Stevens lifts Sky late

35-pound Chi­nook salmon is heck of a mon­ster catch

Chicago Sun-Times - - BASEBALL -

BRADEN­TON, Fla. — Azura Stevens made a tiebreak­ing layup with 2.9 sec­onds left off Courtney Van­der­sloot’s 15th as­sist of the game, and the Sky ended the Aces’ seven-game win­ning streak with an 84-82 vic­tory Tues­day.

The Sky (8-4) led 82-71 with 2:40 left be­fore the Aces (8-3) scored the next 11 points, high­lighted by a three­p­ointer by Kayla McBride with 17.7 sec­onds to play, to tie the score.

On the go-ahead se­quence, Van­der­sloot curled around a screen to the base­line and found Stevens wide-open in the paint. The Aces’ Danielle Robin­son then had an open look from three-point range at the buzzer, but the shot came up short.

Kahleah Cop­per led the Sky with 18 points, and Van­der­sloot had 15 points while ty­ing her ca­reer high in as­sists. She had 10 as­sists in the first half.

Stevens fin­ished with 14 points, seven re­bounds and five blocks, Di­a­mond DeShields with 12 points and Stefanie Dol­son with 11 points for the Sky, who trailed by seven points at half­time but scored the first seven points of the third quar­ter and led 64-58 en­ter­ing the fourth.

An­gel Mc­Coughtry paced the Aces with 17 points. McBride added 15 points, Robin­son 13 points and A’ja Wilson 11 points and eight re­bounds.

The Sky played with­out for­ward Cheyenne Parker, who was side­lined with an an­kle in­jury.

Sun 84, Fever 62

DeWanna Bon­ner scored 28 points, Bri­onna Jones added 15 points and nine re­bounds and the Sun (5-7) rolled past the Fever (4-7).

The Sun led 50-49 with less than two min­utes left in the third quar­ter but closed the quar­ter on an 8-3 run. The Fever didn’t make their first field goal of the fourth quar­ter un­til Julie Alle­mand’s three-pointer with 7:36 left.

Bon­ner fin­ished 11-for-20 from the field to move into a tie with Tan­gela Smith for 20th place on the WNBA ca­reer scor­ing list.

Jas­mine Thomas also scored 15 points for the Sun, who have won four of their last five games.

Kelsey Mitchell scored 15 points and Tif­fany Mitchell 13 for the Fever, who shot 39.4%, in­clud­ing 4-for-22 from three-point range.

Any fish story that be­gins with ‘‘The fish was so big you couldn’t hold it out’’ is headed the right way. Around 4:30 a.m. Fri­day, Brad Reinek­ing of Fox River Grove launched out of Waukegan with Wis­con­sin broth­ers Dan and Ben Keifer.

They set up in 100 feet, then trolled be­tween 100 and 150. By 6:30 a.m., they had caught a 22-pound Chi­nook and sev­eral coho out of Reinek­ing’s 19½-foot Alumacraft.

About 6:45 a.m., Reinek­ing put a Stinger Killer Dol­phin spoon on a 10-color line.

‘‘I caught so many kings on this last fall,’’ Reinek­ing said. ‘‘I was look­ing at the board on the 10-color line. It bobbed twice and went down.’’

Dan Keifer took the rod and be­gan reel­ing. The oth­ers quickly cleared lines.

‘‘It didn’t take that long to get it in, maybe 15 min­utes,’’ Reinek­ing said. ‘‘We didn’t re­al­ize how big it was un­til we had it in the net.’’

While clear­ing lines, an­other rod had a coho on it, which Reinek­ing net­ted after Keifer’s king.

‘‘When I got [the king] into the net, I had to hand the net to my buddy, and he was strug­gling so hard to get it into the boat I had to help,’’ Reinek­ing said. ‘‘I had never seen one that big.’’

The big­gest one he had in his boat be­fore was a 26.7-pound king caught four years ago at Stur­geon Bay by his son Nick.

The size of Keifer’s king be­came even more ev­i­dent when in the boat, where it weighed 35.27 pounds.

‘‘The 22-pounder looked small com­pared to it,’’ Reinek­ing said. ‘‘It is amaz­ing what 10, 12 pounds does. I didn’t bring my big cooler, so we had to put it in the live well.’’

Marge Lan­deen caught the Illi­nois-record Chi­nook (37 pounds) on Aug. 7, 1976, in Lake County wa­ters. On June 24, I did a col­umn on the pos­si­bil­ity of Illi­nois coho and Chi­nook records — which have stood since the 1970s — be­ing bro­ken.

‘‘[Keifer’s] big­gest salmon [be­fore] was 12 pounds,’’ Reinek­ing said. ‘‘Iron­i­cally, for me, I have never bro­ken 20 pounds.’’

You could say Reinek­ing puts the king in oth­ers.

They only fished un­til about 8:30, adding a cou­ple of more coho and a 17-pound king be­fore they pulled lines.

Back at the launch that early, no one was around.

‘‘So no­body saw the fish be­sides the three of us and Jim [Nel­li­gan],’’ Reinek­ing said. ‘‘I wish more peo­ple could have seen a fish of that mag­ni­tude.’’

They took the fish to the Salmon Shop in Pala­tine, where Nel­li­gan has been in busi­ness for 42 years.

‘‘It’s a big fish,” said Nel­li­gan, who will do the taxi­dermy work. ‘‘I charged them for 43 inches, but if you pinch the tail, it was prob­a­bly about 47 inches. A beautiful salmon.’’

Fri­day was a day for beautiful fish. ‘‘We all got mul­ti­ple big kings, many over 20 pounds, prob­a­bly three or four per boat,’’ emailed Capt. Scott Wolfe, who gave the heads up on Keifer’s big king. ‘‘The stag­ing kings are in and re­ally ac­tive.’’

‘‘Big fish are show­ing up, Dale, huge fish,’’ Nel­li­gan said. ‘‘Nice to see the fish com­ing back.’’

After re­flec­tion this week­end, Reinek­ing texted: ‘‘Think­ing about your ques­tion, ‘Will the record be bro­ken?’ I hope so, as I will still be try­ing.’’

Illi­nois hunt­ing

Pro­to­cols are out for the open­ing days of dove hunt­ing at pub­lic sites. No fi­nal call yet on how wa­ter­fowl hunt­ing will work at pub­lic sites.

Wild things

I was wait­ing to hear of nighthawks at Chicago base­ball games, then re­mem­bered no one is in the stands.

Stray cast

De­cid­ing Mon­day whether to watch Michelle Obama’s speech or the Sox’ homer bar­rage was like choos­ing be­tween an Illi­nois-In­di­ana Sea Grant work­shop or cast­ing glow K.O. Wob­blers at night for re­turn­ing Chi­nook.

Sky cen­ter Stefanie Dol­son goes up for a shot be­tween Aces cen­ter A’ja Wilson (left) and guard Jackie Young on Tues­day.

PRO­VIDED

Dan Keifer (left) with his near-record Chi­nook salmon. Brad Reinek­ing (right) gives a com­par­i­son be­tween a 22-pound and a 35-pound-plus Chi­nook.

DALE BOW­MAN OUT­DOORS dbow­man@sun­times.com | @Bow­manOut­side

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