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Regional Stop Showcases Mourning's Comeback
Wilkes-Barre - New Jersey Nets coach Byron Scott was well aware that Alonzo Mourning was just two exhibition games into a comeback from missing an entire National Basketball Association season.
Scott could not help it; he was excited about what he saw Thursday night at the Wachovia Arena.
Mourning, a seven-time all-star and two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, was the best player on the floor during the Nets' 84-75 exhibition victory over the New York Knicks.
"Part of me says this is getting pretty exciting," Scott said after Mourning scored a team-high 13 points, grabbed six rebounds and blocked two shots in 18 minutes. "He's seeing the fruits of his labor."
Mourning turned the first NBA game at the arena into a special night for the paid crowd of 6,910.
Jason Kidd, who led New Jersey to the last two NBA Finals, was not in uniform. He sat at the end of the bench watching his teammates.
That left center stage to Mourning.
"He's getting better and better," Scott said. "The rust is coming off quickly."
Mourning is trying to come back from focal glomerulosclerosis, a kidney disorder, for the second time. He missed the first 69 games of the 2000-01 season.
"From when training camp started until now, I feel like I'm improving," said Mourning, who signed with the Nets as a free agent July 16. "I still don't feel like I'm in good basketball shape yet.
"I'll continue to work to get in basketball shape and get my body right so that I can contribute."
Scott liked the contributions he got Thursday - and the improvement Mourning showed from the exhibition opener.
"He was so much more calm and patient on offense," Scott said.
The 6-foot-10 center from Georgetown made his reputation defensively, but he took over the game on both ends of the floor when New Jersey broke open the game in the third quarter.
Mourning blocked two shots and scored seven of the points in a 9-0 run.
The Knicks never got closer than eight the rest of the way.
Brandon Armstrong and Damone Brown came off the bench to add 11 points each for New Jersey. Starters Richard Jefferson and Kerry Kittles each had 10 points.
New York's Shandon Anderson had a game-high 15 points. Maciej Lampe added 11 and Charlie Ward had 10.
Although it was an exhibition, the teams appeared to play hard, including two vicious flagrant fouls committed by the Knicks rather than giving up easy baskets.
WEEK IN REVIEW
Runners made their way from Forest City to downtown Scranton Sunday in the eighth annual Steamtown Marathon.
Eric Blake of Plattsburgh, NY won the 26.2-mile race in 2:21:24. He was followed by Jason Bodnar of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. in 2:22:35 and Ross Martinson of Conshohocken in 2:26:28.
Andrea Niggemeier of Philadelphia repeated as the women's champion, winning by more than five minutes in a time of 2:48:06.
Tammy Slusser of Monroeville, a Pittsburgh suburb, was second in 2:55:40.
Veronica Kanga of Worcester, Mass. was third in 2:56:08.
In professional hockey, The Hockey News has ranked the Binghamton Senators and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 1-2 in the 14-team American Hockey League Eastern Conference in its season preview.
Aside from a rough opener in Wilkes-Barre, the teams gave a hint of living up to those expectations in the first week of the season.
The Binghamton Senators won, 4-2, in Philadelphia Friday night as Denis Hamel had two goals and an assist.
Hamel came back with the game-winning goal at 2:22 of overtime, one second before a power play expired, as the Senators took their home opener, 2-1, over the Rochester Americans Saturday.
Ray Emery stopped 37 of 38 shots in the win over Rochester.
The Penguins stumbled to a 6-3 loss in a sluggish opening effort Wednesday night against the Norfolk Admirals.
Michal Sivek assisted on the first goal and scored the second Saturday as the Penguins won the rematch, 4-2.
The win was the first for rookie goalie Andy Chiodo and the first as Penguins coach for Michel Therrien. Chiodo made 30 saves.
In high school golf, defending District 2 champion Montrose advanced to the Lackawanna League final and district semifinal with a 6-3 victory over North Pocono.
The Meteors were scheduled to play Scranton Prep Tuesday for the league title.
In football, Montrose was unable to convert on its two-point conversion attempts and fell to 1-6 with a 20-18 loss to Western Wayne.
Susquehanna remained winless when it was shut out by Lackawanna Trail, 52-0.
In girls' volleyball, Blue Ridge remained undefeated with 3-0 sweeps over Western Wayne and Forest City.
In girls' soccer, Mountain View won a pair of 1-0 games from Montrose and Blue Ridge.
In girls' tennis, the only two county teams met and Montrose beat Elk Lake, 6-1.
Freshman Dylan Maxey and senior Jason Lodge, both from Montrose, are members of the golf team at Mount Olive College, an NCAA Division II school in North Carolina.
In its most recent competition, Mount Olive was third out of 12 teams in the Dogfight at Stoney Creek.
Maxey figured into the team scoring by shooting 75-81-156 to finish tied for second on the team and tied for 15th in the event.
THE WEEK AHEAD
Montrose is at Bishop O'Hara Saturday afternoon in a Lackawanna Football Conference meeting of 1-6 teams.
Susquehanna (0-7) is home the same day against Scranton Prep (2-5).
Our record on last week's football predictions was 9-1, bringing our season record to 59-19 (75.6 percent).
This week's predictions, with winners in CAPS: MONTROSE 30, Bishop O'Hara 6; SCRANTON PREP 42, Susquehanna 14; LAKELAND 28, Lackawanna Trail 14; MID VALLEY 27, Carbondale 21; HONESDALE 20, North Pocono 7; DELAWARE VALLEY 20, Wallenpaupack 14; VALLEY VIEW 14, West Scranton 13; DUNMORE 28, Riverside 20; OLD FORGE 14, Western Wayne 12; SCRANTON 31, Abington Heights 12.
TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached on-line
STEWART Wins At Charlotte With Fastest Car
Concord, NC Tony Stewart turned in a dominating performance in Saturday night's Winston Cup UAWGM Quality 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, leading six times for 149 laps the most of any driver to win his 17th career NASCAR Winston Cup Series race and his second of the season.
He also put an emphatic end to the recent slate of races where the outcome was determined by pit strategy and fuel mileage rather than flatout speed.
"It's about time the fastest car won the race instead of all this fuel mileage and tire stuff," said Stewart from victory lane.
Following his final pit stop of the evening on lap 298, Stewart found himself in second place to race leader Ryan Newman, who made his last pit stop much earlier on lap 267, 67 laps from the end of the race. Newman a winner of eight races in 2003 thanks in large part to savvy pit strategy and superior fuel mileage was now able to go the rest of the distance on fuel.
Stewart showed to everyone that he was up to that challenge, whacking away at Newman's lead until he was on Newman's back bumper, finally taking the lead for good with a pass off turn four on lap 327. From there, Stewart checked out, crossing the finish line with a .608second margin of victory.
"I knew with fresher tires we'd be faster," said Stewart. "But I didn't know that Ryan had pitted early until we got out and saw on the board that we were second. The '12' car pitted real short and got a big jump on us and they about won the race by doing that."
The strong run Stewart's fourth straight top-five finish moved him up to seventh in the championship point standings, 216 points arrears sixth-place Jeff Gordon and 271 points back from fifth-place Jimmie Johnson. It also enabled Chevrolet to clinch its 27th manufacturer's championship.
"We had a vibration and had to come in early," said Newman. "We didn't know what it was, and that put us out of sequence with everybody else. Luckily the race ran green and we didn't get caught a lap down. That was the good side of the coin.
"The bad side of the coin was we lost a shot to win the race. To have a car that was that good on a long run, I wish we could have held him (Tony Stewart) off, but that's all we were doing, being able to hold him off."
Jimmie Johnson finished third, while Bill Elliott and Jeff Gordon rounded out the top5.
Top ten finishing order: 1. Tony Stewart, 2. Ryan Newman, 3. Jimmie Johnson, 4. Bill Elliott, 5. Jeff Gordon, 6. Bobby Labonte, 7. Jamie McMurray, 8. Matt Kenseth, 9. Dale Earnhardt Jr., 10. Kevin Harvick.
Top10 points leaders after 31 of 36: 1. Kenseth4424, 2. Harvick4157, 3. Earnhardt Jr.4100, 4. Newman4093, 5. Johnson4072, 6. J. Gordon4017, 7. Stewart3801, 8. B. Labonte3800, 9. T. Labonte3620, 10. Busch3615.
WALTRIP Teams Up With Three Stooges, Martinsville, VA When Darrell Waltrip discovered that Martinsville Speedway was going to host two NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races in 2003, he danced a little jig.
The difficult halfmile oval has long been one of Waltrips favorite tracks. He also won 11 Winston Cup races at Martinsville. But, more importantly at this point in his life, it is a track where his wife Stevie allows him to leave retirement behind for a couple of Saturday afternoons each year.
"It was really a stroke of luck for me when they added a second race at Martinsville," Waltrip said recently. "I never dreamed that would happen, but man, Im glad."
Waltrip will be making his second visit of the season to Martinsville Speedway on October 18 for the running of the Advance Auto Parts 200 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race. And after a seventhplace finish in last springs Advance Auto Parts 250 at Martinsville, Waltrip is pumped.
"In my life, just any day at a race track when Im driving is a great day," said the threetime Winston Cup champion turned star television commentator. "To go out and bump and grind with the guys and to be up there with a chance of winning like last spring, well, thats even better. If Im gonna be able to race in three races a year, I want to take advantage of it. I dont have that many times to race left.
"Ive got the best of both worlds. I get to be a part of racing hang out with the drivers. Ive got more fans than Ive ever had," said Waltrip. "I dont want to race too much. It just helps me getting out there with the guys I havent competed with, guys like Jon Wood and Carl Edwards, guys that never had the chance to race me."
Waltrip will attempt to get his Three Stooges Chevrolet in the field when qualifying for the Advance Auto Parts 200 begins at 1:30 p.m. on Friday, October 17. MW Windows Pole Day continues with Winston Cup cars going under the clock at 3:05 p.m.
Good tickets remain for all events and may be ordered toll free at 877RACETIX, 2769563151 or online at www.martinsvillespeedway.com. The Martinsville Speedway ticket office is open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
BRENDAN GAUGHAN Leads Truck Drivers Top10 Craftsman Truck Series points leaders after 22 of 25: 1. Gaughan3459, 2. Kvapil3429, 3. Musgrave3386, 4. Setzer3342, 5. Wood3186, 6. Hamilton3132, 7. Crawford3113, 8. Edwards2994, 9. Cook2861, 10. Chaffin2779.
DAVID GREEN Tops Busch Series Top10 Busch Series points leaders after 29 of 34: 1. D. Green3988, 2. Vickers3952, 3. Riggs3941, 4. Hornaday3912, 5. Keller3908, 6. Hamilton Jr.3713, 7. Kahne3464, 8. Wimmer3454, 9. J. Sauter3410, 10. Compton3396.
The Winston Cup and Craftsman Trucks are at Martinsville Speedway, while the Busch Series is at Memphis, TN.
Saturday, October 18, Craftsman Trucks Advance Auto Parts 200, race 23 of 25, 200 laps/105 miles, 12:30 p.m. TV: Speed Channel.
Busch Series Sams town 250, race 30 of 34, 250 laps/187.5 miles, 3 p.m. TV: TNT.
Sunday, October 19, Winston Cup Subway 500, race 32 of 36, 500 laps/263 miles, Noon. TV: NBC.
Racing Trivia Question: How long was the beachroad course that NASCAR raced on between 1948 and 1958?
Last Weeks Question: Mamie Reynolds became the first female winning car owner in 1962, who was the driver? Answer: Fred Lorenzen was the driver. He took the checkered flag at Augusta, GA.
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 email it to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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