifer 11 Nick Whitener 8
Cole Snyder 2 L ogan Sargent 9
Hunter Green 3 Caleb Throop 4
Spencer Stanley 1 Nick Lewis 8
Cody Bailey 9
Zack Porter 4
Alex Mahala 2

A Team Doe 18 MCE3 31
Aaron Steele 11 Alex Tressler 4
Brandon Roarke 4 Danmiel Cunningham 8
Wesley Bodenhamer 3 Joseph Lawson 7
Zachary Reece 4
Dalton Eller 2
Clay Greenwell 6

January 11, 2010: Games at Doe School
Team / Total Points Team / Total Points
C-Team Mountain City 1 / 7 vs. Doe 1 / 0
C. Arnold – 2 points
Shauntel Morefield – 2 points
P. Pavusek – 1 point
Ryan Morefield – 2 points

C-Team Mountain City 2 / 14 vs Doe 2 / 2
Luke Phillips – 10 points Christian Pierce – 2 points
Preston Smith – 4 points

B- Team Mountain City 1 / 1 vs Doe 1 / 29
Shane Greer – 1 point Nate Shepherd – 3 points
Nathan Arnold – 17 points
Nathan Lane – 2 points
Gage Hampton – 7 points

B-Team Mountain City 3 / 20 vs Doe 2 / 37
Phillip Dugger – 15 points Eric Davis – 6 points
K. Matherly – 2 points Gabe Reece – 2 points
Kayleigh Arnold – 3 points Caden Arnold – 4 points
Logan Roberts – 2 points
Lane Isaacs – 2 points
Dawson Snyder – 6 points
Gavin Reece – 4 points
Lincoln McIver – 5 points
Zach Eller – 6 points

January 16, 2010: Games at Doe School
C-Team Team / Total Points Team / Total Points
Roan Creek Elementary / 16 vs Doe / 3
D. Simcox – 6 points Miller, 1 point
B. Livorsi – 8 points J. Thomas, 2 points
T. Roark – 2 points

C-Team Doe 2 / 4 vs Roan Creek 2 / 16
Christian Pierce – 2 points Jayden Joiner – 14 points
Danny Medley – 2 points John Stout – 2 points

B-Team Doe 1 / 16 vs Doe 2 / 17
Gage Hampton – 6 points Caden Arnold – 2 points
Nathan Arnold – 9 points Dawson Snyder – 5 points
Nate Shepherd – 1 point Gavin Reece – 2 points
Lincoln McIver – 2 points
Zach Eller – 6 points

GIRLS
Doe 1 / 16 vs Doe 2 / 17
Brianna Snyder – 9 points Courtney Brooks – 6 points
Courtney Wilson – 3 points Brittney Brooks – 2 points
Lindsey Proffitt – 2 points Haven Feltner – 5 points
Fantastic Garland – 2 points Caitlyn Leonard – 4 points

GIRLS
Laurel / 19 vs Roan Creek / 6
Samantha Minks – 10 points Jerry Wilson – 6 points
Makaeyla Morefield – 5 points
Kelly Dugger – 2 points
Chelsie Owens – 2 points

A-Team Roan Creek 2 / 32 vs Roan Creek 1 / 26
Ray Holman – 16 points Hunter Tester – 15 points
Bradley Wright – 6 points Bailey Epperly – 4 points
Dakota Wright – 8 points Bryeen Norris – 4 points
Zack Eastridge – 2 points Austin Dowell – 3 points

A-Team Roan Creek 3 / 26 vs Doe / 6
Samuel Wilson – 2 points Aaron Steele – 2 points
Travis Williams – 7 points Wesly Bodenhimer – 2 points
Devin Lewis – 4 points Justin Smith – 2
Takoda Roark – 3 points
Brandon Vannoy – 8 points
Sawyer Phillips – 2 points

GOODBYE LANE KIFFIN
Tonight around halftime of tonight’s JCHS-Elizabethton game, word got around that something crazy was happening in Knoxville.
At first I didn’t believe it, then more people came up to me.
Finally, it was announced after the game by JCHS P.A. Announcer Greg Reece that Mr. “We’re going to sing Rocky Top all night long after beating Florida” had jumped ship for a program that’s probably on the way of being put on probation.
Lane Kiffin is headed back to USC after staying for a one-year cup of coffee at Tennessee.
All I have to say is shame, shame, shame.
You go to a school and make comments that put the University in a negative light, then bolt.
First of all, I have no problem with people leaving and trying to better themselves.
I can tell you that early on in my career I bounced around newspapers and then found the right fit at The Tomahawk.
But my mother has always taught me about loyalty and finishing what you started.
Kiffin has not finished what he started. He barely begun.
The Vols were not much better under Kiffin then they were under Phil Fulmer last year.
Things needed to be done, but Kiffin has done nothing of what he said he was going to do, including beating Florida.
I feel sorry for the players at Tennessee and the recruits who were going to play for him.
Tennessee fans should be betrayed, bar none.
This makes me feel very appreciative about Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer and his program along Coach K at Duke in basketball.
Not only do they stay, but their assistants say.
I hope Tennessee finds them a coach, one that actually cares about the University.
Not one that is all talk.
CHRISTMAS VACATION RUNS INTO JANUARY
After the JCHS game with Volunteer on Dec. 22, I knew it would be about 12 days before I would see live basketball.
It has ended up being two and a half weeks and it may be close to a month.
Snow and bitter cold has changed the schedules and Friday’s game with Elizabethton could be in jeopardy.
It has been a chore the last couple of weeks trying to fill up the sports section, but I’m hanging in there.
Wednesday, I made a trip to King College and covered a game.
I enjoyed it and especially being reunited with long-time friend Gene Renfro, the King College sports information director.
We’re just trying to get by right now. The cold is supposed to subside by the middle of next week and hopefully things will get back to normal for awhile.
CONGRATULATIONS ANDRE DAWSON!!
As a life-long Chicago Cubs fan, I was thrilled to see that Andre Dawson will be in the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame.
Though I don’t watch baseball near as much as I used to, I did watch it a lot back in the 1980s and Andre Dawson was one of my favorite Cubs.
I remember watching him, Ryne Sandberg and Mark Grace, thinking how this team could never win.
You never heard of steroids or drug problems with Dawson. He is a class act.
Over the last couple of days, sports commentators have complained about Roberto Alomar not being chosen.
I feel Alomar is deserving and the spitting incident shouldn’t be held against him, but I say his time will come.
Dawson has waited and now it’s his time. Congratulations again to one of the Cubs all-time best players.

THE WASHINGTON WIZARDS MIGHT WANT TO GO BACK TO THEIR OLD NICKNAME
Over a decade ago, the Washington Bullets changed their name to the Washington Wizards because of violence in D.C.
Gilbert Arenas and Jarvis Crittendon have made us think of the Wizards more like the Bullets again.
An incident involving guns has left Arenas suspended indefinitely and rightfully so.
Gun violence is nothing to sneeze and nothing to joke at.
The final straw with the league office might have been Tuesday’s game where Arenas pointed his fingers and the players laughed.
This is the most ridiculous way to lose a career and Arenas should be ashamed.
In this day of terrorism and violence, this should be no laughing matter.