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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - December 30, 2003, New Braunfels, Texas Page 6A — Herald-Zeitung — Tuesday, December 30, 2003SCOREBOARD SSLooking backSee how the athletes profiled in Thursday's Where are They Now features have done this year.Armstrong named Associated Press Male Athlete of the year AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — For Lance Armstrong, 2003 was a year of personal and professional struggles and triumph. Divorce divided Iris family. A crash, dehydration and some admittedly poor riding nearly cost him a record-tying fifth straight Tour de France title. But just when his dominance of one of world’s most grueling sports events teetered near its end, Armstrong fought off Jan Ullrich of Germany by 62 seconds to put himself in position to become the first rider to win six in a row in 2004. On Sunday, Armstrong was hon ored as The Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year, the second straight year he’s won die award voted on by sports writers and broadcasters. “It was a tough year and hard Tour,” Armstrong said. “Professionally, it was as successful as any year. Personally, it was very tough year, for more than just myself. I tried to work through it the best I could. The personal stuff is behind now.” Armstrong and San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds were the top two finishers for the third straight year. Armstrong received 26 first-place votes and 174 points. Bonds had IO first-place votes and 59 points. “Oh, man,” Armstrong said. “I couldn’t hit a baseball.” That Armstrong could fight through his struggles is no surprise considering his comeback from testicular cancer that had spread to his lungs and brain. He went from having a 50 percent chance to live in 1996 to four straight Tour championships from 1999-02. What made the 2003 victory so remarkable was that for the first time since his comeback he seemed human again. As a celebrity, his divorce from wife Kristin, whom he met while taking chemotherapy and the mother of their three children, made headlines. On the bike, the grimaces he once used to trick his rivals were real. The mountain stages of the Tour were a hardship and the crashes he so often avoided finally snared him in 2003. Pushing him all the way was Ullrich, a five-time runner-up in the Tour de France whom Armstrong considers his chief rival in 2004. “He’s definitely the biggest threat,” Armstrong said. “A lot of people would argue Ullrich was a better rider this year.” The close finish ^eems to have refocused Armstrong. He feels he has something to prove, not just by winning another Tour, but winning as he used to—with a dominating ride. “I was just not happy with my performance in 2003 and that’s a big motivating factor,” he said. “I can be a stronger rider.” Armstrong says he wasn’t chasing the record book after his early Tour wins, but now he’s eyeing his place in cycling history. The only other five-time winners are Eddy Merckx, Miguel Indurain, Bernard Hinault and Jacques Anquetil. HOOPS CONTINUED FROM Page 5A Canyon, New Braunfels boys readying for district play have led the Rangers’ scoring attack, while Ryan Slattery has been the defensive gem. The Rangers host Tivy Friday and travel to Alamo Heights and Boerne before starting district action against Highlands on Jan. 16. The Canyon boys are 6-7, but have played teams like Alamo Heights and McNeil. The Cougars did come in second in two tournaments, the Gonzales Tournament and their own River City Classic. Lsniael Guillen and Kyle Kennedy lead the Cougars in scoring and Cole Clayton, stands ing at 6-foot- IO, provides the Cougars with an intimidating inside presence. The Cougars start district play Friday when they travel to Lockhart. The New Braunfels boys have experienced some growing pains early in the season. The Unicorns are in their first year under Coach Tommy Hines and start two freshmen, Tony Valadez and Bernie Gutierez. The Unicorns are 3-12, but the future is bright. Gutierez and Valadez help lead the backcourt game with Shane Fisher, while Jonathan Holmes and Matt Schima provide scoring and efficient defense. New Braunfels begins its district schedule Saturday against Bastrop. Freshman scores 27 to lead Longhorns over Colonials, 88-72 Smithson Valley's Seneca Guenther scored 28 points to lead the Rangers to a 70-57 victory over McCollum Monday. Texas playing for pride in Holiday Bowl RANGERS CONTINUED FROM Page 5A Teuton led second quarter run Guenther opened the second quarter with a put back and Sydney Teuton hit back-to-back 3-pointers to lead a 10-5 run that gave the Rangers a 23-18 lead. A Cowgirl 3-pointer cut the Ranger lead to two before I lannah Werchan and Mallory Craig each scored to spark a 7-0 run. McCollum hit a jumper at the buzzer to cut the lead to 30-23 at the half. The Rangers started to pull away in the third quarter as Guenther scored 13 in the frame. Before the buzzer sounded, Rangers opened a 16-point margin, 54-38. But the Cowgirls didnt go away as a series of 3-point shots and second shot opportunities helped them use a 17-10 run to cut the Ranger lead to nine, 64-55. Morgan Craig hit two free throws to extend the lead back to double digits, 66-55, and Guenther hit three free throws before leaving the game with over a minute left. Smithson Valley improved to 8-10 and hosts Fredricks-burg at 8 p.m. Jan. 6. SAN DIEGO (AF) — Roy Williams expected to play for a national title at least once in his career at Texas. But instead of the Bowl (Championship Series, the senior wide receiver for the No. 5 Longhorns finds himself in the Holiday Bowl for the third time in four years and stuck with the disappointment of getting left out of the BCS yet again. The Longhorns (10-2) will be the highest-ranked team not in the BCS when they play No. 15 Washington State (9-3) Tuesday night. “Your spirits are hurt," Williams said. “We know we’re a BCS team... (but) when the lights come on, we’ll be ready to play." Texas has come tantalizingly close to the BCS. In six seasons under Mack Brown, the Longhorns have won the Big 12 South twice and won IO games three years in a row. In 2001, they fell short of a likely berth in the national title game with a 39-37 loss to Colorado in the Big 12 championship. This year, the Longhorns had all but clinched a BCS berth until Kansas State stunned (Mahonia to win the Big 12. The Wildcats grabbed the league’s automatic BCS berth, the Sooners got the at-large bid, and the Longhorns started packing for yet another holiday on the West Coast. San Diego’s sunny coastline, a world famous zoo and the nightlife of theGaslamp Quarter help mask the disappointment. “It s not bad to be in Southern California this time of year,” said senior defensive lineman Kalen’Ihomton. “You can’t ask for much more.” But it s not New Orleans, where rival Oklahoma is playing LSIJ for the BCS title. And it s not Tempe, Ariz., where the Longhorns expected to make their first BCS appearance. AUSTIN (AP) — Texas coach Rick Barnes shuffled his starting lineup and came up with a winner Monday night. Freshman P.J. Tucker scored a season-high 27 points and grabbed 15 rebounds in his first collegiate start to lead the 19th-ranked Longhorns to an 88-72 victory over George Washington. “EJ. Tucker dominated the game,” George Washington coach Karl Hobbs said. “He truly was the difference.” The Longhorns (6-2) opened the game with an 11 -0 run that was keyed by three inside baskets by Tricker. The 6-foot-5 Tricker, who was held scoreless in Texas’ 89-61 loss to then-No. 3 Duke on Dec. 20, made his first five shots and was 12-of-16 for the game. All of his field goals were within 5 feet of the basket. “P.J. was unstoppable tonight,” Texas forward Brian Boddicker said. “He got whatever he wanted down low.” The Colonials (6-5) finally scored when Carl Elliott hit a 3-pointer with 15:11 left in th§ first half. Another 3-point-er and a steal and coast-to-coast layup by Elliott made it 17-12 before the Longhorns put together a 15-0 run midway through the first half. Kenny Taylor hit two 3-pointers and had eight points during the run, while Royal Ivey had a steal and a stut-ter-step drive to the basket that resulted in a three-point play. Tricker capped the run with another strong move to the basket for a layup, and the Longhorns led 32-12 with 7:29 left in the first half. George Washington cut the lead to 62-50 with 9:44 to play behind the strong outside shooting of Greg Collucci, who hit five 3s in the second half. But Texas pulled away again behind the inside presence of Tricker, who had IO offensive rebounds, and the outside shooting of Taylor, who finished with 19 points, including five 3-pointers. Collucci led George Washington with 23 points, while T.J. Thompson added 19. Tricker, who came in averaging 12.7 points and 7.6 rebounds, has four doubledoubles in eight games. “Tricker is without a doubt the surprise player in the country," Hobbs said. Barnes was pleased with Trickers play. • “EJ. Tricker definitely had an impressive night," Barnes said.  ; Stars rally to tie Flyers, 2-2 Sonics hold off Rockets down the stretch, 87-86 I IOU STON (AP) — I louston coach Jeff Van Gundy had a harsh evaluation of his team after the Seattle Supersonics defeated the Rockets 87-86 Monday night. " Turnovers, missed free throws at critical times, lack of rebounding and fouls down the stretch,” Van Gundy complained. “I’m just thinking about how we can get better. Obviously, we’re not good enough." Vladimir Radmanovic sank a pair of key 3-point shots and Ray Allen hit a pressure free throw with four seconds left to lead the Supersonics. Allen led Seattle with 28 points, followed by Rashard Lewis with 13 and Radmanovic and Brent Barry with 12 each. Houston had six players in double figures, led by Yao Ming with 15 points. Steve Francis also was frustrated by the Rockets’ play. “Everything is a concern. Whether it can be corrected or not, hopefully we can correct it,” Francis said. A 3-point shot by Radmanovic gave Seattle its first lead of the game, 67-66, with 8:38 left. The lead then changed hands six more times before Barry drove the length of the court for a layup to give the Sonics an 80-78 advantage. After a free throw by Yao, Radmanovic connected on a 3-point shot from the comer to give Seattle an 83-79 lead with 1:41 remaining. A basket by Jim Jackson cut Houston’s deficit to 83-81 with 50 seconds left. A pair of free throws by Lewis with IO seconds left and one by Allen with four seconds left secured the win before Francis hit a 3-point shot at the buzzer. “We stole the game. We didn’t make good decisions or shoot well, but our defense did a good job in the fourth quarter,” coach Nate McMillan said. McGinnis, Williams, Jauron all let go as NFL teams regroup DALLAS (AF) — It was almost a nearly perfect homecoming for Philadelphia Flyers coach Ken I litchcock. But Hitchcock’s former team, the Dallas Stars, completed a rally from a two-goal deficit when Pierre Turgeon scored a power-play goal with 16:42 left in regulation to claim a 2-2 tie on Monday night. Kim Johnsson’s second-period goal gave the Flyers a 2-0 advantage in Hitchcock’s first game in Dallas since he was fired by the Stars on Jan 25, 2002. The Stars won the Stanley Cup with Hitchcock behind the bench in 1999. But Sergei Zubov answered with a second-period power-play goal, then Turgeon deflected Richard Matvichuk’s shot from the point with the - man advantage to draw the Stars even. "It was a hyped-up game because 11 itch was coming in and his team plays extremely hard," Matvichuk said. “With the success we had with him and the fact that they’re an elite team, this was a measuring stick game for us.” I litchcock remains a popular figure in I Villas. I Ie was cheered when he was introduced before the game and he later heard cheers again when he was shown on the big video screen. "This is a special place for me,” Hitchcock said. “When you can be a part of what we built here ... we didn’t only build a team, we built hockey in Texas. But I’m happy where I’m coaching now. I ve moved on and I’m having fun with this group.” Marty Turco had 26 saves for the Stars, 6-1 -2 in their last nine to begin to climb back up the Western Conference standings. “ This gives us confidence,” Turgeon said. “A month ago, maybe even a couple of weeks ago, I don’t know if we come back from two goals down.” (AF) Dave McGinnis, Gregg Williams and Dick Jauron learned Monday just how precarious NFL head coaching positions are. All three were fired on the day after disappointing seasons ended with losing records. McGinnis was released by the Arizona Cardinals after going 4-12. The Buffalo Bills let go of Williams after a 6-10 record, while the Chicago Bears dismissed Jauron, who was 7-9 this season. Left dangling was Oakland’s Bill Callahan, less than one year after he led the Raiders to the Super Bowl. And Washington’s Steve Spurrier had not yet committed to returning to the Redskins, even though owner Daniel Snyder said he expects the oT ball-coach to be back The three firings Monday meant five head coaches are out of work Dan Reeves was fired by Atlanta and Jim Passel by the New York Giants during the season. McGinnis, 16-32 in three full seasons in Arizona, went from the thrill of a last-second victory over Minnesota, preventing the Vikings from making the playoffs, to the anguish of being unemployed hours later. His entire staff was released, too. The Cardinals were 0-8 on the road, which didn't help McGinnis, who was extremely popular with his players. DAVID INGIUM/Herald-Zeitung When healthy, Shane Fisher is the top offensive threat for New Braunfels. ;