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Thursday, January 7, 1999

Swimmers seek `unofficial' state honors

PECOS, Jan. 7 -- There won't be anything official about this
weekend's meet at Temple high School, but for the Pecos
Eagles swim team and others in Class 4A and below it will be
their first chance to see what the actual state meet for
sub-Class 5A schools will look like, when it's held in
Austin 13 months from now.

The Eagles were leaving today for Temple for the meet, which
will match Class 4A and below schools for the first time
without having to worry about competition from Class 5A

"We're going to leave tomorrow afternoon (today) and spend
the night in San Angelo," said Eagles' coach Terri Morse.
The meet begins at 5 p.m. Friday with preliminaries and
continues at 9 a.m. Saturday with the one meter diving
finals. The swimming finals are scheduled to start at 1 p.m.

After years of lobbying by sub-5A schools, the University
Interscholastic League finally approved holding two state
meets in swimming beginning in 2000, and this weekend's meet
should give the Eagles an idea of how they'll do come next

"With the boys times, they said the relays and Kevin
(Bates') individual times are near the top. They said
Kevin's would be in the top two or three, so I'm hoping
we'll do pretty well at the meet."

Pecos has won 14 girls and boys swimming titles in District
4 since 1990, but once the Eagles and other district teams
get to regionals, they've had to compete against Region I-5A
schools from across West Texas. Add to that the fact that
only the first place finisher in each event is assured of a
trip to Austin -- unlike track, tennis and golf, all others
are taken on a statewide at-large basis -- and the Eagles
have sent just one swimmer to the state meet since the
program began in 1983.

"The kids are getting psyched up for it, and we had some
good workouts over Christmas, so I'm hoping we'll be able to
finish near the top," said Morse, who won't have her full
squad there, because swimmers had to meet qualifying times
to earn a trip to Temple.

Pecos will have 13 boys and seven girls entered in the meet,
which will allow the boys to field `A' and `B' relays that
could help them in the final point standings.

"The entries are like district and regionals in that you can
only have four per event, but for the relays they opened it
up to two (teams)," Morse said. The Eagles will have four
entries in a couple of boys events, the 50 freestyle, with
Bates, Matt Ivy, Cortney Freeman and Lucio Florez, along
with Bates, Florez, Freeman and Scott Pounds in the 100 free
and Timothy Harrison, Craig Wein, Luis Nieto and Jason Lopez
in the 200 individual medley.

For the girls, their fastest times this year have been
posted by senior Liz Parent, who will be one of the few
Eagle swimmers who will not be able to take advantage of the
4A state meet next year. She'll swim in the 100 butterfly
and 500 freestyle races, and the girls will have at least
two entries in most of the individual events.

Morse said most of the other District 4 teams will send at
least some swimmers to Temple, with the exception of Abilene
Wylie, Seminole and Fort Stockton, whose Coker Invitational
is taking a big hit this Saturday due to the state meet.

Pecos starts second softball season

PECOS, Jan. 7 -- The Pecos Eagles softball team will begin
their second season of play with a pair of home games in
mid-February, before quickly getting into competition
against their five new district rivals in early March.

The Eagles' 1999 schedule opens against the only team they
defeated in their inaugural season last year, the Kermit
Yellowjackets. Pecos hosts Kermit on Feb. 16, and then will
host Lamesa four days later, with both scheduled for 4 p.m.

Pecos was the last school in their former District 4-4A to
begin playing softball, and coach Tammy Walls' team finished
with a 1-15 record in 1998. However, unlike Andrews, Big
Spring and Fort Stockton, which already had four- to six
years of varsity play behind them, the Eagles' new District
2-4A rivals will all have about the same level of experience
when 2-4A play begins in early March.

Fabens, Clint and El Paso Mountain View were in their first
varsity seasons of play while in Class 3A last year, while
San Elizario played a non-varsity 4A schedule in their first
season last Spring. The Eagles open their district schedule
with a March 6 game at Mountain View, and face Canutillo --
which also did not have a varsity squad in 1998 -- in their
2-4A home opener on March 9.

Unlike volleyball and basketball, which have all their road
games scheduled on Friday or Saturday this year, the
softball team will have a couple of Tuesday trips to the El
Paso area, to face San Elizario and Canutillo.

All the Tuesday games are scheduled for 4 p.m. start, while
the Saturday afternoon games are scheduled to begin at 2

Pecos' junior varsity team will play the same schedule as
the varsity, with the exception of the Midland Tournament,
on Feb. 26-27.

The top three finishers in the district will advance to the
playoffs beginning in late April, with the district champion
earning a first-round bye while the second and third place
teams meet teams from District 1-4A in their opening round

Pecos Eagles' 1999 Softball Schedule

x - District Game
16 (Tue.) - Kermit (Var. JV) 4 p.m.
19 (Fri.) - Lamesa (Var. JV) 4 p.m.
26-27 (Fri.-Sat.) - at Midland Tournament Times TBA

2 (Tue.) - at Monahans (Var. JV) 4 p.m.
6 (Sat.) - x-at EP Mountain View 2 p.m. CST
9 (Tue.) - x-Canutillo 4 p.m.
13 (Sat.) - x-at Fabens 2 p.m. CST
20 (Sat.) - x-Clint 2 p.m.
23 (Tue.) - x-at San Elizario 4 p.m. CST
27 (Sat.) - x-EP Mountain View 2 p.m.
30 (Tue.) - x-at Canutillo 4 p.m. CST
6 (Tue.) - x-Fabens 4 p.m.
10 (Sat.) - x-at Clint 2 p.m. CDT
13 (Fri.) - x-San Elizario 4 p.m.

NBA beats deadline

AP Basketball Writer
NEW YORK, Jan. 7 -- The lockout is settled, the season is
saved and the NBA has survived.

The most divisive labor battle in league history finally
ended at dawn Wednesday on the 191st day of the lockout when
commissioner David Stern and union director Billy Hunter
compromised on the remaining issues keeping them apart and
shook hands on a collective bargaining agreement.

The deal still has to be reduced to writing, meaning the
lockout hasn't yet officially been lifted.

But barring any unforeseen snags, the season will begin no
earlier than Feb. 2, with each team playing no more than 52

``We can exhale now, without a doubt,'' said Alonzo Mourning
of the Miami Heat. ``The deal is done and we can just focus
our mind right now on starting back up again.''

The agreement was reached just 29 hours before the NBA Board
of Governors was to vote on canceling the remainder of the
season. It came during an all-night bargaining session at
NBA headquarters between Stern and Hunter. Union president
Patrick Ewing was not present.

``Did we blink? I guess we both blinked,'' Hunter said.

Said Stern: ``I will say that I am elated that we will be
playing basketball this season.''

Each side made significant compromises to close the deal,
but the owners clearly walked away with a much better
agreement than the old one. The players, for their part,
came away with their dignity intact and with more money for
the non-superstars.

Hours later, the deal was ratified by players in a 179-5
vote after being approved by both negotiating committees. It
gives owners the unprecedented concession of a maximum limit
on individual salaries and will be in place for six years,
with owners having an option for a seventh year.

``Oh, I'm so relieved it's unbelievable,'' Milwaukee Bucks
coach George Karl said. ``It's like I let a balloon out of
my stomach. The knots are already loosening up in my neck. I
get to do what I love to do.''

The Board of Governors scheduled a vote on the agreement for
this morning, and the league said it would not comment until
then. The process of putting the agreement on paper could
take 10 days, meaning training camps would open around Jan.

Once the deal is finalized, it will unleash a three-week
frenzy of teams scrambling to fill rosters, make trades and
sign some of the 200 free agents while running abbreviated
training camps.

Among the free agents are Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen,
Dennis Rodman, Charles Barkley, Antonio McDyess, Rod
Strickland and Damon Stoudamire.

``We'll probably have eight months of NBA basketball
squeezed into four months, with trades and signings,'' Karl

Under terms of the new agreement, a grandfather clause
allows any player to re-sign with his team for 105 percent
of his previous salary. That means Jordan, who made about
$33 million last year, could get about $34.7 million from
the Bulls.

No other team can offer him more than $14 million.

``Michael is going to analyze the deal, see what Chicago
wants to do and then make an informed decision,'' agent
David Falk said. ``I'm not certain what his time frame is.''

Once the games get started, players will be faced with an
exhausting schedule until playoffs start in late April.
Teams will be asked on occasion to play three games in three
nights, something that hasn't happened in the last 10 years.

``It's going to be tough to play back-to-back-to-back games,
but that's something we have to do as athletes,'' Jimmy
Jackson, a free agent who last played for Golden State, told
The New York Times. ``But if you love the game, you'll do
whatever it takes to be ready to play.''

After the deal was ratified, Stern spoke to the almost 200
players who had flown in to vote on the owners' latest
proposal -- a vote that never came.

``He told us Billy was a tough guy, but a good guy, and how
glad he was to get it over with and to start playing
again,'' Aaron Williams of the Seattle SuperSonics said.

Witnesses said the players' response was polite, but not

The players did, however, give Hunter and Ewing a standing

The union agreed to accept 55 percent of about $2 billion in
annual revenue in the fourth, fifth and sixth years of the
agreement, according to several sources involved in the
talks who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of

Players would get 57 percent if the league exercises its
option for the seventh year. In the first three years, there
is no limit on the percentage of revenues players can

Also, the agreement includes a ban on marijuana, with all
players undergoing drug testing once per season, and tougher
player discipline penalties and conduct rules.

The sides also agreed to form a joint committee of three
owners and three players to discuss the growth of the league
and improving the relations between players and management.

Among other compromises:

-- The union agreed to a $14 million maximum salary for
players with 10 years' experience. Players with one to five
years' experience can get a maximum of $9 million, and
players with six to nine years' experience can get $11

-- The union agreed to a three-year rookie scale with teams
holding an option for the fourth year and the right of first
refusal in the fifth year. First-round draft picks will be
grouped into three categories by where they were selected --
1-9, 10-19 and 20-29 -- with the highest picks eligible for
higher percentage increases in their salaries from year to

-- The league accepted the union's proposal for an
``average'' salary exception and ``median'' salary
exception, with both being phased in during the next three
years. As a result, every team will have the right to sign
two additional players each season, even if they are over
the salary cap.

-- The league agreed to higher minimum salaries than it had
been offering, but not quite as high as the union had been

No professional sports union had ever agreed to a maximum
salary before, but the NBA pushed for one throughout the
lockout. The union initially refused, then suggested a
luxury tax be charged to any owner who signed a player for
more than $15 million. The league kept holding out, and
eventually the players relented.

NBA players have the highest average salary in professional
sports, about $2.6 million annually, and the median salary
is about $1.3 million. NFL players average about $900,000,
and major league baseball pays an average of $1.45 million.

``Guys can still make $14 million, and that's a lot of
money,'' said Kevin Willis of the Toronto Raptors. ``If you
can't live off that, something's wrong.''

The league and the union had been fighting over how to
divide the estimated $2 billion in annual revenue.

The lockout went into effect July 1, just 2½ weeks after
Jordan and the Bulls won their sixth championship in a
riveting Game 6 that put up the largest TV viewer numbers
ever for the NBA Finals.

Since the 1980s and especially since Jordan arrived, the
league has enjoyed unprecedented popularity here and abroad.
On the labor front, Stern and the NBA lived a relatively
charmed life, while baseball struggled through a strike that
caused thousands of fans to turn away from the sport.

But then came the lockout that for the first time caused the
NBA to miss games because of a labor dispute. The first
three months of the season were scrapped and players lost
about $500 million in salaries.

An entirely new schedule will be put in place for the
remainder of the 1998-99 season, although details were still

``All I can do is tell the fans,'' Mourning said, ``that I'm
sorry about the inconvenience. I appreciate their patience,
and I'm sorry about any of the bad impressions that they've
gotten from this whole ordeal, but that's what business is
all about.

``We knew that going into this thing that we were gonna step
on some peoples' toes and upset some people, but we had to
do what's best for the guys in this league.''

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Pecos Enterprise
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.

324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321

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Copyright 1999 by Pecos Enterprise