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Montrose, Forest City Advance In State Play
Susquehanna County's final remaining winter high school sports teams and athletes had a rewarding week while testing themselves in state tournament play last week.
The Montrose and Forest City girls' basketball teams turned in dominant efforts while romping to first-round wins to reach the final 16 in the state in their classes.
Blue Ridge's Chris Lewis won a first-round match to reach the state Class AA 135-pound wrestling quarterfinals. After one loss, he won again to clinch a state medal before settling for seventh place in the state championships in Hershey.
A closer look at those state tournament efforts:
Parvin's Versatility Leads Montrose
Archbald - John Cherundolo knows it is asking a lot of a player to be placed in a prominent position early in the freshman season.
The advantage, however, is that the players talented enough to be considered for such opportunities can be ready to make big-time contributions at this time in the season.
Chelsey Parvin did just that Friday night, scoring 11 points while posting game-highs with 17 rebounds and nine assists to help Montrose roll over East Juniata, 64-47, in the first round of the state Class AA girls' basketball tournament.
"She's improved constantly - every game," said Cherundolo after his first state tournament victory in five seasons as the Montrose girls' coach. "Her game is getting stronger and stronger and she is playing smarter and smarter."
Parvin teamed with Coleen Walsh, a 1,000-point scorer and the team's established leader, as well as Kate LaBarbera, just one year removed from the experience of starting as a freshman.
Walsh scored a game-high 21 points while LaBarbera added 13 for the District 2 champion Lady Meteors, who led by 33 at one point.
"It's a tough position for a freshman," Cherundolo said. "Last year, we put Kate LaBarbera in the same position. But they have the natural instincts to handle it."
After three straight come-from-behind wins to get through the last three rounds of a rugged District 2 tournament, the Lady Meteors made the start of state play look easy.
They never trailed while building up ridiculous leads before the Tigers used a late 18-2 run just to make the final margin respectable.
Montrose scored the game's first seven points on the way to a 14-2 lead with 1:37 left in the first quarter. That lead swelled to 30-8 with 3:32 left in the half.
When the Lady Meteors opened the second half with a 15-1 run, they had a 49-16 lead with 3:45 still left in the third quarter.
Parvin, who racked up her impressive statistics despite sitting out the final 4:18 with four fouls, had her hand in the middle of the strong start.
From her position in the right corner, Parvin repeatedly set up Walsh's strong inside moves or kicked the ball back out to open shooters at the top of the offense. She had four assists in each of the first two quarters.
"I have a lot of confidence that they will finish if I make the passes," said Parvin, who took only six shots, but made five. "You just have to hit them when they're open and not wait."
LaBarbera hit a pair of 3-pointers while scoring eight points in the first quarter.
Walsh had 12 points by half-time on 6-for-8 shooting.
The Lady Meteors went 8-for-12 in the second quarter to finish the half shooting 60 percent (15-for-25) to East Juniata's 23.3 (7-for-30).
The only trouble East Juniata gave Montrose was on the offensive boards. Megan Saner finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds, including six offensive. Linsey Dressler had nine points and 14 rebounds, 11 of which came on the offensive end.
When the extra chances cut a 33-point lead to 16, Parvin slowed the momentum by pulling down offensive rebounds of her own four times in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter. Each team, she sent the ball back out and let the Lady Meteors reset their offense.
"They had some big girls," Parvin said. "We knew we had to play hard inside. Rebounding was going to win the game."
Parvin made sure the Lady Meteors built a 43-34 advantage on the boards. Walsh and Erika Brown each added seven rebounds while Tiffany Palmer had five.
Palmer and Parvin each had three steals.
In the last three games, Parvin is averaging 13.3 points and 14.3 rebounds per game.
Forest City Rips Mount Calvary
Scranton - Forest City scored the game's first 12 points Saturday afternoon in the state Class A opener.
The Lady Foresters were just getting started.
They ran off streaks of 14 points in both the second and third quarters and opened the lead as high as 42 points on the way to a 68-31 rout of Mount Calvary Christian School.
"We did shoot the ball pretty well," Forest City coach Carl Urbas said. "It was a good confidence booster. We didn't shoot too well our last four or five games."
The Lady Foresters hit five of their first six 3-point attempts and shot 58.8 percent (30-for-51) from the floor for the game.
Amanda Vitzakovitch was 11-for-14 while scoring 22 points, grabbing nine rebounds and making three steals.
Lauren Pantzar added 15 points, eight assists and four steals.
"Pantzar has played great in the playoffs for three years," Urbas said. "She's one of the best guards in the area. She knows the game and she has been shooting better."
Kelsey Tyson added nine points off the bench. Amy Newak had six assists and five steals. Beth Kubus had seven points and eight rebounds.
Mount Calvary came in with a 20-7 record playing a schedule against other small Christian schools. The Lady Foresters made the most of being accustomed to stronger competition, including the District 2 Class AA champion Lady Meteors and Mountain View, which beat Forest City in the all-season Lackawanna League Division 2 North championship game.
"There's an advantage to being a number-one seed," Urbas said of the team's favorable draw after winning its fifth straight District 2 title.
The Lady Foresters established their dominance immediately.
Vitzakovitch hit three straight shots and her teammates went 3-for-4 in the 12-0 start. After missing their first six shots and committing six turnovers, the Lady Chargers scored for the first time when Michelle Graeff converted an offensive rebound with 1:07 left in the first quarter.
Three-point shooting started and ended the 14-0 second-quarter run, which built the lead to 30-6 with 1:40 left in the half.
Pantzar hit a 3-pointer with 6:18 left, then Tyson made back-to-back 3-pointers to complete the streak. Tyson hit her first three shots from 3-point range, including the shot that completed the 14-0 run in the third quarter. It gave Forest City a 49-15 lead with 55 seconds left. Vitzakovitch had eight points in the run, including three straight baskets. The lead peaked at 64-22 with 3:25 left after Dana Bennett and Kubus hit consecutive baskets from inside.
Lewis Earns State Medal
At the Giant Center in Hershey, Lewis went 3-2 to take seventh place.
In the final match of his career, Lewis decisioned Nick Thomas of Cambria Heights to finish the season 32-7. Thomas finished 29-5.
Lewis also started the tournament with a win Thursday. He posted a 4-3 decision over Freedom's Damian Rose (29-6).
In the quarterfinals, Lewis lost by technical fall in 4:32 against Owen Brickell of Reynolds. Brickell, the Northwest Region champion, went on to finish third in the state with a 40-3 record.
Faced with the possibility of missing out on a state medal, Lewis recovered for a convincing 9-3 victory over Columbia's Brandon Smith (36-10).
Trevor Bennett of Athens, who went on to finish fourth, defeated Lewis by major decision, 13-4, in the consolation quarterfinals, ending his hope of finishing between third and sixth place.
A strong effort by District 2 wrestlers was highlighted by Nanticoke senior Jason Mitkowski, who won the state championship at 189 pounds in his first attempt at wrestling since eighth grade.
The Week Ahead
Montrose will continue in state play Tuesday night against Catasauqua (25-5). According to the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association's Web site Sunday, the game is set for Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Hazleton Area High School.
The third-place team from District 11, Catasauqua will be looking to make a return trip to the state quarterfinals. It advanced through the first round with a 50-43 victory over Line Mountain.
Brittany Lacey, a 5-10 junior forward, led the way against Line Mountain with 16 points. She averages just over 15 points per game while 5-9 junior guard Steph Remington averages just under 15.
Forest City's next game will be Wednesday against Marian Catholic, the District 11 runner-up. Marian Catholic (24-5) defeated Girard College, 59-48, Saturday.
The Wilkes University women's basketball team finished the season 12-12 with contributions from a pair of guards from Susquehanna County.
Danielle Kresock, a 5-4 sophomore from Forest City, played in 22 games, including nine starts. She averaged 18.9 minutes per game and was second on the team in 3-pointers with 16.
Kresock averaged 4.6 points while shooting 36-for-108 from the floor, 16-for-57 on 3-pointers and 14-for-27 from the line.
Nadine Taylor, a 5-6 freshman from Susquehanna, played in 14 games, including one start. She averaged 6.6 minutes per game.
Taylor averaged 1.6 points while shooting 5-for-25 from the floor, 1-for-9 on 3-pointers and 11-for-19 from the line.
TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached on-line at RobbyTR@aol.com.
Bobby Labonte Outlasts Jeff Gordon, Hampton, GA Bobby Labonte lost the lead to Jeff Gordon on a restart during lap 312 of the 325 lap Bass Pro Shops/MBNA 500, then retook it two laps later for his first win since April 2002.
"This was a big turnaround for us," said Labonte. "The car was really better off the first part of the race. The 24 kept us honest, he was just fast. Man I had to drive my heart out there at the end to keep up with him.
"I was terrible on the restarts. We had a good, fast car, but just terrible restarts."
Labonte led 172 laps. It was his 20th career victory and the sixth at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Jeff Gordon finished second, followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr., Matt Kenseth and Tony Stewart.
"Well, he (Bobby) had the best car all day," said second-place finisher Jeff Gordon. "We kind of switched back and forth there for a little bit. We tightened the car up there at the end, hoping wed get the lead.
"I did get by him on the last restart, but I was just too tight, and he was so strong. I learned some things from him today."
Dale Earnhardt, who started 37th, wound up third.
"We finally had something that made us happy," said Earnhardt. "With last weeks run and this weeks run we finally got some points to get back in the game.
"The car was good even though we had an awkward setup that I didnt feel comfortable with, but it worked."
Engine attrition rate was high. Roush Racing had three engines fail as Mark Martin, Kurt Busch, and Jeff Burton had DNFs. Three Dodges and the No. 48 Chevrolet driven by Jimmie Johnson also had engines that let go.
Top ten finishing order: 1. Bobby Labonte, 2. Jeff Gordon, 3. Dale Earnhardt Jr., 4. Matt Kenseth, 5. Tony Stewart, 6. Elliott Sadler, 7. Jimmy Spencer, 8. Dave Blaney, 9. Joe Nemechek, 10. Ryan Newman.
KENSETH Is New Points Leader The top-10 points leaders after 4 of 36 races: 1. Kenseth-618, 2. Stewart-569, 3. Waltrip-543, 4. Johnson-519, 5. B. Labonte-510, 6. Benson-487, 7. Harvick-478, 8. J. Gordon-477, 9. J. Burton-476, 10. Earnhardt-474.
RYAN NEWMANS Star Is Rising Is the youthful Ryan Newman beginning to carry the banner for Penske Racing? Is he about to overshadow his veteran teammate Rusty Wallace?
This past weekend Newman won the pole for Sundays Bass Pro Shops/MBNA500.
Newman didnt exactly outclass Wallace in 2002, but he did win something Wallace failed to do for the first time in 17 seasons.
Newman is the driver of the No. 12 Alltel Dodge. He was born Dec. 8, 1977 in South Bend, Indiana and graduated from Purdue University, with a BS in Vehicle Structure Engineering.
Last season he earned Raybestos Rookie of the Year and won his first career NASCAR Winston Cup race in September at the New Hampshire International Speedway. He also won Winston all-star event in May at Lowes Motor Speedway.
He earned six pole positions, the most of any competitor and broke Davey Allisons 1987 rookie record (5), and recorded 16 top-five starts and 25 top-10 starts.
He finished with 22 top-10 finishes and 14 top-five finishes, which is second only to point leader Tony Stewarts 15, and ended his rookie season 6th in the Winston Cup point standings.
While it might appear Newman just suddenly happened on to the Winston Cup scene, he actually has an impressive racing background.
In 2001, he Competed in an ABC TV Schedule consisting of two Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA), 15 NASCAR Busch Series, and seven NASCAR Winston Cup events including The Winston Open All-Star event for Penske Racing South.
He qualified for first career Winston Cup pole in the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowes Motor Speedway and finished a career-high second at the Kansas Speedway in September.
That same year, he won the first NASCAR event when he captured the checkered flag for the Busch Series NAPAonline.com 250 at Michigan International Speedway in only his ninth start. Earned six poles Atlanta, Darlington (both), Chicagoland, Dover (fall) and Rockingham (fall) in only 14 starts.
He also won season the opening ARCA RE/MAX Series Advance Auto Parts 200 in first career start at Daytona (FL) International Speedway.
In 2000, he scored three wins and two poles in only five ARCA events and made debut in Winston Cup at the Nov. 4 race in Phoenix.
In 32 combined starts in USAC Silver Bullet, Midget & Sprint Car Series, he posted 2 wins, 16 top-5 finishes, 18 top-10 finishes and 7 poles/fast times.
The year 2000 saw him in the USAC Coors Light Silver Bullet Series National Champion, posting 2 wins, 8 top-5 finishes and 12 top-10 finishes in 15 races. He was the first 2-race winner in 1999.
He became the first driver to win in all three major USAC divisions in 1999.
In 1998, he finished third in USAC Silver Crown points - 11 top-10 finishes in races. 1997: Sixth in USAC Silver Crown points and won 2 Midget features. 1996: USAC Silver Crown Series Rookie of the Year. 1995: USAC Midget Series Rookie of the Year. 1993: AAMS Midget Series Champion and Rookie of the Year. 1993: Michigan State Midget Champion.
Newman says things went well for him in his rookie season last year, and hes hoping for a better one in 2003. "Id say, were pretty close. We did the best we could during testing and the off-season, Ive learned a lot and the team is much stronger.
"I think I understand the car as well as anyone in the garage. Communication is there, and barring a lot of bad luck, this team is going to be one of the best."
If past successes are any indication of Newmans future achievements, then the Penske Racing colors should be in victory lane quite often in years to come.
All three of NASCARs major circuits; Winston Cup, Busch and Craftsman Trucks are at Darlington Raceway.
Friday, March 14: Craftsman Truck Series, Craftsman 200, race 2 of 25 races, 147 laps/200 miles, 4 p.m. TV: Speed Channel.
Saturday, March 15: Busch Series Darlingtonraceway.com200, race 4 of 34 races, 147 laps/200 miles, 12:30 p.m. TV: FX Channel.
Sunday, March 16: Winston Cup Carolina Dodge Dealers 400, race 5 of 36, 12:30 p.m. TV: Fox.
Racing Trivia Question: Which famous race car driver does Larry Foyt drive for?
Answer To Last Weeks Question: The Las Vegas Motor Speedway opened in 1996.
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.
Great American Heroes: Junior
This is the first in a series of what we consider to be the best NASCAR racers of all times. Our list of drivers probably wont line up with the 50-Greatest Drivers selected by NASCAR, but an article on a different driver will appear about every other week.
Southern stock car racing has always been a proving ground of character. By character, I mean what a person is really made of not some persona or mold designed to fit in with the corner banker or some social club.
When a person or group tries to please or fit in, then I call that reputation, not character.
Right now, NASCAR is going to nighttime racing because they hope to gain higher TV ratings, which translate into more dollars.
The end results are that it will hurt the local short track Saturday night racers.
That sort of action and decisions requires no character.
What I mean by character is when the going gets tough, the tough get going.
Junior Johnson was one of the toughest. He plowed a mule barefooted on his dads Wilkes County, NC, farm from sunup to sundown as a boy.
I can identify with that. Anybody that can wrestle a middle buster plow six days a week has my respect.
In the only interview I had with Junior, he told me he was out plowing one day, with just a pair of overalls on when several friends stopped by and told him they wanted him to come over to a local track and race.
It was a dirt track and he came in second. "There werent any seat belts," he says. "They just took a rope and tied me in. There was a seat in my car, but some of the boys were sitting on just wooden boxes."
In that first race he ran second.
He was good at it from the beginning and developed his own style. Much like Buck Baker, Junior would throw the car into a slide before he got into the turns, and then use the slide, not his brakes to slow the car down. Then he would pick up speed about halfway through the curve, and when he came out on the other side, he looked like he had been shot out of a cannon.
Juniors family made moonshine whiskey back in the hills of Wilkes County. By the time he was eight or nine years old, he was driving the family pickup. By the time he was 14 or 15, he was hauling liquor to regular customers in Greensboro, Winston Salem and places like that.
Junior says his father was a hard worker, and he always wanted something better for Junior than working on a farm
"Daddy farmed, but it was hard making ends meet sometimes during the Depression, so that is why he went into the illegal whiskey business," continued Junior. "But most of the people in the county were involved in it at one time or another."
Junior was never caught or arrested for either hauling or making moonshine whiskey. He was at his fathers still in 1955, when revenue officers sneaked over the ridge and caught him. It was a case of being at the right place, but at the wrong time.
"At that time I was doing pretty good in my racing career," continued Junior. "I didnt need to haul any because I was making a good living off my racing. It wasnt just NASCAR that I ran, but several other tracks, too.
"At the time they caught me, I hadnt hauled any liquor for the past two or three year. Making whiskey is hard work, and I was just helping daddy with some of the hard work."
After spending 10 months in an Ohio Penitentiary, Junior was back on the race circuit. Because of his legal problems, he was able to run only 13 races in 1956 and one in 1957. The following season, he won three races at
In 1958, he picked up the pace and won six races in just 27 starts. His most productive season was in 1965, when he won 13 out of the 36 races he entered.
He says his biggest victory as a driver was in the 1960 Daytona 500 when he beat Bobby Johns to the checkered flag by 23-seconds.
After his racing career ended in 1966 he fielded his own team and became one of the sports most successful owners. Lee Roy Yarbrough, Darrell Waltrip, Charlie Glotzbach, Cale Yarborough, Bobby Allison, Geoff Bodine, Bill Elliott, Jimmy Spencer and Neil Bonnett are some of the drivers that drove for him.
He helped establish Winstons sponsorship of the Grand National Series in 1971.
His aggressive driving style earned him 50 NASCAR Winston Cup wins, which ties him at eighth with Ned Jarrett.
As a car owner he won 119 races and six NASCAR Winston Cup championships.
He honed his skills on the back roads of rural Wilkes County, but his list of racing accomplishments makes him one of the greatest drivers of all times.
Chris Lewis made it to the state tournament in Hershey as a junior, but he had not made it to the top of the District 2 medal stand until Feb. 22 of this year.
Lewis had the difficult draw of going head-to-head with three-time District 2 champion, Adam Johnson of Lackawanna Trail each of the past three seasons.
After losing to Johnson, 7-3, in last season's 125-pound final, Lewis got his revenge by pinning Johnson early in the second period of this season's 135-pound district final. The win prevented the Lackawanna Trail senior from becoming just the 15th four-time champion in the 68-year history of the District 2 wrestling tournament.
Lewis showed an earlier win over Johnson was not a fluke.
"Beating him during the season got me a lot more confident going into districts," Lewis said. "I was a little surprised, though, at how I won at districts."
Lewis' efforts, which paved the way toward his seventh-place finish in the state among Class AA 135-pounders, have made him a Susquehanna County Transcript Athlete of the Month for the second straight year.
By the time the month ended, Lewis was one win from returning to the state tournament with a Northeast Regional quarterfinal victory. He opened March with the win that clinched the return to the state tournament, then went 3-2 at Hershey to finish one spot higher than his brother Jim did as a senior in 2001.
"I'm a little disappointed with my loss (in the consolation quarterfinals) because I wanted to finish just a little bit higher," Lewis said, "but, overall I'm satisfied with seventh."
Lewis (33-7) had the best record in the county for the second straight season. Back-to-back, 30-win seasons helped him finish his career as Blue Ridge's all-time leader in wins with a 115-28 record.
The family connection to wrestling was evident the whole way. Chris broke Jim's school record for wins while wrestling for his uncle, Dean Lewis, Blue Ridge's head coach.
Chris, who also is a starter on Blue Ridge's baseball team, is the son of Dennis and Sally Lewis of Great Bend. Dennis is also active in wrestling as one of District 2's top referees.
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