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Thursday, Decmeber 9, 1999

Eagles open tourney play at Sandhills

PECOS, Dec. 9, 1999 -- The Pecos Eagles get to play their second road doubleheader basketball games of the season this afternoon, and will be hoping to do the same on Friday, but in the evening, not the afternoon, of the Monahans Sandhills Tournament.

Pecos' boys will face Lubbock High at 4:30 p.m. today in their first round game, which will be followed by the girls' game against the host Loboes at 6 p.m. The winner of the Pecos-Lubbock High match-up will play at 7:30 p.m. Friday against El Paso Austin or Monahans, while the Pecos-Monahans will face either El Paso High or Lamesa at 6 p.m. Friday. The losers will play in the consolation semifinals, with the girls' game at 12 noon and the boys at 1:30 p.m.

Both Pecos teams remain winless on the season, with the girls dropping to 0-6 this past Tuesday with a 73-48 loss at home to Odessa Permian. Monahans comes into today's game off a 49-22 loss at home to Seminole on Tuesday.

Pecos trailed by only two points in the opening minutes of the third period against Permian, but a series of steals by the Panthers helped them build up a double-digit lead, while foul problems by junior Philly Fobbs took away the Eagles' only tall player inside for most of the second half.

"I was trying to get them to slow the ball down and not throw the ball away." said coach Becky Granado, who handled the team in place of Brian Williams, who was in Oklahoma due to a death in the family. "When we slow the ball down we can kind of do the things we're supposed to."

The Eagles will get a look at one of their District 2-4A rivals in this weekend's tournament. Fabens is in the other half of the bracket, and faced Reagan County at noon today. Fort Stockton took on El Paso Irvin in the other opening round game.

The boys also have one of their district rivals in the tournament, El Paso Mountain View, but couldn't face the Lobos until Saturday at the earliest. Today, they'll take on a Lubbock High team that has been among the top squads in their tournament the past few years, but has struggled so far this season, going 0-for-3 last weekend at the Plainview Lions Tournament.

Pecos has been off for the last eight days, after a 55-37 defeat on Nov. 30 in Crane. The Eagles were outscored 22-4 in the final period by the Cranes, after the Eagles entered the fourth quarter tied 33-all.

Coach Tino Acosta said his team has been trying to improve on it's halfcourt offense during their off-week. "It's been going better. The kids are working pretty hard to get more conditioning in. I think we've gotten the half-court offense in more now. I've seen some glimpses of it in practice."

Mountain View will face Fort Stockton and Alpine meets El Paso Irvin in the other opening round games today. The tournament will continue through Saturday at the Monahans High School gym.

Knee injury ends Barkley's career where it began

AP Sports Writer
PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 9, 1999  - On a giant screen above the court, Charles Barkley was dunking and jawing, tossing the ball at his opponents in a highlight film from his glory days in Philadelphia.

The real Barkley, the one who is 36 years old, was only moments away from the injury that would end his remarkable basketball career.

In a finale so outrageous it could only happen to him, Barkley ruptured a tendon in his knee Wednesday night during the first quarter of his farewell game in Philly. A celebration in the city where his career began turned into Barkley's last game in the NBA.

"There were a lot of people here who saw me play my first game and saw me play my last game," said Barkley, who went down with 4:09 left in the first quarter of the Sixers' 83-73 victory over Barkley's Houston Rockets.

"I am a little sad. I cried a little bit. But I've got too many memories to let tonight end on a bad note."

Barkley, who already announced that he would retire after this season, was going up to block a shot by Tyrone Hill when his leg buckled and he hit the floor hard. His left kneecap bulging badly, Barkley simply grabbed the knee, put his mouthpiece in his sock and called for the trainer.

The tendon that attaches his thigh to his kneecap ruptured. The injury, rare in basketball, requires surgery and at least six months of rehabilitation. Barkley was helped off the court to one of his six standing ovations.

Sixers team doctor Jack McPhilemy said the injury would be career-threatening even for a young player. Barkley will be 37 in February.

"I knew it was over as soon as I saw it," Barkley said. "I knew it was over when it first happened. I saw the way the kneecap was bulging through my leg and I said, `Well, it's been fun."'

The Sixers honored Barkley before the game and flew his mother, Charcey Glenn, and grandmother, Johnnie Mickens, from his hometown of Leeds, Ala., for the celebration.

"God doesn't make mistakes," Mickens said. "He ended it right where it started. He said he was going to retire, and I took it with a grain of salt. Now I really do believe he's going out, before it's too late."

Sixers guard Aaron McKie said, "I'm sure he wished he could have left standing tall."

Barkley's final sequence was like many in his brilliant career. He made a steal and a behind-the-back pass to start a break with the Rockets leading 13-10.

After two misses, Barkley gathered one of the 4,259 offensive rebounds in his career, got the ball back and backed in on 7-foot rookie Todd MacCulloch. The last shot of his career was blocked.

At the other end, he went up to defend against Hill. When he came down, he knew his career was over.

"The way my knee was, I knew there was definitely something dead-serious wrong with my knee and that I would never play again," Barkley said.

Tech to name Leach new head coach

Associated Press Writer
LUBBOCK, Dec. 9, 1999 - Texas Tech officials will announce today that Oklahoma offensive coordinator Mike Leach is the university's next football coach, the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reported today.

The newspaper quoted sources close to the situation who asked not to be identified as saying Leach is set to sign a five-year contract with a buy-out clause that will make it difficult for him to leave Texas Tech in the interim.

Leach could not be reached for comment after he made his final decision sometime after 8 p.m. Wednesday, the newspaper reported.

Leach called Texas Tech athletic director Gerald Myers from his cell phone around 9 p.m. Wednesday. An hour later, a jovial Myers all but directly said Leach would be Texas Tech's next coach.

"It was good visit," Myers said about the phone call, explaining that that should be enough to figure out what was said.

Texas Tech officials called a news conference for 10 a.m. today to announce they'd found a replacement for Spike Dykes, who retired after 13 years. Myers said it would be unfair to comment before then.

During football practice Wednesday, a teary-eyed Leach told his team he had been offered the top coaching job at Texas Tech when he visited the school Tuesday.

"They talked to me about the job, they offered me the job and I've got to make a decision and don't have too long to do it, so I'll decide sometime here shortly," Leach said Wednesday afternoon. "Right now it's a great situation and it's definitely one that I'm serious about."

Mike Prusinki, Oklahoma's director of athletic media relations, said Leach met with Sooners' quarterback Josh Heupel before announcing he'd received the offer. Both emerged with tears in their eyes.

"I would be lying if I didn't say it wasn't emotional," Prusinski said. "He said the toughest thing about leaving Oklahoma is the people. He said it is not going to be an easy decision."

Leach said he needed time away from all the attention to figure out what to do. He said he liked the vision Tech has for its team and "how enthusiastic they are down there and how important it is to them."

"It's hard to leave," he said. "I really feel like Oklahoma is really going to be a good team next year, no matter what happens."

Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops said the Sooners will continue to support Leach.

"If that's the best situation for Mike and that's what he chooses to do, then we're all for him and proud of him and happy and appreciative of what he did for us here," Stoops said.

After meeting Tuesday with Tech Chancellor John T. Montford in Dallas, Leach flew to Lubbock for meetings, dinner and a campus tour.

He became the leading candidate after Clemson offensive coordinator Rich Rodriguez said he no longer would pursue the job. Montford said there are many "applicants" when asked whether Leach is the only remaining candidate.

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