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Carbondale - Mountain View got exactly one point from its reserves Friday night.
The role of the bench in the Lackawanna League Division III all-season championship game was not about producing points, but rather about helping the Eagles avoid what could have been a disaster.
A deeper bench - Mountain View used four subs to one from Lackawanna Trail - allowed the Eagles to weather serious foul trouble before storming past the Lions in the fourth quarter for a 68-57 victory.
"The best thing is that we're nine or 10 deep," Mountain View coach Pat Heaton said. "We actually go 13 deep. There's just not enough time to get everyone else in."
Three Eagles finished with four fouls. Tim Bennett sat out the final 6:43 of the first half following his second foul. L.B. Feduchak picked up his third foul before halftime. Robbie Johnson sat out 4:50 of the third quarter after getting his third and fourth fouls 1:05 apart early in the second half.
"I was concerned that if it came down with the game on the line at the end that we might not have enough fouls to go around," said Bennett, who matched Johnson with a team-high 17 points while also grabbing 12 rebounds, including eight offensive.
With Bennett back in the lineup, Mountain View crushed Trail, 26-9, on the boards in the second half to avenge a loss to the second-half division champions.
"We were just crashing the boards real hard," Bennett said.
Chris White added 15 points and took care of the defensive end of the rebounding. He picked up six of his seven rebounds on defense.
Nick Stoud gave the Eagles a fourth player with at least 15 points, including 4-for-4 from the foul line in the fourth quarter.
Johnson went 5-for-6 from the line in the fourth and picked apart Trail's attempt at pressure defense. He drove through the defense repeatedly, including a behind-the-back move to start his way through four defenders for a scoop shot that produced a 62-55 lead with 1:13 left.
Chad Lasher, who added three assists to finish second on the team in assists behind Johnson's four, added the only bench point with a foul shot 12 seconds later.
The Eagles got nine points from Johnson and eight from Bennett while outscoring the Lions, 24-11, in the final eight minutes to overcome a 46-44 deficit after three quarters.
Prior to Feduchak picking up his second foul with 3:35 left in the first for the first sign of trouble, the Eagles had jumped out to leads of 12-5 and 14-7.
Trail recovered to take a 20-18 lead at the quarter on a 3-pointer by Shane Loss, who finished with a game-high 29 points.
The Lions built the lead as high as eight on an inside move by Loss for a 32-24 advantage with 2:45 left in the half.
White hit a 3-pointer and another shot from a step inside the 3-point line to cut the deficit to 34-30 at halftime.
Johnson, who had not realized that a second-quarter technical foul also counted as his second personal foul, picked up two quick calls early in the half and left the game with the score tied, 39-39.
Without what may be the league's best player, the first-half champion Eagles kept the game even. They made it through a third quarter that featured four lead changes and three tries and were facing just a two-point deficit.
"We were patient and waited to get the ball inside," Heaton said.
Mountain View scored its last 11 field goals from in the paint.
Ryan Deveney added 17 points and seven rebounds while also leading Trail in rebounds, with seven, and assists, with three.
The depth helped the Eagles capture their first boys' basketball title since the 1989 team won the Northeast Athletic Conference and District 12 Class A championships.
WEEK IN REVIEW
Montrose used a pair of remarkable defensive efforts to put the finishing touches on its second straight perfect season in Lackawanna League Division III girls' basketball.
The Lady Meteors held Forest City, the division's third-best team, to a single point in the first half of a 59-18 rout to clinch at least a tie for the second-half title. Montrose then gave up just four field goals in a 65-12 romp over Lackawanna Trail to complete the season and wrap up the overall title.
Amanda Lass scored 13 points, Chelsey Parvin added 12 and both Chelsea Lunger and Monica Turner contributed nine in the win over Forest City.
Montrose used near-perfect balance while completing its unbeaten league season.
Lass, Parvin and Ashley Jones celebrated Senior Night. Lass shared the team scoring lead with Monica Turner and Caitlin Ely at 12 points each. Parvin and Jones had 11 points each.
Montrose continued to find success throughout its entire program.
The junior varsity team completed a 13-1 league season. The eighth-grade team went 21-0 overall while the seventh-grade team finished 20-1.
Montrose was the only Lackawanna League team to win a varsity division title without a playoff.
The Lady Meteors split with the other two division champions during non-league play, beating Division I champion Scranton Prep and falling to Division II champion Dunmore.
Scranton Prep shook off an 11-2 start by Abington Heights to win the Division I title in overtime, 55-46, in the second game of a Saturday doubleheader. Dunmore won the Division II championship over Riverside, 43-33, in the first game.
The final second-half standings were: Montrose 7-0, Carbondale 6-1, Forest City 4-3, Mountain View 4-3, Elk Lake 3-4, Blue Ridge 2-5, Susquehanna 1-6 and Lackawanna Trail 1-6.
Mountain View improved from 2-5 to 4-3 in the second half behind the play of division scoring champion Whitney Williams, who was also a two-time scoring leader in soccer.
In boys' basketball, the final second-half Division III standings were: Lackawanna Trail 7-0, Mountain View 6-1, Forest City 4-3, Blue Ridge 3-4, Susquehanna 3-4, Elk Lake 3-4, Carbondale 2-5 and Montrose 0-7.
Bishop Hannan defeated Old Forge, 54-48, in the Division II championship game in the second game of Friday's doubleheader at Carbondale. Mountain View beat Bishop Hannan earlier in the season.
Scranton won the Division I boys' championship.
In wrestling, the final Lackawanna League Group B standings were: Elk Lake 7-0, Scranton Prep 6-1, Susquehanna 5-2, Montrose 4-3, Blue Ridge 3-4, Valley View 2-5, Bishop O'Hara 1-6 and Mountain View 0-7.
Amanda Vitzakovitch took advantage of her closest trip to home.
Playing at East Stroudsburg Saturday, the 5-foot-9 sophomore guard from Forest City led Division II West Chester University in scoring for the first time when she had 15 in a 65-61 loss. She also had seven rebounds in the game.
East Stroudsburg trailed, 30-15, at halftime before Vitzakovitch made four of five shots, including three 3-pointers, while scoring 11 in the second half to lead a comeback.
It was the second straight 15-point effort for Vitzakovitch, who hit all three of her 3-point attempts in her second start of the season earlier in the week during a 65-52 win over Kutztown University.
Vitzakovitch is second on West Chester's team in field goal percentage (43.7), 3-pointers (20) and 3-point percentage (40.0). She has played in 25 games and is averaging 5.9 points and 2.4 rebounds.
THE WEEK AHEAD
The District 2 Class AA Wrestling Championships are scheduled for Friday and Saturday.
All five Susquehanna County schools compete in Class AA where they combined to produce seven of the 14 individual champions in 2005.
Mountain View's unbeaten Matt Panasevich is back to defend one of those titles along with Susquehanna's Travis Cordner and Montrose's Jeff Oleniacz.
Blue Ridge's Travis McArthur and Elk Lake's Dylan Griffiths, who needs one win to match the school record of 101 career victories, each finished third last season.
The top three wrestlers in each weight class advance to the Northeast Regionals the following weekend.
Division champion Elk Lake should be the top local team, but it is unlikely that anyone in the field can challenge West Scranton, the overwhelming favorite.
Basketball playoffs also open this week, but champions and state qualifiers will not be determined until the following week.
In boys' basketball, Mountain View and Blue Ridge both have home games in Wednesday's first round of District 2 Class AA play and will meet each other if they both win.
Second-seeded Mountain View (22-2) opens with 15th-seeded Lakeland (4-12) while seventh-seeded Blue Ridge (11-13) plays 10th-seeded Lake-Lehman (4-18).
Montrose (1-22) is the 16th seed and will play at top-seeded Bishop Hoban (22-1) while 12th-seeded Elk Lake (6-17) is at fifth-seeded Dunmore (16-8) in other Class AA openers Wednesday.
Six of the 10 teams in the Class A field have winning records despite playing much of their schedules against larger schools.
Sixth-seeded Forest City (13-11) draws a first-round but has a tough quarterfinal against third-seeded Old Forge (21-4).
Ninth-seeded Susquehanna (10-14) is at eighth-seeded Bishop O'Hara (11-11) Wednesday.
In girls' basketball, first-round play is scheduled to open Thursday.
Standings and seeds were not updated on District 2's Web site as of press time, but tentative pairings could be projected with the available information.
Blue Ridge had the tiebreaker advantage over Elk Lake for the ninth seed after each went 7-9 in the Lackawanna League, according to District 2 secretary Mike Ognosky. That would put the Lady Raiders at eighth-seeded Meyers, which went 6-6 in the Wyoming Valley Conference, and the Lady Warriors at seventh-seeded Northwest (8-4 in the WVC).
Mountain View (6-10 in Lackawanna) is likely at fifth-seeded Wyoming Seminary (9-3 in WVC).
When winless teams West Side Tech and Mid Valley chose not to compete in the tournament, Class AA was reduced from 16 to 14 teams and division champion Montrose (20-3 overall) picked up a bye. The Lady Meteors are expected to play the Blue Ridge-Meyers winner in Saturday's quarterfinals.
Ninth-seeded Susquehanna (3-18) at eighth-seeded Old Forge (5-18) in a Thursday Class A quarterfinal.
Forest City (14-10) is the fourth seed and will not open until Saturday's quarterfinals against Bishop O'Hara (12-12)
TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached online at RobbyTR@aol.com.
JOHNSON Gets His First Daytona 500 Win
Daytona Beach, FL – “I dedicate this win to all the 48-car haters,” said Jimmie Johnson in victory lane after winning Sunday’s 48th Daytona 500.
Johnson’s statement was in reference to fans and other racers that have accused the 48 team of being habitual cheaters, and especially since crew chief Chad Knaus was expelled by NASCAR from Daytona after the running of the Budweiser Shootout, February 11 for rules violations inspectors found in Johnson’s car.
Jimmie Johnson shows off the 2006 Daytona 500 winner's trophy.
“I wish Chad Knaus could have been here,” said Johnson. “It was his and the team’s hard work that got the team where it is. Great pit stops, great team work, and everyone stepped up when we needed them to.”
Johnson took the lead from his teammate Brian Vickers on lap 186 and survived a challenge from Ryan Newman, in a green/white/checkered finish that added three laps to the 200 lap race.
Johnson was assured the victory when Greg Biffle wrecked on the final lap, freezing the field at that point.
But the winning move came on Lap 186 when he moved outside of Vickers to get the lead. As soon as Johnson gained the lead, Kurt Busch hit the outside wall after being tagged from behind by Jamie McMurray, bringing out a caution.
NASCAR ruled that Johnson's No. 48 Chevrolet was leading when the green flew again with 10 laps left. Vickers was second, with Ryan Newman third, Casey Mears fourth and Kasey Kahne fifth.
Tony Stewart provided the most excitement of any driver, as he was involved in three separate incidents, one which caused him to be sent to the rear of the field. It appears Stewart, the 2005 Nextel Cup champion is either on his way to becoming the new “Intimidator,” or the “2006 Bully of the Year,” much like Kurt Busch was last year.
Stewart got into Jeff Gordon, who had gone high during lap 20. Gordon said it was fifty-fifty, while Stewart said it was 100 per cent Gordon’s fault.
During lap 106 Stewart came down on Matt Kenseth, pushing him into the infield and causing him to wreck. For this, Stewart was sent to the rear of the field. As the cars re-entered pit road under caution, Kenseth sideswiped Stewart, and Kenseth was assessed a drive-through penalty.
Later in the race, Stewart came down on Kyle Busch, but no penalty was issued. Ironically, it was Stewart, who complained about rough driving following last weekend's Budweiser Shootout
“He (Kenseth) got back what he started in the first place,” said Stewart. “I was penalized, but he has no room to complain. He started it and I finished it.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished eighth, but led the most laps (32).
Jeff Gordon battled back from the early incident with Tony Stewart and a bad transmission to finish 28th.
MONKEY BUSINESS AND BALONEY SANDWICHES
NASCAR teams have completed all the new off season changes mandated by NASCAR and the first race of the season, the Daytona 500 is history. But before cars took to the track for the Daytona 500, NASCAR’s power brokers were thinking up new rules.
While NASCAR has always been a dictatorship, it seems they are leaning more and more towards micromanaging the series, instead of allowing for good racing.
My daddy, who only had a grade school education, called it, “monkey business,” when you messed with things that were better left alone.
The draft issue is a good example. For years drivers have complained about how dangerous the present situation is at Daytona and Talladega speedways. With the type equipment now forced upon them, drivers run in bunches, with no hope of pulling away from the main pack of cars.
That leads to at least one gigantic wreck during every race at these two superspeedways.
Rather than address the major problem, NASCAR will enforce "no zones" in an effort to limit bump drafting in the turns at Daytona and Talladega.
Bump drafting is when a driver intentionally rams the rear of the car in front of him to push it forward in the draft.
"We may have some zones that we post some added officials in and might be forced to make a call on a bump draft that is unnecessary," said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president for competition. "We may be put into a position where we have to make some calls that we really don't want to have to make."
What would the penalty be? It’s not clear, because NASCAR officials are both the judge and jury.
Pemberton said the penalty could include a "pass through," in which the driver must come down pit road at reduced speed, or a stop-and-go when the car actually has to stop on pit road. If a driver is a repeat offender, Pemberton said, he could even be parked.
What is detrimental about these “judgment calls,” to drivers, teams and sponsors is they give NASCAR the right to arbitrarily decide when bump drafting or any other rule is violated.
If NASCAR wanted to teach a driver a lesson, or reward a sponsor, they could make one call that would do it all.
Let us suppose that NASCAR decides that since Big Baloney, the major sponsor of Joe Whodunnit’s car, who hasn’t won a race since 1992, needs to get back in victory lane.
The Big Baloney car is leading with just a couple laps to go, but it appears Rock Crushing in the Sour Grapes car is about to pass him for the win.
But wait, the Sour Apples nudges Big Baloney, even though it doesn’t appear intentional.
“Ah hah,” says the NASCAR official. “Now is our chance to repay the Big Baloney Corporation for all those millions of dollars they have pumped into the series.
“Give Rock and the Sour Grapes team a 15-second penalty.”
By this time, Crushing’s car has taken the checkered flag, but it is Whodunnit and Big Baloney that celebrates with baloney sandwiches in victory lane.
Get the picture? Too much monkey business!
Rules are a necessary evil of any growing business, especially for one like NASCAR’s Nextel Cup series that has exploded over the past decade. The more control an organization exerts over its members, the more it can dictate the outcome, and I believe that is a logical outcome of NASCAR’s micromanagement practices.
WHO THE HECK IS BURNEY LAMAR
Although he didn't win Saturday's NASCAR Busch Series race, rookie Burney Lamar’s second-place finish behind Tony Stewart was a big surprise to fans as well as his fellow competitors.
"The kid (Lamar) did an awesome job,” said Stewart. “I can't believe he was in that position at the end and he drove like a veteran there. I saw what they were trying to do to him behind them and he kept working them."
Just as Stewart crossed the finish line to secure the win, behind him erupted an 11-car wreck, collecting several drivers who had battled only moments before for the lead and bringing out the caution flag.
After a lengthy review of the finish by NASCAR officials, Lamar was credited with second place, Clint Bowyer third and Jon Wood fourth.
Lamar, driving full time for KHI in the No. 77 Dollar General Chevrolet and with only two previous series starts, stayed out of trouble and never drifted far from the top 10 the entire race.
Meanwhile Mark Martin won Friday night’s Craftsman Truck Series race, followed by
Todd Bodine, Ted Musgrave, Mike Skinner, and Jack Sprague
Friday, Feb. 24, Craftsman Trucks 200, race 2 of 25, Starting time: 9 p.m. (EST); TV: Speed Channel; Distance: 100 laps/200 miles.
Saturday, Feb. 25, Busch Series Stater Bros. 300, race 2 of 34, Starting time: 6 p.m. (EST); TV: FX Channel; Distance: 150 laps/300 miles.
Sunday, Feb. 26, Nextel Cup Auto Club 500, race 2 of 36, Starting time: 3:30 p.m. (EST): TV: Fox; Distance: 250 laps/500 miles; Defending champion: Greg Biffle, Ford.
California Speedway track information: Size: 2-mile oval; Banking in turns; 14 degrees, trioval: 11 degrees, backstretch: 3 degrees; Length of frontstretch: 3,100 feet, backstretch: 2,500 feet. Grandstand capacity: 110,000.
Racing Trivia Question: Who was the winner of the 1997 inaugural race at California Speedway?
Last Week’s Question: Which driver holds the record for most poles in a season? Answer. Bobby Isaac won 20 poles in 1969, the most of any driver.
Unofficial finishing order of Daytona 500: 1. Jimmie Johnson, 2. Casey Mears, 3. Ryan Newman, 4. Elliott Sadler, 5. Tony Stewart, 6. Dale Earnhardt Jr., 7. Clint Bowyer, 8. Brian Vickers, 9. Ken Schrader, 10. Dale Jarrett, 11. Kasey Kahne, 12. Mark Martin, 13. Robby Gordon, 14. Kevin Harvick, 15. Matt Kenseth, 16. Martin Truex Jr., 17. Terry Labonte, 18. Michael Waltrip, 19. Bill Elliott, 20. Kirk Shelmerdine, 21. Greg Biffle, 22. Brent Sherman, 23. Reed Sorenson, 24. Dave Blaney, 25. Kevin LePage, 26. Kyle Busch, 27. Mike Wallace, 28. Jeff Gordon, 29. Travis Kvapil, 30. David Stremme, 31. Denny Hamlin, 32. Jeff Burton, 33. Joe Nemechek, 34. Sterling Marlin, 35. Bobby Labonte, 36. Jamie McMurray, 37. Jeremy Mayfield, 38. Kurt Busch, 39. Kyle Petty, 40. Hermie Sadler, 41. J.J. Yeley, 42. Jeff Green, 43. Carl Edwards.
Top-10 points leaders after 1 of 36: 1. Johnson-185, 2. Mears-170, 3. Newman-170,4. E. Sadler-165, 5. Stewart-160, 6. Earnhardt-152, 7. Vickers-151, 8. Bowyer-150, 9. Schrader-138, 10. Jarrett-134
You may read additional stories at The Racing Reporter’s website, www.race500.com.
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