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Carbondale entered the week on a 19-game winning streak, but Forest City found a way to beat the Chargers twice.
The first victory, 59-54, before an overflow crowd in Forest City, gave the Foresters the second-half Lackawanna League Division 2 North boys basketball title.
The second win, 52-48, Saturday at Scranton High School, lifted the Foresters to their first division title since joining the Lackawanna League.
Forest City succeeded behind two common themes balanced scoring and a strong finish.
The Foresters had five players with at least seven points in the first win and four in double figures in the second.
Forest City broke a tie by scoring the last five points of the game that decided the second-half title. In the playoff for the all-season championship, the Foresters held the Chargers scoreless for the final 5:04, allowing Forest City to score the games final nine points.
Dave Shollock scored the first four points of the championship game comeback and added a free throw in the final 30 seconds.
Jonathan Torch hit two free throws with 2:26 left to put Forest City ahead, 50-48.
Shollocks free throw made the lead three points.
Carbondale had the ball with 8.1 seconds left and a chance to go the length of the floor for the tying 3-pointer, but Matt Pisarcik stole the in-bounds pass and dribbled time off the clock before being fouled with two seconds left. He hit one of two to clinch the win.
Pisarcik scored a game-high 14 points in the championship game. Ryan Ogozaly and Shollock added 11 each. Beautz had 10.
The second-half game was tied, 54-54, before Forest City came through with the last five points.
Shollock and Beautz led the scoring in that win with 17 points each. Ogozaly added 10 while Torch had eight and Pisarcik had seven.
WEEK IN REVIEW
Taylor -- Blue Ridge completed a breakthrough season in girls basketball by reaching a Lackawanna League playoff game for the first time ever.
The Lady Raiders used their first win over Montrose in 17 years to wind up in a tie for the second-half title in the Division 2 North.
First-half champion Carbondales 52-40 victory in a playoff game Saturday at Riverside High School stopped Blue Ridges title bid and allowed the Chargerettes to claim the all-season championship.
"We really pulled it together as a team," first-year coach Brian Hinkley said. "Thats how we got here. Now, we just want to get ready for districts."
The Lady Raiders are a bigger threat in districts because of how they played in the second half of the season.
Despite frequent double teams, Brooke Hinkley powered her way inside for 18 points and 10 rebounds against Carbondale. Lydia Tompkins went 4-for-7 from the floor while finishing with 10 points.
Carbondale stretched an eight-point lead to 26-13 by scoring the first five points of the second half.
Devin Glezen sandwiched two 3-pointers around a Carbondale basket in the next 30 seconds. Blue Ridge then rallied to within eight late in the third quarter and again with 3:02 remaining in the game.
"We didnt make the shots when we needed to," Hinkley said. "We were in the game right along."
Natalie Winters, who finished with a game-high 19 points, helped Carbondale hold the ball down the stretch and went 6-for-6 from the foul line in the next 1:49 to lock up the victory. Carbondale shot 15-for-19 from the line in the game.
Four teams entered Tuesday night tied for the second-half lead.
Blue Ridge handled Montrose, 51-38, behind 14 points by Hinkley and 12 each by Alison McNamara and Glezen.
The Lady Raiders jumped out to leads of 12-6 after one quarter and 25-15 at half-time.
Erika Brown scored 10 points while Chelsey Parvin added eight points and 10 rebounds for Montrose.
Carbondale defeated Forest City, 54-41, in a game between the other teams that went into the week tied for first in the division.
To finish the second half in a tie, Blue Ridge and Carbondale each needed one more win.
Blue Ridge downed Carbondale Sacred Heart, 55-25, while Carbondale handled Mountain View, 63-46.
The final second-half standings were: Carbondale 7-1, Blue Ridge 7-1, Montrose 6-2, Forest City 6-2, Lackawanna Trail 4-4, Mountain View 3-5, Elk Lake 2-6, Sacred Heart 1-7 and Susquehanna 0-8.
In boys basketball, the final second-half standings were: Forest City 7-0, Carbondale 6-1, Lackawanna Trail 5-2, Mountain View 3-4, Blue Ridge 2-5, Elk Lake 2-5, Susquehanna 2-5 and Sacred Heart 1-6.
In wrestling, Blue Ridge defeated Susquehanna, 51-30, in the regular-season finale to break a tie with the Sabers and finish in sole possession of second place in Division 2 of the Lackawanna Wrestling League.
The Raiders went 7-1 in the division while the Sabers went 6-2.
Two freshmen from Susquehanna County recently made their college basketball debuts for College Misericordia.
Matt Hornak, a 6-foot-4 forward from Montrose, and Tony Rezykowski, a 6-foot-1 guard from Elk Lake, have contributed for the Cougars (8-14).
Hornak has appeared in 11 minutes over four games. He is 2-for-4 from the floor with one miss coming on his only 3-point attempt. He also has two rebounds, an assist, a blocked shot and a steal.
Rezykowski has played nine minutes in three games. He is 1-for-3 from the floor and 2-for-2 from the line. He also has four rebounds and an assist.
THE WEEK AHEAD
At press time, District 2 officials were meeting to finalize plans for the boys and girls basketball tournament.
Elk Lake and Susquehanna are among the four girls teams that chose not to compete in the open tournament after disappointing seasons. West Scranton and Carbondale Sacred Heart are the others. All of the boys teams chose to compete.
Based on the districts existing policies and discussions with district officials prior to the meetings, it was possible to project many of the match-ups. The boys tournament opens Thursday.
Montrose, the 14th seed in a 15-team field, will be at third-seeded Scranton Prep in Class AAA.
District basketball chairman Frank Victor confirmed that Susquehanna lost a coin flip with Sacred Heart to wind up eighth in the nine-team Class A field. The Sabers will host winless Bishop Hafey in the only opening round game.
Forest City used its division title to claim a second seed and a bye into next weeks quarterfinals where it will face Sacred Heart.
Class AA was the most confusing because of a four-way tie for fifth through eighth place between Lakeland, Bishop Hoban, Wilkes-Barre GAR and Mountain View. The first-round match-ups involving county teams were unavailable but were believed to be Dunmore at Mountain View, Elk Lake at GAR and Blue Ridge at Bishop Hoban.
In girls basketball, four-time defending champion Forest City is seeded second behind Wyoming Valley Conference Division III champion Bishop OReilly and has a bye into the semifinals.
Montrose, Mountain View and Blue Ridge will all open tournament play Friday in Class AA.
Tie-breakers again make projections unofficial, but likely match-ups called for Wyoming Seminary at Montrose and Mountain View at Blue Ridge.
Victor said neutral sites for quarterfinals will be determined in meetings Thursday and Friday night and will be posted on the Web at www.piaa.org/District2 as soon as they are available.
In wrestling, the District 2 Class AA tournament is scheduled for Friday and Saturday at Scranton Prep.
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. Wins 46th Daytona 500
"This is the most awesome event in my life," said Dale Earnhardt, Jr. after winning the season opening Daytona 500, Sunday, February 15.
Earnhardt was clearly the fans choice. As he took the lead from Tony Stewart for the last time during lap 181, almost the entire 200,000 fans in attendance stood and cheered.
"The 8 car was the class of the field," said second-place finisher Tony Stewart.
Stewart led the most laps (97), but it was Earnhardts No. 8 that moved to the front of the field as the laps began to wind down in the 200-lap race. Stewart tired, but he was never able to get close enough to make a run and finished three car-lengths back.
His father, Dale, Sr. won his only Daytona 500 in 1998 after 20 tries. Dale, Jr. got his first win the fifth time.
"I was taught so many lessons by this place before I ever got behind the wheel," Earnhardt said. "I'm glad I don't have to worry about (winning the 500) anymore. That's awesome."
There have only been two other father/son wins in the Daytona 500. They are Lee and Richard Petty, and Bobby and Davey Allison.
"We kept working on the car, throwing combination after combinations together, and I am so proud of my team," continued Stewart. "We ran a good race, and he (Dale Jr.) and I have worked together for three years on the restrictor-plate races.
"As long as we can run one-two, thats O.K. He got his today, Ill get mine next year."
Rookie Scott Wimmer held on for a surprising third-place finish. He briefly held the lead after gambling on his final pit stop taking only two tires but he didn't have enough grip to hold on.
Wimmer still faces drunken-driving charges after crashing a team truck last month. NASCAR, which has a zero-tolerance policy on substance abuse, hasn't decided whether to punish the driver.
Rookie Scott Wimmer, Kevin Harvick, and Jimmie Johnson rounded out the top-five.
A multi-car melee eliminated Michael Waltrip, Jamie McMurray and Ryan Newman from contention on lap 71.
The accident began as Johnny Sauter, Brian Vickers and Waltrip ran three-wide coming out of turn 2. Sauter got a bit loose entering the back straightway and slid up the track into Vickers, who then slid up into defending Daytona 500 champion Waltrip.
Waltrip slammed into the outside retaining wall, slid across the track, flipped several times and ended up on his roof in the infield grass.
"When the car stopped, I was pinned bad," Waltrip said. "I felt like I was in a box and I couldn't get out. I didn't appreciate the way the safety crews were going about it and I was trying to tell them just to turn the car over.
"I'd already flipped 10 times or five times or two times I don't know how many times. All they had to do was flip it back over and I could get out. They were cutting bars.
"The whole car was on top of me. I dont know what bar they thought they were going to cut that would have alleviated the hole I was in."
The 12 cars that were involved in the wreck, included John Andretti, Kevin LePage, Terry Labonte, Scott Riggs, Newman, Waltrip, Vickers, Sauter, Robby Gordon, Sterling Marlin, McMurray and Kenny Schrader.
Fast qualifier Greg Biffle and team changed an engine in his No. 16 National Guard Ford and he had to take up tail end when the race started. He finished 12th.
The Ford cars that had been so strong during practice did not make the top-five. Elliott Sadler drove the highest finishing Ford, which was seventh.
Top ten finishing order: 1. Dale Earnhardt Jr., 2. Tony Stewart, 3. Scott Wimmer, 4. Kevin Harvick, 5. Jimmie Johnson, 6. Joe Nemechek, 7. Elliott Sadler, 8. Jeff Gordon, 9. Matt Kenseth, 10. Dale Jarrett.
Top-10 points leaders after 1 of 36 races: 1. Earnhardt Jr.-185, 2. Stewart-180, 3. Wimmer-170, 4. Harvick-165, 5. Johnson-160, 6. Nemechek-150, 7. J. Gordon-147, 8. Sadler-146, 9. Kenseth-143, 10. Jarrett-134.
EDWARDS Being Groomed To Replace Martin Carl Edwards, winner of last Fridays NASCAR Craftsman Truck series race is being groomed to replace Mark Martin.
In post-race interviews after Edwards victory in the Florida Dodge Dealers 250, team owner Jack Roush said Edwards was the "heir apparent" to the No. 6 Viagra Ford driven by Martin.
Roush said young Edwards would spend two more seasons, either in the trucks or Busch series before moving to the Nextel Cup level and replacing Martin, who would be retiring at the end of the 2006 season.
Vote For Your Favorite Fan Friday the 13th was the start of a "lucky" season for one NASCAR Nextel Cup driver not on the track, but on-line as the 2004 Grands!® Biscuits NMPA NASCAR Most Popular Driver Award officially opens at www.mostpopulardriver.com.
Once again this year, racing fans can log onto the site and vote for their favorite driver. More than 40 eligible driver names are listed, with bios and team information. At the end of the season, the driver with the most fan votes will be deemed most popular.
Last season Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the 2003 award, taking a majority of the 3 million votes cast last year at www.mostpopulardriver.com.
The Web site, www.mostpopulardriver.com, is available for Internet voting now. Voting will continue through 11:59 a.m. CST on Monday, November 22. Additional voting guidelines are accessible on the Web site.
The Most Popular Driver Award dates back to 1956. It began as a simple poll of the drivers and grew to incorporate all NASCAR Nextel Cup competitors. Later, it included all NASCAR members. Today, its a prestigious award voted on by racing fans nationwide. Through the years, voters choices have ranged from the obvious to the surprising.
Bill Elliotts 16 most popular wins tops all drivers. He is followed by Richard Petty, who has won nine times. Dale Earnhardt, Jr.s win in 2003 made him and his father, the late Dale Earnhardt, the only father-son combination to have won the award. Other past winners have included such notables as Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip.
The NASCAR Busch and Nextel Cup drivers are at Rockingham, NC. The Craftsman Truck series does not race again until March 13.
Saturday, February 21, Busch Series Goodys Headache Powders 200, race 2 of 34, 197 laps/200 miles, 12:30 p.m. TV: FX Channel.
Sunday, February 22, Nextel Cup Subway 400, race 2 of 36, 393 laps/400 miles, 1 p.m. TV: Fox.
Racing Trivia Question: Which Nextel Cup drivers must display a yellow stripe on the rear bumper of their car?
Last Weeks Question: Currently NASCAR has seven flags that may be displayed during a race, but during the 1960s and 70s, they used an eighth flag that consisted of yellow/red vertical stripes. Answer. The yellow/red vertical striped flag was used to signify oil or debris on the track.
If you would like to read additional racing stories by the Gerald Hodges/ the Racing Reporter, go to: www.race500.com, or mail him at P. O. Box 160711, Mobile, AL 36616.
Each year we look back at which drivers were on top and those who never made it far from the bottom. And this year, we will look at who might be in the top-10 come November.
Matt Kenseths smooth, laid back, steady racing style earned him the 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup Championship. He earned just one victory, which was the March race at Las Vegas, but he wound up with 25 top-10 finishes, enough to earn him his first title.
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowes Chevrolet also had a lot of consistency. He put together three wins and 20 top-10s on the way to the runner-up finish. As a member of Hendrick Motorsports, Johnson had the best in equipment as well as advice from teammate and four-time champion Jeff Gordon.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. has become the most popular driver on the NASCAR circuit. Even though he wound up third in the final points, his team lacked something that all championship teams must have.
He has practically dominated Talladega, but a sluggish start, and poor ending dropped him back to third.
After a 24th-place finish at the season-ending race in Homestead, Earnhardt said, he was still proud of the team and would win the championship in 2004.
During a news conference in October at Martinsville, Earnhardt said to be on his team you had to be his friend, buddy, and like to party with him.
Here is a young man that has everything going for him; looks, money, name, and talent, but he has some more growing up to do before he takes home the championship. He must shed some of his childish ego and be more responsible to other members of his team.
Handling everything during a race was great for his dad, but racing has changed. When Dale Sr. raced, more emphasis was placed on the driver. Now it is team work and pit strategy.
The day of drivers operating by the seat of their pants, and calling all the shots are gone. Its the day of computers, engineers, fuel strategy, and quick pit times.
Earnhardt had a great organization in 2003, and to finish third means someone fizzled.
The No. 8 team will be a contender in 2004, but not champions.
Jeff Gordon had three wins, but he had to work hard to get fourth. He said he was happy with fourth, which proves one of two things; either the competition has increased tremendously, or Gordons team has fallen off its past pace.
Kevin Harvick is a young driver that is hard to figure out. After stepping into Dale Earnhardts ride with Richard Childress in 2001, he won at Atlanta and gained everybodys respect.
In 2002, he show his temper, even wrecking another driver in a truck race, but this past season, things got a little better. During the first half of the season he only had middle of the field finishes, plus a run-in with teammate Robby Gordon after the Sears Point race.
He was up to second in the points, but I think he was lucky to come in fifth.
Ryan Newman was the hot driver in my mind. He started off the season with a bad wreck at Daytona which put him 43rd. He bounced back with a win at Texas, and then had a 26th at Talladega after cutting a tire.
With 11 poles and eight wins, how can you not say he will be a contender in 2004?
Tony Stewart didnt win his first race in 2003 until the Pocono 500 in June. We think he went into the season trying not to repeat the previous years emotional problems and attitudes, and this left him flat.
Stewart is a champion and a first rate driver, but car owner, Joe Gibbs has accepted a job as a full time coach in the NFL. With Gibbs not being around to hold the reins on his prima donna, I dont see another championship from the No. 20 team this season.
Kurt Busch was another arrogant driver that thought he had NASCAR by the tail after the 2002 season. He won four races, but inconsistencies and run in's with other drivers dragged him down. He ended the season 11th, a drop of eight spots from 2002.
Sterling Marlin was the leader in points for most of 2002 until he was sidelined with a neck injury. He failed to win or even score a top-five finish and wound up 18th in the final points.
Dale Jarretts No. 88 team was probably one of the major disappointments of the year. The 1999 champion made three major crew chief changes, but even that failed to help and he finish the season in 26th spot.
Mark Martin, who finished just 38 points behind Tony Stewart in the chase for the 2002 championship had no poles or wins last season. His 17th place points finish was dismal to say the least.
Rusty Wallace hasnt won a race since April 2001, and the best thing that can be said about him is he has started his own Busch team.
Petty Enterprises has some of the biggest sponsors in the business, but one of the poorest records of any team. Kyle Petty finished 37th, with no top-10s. John Andretti was replaced with Christian Fittipaldi, who was replaced by Jeff Green.
For all teams, this is the time of year when they have a clean slate. They can start over and make 2004 better.
For some teams like Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Newman, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Bobby Labonte, they need to do only a little more tweaking or experience some racing luck.
Many drivers like Dale Jarrett, Ricky Rudd, Elliott Sadler, Jeff Burton and others did not perform at the level expected in 2003. So for them to return to the level of respectability, they must show signs of progress.
There are a growing number of young guns in NASCAR that have good equipment and first rate teams to back them up. Drivers like Jamie McMurray, Kasey Kahne, Casey Mears, and Tony Raines will make their presence felt.
All drivers believe that when they go out on Sunday they can win. And all of them will work hard to do so. The year is ahead of them.
Lets get ready to race and for the many surprises in store for us in 2004.
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