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Some Lackawanna League Division III rivals have a history of recent success.
Others have key experienced players returning.
None of the other teams in the division, however, have the combination of the two that Montrose possesses.
The Lady Meteors entered the season as the division's overwhelming favorite and did nothing to hurt that status before the holiday break.
Montrose reached Christmas unbeaten in the league and overall.
Two years ago, sophomores Kate LaBarbera and Erika Brown and freshman Chelsey Parvin were started on a team that reached the second round of the state Class AA tournament.
LaBarbera's return for a fourth year as starter and Brown and Parvin's third seasons in the starting lineup give Montrose a three-player combination that is unmatched in the division.
"Kate has always done what is asked; whatever the team needs," Montrose coach John Cherundolo said of LaBarbera, who originally played a forward spot as a freshman before playing both guard positions by the end of that season.
All three veterans have averaged in double figures in scoring and could do so again this season. Montrose's scoring is usually balanced with leadership depending on how defenses try to play the Lady Meteors.
"We also have eight other girls who can fill in depending on the situation," Cherundolo said. "We have height, speed and a lot of guts."
That combination leaves the Lady Meteors confident as they pursue a demanding schedule outside of league play. They have already beaten perennial District 4 Class AAA contender Athens and could face both Scranton and Riverside in a holiday tournament this week before meeting unbeaten defending Lackawanna League Division I champion North Pocono January 14.
"I want us to face all the best teams," Cherundolo said.
Such a schedule may mean sacrificing a few losses along the way, but it could also get the Lady Meteors prepared for another state tournament berth.
"When we went two years ago, the girls remembered that," Cherundolo said. "Last year, we didn't get there."
Of the 11 players on the roster, eight are coming off a state tournament appearance in soccer when they won the District 2 Class AA title under Cherundolo.
"Any time you can win any championship, its good for the school and good for your confidence as athletes," Cherundolo said.
The three veteran basketball leaders were also prominent in the soccer championship.
They are joined in the starting lineup by Christine Brown and Amanda Lass.
Brown, a sophomore, often handles the point guard duties in order to try to take advantage of LaBarbera's abilities as a scorer.
Ashley Jones and Brittany Ely also play guard, leading a deep bench.
"I like to think our program is one of the top in the area now," Cherundolo said. "Our JV team hasn't lost in the last two years and our junior high loses about as often as I diet."
Lackawanna Trail made it to the break tied with Montrose for first place.
Mountain View won two of its first three league games and features Whitney Williams, the county's top scoring threat, but the Lady Eagles were unable to put up a challenge against the Lady Meteors in their first meeting.
Forest City and Blue Ridge may have taken a step back after playoff appearances a year ago.
Elk Lake and Susquehanna each send out a team full of experienced starters, but they combined to lose more than 80 percent of their games last season.
Susquehanna's Beth Kubus has been one of the division's top scorers early in the season and Bridgette Stone has been effective shooting from 3-point range.
WEEK IN REVIEW
Susquehanna knocked off Montrose in boys' basketball to start the week, setting in motion a series of results that led to Division III of the Lackawanna League to feature a four-way tie for first at the end of the week.
The Sabers and Meteors are in that tie along with Elk Lake and Lackawanna Trail.
Kevin Lee scored 24 points and grabbed 11 rebounds while Brent Keyes added 23 points as Susquehanna dumped Montrose, 73-71.
Kyle Adriance and Tom Burgh scored 19 each for Montrose in the loss.
Montrose's first division loss left Lackawanna Trail alone in first place, but Elk Lake changed that Thursday with a 61-55 victory over the Lions.
The Meteors bounced back and the Sabers won again, leaving all four teams at 3-1 heading into the holiday break.
Susquehanna defeated Carbondale Sacred Heart, 67-61, as Lee piled up 30 points and 17 rebounds. Sean Wolf added 13 points.
Montrose defeated Blue Ridge, 75-61. Burgh scored 18 points while Justin Marbaker, Chris Strohl and Brandon Pipher added 12. Marbaker had nine steals and Burgh had eight.
Nick Pease led Blue Ridge with 15 points.
Mountain View recovered from an 0-2 start to win two games and move into fifth place.
In girls' basketball, Montrose remained undefeated by handling Susquehanna and Blue Ridge in league games then defeating state-ranked Bishop O'Reilly, 60-54, in a matchup of unbeatens.
Chelsey Parvin scored 23 points and Kate LaBarbera added 11 against Bishop O'Reilly. The Lady Meteors opened a 35-22 lead at halftime.
Parvin had 14 points, 14 rebounds and four blocked shots in a 62-28 win over Susquehanna. LaBarbera scored 24 points in a 60-26 romp over Blue Ridge.
In professional hockey, the Binghamton Senators won three of their last four games before the holiday break to move into a tie for third in the American Hockey League East Division with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, one point behind the Norfolk Admirals.
The Senators arrived at the break with momentum. They ripped the Albany River Rats, 8-2, Wednesday at the Broome County Arena to tie two team records and break another.
Jason Spezza, Chris Kelly and Brian McGrattan scored two goals each.
The Senators scored five times in the second period and five times on special teams while taking 48 shots for the game.
Brian Pothier had three assists.
Kristy Shadduck, a 6-foot-1 junior center from Elk Lake, has been in and out of the starting lineup in her three years on the women's basketball team at Lock Haven University.
Shadduck may be back in a starting spot when the season resumes after the holiday. In her last game before the break, Shadduck started and went 3-for-6 from the floor while making both free throws. She finished with eight points, four rebounds, a steal and a blocked shot in a 55-47 loss to Anderson-Broaddus College.
In six games, including three starts, Shadduck is 10-for-23 from the floor and 3-for-6 from the line. She is sixth on the team with 3.8 points per game while grabbing 16 rebounds, making four steals, blocking one shot and dishing out one assist.
As a freshman, Shadduck started in seven of her 17 games and averaged 6.9 points and 4.6 rebounds.
Last season, Shadduck started in three of her 21 games and averaged 3.1 points and 2.9 rebounds. She was second on the team with 11 blocked shots.
Lock Haven, a Division II school that is a member of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference, is 0-6.
THE WEEK AHEAD
The Tunkhannock Kiwanis Wrestling Tournament concludes Wednesday.
The tournament, which was scheduled to begin Tuesday, includes Montrose and Mountain View.
TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached online at RobbyTR@aol.com.
JOHNSON’S Atlanta Win Top 2004 NASCAR Event
Daytona Beach, FL – A year filled with changes, history and exciting “firsts” left no shortage of memories during NASCAR’s 2004 season.
But one moment does stand out, as selected by members of the media.
Jimmie Johnson’s October 31 win at Atlanta not only kept him in contention for the inaugural “Chase,” it helped jump-start healing for Hendrick Motorsports, which had been shaken by a team plane crash the previous week. As a result, Johnson’s win was selected by the media as the top 2004 NASCAR moment.
A total of 153 votes were cast in week-long balloting, which began December 15 and ended December 22. Johnson’s win received 31 percent of the voting, tops over the next-closest moment.
Kurt Busch overcame a detached right front tire in the season-finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway to clinch the 2004 series title on the season’s last lap. Busch’s feat received 22 percent of the voting.
Finishing third was Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Daytona 500 win, which received 17 percent of the voting. Finishing fourth was Jeremy Mayfield’s September 11 win at Richmond, the cutoff point for the Chase. Mayfield’s win, which earned him a berth in the Chase, received 10 percent of the voting.
Media voted Matt Kenseth’s photo finish with Raybestos Rookie of the Year Kasey Kahne at North Carolina Speedway on Feb. 22 as the fifth top moment of 2004. Kenseth’s and Kahne’s finish – Kenseth won – received eight percent of the voting.
NASCAR Teams Give Thanks – With one eye on 2005 and the season-opening Daytona 500, the NASCAR community embraced the December holidays. Engines were quiet. Facilities were at rest. It’s time to take deep breaths, enjoy friends and family, and – not the least – count blessings.
During the holidays, family overshadows racing. Beginning with NASCAR’s founding France family and extending through the years, generations of stock-car racing’s cornerstone families trace their interests and careers to the sport.
One such group is the Tennessee-native Marlins. Sterling Marlin, was introduced to the sport by his father, Coo Coo Marlin. Sterling Marlin introduced the sport to his son Steadman, who’s competed in the NASCAR Busch Series, and now a new generation of Marlins may be on the horizon. Steadman and his wife Mandy welcomed their first child, Stirlin Blaise, on March 21, and according to Sterling, the family Christmas will feature little Stirlin’s first holiday. All will be going to St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands for New Year’s celebrations.
Another new NASCAR arrival, Olivia Grace Compton, will be introduced to holiday traditions. Olivia’s dad, NASCAR Busch Series driver Stacy Compton and his wife Vickie welcomed Olivia, their first child, at 8:45 a.m. on December 7. Her father expects Olivia to meet Santa Claus on Christmas Eve since she enjoys being up all night long.
The 2004 Cup champion, Kurt Busch will celebrate with his parents, Tom and Gayle, and his younger brother Kyle, the Raybestos Rookie of the Year in the NASCAR Busch Series. But there’s a twist – they’ll do it in their new home state of North Carolina.
“This will be the first Christmas that my entire family will be on the east coast,” Kyle said. “We have finally all moved here from Las Vegas. So we will be hanging out, spending time with family and friends and eating some of my Mom’s awesome cooking for Christmas.”
The Cup Series Raybestos Rookie of the Year, Kasey Kahne, will do the opposite this holiday season – he’ll head for the west coast. Kahne, who hails from Enumclaw, Wash., will enjoy a northwest holiday through January 3.
Joe Nemechek, and his wife Andrea are heading west, too, but they’ll stop in Sun Valley, Idaho. The Nemechek’s are taking son John Hunter, daughter Blair and eight-month-old daughter Kennedy Grace on a skiing holiday. Joe’s parents Joe Nemechek also are along, and the whole clan will stay at the ski lodge of Nelson Bowers, who owns MB2 Motorsports.
Busch Series driver David Green already has his Christmas present – a new car. Well, not really. Green will switch numbers and drive Brewco Motorsports’ No. 27 in 2005. Green and wife Diane plan a stay-at-home Christmas in North Carolina with daughter Kaylie Rae and son Austin.
And finally, Jamie McMurray, is spending his down time island-hopping. First, McMurray taped a segment on NBC’s “The West Wing,” late last week, and then flew to Hawaii for a three-day photo shoot for FOX Sports with Kasey Kahne. The duo will be featured in promos leading up to the season-opening Daytona 500 on February 20.
“I've never been to Hawaii, so I'm really looking forward it,” McMurray said. “I mean, if you're doing a promo shoot, I can't think of a better place to do it than Hawaii. After those two shoots, I'll be spending some time at home with my family before we gear back up for the 2005 season with January testing.”
That’s right, the annual preseason test sessions at Daytona International Speedway – is only a few weeks away. It begins Tuesday, January 11 through January 13 with teams that finished in odd-number car owner points. Craftsman Truck Series teams test from Jan. 15-16. Cup Series teams that finished in even-number car owner points test from January 18-20, and NASCAR Busch Series teams test from January 22-23.
For drivers like Ricky Rudd, who finished 24th in the point standings but enjoyed a late-season surge with the addition of new crew chief Michael “Fatback” McSwain, testing can’t get here fast enough.
And Rudd intends to be in the Top 10 in 2005.
“I think it is a very realistic goal and we are going to have to work hard for it,” Rudd said. ”But I feel like top 10 in the points at the cut off point is not impossible. I think it is a realistic goal.”
Racing Trivia Question: Who was the only driver to run full time in both the Busch and Cup series in 2004?
Last Week’s Question: Who is the 2004 NASCAR Busch Series champion? Answer. Martin Truex Jr.
Gerald Hodges/the Racing Reporter is a syndicated NASCAR columnist. You can read additional racing stories by Hodges at www.race500.com.
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