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Montrose, Forest City Girls Win District Basketball Titles
In order to become champions, the Montrose girls' basketball team had to get past three champions.
The Lady Meteors defeated three straight regular-season division champions last week on the way to capturing their first District 2 girls' team championship in any sport.
Montrose completed the week with a 44-38 victory over top-seeded Wilkes-Barre Meyers in the Class AA championship game.
The big week started with a 49-44 victory over Lackawanna League Division 2 North rival Mountain View, Monday and continued with the team's second victory of the season over Lackawanna Division 2 South champion Bishop Hannan, 49-47, Wednesday.
Before they could take a shot at the other two division champions and the district's top two seeds, the Lady Meteors had to find a way to solve third-seeded Mountain View, which had dominated the series between the two local powers in recent years.
Montrose beat Mountain View at its own game, controlling the boards on the way to victory. The Lady Meteors out-rebounded the Lady Eagles, 38-22. That advantage included, 17-8, in the second half when Montrose overcame a 19-14 deficit.
"We knew that Mountain View had beaten us pretty good two times by controlling the boards," Montrose coach John Cherundolo said. "We knew the team that controlled the boards in that game and against Bishop Hannan would be in better shape."
Kate LaBarbera led the win with 13 points, five rebounds and four steals. Erika Brown had 12 points, including six in the fourth quarter when she went 4-for-4 from the line. Coleen Walsh added 10 points and 11 rebounds. Chelsey Parvin hit all three of her shots from the floor and grabbed seven rebounds. Carrie Robinson came off the bench to add five points and four rebounds.
Mountain View was led by Leah Simko with 17 points. Ashley Twining added 12 points. Bettylou Mihal had nine points, eight rebounds and five assists.
Simko had six points while Mihal had five rebounds and three assists in the first quarter as Mountain View took a 10-6 lead.
The Lady Eagles never trailed in the first half and it took a Walsh basket off a rebound with 15 seconds left to keep the Lady Meteors within 19-14 at half-time.
LaBarbera's big third quarter helped Montrose score 22 points and take control of the game. The sophomore point guard had nine points in the quarter with the help of two key steals.
Mountain View opened the lead to nine early in the third, but 3-pointers by Tiffany Palmer and LaBarbera got the comeback started.
LaBarbera took a steal the length of the floor for a basket to give Montrose its first lead, 33-32, with 1:40 left in the third quarter.
With the Lady Meteors on a 19-9 run over the previous 5 1/2 minutes, coach Cherundolo decided to have his team hold for the final 1:24 of the third quarter. LaBarbera responded with a 3-pointer at the buzzer to push the lead to 36-32.
As Montrose continued to slow the pace and protect the lead, Robinson, a reserve post player, stepped out to hit an unlikely 3-pointer, creating the Lady Meteors' biggest lead at 41-33 with 5:45 left.
Mountain View never got closer than four the rest of the way.
The momentum continued as Montrose rallied from two more half-time deficits in its run through the tournament's three highest-seeded teams.
"Our loss to Lackawanna Trail threw us down into the lower half of the bracket," Cherundolo said. "Sometimes going through both the two and three teams can be tougher than trying to get through the top half of the bracket with the number-one team."
For the week, Montrose outscored the three division champions in all six quarters of second-half play, steadily compiling an 89-66 advantage.
"Our team seems like one of those horses that doesn't do any good until it has to come from behind," Cherundolo said.
Brown again produced the clutch free throw shooting against Bishop Hannan, hitting two with six seconds left to break a tie and produce the victory.
Parvin controlled the game inside with 18 points and 12 rebounds. Brown added 11 points. LaBarbera had eight points, going 4-for-4 from the line to lead the team to a 15-for-22 effort.
Bishop Hannan led, 19-9, after one quarter. The Lady Meteors got an early start on their comeback, closing to within 27-25 at half-time.
Rebounding and free throws were again prominent in the district championship game victory.
Walsh scored 17 points and grabbed 16 rebounds against Wilkes-Barre Meyers, which came into the game with a 25-1 record. Parvin added 11 points and 14 rebounds.
The Lady Meteors went 13-for-23 from the line while Meyers was 5-for-10 and were just sharp enough down the stretch to keep the Lady Mohawks from threatening in the final minute.
Montrose outscored Meyers, 19-12, in the fourth quarter after facing deficits at the end of the first three quarters - 11-7 after one, 17-14 at the half and 26-25 after three.
WEEK IN REVIEW
While Montrose broke through for the first time, Forest City continued a trend with its fifth straight District 2 Class A girls' basketball championship.
Forest City beat Bishop O'Reilly at the foul line, hitting 27 of 37 in a 52-46 championship game victory.
Lauren Pantzar went 10-for-15 from the line while scoring a game-high 21 points. Amanda Vitzakovitch was 4-for-6 while scoring 16 points and half of the team's 12 field goals. Dana Bennett was 13-for-16 while scoring 15 points.
The three players accounted for all of Forest City's scoring.
Among the foul shots the Lady Foresters hit were two by Pantzar with 2:27 remaining when Bishop O'Reilly received a technical foul for having six players in the game after a time-out.
Forest City trailed by one after one quarter and was tied at half-time before outscoring the Queenswomen in each of the last two quarters.
The Lady Foresters, who won the first-half title in the Lackawanna Division 2 North before losing to Mountain View in the all-season championship game, reached the final by beating Old Forge, 57-29.
In wrestling, Blue Ridge's Chris Lewis qualified for the state championships by finishing second at 135 pounds in the Class AA Northeast Regional at Williamsport.
Lewis lost by technical fall to Isaiah Britton of Loyalsock in the regional final. He won his first two bouts at regionals, clinching the state berth with an 8-5 victory over Zach Anspach of Milton in the semifinals.
The county's other seven regional qualifiers all had their seasons end when they were unable to finish in the top three.
Blue Ridge's Justin Herbert (145) and Mountain View's Jake Panasevich (171) reached the consolation finals before losing. Herbert won one consolation bout Saturday. Panasevich reached the semifinals with a win Friday night, but lost two straight on Saturday. He just missed qualifying for the state tournament when he fell to Aaron Raupers of Athens, 7-4, in the semifinals.
Montrose's Jeff Snyder (103), Blue Ridge's Harry Marvin (130), Nick Pease (140) and Matthew Holbrook (189) and Mountain View's Matt Panasevich (160) all lost their first two matches.
In professional hockey, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins won their latest American Hockey League meeting with the Binghamton Senators, 6-3, Wednesday night when Tom Kostopoulos scored a goal in each period for just the second home hat trick in franchise history.
THE WEEK AHEAD
Lewis begins pursuit of a state wrestling title Thursday morning in Hershey when he faces Freedom Area sophomore Damian Rose. Lewis is 30-5. Rose, who finished third in the Southwest Regional, is 28-4.
In girls' basketball, Montrose is scheduled to take on East Juniata, the fifth-place team from District 3, Friday at 6:30 at the University of Scranton. The Lady Meteors play in the first game of a girls' doubleheader that will also feature District 2 Class AAAA champion Abington Heights against Reading.
Montrose (18-9) will be facing a team led by 5-9 senior forward Megan Saner, who has more than 1,800 career points. Saner had 27 points, 12 rebounds and 11 blocked shots when the Tigers (20-9) captured fifth place in District 3 by improving to 2-2 on the season against Upper Dauphin. The 62-44 win avenged an Upper Dauphin victory that had prevented East Juniata from winning its third straight Tri-Valley League title.
Forest City (22-5) meets Mount Calvary, the fourth-place finisher from District 3, Saturday in a game that will be scheduled somewhere in District 2.
Mount Calvary (17-6) lost to eventual champion Lebanon Catholic, 70-26, in the District 3 semifinals.
The Marywood University women's basketball season came to an end with an 85-62 playoff loss to College Misericordia. Natasha Pashchuk from Mountain View had 19 points and seven rebounds in the game.
On the season, Pashchuk led the team in field goal attempts (353), 3-pointers made (50) and attempted (146) and steals (45). She averaged 15.3 points and 6.7 rebounds as the Pacers went 8-8 in the Pennsylvania Athletic Conference and 11-13 overall.
TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached on-line at RobbyTR@aol.com.
KENSETH Hits Jackpot In Las Vegas, Las Vegas, NV Matt Kenseth, who led the Winston Cup with five victories last season cashed in at Las Vegas as he won Sundays UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 for his first win of the season.
With Kenseths win it gave Roush Racing their fourth victory in the six-year history of the 1.5-mile track.
"It was an awesome day for us," said Kenseth. "What really gave us what we needed was when we beat Dale (Earnhardt Jr.) out of the pits."
Kenseths team put four fresh tires on his No. 17 DeWalt Ford that allowed him to finish the race over 9-seconds ahead of second-place finisher, Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Jeff Burton, another Roush driver finished sixth. Mark Martin lost an engine in his No. 6 Viagra Ford and wound up last in the 43-car field. Kurt Busch the other Roush entry was involved in an accident and came home 38th.
Mike Skinner got loose coming out of turn two on lap 176. He bumped Rusty Wallace and there was an ensuing six-car pileup that included Kurt Busch, Jeff Gordon, Todd Bodine, and Larry Foyt.
"It just wasnt our day," said Jeff Gordon. "We were working our way towards the leaders, but we just decided to park it."
Michael Waltrip, Dale Earnhardts teammate finished third and took over the Winston Cup points lead.
Top ten finishing order: 1. Matt Kenseth, 2. Dale Earnhardt Jr., 3. Michael Waltrip, 4. Bobby Labonte, 5. Tony Stewart, 6. Jeff Burton, 7. Ryan Newman, 8. Sterling Marlin, 9. Joe Nemechek, 10. Steve Park.
WALTRIP Gains Points Lead Top-10 points leaders after 3 of 36 races: 1. Waltrip-461, 2. Kenseth-458, 3. Johnson-447, 4. J. Burton-412, 5. Stewart-409, 6. Busch-399, 7. Harvick-372, 8. Rudd-362, 9. Benson-357, 10. Jarrett-354.
Welcome To The Ant Farm Jeff Burton, the driver of the No. 99 Roush Racing Citgo Ford Taurus is a pretty experienced Winston Cup driver. He is so good that in a four-year period he won 15 races.
But in 2001 his team hit a slump. His teammate Mark Martin said in 2002, that the Roush organization had fallen behind the learning curve of several other multi-car teams like Hendrick, Gibbs, and Childress.
In an interview at Las Vegas, Burton says the biggest change in the garage areas has been the addition of aerodynamic engineers armed with computers.
He even said that drivers dont play the major role in winning races as they did in the past.
Thats pretty hard to believe, until you listen to Burton.
"What has changed are computers and engineers," said Burton. "They run through the garage area like ants in an ant farm. A lot of younger drivers have relied on computers to tell them how to set up cars, and it worked.
"A lot of older drivers, or even middle-age guys like myself, continued to rely on what experience told them would work.
"Times have changed, and I don't think that we, as that group of drivers that have been instrumental in making decisions for their teams, can keep up with all the technology and also drive the car. You can't make the right decision anymore as a driver that wants to set up the race car.
"You can't do it anymore. It's too much information, there's too much engineering support.
"The driver that is ignorant to the things that we have learned through years of experience by setting our race cars up and building our race cars and telling them how to build bodies that guy has an advantage now because he's willing to turn it over to people that have studied it, paid attention to it and that's the only thing they've thought about 24/7."
Burton did go on to say that drivers are not obsolete, and that feedback about how the car is handling is still important, but a driver can't dictate some mechanical aspects of the car especially aerodynamically.
"It's not from false belief in your knowledge," Burton said. "The knowledge that you've proved works. It works. I've won here ( Las Vegas). You can't tell me that it doesn't work because I saw it work. It takes two or three times of getting your butt beat pretty good before you really say, God, that just doesn't work anymore.
"But the times have changed, believe me, the driver is no longer the most important factor in winning a race. Ive been there many times, and I know."
So now NASCAR has been invaded by a bunch of ant farmers.
Luck Favors NEMECHEK In Las Vegas, Las Vegas, NV Joe Nemechek took advantage of Todd Bodines spin to gain the lead in and then go on to victory in Saturdays Busch Series Sams Town 300.
Bodine was leading with just 32 laps to go when he spun out in turn four. Nemechek then went on to take the lead and finish just 0.603-seconds ahead of fellow Winston Cup driver Kevin Harvick.
"I didnt know what was going on," said Nemechek. "He (Bodine) was underneath me and went up high and I tried to crowd him. I dont know if he lost a tire or what, but he got loose."
The win was Nemecheks first Busch Series win of the season.
Top ten finishing order: 1. Joe Nemechek, 2. Kevin Harvick, 3. Mike Bliss, 4. Steve Park, 5. Jason Keller, 6. David Green, 7. Michael Waltrip, 8. Stanton Barrett, 9. Ron Hornaday, 10. Scott Wimmer.
Top-10 points leaders after 3 of 34 races: 1. Harvick-484, 2. D. Green-429, 3. T. Bodine-426, 4. McMurray-404, 5. Keller-392, 6. Wimmer-391, 7. Hornaday-385, 8. Bliss-379, 9. K. Earnhardt-365, 10. Kahne-357.
JAMIE MCMURRAY Dominates Busch Race, Rockingham, NC Jamie McMurrays No. 1 Yellow Freight Dodge was in the lead for 192 of the 197 laps in Mondays (February 24) Rockingham 200 Busch race.
The win was the third career Busch victory, two of them coming at Rockingham.
Polesitter, David Green finished second. Todd Bodine came in third, and then it was Randy LaJoie and Jason Keller, who finished fourth and fifth.
The only other drivers to lead laps were Kerry Earnhardt (3) and Michael Waltrip (2).
The race was originally scheduled to be run Saturday, February 22, but heavy rains forced NASCAR officials to reschedule it for Monday.
Top ten finishing order: 1. Jamie McMurray, 2. David Green, 3. Todd Bodine, 4. Randy LaJoie, 5. Jason Keller, 6. Mike Bliss, 7. Kevin Grubb, 8. Brian Vickers, 9. Johnny Sauter, 10. Kevin Harvick.
The Winston Cup series is the only major racing action in town this weekend. The Busch and Craftsman Trucks have an off weekend.
Sunday, March 9: Winston Cup Atlanta 500, race 4 of 36, 325 laps/500 miles, 12:30 p.m. TV: Fox.
Racing Trivia Question: What year did the Las Vegas track open?
Answer To Last Weeks Question: Coy Gibbs is driving in the Busch series this 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.
Tim Langhorne (pictured), son of Tom and Martha Langhorne, Binghamton, NY won two first place medals at the January 5, Southern Tier Swimming Meet, held at Owego Free Academy.
Tim, in the boys 8 and under category, took first place in both the 25 Fly and 25 Back contests, against a strong field of contestants.
Tim is the nephew of County Transcript owners, Rita and Chuck Ficarro.
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