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Sports briefs for Jan. 29, 2014

By Staff and Wire Service Reports, Special to the BDN

Searsport standout to play basketball at CMCC

Briana Grant, a standout guard from Searsport District High School, has committed to play women’s basketball for Central Maine Community College in Auburn next season.

“We are thrilled that Briana will be joining us next year. She has faced a lot of adversity during her high school career, from being on a winless team her freshman year to suffering a season-ending injury as a junior. She has taken these difficult moments and grown into a relentless competitor, which will serve her well at the next level,” CMCC coach Andrew Morong said.

“I chose CM because it feels like a family environment. Once I walked on to the campus, I fell in love. I’ve always wanted to go to a smaller school,” Grant said.

“I think of myself as a very smart, team player. I always play with a lot of intensity and I definitely think that will help me out next year. I love being able to challenge myself, and this will definitely be a big challenge,” Grant added.

Grant has been a crucial piece in the resurgence of the Searsport girls basketball program. The Lady Vikings sit at 12-3 and are contending for a top seed in Class D West.

Former Maine assistant to coach Ravens’ DBs

The Baltimore Ravens made two staff moves on Wednesday, naming Steve Spagnuolo as secondary coach and hiring Brian Pariani as tight ends coach.

Spagnuolo, who was an assistant coach at Maine in 1993-94, joined the Ravens in 2013 as a senior defensive assistant. His extensive NFL experience includes serving as defensive coordinator for the New Orleans Saints in 2012 and New York Giants in 2007-08 and as head coach of the St. Louis Rams from 2009 to 2011.

“How fortunate are we to have a former NFL head coach, former defensive coordinator and secondary coach become the Ravens’ coach for our defensive backs?” Harbaugh said. “Steve is one of the outstanding teachers in the NFL, and he already worked with our defensive staff and players last season as a senior assistant. Our players respect him, and a number of our veteran defensive backs recently said to me that they wanted Steve to coach them.”

Harbaugh and Spagnuolo previously worked together on the Philadelphia Eagles’ staff. Spagnuolo was in Philadelphia for eight seasons, including three as secondary coach.

NCAA clears Florida freshman Walker to play

Florida Gators freshman Chris Walker was cleared to play by the NCAA on Wednesday and will be eligible to make his collegiate debut next week at home against Missouri.

The highly recruited 6-foot-10 power forward has been in limbo since being admitted to Florida in December. Walker has sat the last 12 games while the NCAA has investigated his amateur status.

The NCAA said in a statement that Walker received preferential treatment from five people — including two agents. Walker will be required to donate the $270 he received from the agents to a charity, and will also serve 80 hours of community service for the remaining benefits received, according to ESPN.com which first reported the story.

Patriots hire Daly as defensive assistant

The New England Patriots hired Brendan Daly on Wednesday as a defensive assistant coach.

Daly is a 17-year coaching veteran, including eight seasons in the NFL as an assistant. Daly had two stints with the Minnesota Vikings (2006-08) as a defensive assistant/defensive line coach and (2012-13) as a defensive line coach, sandwiched between a three-year stint with the St. Louis Rams (2009-11) as a defensive line coach.

Berkman announces retirement

After years of dealing with knee problems over a 15-year major league career, Lance Berkman has decided to end his playing career, MLB.com reported Wednesday.

The 37-year-old was limited to only 105 games over the last two seasons because of injuries, including just 73 games for the Texas Rangers last year. He has had five surgeries and various other issues with his knees over the years.

“It doesn’t make sense to play in the physical condition I’m in,” he told MLB.com. “I’m not going to keep trying to run out there for the heck of it,” he said.

During his career, he made the National League All-Star team six times and was a member of five playoff teams, including the 2011 St. Louis Cardinals, who won the World Series.

Berkman considered trying for a 16th season.


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