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Elk Lake Favored In Boys' Basketball
Elk Lake lived up to its reputation as the Lackawanna League Division II North boys' basketball favorite in the few games that were played before teams broke from league play for the holidays.
The Warriors added to their season-opening Red Wallace Game win by posting another win over Carbondale, the other most likely top threat for the title, in their first division meeting.
Carbondale and Carbondale Sacred Heart each moved into the division after playing in the Division II South last season. They could join Elk Lake in the title race although Blue Ridge and Forest City also have a strong chance of being factors.
Mountain View and Susquehanna are also in the division along with Lackawanna Trail.
Montrose won the Division II North title and had the best record of any county team last season. The Meteors cannot defend their title, however, because they have moved into the Division I North after crossing into Class AAA when the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association entered its new two-year enrollment cycle.
Third-year Elk Lake coach Dave Clancy acknowledges that his team is hoping for a special season.
"We have high expectations as long as we stay healthy," Clancy said. "We have a real nice group of guys.
"We want to continue where we have been going and take it a little further. Last year, we made it to district playoffs. This year, we'd like to take it to states."
The Warriors went 14-11 in Clancy's first season as a head coach and followed that up by going 16-9 last season.
The return of senior starters Tony Rezykowski, Seth Button and Gavin Davis, along with other experienced players has helped form a team that goes nine players deep.
"We play nine guys just about every night," Clancy said. "Those nine guys are all in the rotation."
It starts with Rezykowski, the point guard who leads the team in scoring and assists.
Button is the second-leading scorer and averages 14 rebounds per game. He can do the rebounding work inside but still has the range to be a consistent shooting threat from 3-point range.
In addition to Rezykowski, Button and Davis, three other players have started games this season. Paul Handl opened the season as starting center, but came off the bench Friday after returning from missing a week with academic troubles.
Derek Guiton and Jimmy Langan, who like Handl gained experience last season, are the other starters.
Sophomore Dave Bell joins Handl in providing bench strength inside. Tony Dorman and Tyler Emmerich add support on the perimeter.
"We're happy with the way we're playing right now," Clancy said. "Defensively, we're playing well."
Blue Ridge tied Montrose for the second-half title last season but lost in a playoff. Lance Landes and Wes Parks lead an experienced group of returnees.
Forest City is led by the return of Sean McGraw and Dave Shollock.
The 3-point shooting of Dave Breese leads Mountain View's efforts to improve after finishing last a year ago.
Susquehanna has the least experience among the county teams and has struggled early in the season.
Montrose has many players with experience, led by 6-foot-4 senior Matt Hornak, who led the team in scoring last season. That experience, however, has not translated into success in the early going.
The Meteors are in a division with Abington Heights, Scranton, Scranton Prep and West Scranton, who, like the Meteors, all had winning records last season.
WEEK IN REVIEW
Elk Lake won all three of its boys' basketball games, but it needed fourth-quarter comebacks in the first two.
The Warriors used a 29-14 fourth quarter Dec. 16 to rally past Lackawanna Trail, 68-54, then rallied from a point down after three quarters the next night to defeat Carbondale, 62-55.
"We have an experienced group and we stayed poised in the fourth quarters," Clancy said. "We made mistakes early, but we had that poise to put things together at the end.
"Then, against Sacred Heart, we were back to full strength and we put four quarters together."
The Warriors roughed up the Crusaders, 92-69, Friday night.
Button scored 21 points, Rezykowski added 20 and Langan 18 against Sacred Heart.
Guiton led the comeback against Carbondale with nine of his 20 points in the fourth quarter. Rezykowski added 19 points and Button had 10 in the win.
Against Lackawanna Trail, Rezykowski broke loose for 15 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter. Button added 14.
The Warriors finished the week 3-0 in the division and 5-1 overall.
Blue Ridge won both of its boys' basketball games. The Raiders defeated Lackawanna Trail, 51-45, Tuesday then edged Forest City, 54-53, Friday.
Mountain View defeated Susquehanna, 60-45, Friday. The Sabers had lost earlier in the week to Sacred Heart, 65-49, and Forest City, 53-36.
Montrose lost to Scranton Prep, 69-46, and Scranton, 71-40.
Forest City, Mountain View and Carbondale finished the week at 3-0 in Lackawanna League Division II North girls' basketball, a game ahead of Montrose (2-1).
The biggest game of the week came when Forest City defeated Montrose, 52-43, Thursday. Lauren Pantzar scored 17 points and Amanda Vitzakovitch added 12 in the win.
Montrose led, 15-8, after one quarter but the Lady Foresters controlled the remainder of the game.
Coleen Walsh scored 13 points and Kate LaBarbera added 12 on four 3-pointers for Montrose in the loss.
Vitzakovitch led Forest City to its other two wins, a 64-32 romp over Elk Lake and a 61-48 victory over Old Forge in one of Saturday's crossovers, which count toward District 2 seeding but not in the division race.
Mountain View started the week with a 60-30 rout of Susquehanna.
The Lady Eagles led, just 11-8, after one quarter, but outscored the Lady Sabers by nine in each of the remaining three quarters. Bettylou Mihal led the way with 18 points while Leah Simko added 17 and Ashley Twining 12.
Mountain View also ripped Elk Lake, 61-27, in division play before losing its crossover game, 50-44, to Mountain View.
Montrose won three times during the week.
The Lady Meteors handled Carbondale Sacred Heart, 54-27, and Susquehanna, 60-19, in division games before beating Bishop Hannan, 42-38, in a crossover.
Coleen Walsh had 19 points against Sacred Heart. Montrose opened leads of 30-10 at the half and 46-13 after three quarters.
Balance was the key to the other two wins.
Tiffany Palmer, Erika Brown and Chelsey Parvin each had six points in the third quarter when Montrose outscored Susquehanna, 24-2, after leading, 22-11, at half-time.
The team scoring, assist and steal leads were all shared and two players finished in double figures for the Lady Meteors.
Parvin finished with 12 points, 11 rebounds and five steals. Palmer had 12 points and five assists. Brown scored 10 points. LaBarbera had 10 points and five assists. Walsh had nine points and five steals. Holly Stoddard grabbed 10 rebounds.
Walsh scored 12 points while LaBarbera and Parvin added 10 each in the win over Bishop Hannan.
Susquehanna posted its first win of the season Thursday when Jennifer Benson scored 16 points in a 41-25 victory over Sacred Heart. Liz Leber added 11 points and Bridgette Stone had 10.
The Lady Sabers lost Saturday's crossover to Western Wayne, 48-28.
Elk Lake recovered from losing three straight division games to beat Mid Valley, 69-46, in a crossover. The week's losses started against Carbondale, 48-36.
Blue Ridge remained winless in the league with losses to Lackawanna Trail, 59-48, and in Saturday's crossover against Riverside, 52-39. Brooke Hinkley scored 16 points in the loss to Riverside.
In wrestling, four county schools competed at College Misericordia in the two-day Times Leader Invitational, which featured a strong 33-team field.
Blue Ridge had the best team and individual finish, taking 18th with 87 points.
Nick Pease placed third at 140 pounds. He lost just once in the tournament, on a one-point decision, then rallied for three straight wins, including 5-0 over West Scranton's Tom Hirschler in the consolation final.
Penn Ridge won the tournament with 171 points, followed by Lake-Lehman with 150, Blue Mountain with 144 and Berwick with 136.5.
Montrose was 26th with 43 points, Susquehanna was tied for 30th with 21 and Elk Lake finished 33rd with 10.
Chris Lewis took fourth at 135 pounds and Justin Hurlbert (145) and Matt Holbrook (189) each finished seventh for Blue Ridge.
Montrose's Jeff Snyder (fourth at 103) and Kyle Decker (sixth at 189) were the only other county wrestlers to place. Eight county wrestlers made it through Friday's first two rounds to reach Saturday morning's quarterfinals.
Pease, Lewis, Snyder, Decker, Hurlbert and Holbrook each reached the quarterfinals along with Susquehanna's Nathan Huyck (119) and Jordan Downton (125).
In the American Hockey League, two Binghamton Senators enjoyed rematches with their former teams.
Dennis Bonvie, still a fan favorite in Wilkes-Barre, played his first game ever as an opponent of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and scored the winning goal in a 5-4 victory.
Defenseman Dean Melanson scored a goal Saturday night in a 4-1 victory over the Portland Pirates, a team he was still a member of earlier in the week and was the captain of until earlier in the month.
Melanson came to Binghamton in a trade from the Washington Capitals organization for Josef Boumedienne, another defenseman who was leading the Senators in scoring.
THE WEEK AHEAD
Tournaments dominate the holiday week schedule.
The Elk Lake boys and Forest City girls, the county's top basketball teams to date, are both in the Honesdale Jaycees Tournament Thursday and Saturday.
Elk Lake opens against Wallenpaupack before Montrose plays Honesdale in the other boys' semifinal.
Unbeaten Forest City plays Wallenpaupack before Mid Valley and Honesdale meet in the other girls' semifinal.
Another tough wrestling tournament is on this week's schedule. The Tunkhannock Kiwanis Tournament is Friday and Saturday. Elk Lake, Montrose and Mountain View came in 14th, 15th and 16th last season in the 17-team event.
The people who spend time looking ahead at such things are beginning to project Montrose graduate Chris Snee as a potential future National Football League draft pick.
Snee has time before dealing with such issues. He will complete his sophomore season at Boston College Thursday in the Motor City Bowl in Detroit against Toledo.
The 6-foot-2, 305-pounder has started every game this season at left guard for Boston College, which has won three straight to improve to 8-4.
BC will be trying for another three-game winning streak - this time in bowl games. The program is making its fourth straight bowl appearance, including a 20-16 victory over Georgia in last season's Music City Bowl and a 31-17 victory over Arizona State in the Aloha Bowl the season before.
Snee helped BC average 4.2 yards per carry and 159.6 per game rushing in a season that was highlighted by a 14-7 victory over Notre Dame.
Toledo is the Mid-American Conference West Division champion.
TOM J. ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached on-line at RobbyTR@aol.com.
How The FRANCE Family Obtained NASCAR When the Dawson County, Georgia sheriff would go out of town, the racing would begin.
America's fascination with motor sports has come a long way since a handful of Dawsonville drivers took their skills from the mountains of northern Georgia to the city and to other tracks in the south.
The first NASCAR trophy and Winston Million was won by Dawsonville drivers.
"There can be a lot of arguments about where the birthplace of motor sports is," said Ed Clark, general manger of Atlanta Motor Speedway. "Some say Daytona, because NASCAR was formed there. Others say the Carolinas because there were so many early tracks formed there.
"But you've got to say that the roots of stock car racing goes deep into the mountains of the north Georgia region. The old Lakewood Speedway was located where Atlanta's Hartsfield Airport is now, so racing came to this area about the turn of the century.
"Much of the heart and soul of racing is right here. Fast cars, great drivers, and moonshine runners all combined for a real life contest between the whiskey runners and the revenuers. That was part of the fabric of daily life in this area.
"Someone got the idea and issued a challenge of who had the fastest car and who was the best driver. Out of this became the great American sport that we know and love."
Pretty soon racing began to grow so much that drivers felt like they needed an organization to keep the track promoters, drivers and owners in line.
Mention NASCAR, and the France family immediately pops to mind. But that wasn't always the case. According to several of the old time car owners and drivers around Dawsonville Georgia, the France family wound up with the name, NASCAR, while those drivers who helped organize the sanctioning body became onlookers.
Red Voght won at Martinsville, Virginia in 1941, and also the first race ever staged under the sanctioning body of NASCAR.
"My father, Red Voght was not a public figure," says his son John. "Probably the reason for that is he only had a fifth-grade education. He went to work when he was just 12 years old.
"The stories get told, then they get retold, and then they somehow become fact. I've read several books and bless their hearts, they are probably more right than wrong. But I bear the great privilege of having lived and sat down with my dad crawling under cars, and talked with him at two or three o'clock in the morning while he was working.
"Smokey Yunick told me I have the privilege of being one of the few people alive today that literally lived right where NASCAR started.
"Dad started as a grease monkey with Universal Cadillac in Washington, DC at the age of 12. By the age of 16, he was the shop foreman, and that was when he started hauling booze.
"He delivered Canadian booze to the west entrance of The White House in a Cadillac. He did that for three Presidents, three times a week for a hundred bucks a load.
"I hope to correct a lot of the verbal history that NASCAR has. I think most people need to recognize that NASCAR history is in fact verbal. In fact, very little, if any of it is written history.
"In 1929, dad formed a racing association called, The National Stock Car Racing Association. This is listed in a journal my mother kept. Does that name sound familiar?
"In 1947, I was there when it happened. I was sitting between Bill France Sr. and my father at the head of the table in Daytona Beach. There was an attorney sitting over next to my dad, who said, 'you've got to do something because you're going to have some legal problems. You need a name and organization.'
"So my dad with a pencil started scribbling on a piece of paper. He came up with cars, and said, 'that sounds good. Let's call it the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing.'
"That folks, is exactly how it happened."
According to Raymond Parks and other relatives of early drivers, after the initial meeting in Daytona was over, all the drivers and car owners went back home. Bill France and his attorneys went to work and formed the sanctioning body, and called it NASCAR.
"The next thing we know NASCAR belongs to Bill France," said Raymond Parks. "We weren't businessmen, just car owners, drivers and mechanics that wanted to race. We had the know-how, but France had the lawyers. He used his lawyers to draw up legal papers giving him all rights to our organization.
"That's how Bill France stole NASCAR from the other 34 of us that were there."
Racing Trivia Question: Where did Rusty Wallace finish in last season's final points standing?
Answer To Last Week's Question: Winston Cup champion, Tony Stewart won three races during the 2002 season.
Gerald Hodges/the Racing Reporter is a syndicated NASCAR columnist. If you have a racing question that you would like answered send it to The Racing Reporter, P.O. Box 160711, Mobile, AL, 36616, or e-mail it to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
35th Snowball Derby
PENSACOLA, FL "Shocked" is the way Ricky Turner of Dawsonville, GA described his victory in Sunday's 35th Annual Snowball Derby crashfest.
Turner only led one lap, but that was the last and final one-the one that counted.
"I'm shocked," he said. "We've won a lot of races, but nothing as big as this one. We got our last set of tires on earlier than most of the other drivers and were where we needed to be.
"We were able to get to the front and made our pass on the last lap."
Turner was so excited after getting his first Derby win that he ran his car into the front grandstand wall while cutting donuts.
There was a three-lap, green/white/checkered shootout between Chris Davidson of Pearland, TX, Turner, Charlie Bradberry of Chelsea, AL, and Rich Bickle of Mooresville, NC.
The leader, Davidson was unable to hold off Turner, and as the field entered turn two on the last lap. Davidson's No. 14 slipped up, allowing Turner to get the nose of his No. 28 Ford underneath for the lead.
Bickle then got by Davidson in turn four, but was unable to catch Turner. Bickle finished second, and missed winning his sixth Snowball Derby by less than a car-length.
"The 14-car lost by one lap, the 28-car won it by one lap, and if I would have had one more lap, I would have drove by the 28," said Bickle. "It comes down to the same old deal of track position."
Bickle was running second to Freddie Query, when he elected to pit for four fresh tires under a caution on lap 284. When green flag racing resumed Bickle was back in 14th place.
Bickle passed 12 cars, but the fat lady sang before he could gain another position.
Charlie Bradberry claimed the third spot.
"This is our best Snowball finish," said Bradberry. "I thought I had it. I tried to go to the outside, but my car didn't rotate good enough and I had to settle for third. But I'm happy I finished."
Freddie Query, who dominated the last half of the race, had taken on fresh tires on lap 276. He was making a move back towards the front, when he and Justin Drawdy of Tampa, FL tangled. Query's No. 8 was pushed into the front wall and he wound up 19th, eight laps down.
There were 22 cautions and two red flag periods during the 305-lap race. The race was stopped once when Stanley Smith hit the backstretch wall and his No. 49 caught fire, and again when Bobby Gill's No. 1 Yellow Freight Chevrolet hit the number one outside wall.
The first caution came on lap two when Scott Carlson of Pensacola was bumped in the rear and spun in turn two.
Polesitter, Jeremy Pate of Pensacola lost the lead on lap number one to Dave Mader III, and settled back in the middle of the field for most of the race.
Mader pulled away from the rest of the field in the early stages of the race, but he lost the handling on his car and was never able to regain the lead.
Perhaps the best-effort award should go to Hal Goodson of Columbia, SC. His No. 16 was nothing but a heap of scrap metal after being pushed into the number two wall hard by another car.
His team used wire and even duct tape wrapped around the entire car body to hold it together, allowing Goodson to finish fifth.
Unofficial top ten finishing order: 1. Ricky Turner, 2. Rich Bickle, 3. Charlie Bradberry, 4. Chris Davidson, 5. Hal Goodson, 6. Tim Fryar, 7. Justin Drawdy, 8. Wayne Anderson, 9. Travis Kittleson, 10. David Rogers.
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