The daily pitch from Sports Editor Matt Daniels: Feb. 14, 2024

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Sports Editor Matt Daniels with a look at what's going on around the area:

Three reasons we love sports today

➜ 1. The public response to voting for The News-Gazette's High School Athletes of the Week, powered by Copper Creek Contractors, is a welcome sight. Voting continues through noon on Thursday at

➜ Finalists for the boys' accolade are St. Joseph-Ogden wrestler Holden Brazelton, Prairie Central basketball player Tyler Curl, Argenta-Oreana basketball player Ethan Mahan and Hoopeston Area wrestler Angel Zamora.

➜ 3. Finalists for the girls' award are Arthur Christian basketball player Avery Herschberger, LeRoy basketball player Natalie Loy, Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley basketball player Lily Sizemore and Urbana wrestler Jurdan Tyler.

Numbers game: 160

Combined points the Parkland and Danville Area men's basketball teams put up during their first game this season, an 81-79 win by DACC on Jan. 17 in Champaign. The rematch is set for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Mary Miller Gym in Danville, with the visiting Cobras (22-2) ranked fourth in the most recent NJCAA Division II poll and averaging 82.2 points. The host Jaguars (14-8) average 74.6 points. Enjoy.

Crowd control

Three events I'm paying attention to

➜ 1. Parkland at Danville Area women's basketball. The opening game of the doubleheader between the two area community colleges tips at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday. The visiting Cobras (19-3) are up to No. 11 in the NJCAA D-II poll and will try to complete the season sweep of the Jaguars (14-9).

➜ 2. Illinois women's basketball at Penn State. The 5 p.m. Thursday game against the Nittany Lions (16-8, 7-6 Big Ten) is a must-win game for the Illini (11-12, 5-8). Like every game is the rest of the season.

➜ 3. Illinois baseball on Friday. Coach Dan Hartleb's program opens the season with a doubleheader against Akron in Winston-Salem, N.C. First pitch is set for 9 a.m.

Coach's corner

Three questions with Tuscola boys' basketball coach Justin Bozarth, whose Warriors end the regular season on Wednesday night at Central A&M before the reigning third-place team in Class 1A starts the postseason next Monday night against Heritage:

➜ 1. My favorite sports team is ... any team representing the Tuscola Warriors.

➜ 2. Three coaches I'd like to have dinner with are ... John Wooden, Bryan Smith and Aja Bozarth.

➜ 3. My biggest pet peeve is ... when people chomp on gum.