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Three County basketball teams won championships last season.
All three again should be in contention for the Lackawanna League Division II North title along with a team that has already won a tournament this season.
Montrose, which won the first-half division title and took the District 2 Class AA championship, is our pick to come out on top of a division championship race that should also include Mountain View, Forest City and Carbondale.
Mountain View won the division last season in a playoff with Montrose. The Lady Eagles took the previous title in a playoff with Forest City. More playoffs for either half or the all-season title would not be surprising.
Forest City is coming off its fifth straight District 2 Class A title.
Carbondale returns all of its key players from a fourth-place team and has already won the Aliano Memorial Tournament this season.
Lackawanna Trail, Blue Ridge, Susquehanna, Elk Lake and Carbondale Sacred Heart should follow, but none appear to be a threat for the division title.
Montrose returns four starters, including three who averaged 6.8 points per game or better, from a team that went 20-10.
Guard Tiffany Palmer is the only senior among the returning starters.
Kate LaBarbera, a junior guard who will already be in her third season as a starter, averaged 8.5 points, 2.8 assists and 2.5 steals last season.
Forward Erika Brown averaged 8.1 points and five rebounds.
Chelsey Parvin averaged 6.8 points and 9.1 rebounds. Parvin, a starter as a freshman last season, just missed a triple double in the state tournament when she had 11 points, 17 rebounds and nine assists as Montrose beat East Juniata, 64-47, for John Cherundolos first state tournament victory in five seasons as coach.
Carrie Robinson and Amanda Turner, two of the top subs a year ago, should help Parvin inside.
Juniors Tara Mullin and Melanie Loomis, sophomores Ashley Jones and Amanda Lass and freshman Christine Brown should also see playing time.
Mountain View is led by the play of senior Leah Simko and sophomore Whitney Williams, returning starters on each wing. Williams moved into the starting lineup at point guard late last season, but coach Bob Lambert said she has the chance to be more of a scoring threat as a shooting guard.
Three juniors have taken over the other starting spots. Lee Faramelli is the new points guard while Amanda Breese and Sarah Daniels are the forwards.
Senior guard/forward Holly Corbin and freshman guard Whitney Twining, the younger sister of graduated 1,000-point scorer Ashley Twining, are the top reserves.
Amanda Vitzakovitch is back for her fourth year as a starter at Forest City where she was a third-team Associated Press Class A all-state selection last season when she averaged 18 points per game.
Forest City also returns senior center Dana Bennett.
Kelsey Tyson and Carrie Wojcik also have some experience.
Blue Ridge has a new coach in Brian Hinkley. His daughter, Brooke Hinkley, returns at center after leading the team in scoring and blocked shots each of the past two seasons. She was an all-tournament selection in the Aliano Memorial.
Hinkley is one of four seniors who are returning starters. Lydia Tompkins is a forward while Devin Glezen and Alison McNamara are on the wings.
McNamara moved over after playing point guard last season.
Junior Brittany Pavelski is the new point guard.
Freshman Jocelyn Dearborn is already seeing significant playing time.
Susquehanna has a player with championship experience.
Beth Kubus, who moved into the starting lineup at Forest City late last season, has transferred back into the school district where she played as a freshman.
Kubus joins two other returning starters at guard to form the strength of the Lady Sabers. Junior Bridgette Stone, last seasons leading scorer and an all-tournament selection in the Aliano Memorial, may play some other positions at times. Jessica Williams is back after a knee injury cost her half of last season.
"We have 22 kids out for the team, which were elated about," said coach Rick Mazikewich, who watched an already thin roster get trimmed to as few as nine players last season when injuries hit. "Thirteen are freshmen, but some of them are pretty talented."
Claressa Price joins Williams as the teams two returning seniors.
Juniors Heather Stone and Kristy Pavelski are also back.
Sarah Biegert may be the first of the freshmen ready to make a contribution. Guard Kim Frechen is a promising sophomore.
Elk Lake is led by the return of Heather Shadduck and Lindsay Ruark.
WEEK IN REVIEW
Binghamton, NY Saturday night at the Broome County Arena began with a Throwback Night ceremony honoring the arrival of the Broome Dusters 30 years ago.
It ended with the Binghamton Senators holding an extended players-only meeting after being handled by the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, 4-1, in an American Hockey League game.
Dressed in Dusters jerseys, the Senators did their best to give the night an "old-time hockey" feel with Dennis Bonvie getting the best of David Koci and goalie Ray Emery getting the best of Andy Chiodo in two extended and entertaining fights.
It was the Penguins, however, who got a much-needed win in a game that should only fuel a rivalry that still has seven meetings remaining this season.
Michel Ouellet and Colby Armstrong scored power-play goals and the Penguins killed eight Binghamton penalties on the way to a 4-1 victory. It was just the second win in 11 games for the Penguins and their first in eight road games since November 2.
"Special teams were a big reason why we ended up winning the game," Penguins coach Michel Therrien said.
The Penguins have outscored opponents, 42-28, at even strength but are just 9-9-3-2 largely because of their special teams struggles. They ranked last in the league in penalty killing before containing Binghamtons struggling power play.
The Senators are 0-for-27 on the power play in the last six games and 4-for-61 in the last 11.
"The guys on the penalty kill did a terrific job," Therrien said.
Five Penguins had two points. Ouellet scored two goals; Armstrong and Shane Endicott had a goal and an assist; and Tom Kostopoulos and Reid Simpson had two assists.
Emery, Chiodo and Binghamtons Brian McGrattan all drew game misconducts for their parts in a brawl with 2:55 remaining.
In professional baseball, Rick Muntean, who had been with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons for all 15 of their seasons resigned as the teams general manager.
Muntean will take a position as vice president and general manager of the Kansas City T-Bones in the independent Northern League.
Muntean started as assistant general manager under current Binghamton Mets GM Bill Terlecky. He replaced Terlecky in 1997.
"I will miss everyone here," Muntean said. "It was a great time."
In boys basketball, Susquehanna and Forest City each posted wins.
Susquehanna defeated Mid Valley, 53-42, to win for the first time in 31 games dating back to the 2001-02 season.
The Sabers started the 2001-02 season 5-5, but went 3-12 the rest of the way, including losing the last four games. They were winless last season and lost two tournament games to open this season.
Forest City followed up its championship in the Bill McLaughlin Classic by improving to 3-0 with a 59-54 victory over Lakeland.
Elk Lake, Montrose, Blue Ridge and Mountain View each lost their only game of the week.
Dave Bells 3-pointer in the final minute gave Elk Lake the lead, but Athens scored last in a 57-56 victory. Tony Dorman had 16 points to lead the Warriors.
Montrose was outscored by Athens, 92-72. Jon Rounds and Tom Burgh each had 16 points in the loss while Jesse Tyler added 10.
Honesdale defeated Blue Ridge, 49-40, and East Stroudsburg Notre Dame downed Mountain View, 60-49.
Brad Conklin of New Milford started his junior season at Binghamton Seton Catholic by scoring 24 of the Saints points in a 45-40 loss to Oneonta in the Southern Tier Athletic Conference opener.
In girls basketball, although the prospects for strong seasons remain, tough exhibition schedules led to every county team losing at least once during the week.
Susquehanna, Blue Ridge, Forest City and Montrose countered those defeats by also winning a game.
After letting a 17-point, fourth-quarter lead get away Dec. 1, Susquehanna came back three nights later to get its first win of the season.
Kubus scored 22 points and Bridgette Stone added 15 points and nine assists as the Lady Sabers defeated Mid Valley, 53-35.
Stone had 25 points and Kubus 14 during a 54-50 loss to Harpursville, which used a 28-7 fourth quarter to pull out the win.
Blue Ridge bounced back from a 45-39 loss to Wyalusing to defeat Honesdale, 64-59.
Tompkins had a team-high 16 points against Wyalusing.
Hinkley scored 18, Glezen 16, McNamara 11 and Tompkins 10 in the win over Honesdale.
Bennett scored 19 points, Vitzakovitch 17 and Tyson 15 as Forest City defeated Western Wayne, 60-52.
Western Wayne led, 31-25, at half-time but Forest City used an 18-6 third quarter to take control.
The Lady Foresters then lost, 46-27, to North Pocono, which reached the state quarterfinals in Class AAA a year ago.
Montrose found a tough way to open its season.
The Lady Meteors were the last local team to start their season and did so against defending District 4 Class AAA champion Athens, which had already played three games.
Athens improved to 4-0 by dominating the game between defending district champions, 55-26.
Athens opened a 16-3 lead after one quarter.
LaBarbera and Brown each scored 10 points in the loss.
After getting a late start on non-league play, the Lady Meteors got a head start on the league season. Their game with Carbondale Sacred Heart was moved up from Dec. 13 to Wednesday night, which made it the winter opener for Lackawanna League sports.
Montrose rolled to a 61-18 victory behind a balanced attack.
Brown led the way with 13 points. Parvin had 12 points and 10 rebounds. Jones had nine points. Loss had nine rebounds. LaBarbera had seven assists.
Mountain View and Elk Lake each lost twice.
The Lady Eagles fell to Lake-Lehman, 39-33, and Tunkhannock, 55-44.
Mountain View was tied with Lake-Lehman, 23-23, after three quarters.
Simko and Williams each had 15 points in the loss to Tunkhannock.
The Lady Warriors fell to Northeast Bradford, 52-20, and Wyalusing, 36-30.
Against Wyalusing, Elk Lake trailed, 32-19, entering the fourth quarter before rallying. Heather Shadduck had 15 points in the loss.
In high school football, Southern Columbia, Manheim Central, Aliquippa, and North Penn won Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association state championships at HersheyPark Stadium.
Brandon Traugh and Ryan Slater each ran for three touchdowns as Southern Columbia repeated as Class A champion with a 49-20 victory over Bishop Carroll.
Shawn Wilt broke up a potential game-winning touchdown pass at the goal line late in regulation, caught a touchdown pass in the second overtime and then sealed Manheim Centrals 39-38 double-overtime victory over Pine-Richland in Class AAA with a blocked extra point.
Darrelle Revis ran 64 yards for his fifth touchdown, the game-winner, as Aliquippa defeated Northern Lehigh, 32-27, in Class AA. Revis had two other touchdown runs, an 89-yard kickoff return and a 69-yard return of a blocked field goal.
North Penn broke away from a 7-7 half-time tie to defeat Pittsburgh Central Catholic, 37-10, in the AAAA final.
In college football, Lycoming Colleges season ended in the NCAA Division III quarterfinals with a 13-9 loss to Bridgewater (Va.).
Nicole Zapolski, a junior from Mountain View, has been named Keystone College Female Athlete of the Month for November.
Zapolski was named tournament Most Valuable Player as Keystone opened the season by winning the U.S. Army/Wesley College Tip-Off Tournament in Delaware.
Zapolski led the team in scoring in both games as Keystone defeated Hood, 89-72, and Wesley, 61-49. She finished the tournament with 32 points, 19 rebounds, five assists and three steals.
THE WEEK AHEAD
Lackawanna League Division II North basketball play opens Friday.
Forest City (3-0) opens at home against Susquehanna in the only game matching two county teams.
In other Division II North games, Carbondale Sacred Heart is at Blue Ridge, Elk Lake is at Lackawanna Trail and Carbondale is at Mountain View.
North Pocono plays at Montrose in a Division I crossover game.
TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached on-line at RobbyTR@aol.com.
EARNHARDT JR. Is Favorite Driver
Dale Earnhardt Jr. was awarded the 2003 Grands Biscuits NASCAR Most Popular Driver award today during ceremonies at New York's Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. The award is based on voting by race fans around the world. Dale Jr. earned more than 1.3 million votes, which represents more than the combined total of the remaining top-10 vote getters.
The "Most Popular Driver Award" is presented by the National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA), and has been an active award since 1956. Dale Jr. joins his dad, seven-time Winston Cup champion Dale Earnhardt, as the only father and son combination to win the award.
"That's cool. I like big trophies..." Junior joked at the award presentation. "No, really, this means a lot for me. It's a powerful thing to know how much fan support I have out there, and I try to never forget it. I'm grateful and thank all of the fans who voted for me."
Dale Jr. and the No. 8 Budweiser team were also awarded a $75,000 bonus for the 2003 Goodyear Gatorback Fastest Lap Award. The team won the Fastest Lap Award at eight races this season, more than any other team. They were also tied for the league lead in the MBNA Halfway Leader Award. Both Dale Jr. and Tony Stewart led at the halfway mark of five races in 2003.
He also received a check well in excess of $1 million at the NASCAR Winston Cup Awards Banquet for his career-best third-place finish in the 2003 point standings.
Meanwhile Bill Elliott was nearly an hour late for his press conference, which was called to announce his plans for the 2004 racing season. Many veteran reporters thought he might have changed his mind-again.
Elliott, however, will run a reduced race schedule in an Evernham Motorsports Dodge, while NASCAR Busch Series driver Kasey Kahne, will succeed him as driver of the No. 9 Dodge.
Jeremy Mayfield will continue as driver of the No. 19 Dodge.
Elliott announced his intentions to run a limited schedule for several years and remain with Evernham Motorsports as mentor and coach to the team's drivers. Elliott's role will expand in a business capacity with Evernham, on and off the track.
Apparently, Elliott will make his exit from racing in much the same way as Richard Petty, with a lot of 'hype,' which is being planned to generate the Dawsonville driver added publicity and some extra, spending money.
In a show of appreciation for their unending support, Elliott, says he is planning several celebrations to thank his loyal following for their devotion during his four decades of NASCAR competition.
Kahne will also compete full time in the NASCAR Busch Series next season.
"I'm fortunate that things have fallen into place like they have," said Evernham. "Bill and I worked closely to make sure we were taking this company in the right direction, but I also wanted to make sure that he had the space to really make the right decision for himself. In making that decision, I think we as an organization have made some strong personnel moves."
While this year's banquet went over pretty smooth-at least from what viewers saw on television-it wasn't so easy for fans getting back home.
The first hard snow storm of the year hit New York City on Friday morning. By 2 p.m., the entire area was blanketed by a white coat. By the time the award ceremonies began, over 6-inches had fallen.
Fans flying out LaGuardia Airport, including myself, were stuck. All of Delta Airlines' outbound flights were cancelled by 10 a.m. on Saturday, and passengers were forced to catch a taxi to JFK Airport in hopes of catching a different flight.
By this time the total was up to 21-inches, and travel, even by taxi, was slow.
There was only one flight Saturday out of JFK to Atlanta, and that was at 2 p.m. All the other eight flights had been cancelled. The 2 p.m. flight finally got off the ground at 7:30 p.m., leaving behind hundreds of fans, reporters, and television journalists, trying to get home in Charlotte or Atlanta.
They were stranded for another night.
Like in racing, you win some and lose some. But I was fortunate, because I managed to get a seat on that last flight, and made it to Mobile, Alabama before the clock struck midnight.
So after the final big event of the year, I wound up in victory lane.
Racing Trivia Question: Ryan Newman won 11 Winston Cup poles this past season, but who holds the record for most poles won in a single season?
Last Week's Question: Who was the first driver to exceed one million dollars in NASCAR winnings? Answer: Richard Petty.
If you would like to read additional racing stories by the Gerald Hodges/ the Racing Reporter, go to: www.race500.com.
Elk Lake cross country coach Will Squier knew that his son, Robert and daughter, Jessica were capable of competing with the best high school runners in Pennsylvania.
Coming through under the pressure of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association state championship meet, however, is never a guarantee.
"You never know how youre going to make out going into those races," Will Squier said. "Its a one-shot deal.
"They were able to pull together two real good races."
Jessica Squier finished third in the state in Class AA while Robert Squier finished sixth to lead the Elk Lake boys to an eighth-place team finish. Their efforts in the November 1 championships in Hershey resulted in the Squier siblings sharing the latest Susquehanna County Transcript Athlete of the Month Award.
A week earlier, Robert Squier had won the District 2 title while Jessica was finishing second.
"I felt she could be in the top five in states even though she didnt have a real good day at districts," Will Squier said.
Jessica lost just once in the Lackawanna League season, against Western Waynes Meaghan Robbins. She avenged that loss by finishing ahead of Robbins in both the district and state meets.
After losing to Lisa Giacometti of Dallas in the district meet, Jessica beat Giacometti by seven seconds in Hershey.
Robert ran 1-2 with teammate Ryan Place during an unbeaten league season. He was only beaten in large invitationals and the state championship meet.
It was at one of those invitationals Oct. 11 that Will Squier saw the best combined effort prior to the state meet. Each produced their best time of the year while Robert came in second and Jessica sixth in a Lehigh Invitational field that included Class AAA and out-of-state runners.
Robert, a senior, is trying to narrow down college offers, including several from NCAA Division I schools such as Colgate, Princeton, Cornell, Duke, Army, Bucknell and Lehigh.
Jessica is a junior.
Both are also standout distance runners on the Elk Lake track team.
Robert and Jessica are the son and daughter of Will and Laura Squier.
A big black bear was harvested by Dr. Charles Kinsley of Hallstead on November 26, 2003. The following was contributed to this columnist by Ron Griffis, of Great Bend:
Pictured is Dr. Charles (Chuck) Kinsley with his prize catch.
As the bear had been previously tagged by the Pennsylvania Game Commission, the bears history was revealed when Dr. Kinsley registered the animal at the Dallas, PA game check in station. The bear was an adult male that was first captured on September 25, 2001 for research purposes in Monroe County, Tunkhannock Township. At that time the bear was three years, eight months old and weighed 240 pounds, and was released at the same location.
Approximately two years later, in Luzerne County, Bear Creek Township, on October 15, 2003, the bear, now weighing 450 pounds, was again captured, but this time for reasons of damage and nuisance, release was made in Bradford County, Ridgebury Township, game land #123.
During the next six weeks, the bear traveled about 60 miles, from Bradford to Susquehanna County where in the general area of Hallstead, the bear made the fatal mistake of presenting himself to Dr. Kinsley late in the afternoon of November 26, 2003. Two shots were required to stop the animal. Five rugged men were required to load the prize into the bed of a truck.
As verified at the Dallas station, the age of the bear was five years, ten months and the actual dressed weight was 409 pounds; the estimated live weight was 483 pounds. At the time of check in, the game commission agent thought that this bear most probably would be the largest black bear taken in Susquehanna County this year (24 taken in Susquehanna County after two days).
After two days of hunting, the game commission web site lists the largest bear taken this year in PA to be a 775 pound male, taken in Potter County.
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