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Forest City was the only one of six Susquehanna County teams to produce victories Friday night when Lackawanna League boys basketball play opened.
Opening night may not be the last time the Foresters represent the best of the countys basketball hopes.
Forest City, which opened the exhibition season with a championship in the Bill McLaughlin Classic at Mountain View, is the top threat to defending champion Carbondale in the Lackawanna Division II North.
Our predictions for the division race have Carbondale followed, in order, by Forest City, Lackawanna Trail, Carbondale Sacred Heart, Elk Lake, Mountain View, Susquehanna and Blue Ridge.
Montrose competes in the Lackawanna Division I North where we project the Meteors to finish behind Scranton, Abington Heights, Scranton Prep and West Scranton.
Forest City opened the season 3-0 and is 4-2 after its 67-52 division opening win over Susquehanna.
The Foresters have a strong inside-outside scoring combination.
Junior Matt Pisarcik returns and is joined by sophomore Ryan Ogozaly to provide the 3-point shooting threats. Junior Dave Shollock is back as an inside threat.
Ogozaly, junior Jonathan Torch and senior center Jake Beautz all had some experience before moving into the starting lineup this season.
With just the one senior on the roster, the Foresters could be building for a stronger team in the future.
Freshmen Justin Kravitz, Mike McGraw and Steve Beautz are already the top three subs.
Elk Lake won the season series from Carbondale a year ago, but lost in a playoff for the all-season division title.
The Warriors and Blue Ridge are both winless so far this season.
Elk Lake lost its entire starting lineup to graduation, but Derek Guiton, Ty Emmerich, Tony Dorman and Dave Bell lead a group that gained some experience off the bench.
Athletic director Patrick Heaton took over as head coach at Mountain View and won his opener with a team that produced just four wins all of last season.
Sophomore Tim Bennett is a physical force who is a threat to score and rebound in double figures. He gets inside support from senior Lucas Mack.
Freshman Robbie Johnson is already running the offense for a team that returns three starters. Bennett and L.B. Feduchak started as freshmen last year along with current senior Greg Bradley.
Heaton has shown an early tendency to rotate several players through the lineup.
After going winless a year ago, the Sabers have already picked up one win this season and have been more competitive in their losses.
Junior Kevin Lee is one of the countys top scoring threats. Brent Soden and Adam Schiffer also return to the starting lineup.
Seniors Joe Barnes and Ernie Buzzell and sophomore Ernie Taylor have some experience.
Scott Summers is the only returning starter at Blue Ridge.
Seniors Jesse Tyler, Josh Jones and Jon Rounds are back at Montrose. Juniors Kyle Adriance, Kyle Stoddard and Tom Burgh have been making significant offensive contributions.
WEEK IN REVIEW
Montrose used a balanced attack to defeat Susquehanna, 58-35, Thursday and join Mountain View and Carbondale in a three-way tie for the early Lackawanna League Division II North girls basketball lead with 2-0 starts.
Kate LaBarbera scored seven of her team-high 10 points in the first quarter as the Lady Meteors opened an 18-11 lead.
Chelsey Parvin, Amanda Lass, Carrie Robinson and Erika Brown controlled the inside by combining for 31 points and 37 rebounds. Tiffany Palmer joined them to give Montrose six players with between six and 10 points.
Mountain View won twice during the week, while Forest City got a win in its only league game.
Heather Shadduck led the way for Elk Lake as the Lady Warriors split a pair of games.
Shadduck scored 13 points in a 51-18 win over Carbondale Sacred Heart in the division opener. It was the first win overall for the Lady Warriors, who fell to Carbondale, 45-29, Saturday despite 11 points by Shadduck.
Blue Ridge and Susquehanna each lost three games.
One of Blue Ridges losses was in non-league play.
Brooke Hinkley led the Lady Raiders with 16 points in a 59-38 loss to Carbondale in the opener. Lydia Tompkins had 10 points in Saturdays 49-22 loss to Lackawanna Trail.
In boys basketball, Forest City and Montrose were the only teams to post a win during the week.
Forest City defeated Susquehanna, 67-52, in Fridays division opener, but lost two non-league games.
Montrose lost to North Pocono, 75-57, in the Lackawanna Division I crossover opener Friday, but beat Susquehanna, 78-50, in non-league play earlier in the week.
Burgh had 13 points in the loss to North Pocono.
Rounds scored 21 points to lead the win over Susquehanna. Lee led the Sabers with 22.
Mountain View and Blue Ridge lost their league openers.
Tom Donovan scored 15 points to lead Blue Ridge in its 63-50 loss to Sacred Heart.
Susquehanna and Elk Lake each lost league openers and two other games during the week.
In wrestling, two county teams won matches on tie-breaking criteria during the week.
Mountain View picked up a win in a 36-36 match with Sullivan County during Saturdays Towanda Duals.
Dennis Moore and Jeff Snyder produced key decisions as Montrose won a 36-36 match with Lackawanna Trail.
Nate Napolitano and Scott Meagley had pins for Susquehanna during a 53-30 loss to Sayre.
In professional hockey, Michel Ouellet scored a hat trick Wednesday night as the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins knocked off the league-leading Hershey Bears, 6-4.
Ouellet became the first Penguin to score three power-play goals in a game. He used the effort to jump into the lead among American Hockey League rookies in goals (12) and power-play goals (five).
The win was the only one in three games during the week for the Penguins.
The Binghamton Senators also continued some surprising struggles.
Forward Tony Tuzzolino decided to leave the Senators to play professionally in Italy where he hopes to make the 2006 Olympic team.
Courtney Parvin, a 5-foot-10 sophomore forward from Montrose, played a big part in Springfield Colleges comeback for a 51-50 womens basketball victory over Westfield State in the Pioneer Valley Hoop Classic Dec. 6.
Parvin, who had 12 points in the game, hit a 3-pointer with 1.5 seconds left to bring Springfield within a point. Springfield, which had trailed 43-29 with 13 minutes left, then forced a five-second violation on the in-bounds play and hit the winning shot at the buzzer.
Parvin has started all seven games for the Pride. She is second on the team with 13 assists, third with 4.6 rebounds per game and fourth with 6.9 points per game. While averaging 27 minutes per game, Parvin is 20-for-57 (35.1 percent) from the floor, 3-for-10 on 3-pointers and 5-for-10 from the foul line. She also has three steals and a blocked shot.
Springfield, a perennial NCAA Division III tournament contender from Massachusetts, is 4-3.
THE WEEK AHEAD
Defending District 2 girls basketball champions will meet Thursday at Montrose.
Forest City, which has won the last five Class A titles, will be at Montrose, the defending AA champion, in a Lackawanna League Division II North game.
It is a challenging week for Montrose, which plays Saturday at Carbondale, the only division team with an unbeaten overall record.
Blue Ridge, Elk Lake, Mountain View and Susquehanna are among the 22 District 2 teams and 43 teams overall in the Times Leader Invitational Wrestling Tournament Friday and Saturday at College Misericordia.
The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons will open their 16th International League baseball season on the road and play their home opener April 12 against the Buffalo Bisons.
The Red Barons will begin their 144-game schedule April 8 at Ottawa. The season concludes September 6 in Pawtucket.
The IL schedule calls for 16 games against each divisional opponent and eight games against the other teams, which will each stop at Lackawanna County Stadium one time for a four-game schedule.
The home schedule consists of nine homestands of between six and 10 games.
Morning games, geared toward school groups, are scheduled for May 3 and May 20, beginning at 11 a.m. There is one doubleheader on the schedule, June 17 against Pawtucket.
Season tickets and bonus books are on sale now. Individual game tickets go on sale in the spring. For further information, call 969-2255 or check www.redbarons.com.
The 2004 home schedule, with games at 7 p.m. unless otherwise noted:
Buffalo, April 12, 13, 14; Rochester, April 15, 16, 17, 18 at 2 p.m.; Syracuse April 26, 27, 28, 29; Ottawa, April 30, May 1 at 2 p.m., 2 at 2 p.m., 3 at 11 a.m.; Durham, May 13, 14, 15 at 2 p.m., 16 at 2 p.m.; Charlotte, May 17, 18, 19, 20 at 11 a.m.; Indianapolis, May 29, 30 at 6 p.m., 31, June 1; Louisville, June 3, 4, 5, 6 at 6 p.m.; Pawtucket, June 15, 16, 17 DH at 6 p.m., 18; Richmond, June 19, 20, 21, 22; Columbus, July 4 at 6 p.m., 5, 6, 7; Norfolk, July 8, 9, 10, 11 at 6 p.m.; Rochester, July 21, 22; Toledo, July 23, 24, 25 at 6 p.m., 26; Buffalo, August 5, 6; Rochester, August 7, 8 at 6 p.m.; Syracuse, August 9, 10, 11, 12; Buffalo, August 20, 21, 22 at 2 p.m.; Ottawa, August 23, 24, 25, 26; Pawtucket, August 27, 28, 29 at 6 p.m.
TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached online at RobbyTR@aol.com.
KIMMEL Receives Fifth Arca Title, Covington, KY With a soft layer of white snow outside the Riverview Convention Center, the ARCA REMAX Series crowned Frank Kimmel of Jeffersonville, Indiana as champion for the fifth time at their annual awards banquet, Saturday, December 13.
Over 600 fans, drivers, crew members, media, and racing dignitaries packed the convention hall for what series officials described as the largest-ever convention.
Among the many celebrity drivers attending were legendary racers, Red Farmer and Bobby Allison.
"I've got some 8mm moving pictures of Red racing against my dad, maybe a hundred years ago," said Kimmel. "You can see how fast he was going because he lapped our cars many times in the race."
While Farmer never won an ARCA series title, he did run many series races. In 2002, at the age of 77-plus, he managed to finish fourth in an ARCA event against all the young drivers.
"I never won an ARCA championship, and I never outrun Frank, because he's got too many things going for him," said Farmer. "With a good crew chief and crew, good sponsors, and him doing a helluva job driving the car, that's a tough combination to beat."
Farmer serves as advisor on the No. 67 car driven by Jason Jarrett, who finished second in points behind Kimmel.
Don Radebaugh, ARCA spokesperson announced many changes during a press conference that he said will "solidify and strengthen" the ARCA organization. This included a three-year deal with Speed Channel that will feature at least 14-same-day televised races in 2004.
Kimmel was selected as First Team Automobile Racing Driver by the American Auto Writers and Broadcasters. It was the first time ever that an ARCA series driver has been selected to the first team.
Farmer has been nominated and will be inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame next year.
Allison was given the John Marcum Award, the series' highest honor.
"This award is meant to signify an individual who has made a major contribution to the ARCA REMAX series that has helped grow, it sustain it, and move it to a higher level in motorsports," said ARCA Pres. Ron Drager.
"At a really critical time, right after our founder, John Marcum died in 1981; Bobby brought his son Davey to the ARCA series. What a vote of confidence this was at a bleak time in our history.
"And you've got to remember that Bobby was at the pinnacle of his career in Winston Cup, so this really showed the rest of the racing world Bobby Allison had confidence in our series."
Allison attended along with his wife Judy.
"Keep on doing what you're doing, treat the fans right, and they will continue to love you," said Allison.
The ARCA series drivers will test at Daytona in preparation for the 2004 season, December 19-21. So far, 40 drivers have signed up for the test session.
Top-10 ARCA REMAX drivers: 1. Kimmel, 2. Jarrett, 3. Shelby Howard, 4. Brent Sherman, 5. Billy Venturini, 6. Mark Gibson, 7. Bill Eversole, 8. Christi Passmore, 9. Ron Cox, 10. Todd Bowsher.
Will NASCAR Adopt Radical Points Change NASCAR is looking at changing the current NEXTEL Cup points system to a new and radical approach from the existing points structure.
The new system would create a 10-race championship chase between the top-10 drivers in the standings.
The proposed plan would lock in the top-10 drivers after the 26th race of the 2004 season. They would then compete over the final 10 races with their standings possibly being reset to zero for the Nextel Cup championship.
Their goal is to cast a bigger spotlight on the drivers in the championship hunt, specifically in the top-10.
In studying the changes, NASCAR applied the system to the past 10 years and found it would have changed the champion six times. Jimmie Johnson would have won it this past year and Matt Kenseth, who was crowned champion last week, would have finished seventh.
There's been much debate over changing the points system this season because of the way Kenseth earned his first title. His Roush Racing team was consistent all season, racking up a series-high 25 top 10 finishes while winning just one race. Ryan Newman, meanwhile, won a series-best eight races but finished sixth in the points.
NASCAR is also putting emphasis on the research and development center and the continuing effort that Gary Nelson and his team are putting into driver safety, including a current goal to install safer walls at every track necessary by 2005.
When Jason Keller hit the wall at Richmond International Raceway in September, the G-forces were cut by 70 percent when compared to Jerry Nadeau's nearly identical wreck in May. And according to Helton, the G-force spike in Keller's wreck was larger than was Nadeau's.
Other pursuits addressed by Pres. Mike Helton were realignment and the continuing effort to push into major markets, as well as continuing a push to promote the sport abroad.
But there are no plans to run actual NASCAR events in Europe. The only possible venue being looked at for a NASCAR race is Mexico City.
"We have a huge following there," said Brian France. "The fan base is terrific. They are able to watch it on television, and like American fans, want more."
What do you think? Is it time to make changes and update the points system?
If you believe it should be changed and have suggestions, write us at: The Racing Reporter, P.O. Box 160711, Mobile, AL 36616. If we use your suggestion, we will send you an 8X10 photo of your favorite driver.
Racing Trivia Question: How many races did Michael Waltrip win in 2003?
Last Week's Question: Who is the oldest driver to win a Winston Cup race? Answer: Harry Gant, at age 52 became the oldest driver to win a Winston Cup race.
If you would like to read additional racing stories by the Gerald Hodges/ the Racing Reporter, go to: www.race500.com.
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