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Carbondale - The methods used were distinctly different, but the Montrose boys' and girls' teams each eventually emerged as Lackawanna League Division III basketball champions.
The Lady Meteors immediately established themselves as the division's best team - assuming that was not a given before the season even started - and crushed most of their opponents on the way to a perfect league record. Montrose was 14-0 in division play, 18-0 including the crossover games that count to district seedings, and took a 22-1 overall record into Monday night's non-league finale against Western Wayne.
The Meteors suffered a tough loss to eventual first-half champion Susquehanna early in the league season. Montrose bounced back to win the second-half title in a well-balanced division despite losing three league games, including the last game after a spot in the championship had been clinched.
After scoring the game's first 13 points and leading by 17 in the second and third quarters, the Meteors again had some tough times on the way to a 67-61 victory over Susquehanna in Friday night's championship game at Carbondale.
The Sabers, who also lost four times in league play, rallied to tie. Foul trouble for Kevin Lee, the game's leading scorer and the leader of the third-quarter comeback, slowed the momentum, but Susquehanna made one last surge late in the game before Montrose came away as division champion.
BOYS' TITLE GAME
Tom Burgh led the championship victory with his pressure defense that included several steals directly off the dribble at the top of the Susquehanna offense.
Burgh finished with 20 points and seven steals despite missing the entire second quarter. He sat out until halftime after being poked in the eye late in the first quarter, then returned to score 11 points and make five of his steals in the second half.
While Lee sat on the bench, Montrose scored the first six points of the fourth quarter to take a 58-50 lead.
Lee, who finished with 21 points, hit four straight free throws to cap an 11-5 surge that brought Susquehanna within, 63-61, with 1:16 left.
Montrose broke Susquehanna's pressure for Brandon Pipher's layup with 1:10 left then Burgh and Justin Marbaker each hit one of two free throws in the final 11 seconds.
Each of Montrose's five starters produced at least seven points and made other contributions.
Chris Strohl finished with 13 points and eight rebounds. Kyle Stoddard added 11 points, five rebounds and three assists. Adriance had nine points, eight rebounds and three assists. Marbaker had seven points, 11 rebounds and five steals.
Lee had 10 rebounds, three assists and three steals to go along with his 21 points. Freshmen Brent Keyes (12 points) and Kirk Fallon (11 points, six rebounds, four assists) also scored in double figures.
Sean Wolf grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds, including 10 in the second half when he led the Sabers to a 27-16 advantage on the boards.
The Sabers needed to establish that control inside after the Meteors dominated in every way early in the game.
Montrose got all of its points in the lane - 10 baskets and one resulting free throw to complete a Burgh three-point play - on the way to a 21-7 lead.
Burgh's three-point play completed the 13-0 run in the first five minutes. Burgh had five points after Strohl scored the first four in the game's opening run.
Burgh finished the quarter with nine points.
After the Meteors scored the final six points of the first quarter, Matt Lopez opened the second with a 3-pointer for a 24-7 lead, the first of three 17-point advantages.
The Sabers closed within nine twice in the second quarter, 27-18 on a 3-pointer by Ernie Taylor with 3:35 left and 33-24 on two foul shots by Lee with 1:22 left.
Susquehanna coach Scott Glidden chose to keep Lee in with three fouls for the final 1:53 of the half and Lee responded with an assist and the two free throws, but Montrose came back with the final seven points of the half.
After Stoddard hit a long 3-pointer with a second left, the Meteors headed to the locker room with a 40-24 lead.
Susquehanna put together its first extended run to come all the way back and tie the game in the third quarter. The Sabers recovered from the last of the 17-point deficits with a 22-5 run to a 47-47 tie with 1:10 left.
Adam Schiffer started the run on a 3-pointer from the right side and finished it with a basket in transition and a tip-in. In between, Lee scored 10 points and set up another basket while Keyes added four points.
Marbaker turned a rebound into two free throws and Burgh drove for a three-point play to put Montrose back ahead to stay.
Fallon closed the third quarter with a 3-pointer from the left corner to bring the Sabers back within, 52-50.
GIRLS UNBEATEN IN LEAGUE
The Lady Meteors wrapped up their championship appropriately, winning their final two league games by a total of 60 points.
The clincher came in a 49-30 victory over Lackawanna Trail, the second-place team in the division.
Kate LaBarbera, who scored her 1,000th career point earlier in the week, led the win over Trail with 13 points and five steals.
Chelsey Parvin added 10 points and 12 rebounds while Erika Brown had five assists. Amanda Lass blocked three shots.
Erika Brown had 14 points in the earlier win, 60-19 over Forest City.
LaBarbera hit her milestone and finished with seven points.
Montrose led, 24-3, at the end of the first quarter.
WEEK IN REVIEW
Susquehanna defeated Mountain View, 40-27, Friday night to finish in a three-way tie for first place in Lackawanna League Division II wrestling.
The Sabers joined Elk Lake and Scranton Prep at 6-1 in the division, forcing a wrestleoff for the division championship. The title will be decided Thursday at Blue Ridge at 6 when the three teams will go against each other in simultaneous dual meets staggered to start at different weight classes.
Nathan Huyck picked up a forfeit win at 140 pounds, giving him Susquehanna's school record of 95 career wins.
Tim Redington won a major decision and the Sabers took advantage of six forfeits.
Matt Panasevich and Chad Smith had pins while Greg Nixon added a technical fall for Mountain View.
In boys' basketball, Montrose finished 6-1 in the second half. Mountain View wound up in a second-place tie with Lackawanna Trail at 5-2. Susquehanna and Forest City tied for fourth at 4-3. Elk Lake and Forest City went 2-5, while Sacred Heart was winless.
In girls' basketball, Whitney Williams hit eight 3-pointers while scoring 27 points as Mountain View defeated Elk Lake, 49-34.
Beth Kubus and Bridgette Stone scored 20 points each as Susquehanna defeated Elk Lake, 47-38.
Montrose finished the second half with a 7-0 record, while Forest City was third at 4-3, behind second-place Lackawanna Trail (5-2). Elk Lake, Blue Ridge and Susquehanna were 3-4, Mountain View was 2-5 and Sacred Heart was 1-6.
In professional hockey, the Binghamton Senators arrived at the all-star break with a one-point lead in the American Hockey League East Division standings over the second-place Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
Nicole Zapolski became the first basketball player in Keystone College history to grab 1,000 career rebounds when she reached the milestone in a February 7 game.
The senior from Mountain View had already passed the 1,000 mark in career points before reaching that total in rebounds during a 52-46 victory over Lycoming College.
Keystone added another win later in the week to improve to 17-5.
Zapolski leads the team with 10.5 rebounds per game and is second on the team in scoring with 13.2 points, ranking behind only another Mountain View graduate, Julie Lasher.
THE WEEK AHEAD
The Montrose-Susquehanna division championship game had a big impact on the seeding for the District 2 basketball tournaments, which open this weekend.
As the only division champion in the Class AA boys' field, Montrose claims the top seed.
Without a division title, Susquehanna is seeded on record and head-to-head results with other contenders and falls all the way to the eighth seed in what may be the strongest District 2 Class A boys' field ever. The seven teams ahead of the Sabers combined for league records of 80-22 despite playing about half their games against larger schools.
Official pairings were scheduled to be released Monday afternoon, after presstime.
Montrose should open at home Wednesday against winless Wilkes-Barre Meyers in the district's open tournament format.
Mountain View is one of five teams with .500 league records meaning it will be seeded anywhere from seventh to 10th. That group of teams, which includes Wyoming Valley Conference members Wilkes-Barre GAR, Hanover Area, Wyoming Seminary and Lake-Lehman, will meet each other in two games and one will host 11th-seeded Blue Ridge.
Forest City will be at Susquehanna in Class A with the winner getting a Friday neutral court quarterfinal game against Pittston Seton Catholic, which went undefeated in Division III of the WVC.
The Class AA boys' quarterfinals are also scheduled for Friday.
In girls' basketball, Carbondale and Montrose are each 18-0 division champions in Class AA. Montrose will either get the top seed and a first-round bye or the second seed and a Thursday matchup with winless Wilkes-Barre GAR.
Elk Lake is seeded ninth and will start on the road Thursday against Hanover Area. Blue Ridge is 10th and Mountain View is 11th meaning road games for each at either Wyoming Seminary, Dunmore or Lakeland.
Susquehanna gets a Thursday opening-round home game in Class A against Bishop O'Hara. Forest City has a bye until a neutral court game Friday against Bishop Hafey or Old Forge.
TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached online at RobbyTR@aol.com.
JARRETT Is On Pole For Daytona 500
Daytona Beach, FL – Three-time Daytona 500 winner, Dale Jarrett, driver of the No. 88 UPS Ford will start on the pole for Sunday’s Daytona 500. He had a qualifying time of 47.793-seconds, or 188.312 miles per hour around the 2.5 mile track.
Jimmie Johnson, the winner of Saturday night’s Bud Shootout will be on the outside pole. His time of 47.829 seconds (188.170 mph) was only .054-seconds faster than his teammate, Jeff Gordon, who came in third.
While Jarrett and Johnson are locked into the two front row starting positions for Sunday’s Daytona 500, Gordon and the other 55 drivers that attempted to qualify for the two top spots will have to run qualifying races on Thursday to determine their starting position.
Fast Pit Stop Gives JOHNSON Shootout Win, Daytona Beach, FL – Jimmie Johnson’s No. 48 Lowe’s crew gave him a quick pit stop that allowed him to gain the lead from Ryan Newman with only 16 laps remaining in Saturday’s 70 lap race, and hold on for a 0.199-second victory.
It is Johnson’s first Bud Shootout victory, who finished second by only eight points to Kurt Busch last season, and it earned him an entry into all future Shootouts as an active driver.
Johnson’s teammate, Jeff Gordon, finished third in the caution-free event followed by Tony Stewart and Greg Biffle.
Biffle, driving the No. 16 National Guard Ford led the most laps (44), but fell behind Johnson after the race’s only pit stop.
“At the end, it mattered most who came out first on that pit stop, and my guys got us out ahead of him (Biffle,” said Johnson.
“He had a great car and when he was leading I really couldn’t get a run on him. I knew that once I got the lead, he wasn’t going to be able to get around me. It’s just too hard to pass the leader.”
Top ten finishing order: 1. Jimmie Johnson, 2. Ryan Newman, 3. Jeff Gordon, 4. Tony Stewart, 5. Greg Biffle, 6. Kurt Busch, 7. Dale Earnhardt Jr., 8. Mark Martin, 9. Kasey Kahne, 10. Bobby Labonte.
GERHART Wins Daytona Arca Race – ARCA RE/MAX Series veteran Bobby Gerhart, in his own Lucas Oil Chevrolet, won the crash-filled Advance Discount Auto Parts 200 Saturday at Daytona Int'l Speedway.
It was Gerhart's third victory at Daytona, tying him with Iggy Katona for the most wins at Daytona.
Gerhart also led the most laps in the race, which was shortened in order to deal with a variety of multi-car wrecks and repairs.
The race was red-flagged on lap 24 to make repairs to the catch-fence after Clair Zimmerman got airborne on the front stretch and crashed. Due to the repairs and the impending Bud Shootout, the race was shortened to 65 laps from the scheduled 80.
Six-time series champion Frank Kimmel, in the Advance Auto Parts-Pork Ford, finished second for the second consecutive season after starting 41st.
JJ Yeley, in a Shaver Motorsports/Joe Gibbs Racing entry, finished third in his career-first RE/MAX Series start in the Joe Gibbs Performance Racing Oil Chevrolet.
Rookie Mike Guerity, in the Hantz Group Dodge, finished a career-best fourth in front of Hagans, who finished fifth in the Eagle Creek Aviation Dodge.
Top-10 Arca Re/Max Series Points After Daytona: 1. Bobby Gerhart 250; 2. Frank Kimmel 220; 3. JJ Yeley 215; 4) Mike Guerity 210; 5. Matt Hagans 210; 6. TJ Bell 200; 7. Joey Miller 195; 8. Mike Harmon 190; 9. Jeff Spraker 185; 10. Norm Benning 180.
The next event for the ARCA RE/MAX Series will be March 26th at Nashville Superspeedway with the PFG Lester 150. The race is LIVE on SPEED Channel at 1:30 p.m. Eastern.
New Engines & Body Styles Are Coming – Will this be the last year of the big Cup engines?
NASCAR is looking at reducing the amount of horsepower Cup cars now have, along with a single, new aerodynamics package for all cars.
“We are definitely looking at reducing horsepower, but to what level is unclear."
Cutting 100 horsepower "wouldn't be a bad idea," said John Darby, NASCAR's director of competition.
Currently, Darby is also baby-sitting two new, controversial projects, the "car of the future" and the "engine of the future."
The car of the future is a long-running project that features a bigger greenhouse, designed to better protect a driver, particularly his head. The first model was at first tentatively expected to show up this fall at Martinsville, beginning a gradual phase-in on the tour.
The engine of the future is a still-fledging project, basically designed to keep Toyota and Honda engine designers working inside a Detroit-mandated box of specs.
The car-changeover project, some team owners say, would cost teams around $70 million, and they say that the engine changeover would cost about as much. Each team carries an inventory of about 20 cars and 30 engines.
So some team owners are balking at spending more money, and they point out that there is no secondary market for old Cup equipment.
Considering the proposed engine changeover, Darby suggests using the Busch and Truck series as dumping grounds for teams' excess inventory.
A major problem, which NASCAR has had trouble handling, particularly with Toyota, is the introduction of more exotic alloys. It is unclear if NASCAR and Detroit executives are coming to any agreement on that expensive issue.
But Darby says that just about everything is on the table: "NASCAR, trying to be good partners, is asking for suggestions - do we go smaller in size (than the 358 c.i. Cup standard since 1975) ... unleaded fuel is in front of us ... let's talk about the whole thing."
Thursday, February 17, The Twin 150s, qualifying races for starting positions in Sunday’s Daytona 500, 12 noon on FX Channel.
Friday, February 18, Craftsman Truck Series Dodge Dealers 250, 7 p.m. on Speed Channel.
Saturday, February 19, Busch Series Hershey’s Take 5, 1 p.m. on Fox.
Sunday, February 20, Daytona 500, race 1 of 36, 1 p.m., 200 laps/500 miles. TV: Fox
The Daytona 500 is known as NASCAR’s Super Bowl, or the Great American Race. Unlike other sports, NASCAR opens its season with its biggest event.
The duo of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Michael Waltrip has won five of the last eight Cup races at Daytona, including the last two Daytona 500's.
Racing Trivia Question: Which team will Dave Blaney be driving for this season?
Last Week’s Question: What year did Dale Earnhardt Sr. win the Daytona 500?
Answer. His only Daytona win was in 1998.
You may read additional stories by the Racing Reporter at www.race500.com.
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