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Montrose has its experienced players in the backcourt and its new starters at the forward position, but Lady Meteors coach John Cherundolo said that does not necessarily mean his team will take on a whole new look.
"We're still going to rely on our inside game, we just have different girls," Cherundolo said. "Jessie (Franklin) is about 6-2. We'll have a height advantage. We're still going to try to dominate the boards."
Montrose has made it through two straight perfect seasons in Division III of the Lackawanna League. Making it through a third will be difficult now that Carbondale, which lost only to Montrose in division play last season, returns its entire starting lineup, including Joya Whittington.
"That will be a hard thing to do," Cherundolo said. "I don't know if anyone can go unbeaten in our division this year."
Franklin, who saw a lot of playing time last year, and 5-9 junior Monica Turner will take over at forwards.
The Lady Meteors have experience in their three guards.
Christine Brown will be starting for the third season. Brittany Ely is back as the point guard and Caitlin Ely returns after starting most of last season.
"We have proven guards," Cherundolo said.
Forest City appears to be the next strongest team again after finishing third last season.
Blue Ridge and Elk Lake could be the best of the rest.
Mountain View, Susquehanna and Lackawanna Trail are also in the division along with newcomer St. Rose Academy, which will play a varsity only schedule with all road games and girls-boys doubleheaders.
WEEK IN REVIEW
Susquehanna wrestlers Stephan Andujar (130), Brant Thomas (145) and Julian Andujar (171) each finished second Saturday at the Susquehanna Valley (N.Y.) Invitational.
The Sabers finished sixth in the 10-team field.
Mountain View was last.
Julian Andujar dropped a 10-5 decision to Matt Kurey of Chenango Valley in the final.
Zach Matulevich was the top finisher for Mountain View, taking third with a 4-1 decision over Susquehanna's Mike Lloyd in the 160-pound consolation final.
Mountain View's Pat Lamberson (103) and Susquehanna's Josh Jenkins (189) also finished fourth.
In boys' basketball, Brett Keyes scored 20 points as Susquehanna opened its season with a 65-45 victory over Deposit (N.Y.) in the Deposit Tip-Off Tournament Saturday night.
Cody Scepaniak added 10 points in the win.
Mountain View and Blue Ridge each won their openers before losing in tournament championship games.
Mountain View hosted the Bill McLaughlin Tournament.
The Eagles opened with a 65-36 win over Mid Valley before falling to Bishop O'Hara, 66-58.
Robbie Johnson scored 18 in the opener and 22 in the championship game. Johnson and Nick Stoud both made the all-tournament team.
Blue Ridge finished second in the Sayre Tournament where it lost to the host Redskins, 53-39, in the final.
In girls' basketball, Blue Ridge won the Tony Aliano Memorial Tournament at Susquehanna.
The Lady Raiders defeated Susquehanna, 68-52, and Lakeland, 44-42.
Mountain View had a halftime lead on Wyoming Seminary in the semifinals but wound up losing both of its games in the Lake-Lehman Tournament.
In high school football, the last remaining Lackawanna Football Conference and District 2 team was eliminated when Lakeland gave up the final 35 points of the game in a 48-27 loss to unbeaten Wilson Area in the state Class AA quarterfinals.
D.J. Lenehan ran for 123 yards and four touchdowns while passing for 186 yards for Wilson.
Lakeland led, 13-0, in the first quarter and, 27-13, in the third quarter.
Wilson Area was one of three teams, all from District 11, to reach this year's state semifinals after losing in last year's championship games.
Bethlehem Liberty defeated Frankford, 35-15, in Class AAAA while Pottsville downed Garnet Valley, 51-20, in Class AA.
Lakeland's loss brings an end to our high school football predictions for the season. We correctly predicted Wilson Area's victory, making our playoff record 15-5 (75.0 percent) and our season record 101-26 (79.5 percent).
In professional hockey, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins avenged a loss from a week earlier when they scored in the final minute to beat the host Binghamton Senators, 2-1, Saturday night in an American Hockey League game.
Jeff Deslauriers stopped 54 of 56 shots as the Penguins won twice in two nights to open a three-point lead in the East Division.
Kyle Brodziak scored the game-winner against Binghamton, giving the Penguins (17-4-1-1) the best record in the AHL at this stage for the second straight season. A year ago, the Penguins set a league record by going unbeaten in regulation in the first 23 games.
Elk Lake graduate Ryan Place earned All-American honors by finishing sixth in the NCAA Division III National Championship meet.
Place, a junior, helped Allegheny College to the best finish in school history. The Gators took third place behind Calvin (Mich.) and New York University.
Place finished the five-mile race in 26:57. His sixth-place finish was the best ever by an Allegheny male runner.
THE WEEK AHEAD
In girls' basketball, Montrose has non-league games against two of the top teams in the Lackawanna League. The Lady Meteors are at Scranton Prep Thursday then home against Abington Heights Saturday night.
Scranton Prep is the defending Lackawanna League Division I champion. The Classics won the title in a playoff with Abington Heights, which returns the league's top player, junior Becky Burke, who has already committed to a scholarship from South Carolina.
In boys' basketball, Susquehanna will go after the Deposit Tip-Off Tournament title Friday at 7:45 p.m. against Stamford (N.Y.).
TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached online at RobbyTR@aol.com.
The Racing Reporter
DALE JR. Wins Most Favorite Driver – Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was presented with the Most Popular Driver award at the NASCAR Myers Brothers Award Luncheon in New York City. This marks the fourth consecutive year the North Carolina native has won the prestigious award.
After his selection in 2005, Earnhardt, Jr. joined drivers Bill Elliott and Richard Petty as the only drivers to win four-straight.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. receives the NMPA Most Favorite Driver Award
"I want to thank General Mills, Chex and the National Motorsports Press Association for this award,” said Dale Earnhardt, Jr. “It's a great honor, because it's the only award in our sport voted on by the fans. I share this award with my fans, because it is as much theirs as it is mine. I've always been grateful for their loyalty and support. Words can't say how much I appreciate it."
A total of 2,835,277 votes were cast this year, with Earnhardt, Jr. receiving 1,172,195 votes.
Jeff Gordon finished second in the voting, followed by Kasey Kahne, Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Michael Waltrip, Mark Martin, Matt Kenseth, 2006 Nextel Cup champion Jimmie Johnson and Elliott Sadler.
Is NASCAR Barking Up The Wrong Tree? NASCAR is banking on big Fortune 500 sponsors to propel the sport of stock car racing to even greater heights in the future.
Is it possible they are barking up the wrong tree?
Just this past week, Bank of America signed a five-year deal as the official bank of NASCAR. This merger greatly expands BA's sponsorship of racing, and marks a change in how NASCAR lines up sponsors.
Terms of the five-year deal are said to be worth between $15 million and $20 million.
Who will share in this bonanza?
The correct answer is NASCAR, only.
Under the deal, BA will be NASCAR's exclusive sponsor for banking and related financial services, including checking and savings accounts, credit and debit cards, and all other banking services. The company gets the right to use the NASCAR logo and name in marketing and advertising promotions through 2011.
Wireless telephone networks are prohibited from advertising on NASCAR cars because Nextel is the title sponsor, so the same will probably apply to banking institutions.
What if anything is going to drift down to the teams and fans from this deal?
Banking fees may go up if you are a BA customer.
The point I’m trying to make is that the NASCAR powers are lining their pockets, but are neglecting the fans, who are the paying customer.
When I was a boy, my daddy used to take me ‘coon hunting with him at night. Most of the time the dogs would get after a ‘coon, and sooner or later, the little furry rascal would climb a tree to get away from all the noise.
Then there would be a lot of confusion. Dogs would be barking and howling, men would be stumbling around in the dark and tripping over vines, because everyone wanted to be the first to spot the two beady eyes way up in the tree.
But ‘coons, like fans, have been around for a long time. A smart ‘coon would always find a limb and move over to another tree.
If the dogs (and other bystanders) didn’t keep a sharp eye on him, he would soon slip away.
That’s what I think is happening to NASCAR fans.
NASCAR has lost sight of the fans, or as we say down in south Alabama, “They are not dancing with the one who brought them to the dance.”
While Jimmie Johnson and the other top-10 Nextel Cup finishers were basking in the New York television coverage this past week and collecting their prize money, many fans felt like they were short-changed in 2006.
“Racing during the last few races of the season was boring,” said Pam H. of Richmond, VA. “I mean, the season-ending of any sporting series is supposed to be exciting.
“I’m sorry, but I feel like this year’s Chase was lacking. My husband, who usually sits right in front of the TV when a race is on, went out and mowed grass while the Texas race was on.”
The Chase for the championship was created three years ago. It was great the first season. But it has inexplicably failed the past two.
Is the lack of excitement the reason that television ratings have fallen?
NBC's broadcast of the November 19, Ford 400 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway earned a final Nielsen Media Research rating that was 20.3 per cent lower than in 2005 and 24.2 per cent lower than in 2004, the first year of the Chase format.
For the first time in a long time, NASCAR is experiencing a lot of sustained negativity.
Television ratings have flattened out or dipped, and empty grandstand seats at tracks like Dover, Texas and Lowe's Motor Speedway have not gone unnoticed.
During the live broadcasts, TV cameras shy away from showing these empty seats, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there.
Brian France has tried to wave off these blips on the radar screen.
NASCAR isn't falling apart. No need to worry about that because the Frances have enough money to keep it afloat for several years, even without any new sponsors.
Less than two months from now, the Cup cars will take to the track for testing at Daytona. When they do, Toyotas will be among them. ESPN will be preparing for its return to NASCAR broadcasting, and Cup teams will be hard at work trying to get their "car of tomorrow" fleet ready to roll at the spring race at Bristol.
The "car of tomorrow," scheduled to be used in 16 races next season, is critical because NASCAR has put so much time into developing the vehicle and because it is asking its teams to invest so much money in converting to them.
If NASCAR is going to continue to meet the challenges and thrive, it must do everything it can to keep the fans at the very forefront of the game plan. That way they won’t become a victim of their own success.
As my daddy used to say, “A good dog never barks up the wrong tree.”
CORRECTION: Brian Vickers will drive for Team Red Bull in 2007, not Michael Waltrip Racing.
Racing Trivia Question: How many Busch Series championships has Martin Truex, Jr. won?
Last Week’s Question: Where is Kasey Kahne’s hometown? Answer. He is from Enumclaw, Washington.
You may e-mail the Racing Reporter at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Susquehanna Branch of the Quality Deer Management Association is pleased to provide the following update on whether or not there are 200 pound deer in Susquehanna County and the surrounding areas.
As of the close of deer bow hunting season, there have been six bucks that have been weighed and measured that weigh over 200 lbs. The weights have ranged from 204 to 275 lbs., live weight or live weight equivalent (chest measurement). The bucks have been harvested in various areas of Susquehanna County including the townships of Lenox, Clifford, Bridgewater, Jessup and Franklin.
The local branch of QDMA is continuing to sponsor their educational effort in which the first 10 hunters to have their deer weighed and certified as weighing over 200 lbs. will receive recognition in the form of a custom made vest. The rules of the contest are that the deer needs to be weighed by one of the directors of the branch and a witness, the deer will need to be a legally harvested and tagged Pennsylvania deer, the hunter must be legally licensed to harvest a deer in Pennsylvania, a deer harvest report card will have to be filled out and sent into the Pennsylvania Game Commission, the deer will be weighed on scales and a chest measurement will be taken to corroborate the weight. If possible, a picture of the deer will also be taken.
Directors who can be contacted about getting your deer weighed are Ed Grasavage 655-8181, Jim Dovin 785-2552, Dave Sienko 879-4338 and Bob Wagner 278-9363.
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