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The Montrose girls and Mountain View boys each completed unbeaten first-half championships in Lackawanna League Division III basketball.
Both teams need to either capture the second-half title or ultimately win a playoff to take the overall championship, but the 7-0 first halves continue impressive unbeaten stretches.
The Montrose girls were unbeaten in both halves last season, going 14-0 in division games and 18-0 counting the mandatory crossovers that are part of district seeding. The Mountain View boys are unbeaten in the division and overall, making them the only Lackawanna League team, boys' or girls' in any division to have a perfect overall record at this point.
After winning every first-half division game by a double-figures margin, Montrose coach John Cherundolo told his team at a weekend practice that its work is not over.
"Everybody's starting all over again," Cherundolo said. "We had a pretty easy time in the first half, but in the second half, they'll be gunning for us. They have nothing to lose. Everybody will be trying to get a better seed in districts. We're the team in the top spot with everything to lose."
Finding a way to beat the Lady Meteors, however, will not be easy for divisional opponents.
Montrose's usual tough defense combines with the division's best inside game.
Chelsey Parvin and Amanda Lass are each averaging about 12 points per game and nearly as many rebounds.
"Parvin and Lass have been dominating," Cherundolo said. "No one in our league has players who can match up with them.
"The guards have done a good job getting them the ball and making some shots to get them open."
Montrose's recent dominance in girls' basketball could continue. The JV team, which is coached by Teri O'Reilly, lost only one division game, to Forest City, in the first half. The eighth-grade team under John Blachek is 13-1 overall and the seventh-grade team under Kim Forys is 14-0.
"We have a good feeder program," Cherundolo said. "They keep making me great players and keep making me look good."
Mountain View has been building toward its success for the past four years.
The Eagles brought back a team that had the second-best division record last season, but did not win either half.
Junior point guard Robbie Johnson has been the Lackawanna League's top all-around player and the Eagles have shown outstanding balance and depth.
"We pride ourselves on going 12 deep," Mountain View coach Pat Heaton said.
The willingness to combine aggressive, hard-working defense with an offense that gets scoring from all five positions has made the Eagles the top team in the league and the fifth-ranked Class AA team in Pennsylvania, according to the Harrisburg Patriot-News. The unbeaten overall record includes non-league wins over Abington Heights, Bishop Hannan and Scranton Prep.
WEEK IN REVIEW
The Binghamton Senators had won 10 out of 14 games to continue a surge from the bottom of the American Hockey League East Division, but they found out Friday night that they are still not ready to match up with the league's top team.
The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins scored four goals in the second period, opening a six-goal lead on the way to a 6-2 victory at the Broome County Arena.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton set a team record with its 17th road win of the season, with the help of the team's first successful penalty shot by Rico Fata.
Penalties led to five of the Penguins' goals as the overly aggressive Senators were called for 111 minutes in penalties to 35 by the Penguins. Four other goals came on power plays.
Binghamton was called for four game misconducts, including one on coach Dave Cameron, who earned his ejection at the end of the second period.
Kurtis McLean, who matched a team record with five points in a game earlier in the week, had two assists for the Penguins.
Erik Christensen stretched his scoring streak to 10 games before having it broken the next night when the Penguins (32-6-3-1) suffered their worst loss of the season, 7-0, to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
In girls' basketball, Forest City and Blue Ridge joined Montrose with winning records in the first half.
Montrose finished 7-0, followed by: Carbondale 6-1, Forest City 5-2, Blue Ridge 4-3, Elk Lake 3-4, Mountain View 2-5, Susquehanna 1-6 and Lackawanna Trail 0-7.
In boys' basketball, Forest City finished third.
Mountain View was 7-0, followed by: Lackawanna Trail 6-1, Forest City 5-2, Blue Ridge 3-4, Susquehanna 3-4, Carbondale 3-4, Elk Lake 1-6, and Montrose 0-7.
In high school wrestling, three county teams combined to go 2-15 at the Lackawanna Trail Duals Saturday. Montrose and Susquehanna each went 1-5 while Mountain View was 0-5.
Ridgway defeated Abington Heights, 39-30, for the tournament championship and West Scranton came in third.
Dana Bennett, a sophomore center from Forest City, has been the clear leader of the Wilson College women's basketball team.
Bennett, who has started all 11 games for the 5-6 Phoenix, leads the team in most statistical categories. She is Wilson's leader in scoring (15.2 per game), rebounding (9.5 per game), field goals (71), field goal attempts (136), field goal percentage (.522), free throws (25), free throw attempts (43) and blocked shots (20).
Bennett went 12-for-19 for 24 points while adding 11 rebounds and three blocked shots during a 59-55 win over Gallaudet College in December. During that week, she had 37 points, 26 rebounds, seven blocked shots, four steals and three assists in two games to earn ECAC Player of the Week honors. Wilson is 1-2 as a member of the Atlantic Women's Colleges Conference.
In addition to her basketball success, Bennett is also a starter on the Wilson College soccer team.
THE WEEK AHEAD
The Binghamton Senators play at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins Sunday.
In high school wrestling, Elk Lake is at Scranton Prep January 31 in a meeting between the two Lackawanna League Group B co-leaders. The match could decide the division title.
TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached online at RobbyTR@aol.com.
A WOMAN NAMED “LOU” – When Bill France Sr. sought out ways to increase the attendance at his local racing shows, before founding NASCAR, he decided to look for a woman racer.
That woman turned out to be Louise Smith of Greenville, SC.
Smith, who became the first woman inducted into the International Motor Sports Hall of Fame, in Talladega, Ala., got her start in racing in 1945 when France Sr. came to Greenville looking for a crowd-pleasing race promotion. He found it in Smith, then 29, who had a reputation for outrunning the police.
After racing on local tracks, she sneaked off to Daytona in February, 1947, to see if she could tame the famed beach course. She planned to use her husband’s Ford Coupe, and hid a special engine in the trunk.
Never having raced on the sandy beach before, she was following a line of cars through the north turn, when there was a seven-car pileup.
“I hit the back end of one of them, went up in the air, cut a tire and landed on my top,” she said. “The cops were standing next to an old wooden grandstand, and they ran over, turned the car back on its wheels, and I finished the race 13th.
“I couldn’t take the car back home in that condition, so I drove it as far north as Augusta, GA, and left it at a garage for repairs.”
After arriving home on the bus, her husband asked her where the car was.
Her explanation did not convince her husband, who pulled out a local Greenville newspaper. The front page headline read, ‘Louise Smith Wrecks at Daytona.’
Smith had fallen in love with the sport and though her husband refused to watch her race or approve, there was always help waiting at the track in the form of a couple of his mechanics from the family auto-related business.
“I won a lot of races, crashed a lot too, and broke just about every bone in my body,” she said during a 1996 interview. “But I gave it all I had.”
Smith was born in Barnesville Georgia in 1916 with her first foray behind the wheel ending up in disaster underneath the chicken coup on her family’s farm in Greenville. She knew how to step on the gas pedal but didn’t think about the stopping. Even though the car was a wreck and her father mad, this skill would later prove helpful throughout her career.
In a 1946 race at Greenville-Pickens, France Sr. sought the advice of locals for a woman driver to boost attendance and was told of the terror to the local law officials, often outrunning them during a chase.
Louise finished third in that first race, however, she didn’t realize that the checked flag signaled the end of the race so she kept on whizzing around the track until someone throw a red flag, the one she was told that meant stop.
She was notorious for some of her wrecks with one in particular nearly ending her life. At Hillsborough one year she crashed her car and it took over thirty minutes to cut her free. She ended up with four pins in her knee and required forty eight stitches to close the wounds.
Her career spanned from 1945-1956, with 38 wins over the 11 years. She often competed against the true legends of early Stock Car racing, Lee Petty, Buck Baker, the Flock Brothers, and more, but all came to respect her talent for driving, even dubbing her the “Good Ol’ Gal”.
What makes her accomplishments even greater is that she competed at tracks from Florida to Montreal, Canada, not as a power puff for the show, but as a real, hard charger with the passion for winning. You often had to fight for what you had gained and she told the story of how she had to pawn her diamond ring in Summerville, SC, to get her crew released from the local jail after a free-for-all in a restaurant.
After retiring in 1956 she remained active within the community and is affiliated with the Living Legends Club in Daytona and The Old Timer’s racing club in North Carolina.
Louise Smith was duly recognized for her importance to the sport with her induction into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame at Talladega in 1999 after several nomination attempts. A true pioneer not only in sports but for the women who would follow, Louise has complained about not being able to walk that well anymore but still she remains very comfortable behind the wheel.
NASCAR IS ROCKING AND ROLLING – NASCAR appears headed to greater revenues, attendance and increased television ratings during 2006.
While some sports like baseball and basketball appeared to have peaked, NASCAR and the National Football League are the only two sports that are still packing fans in.
NASCAR was started 59 years ago, in order to sanction and bring consistency to the southern sport of stock car racing.
It was founded by “Big Bill” France, who passed the leadership to son Bill Jr., who passed it down to his son and current NASCAR Chairman/CEO Brian France.
Day-to-day operations are handled by Mike Helton, who actually runs the racing end of the family dictatorship.
“A lot of our success has to do with our consistency,” said Helton. “From day one, the France family has been open-minded while listening to the drivers, fans, promoters, and team owners.
“We’re not perfect. We make mistakes. But our fundamental approach has not changed since 1947. We still listen to the people we serve.”
Today’s races are perfectly orchestrated. On most Sunday’s, there are 20-25 cars capable of winning the race. The tough, close competition and addition of a 10-race Chase For the Championship to determine the Nextel Cup champion has brought new interest to the series as it winds down.
Despite higher ticket prices at the tracks, fans are still streaming in. NASCAR recently signed a new television contract that will bring the fans more racing-type shows. And with companies now pouring up to $20-million a year to sponsor a team, the slowdown isn’t in sight.
Love it, or hate it, get ready for more NASCAR.
Racing Trivia Question: How many Cup teams will Richard Childress have this year?
Last Week’s Question: What is NASCAR FAN-A-MANIA? Answer. A condition in which a seemingly normal person turns into a complete fanatic once the Daytona 500 gets close. Symptoms include uncontrollable shouting, laughing, and it one case an Arkansas farmer sold his 40-acre farm just so he could afford to spend Speed Week at Daytona.
You may read additional stories by the Racing Reporter at www.race500.com. His e-mail address email@example.com.
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