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Issue Home January 7, 2007 Site Home

Local Sports Scene

Forest City's McGraw Named Athlete Of Month

Montrose Takes Boys' Championship In Community Foundation Event

Kyle Bonnice earned Most Valuable Player honors as Montrose won the first Community Foundation Boys' Basketball Tournament on its home floor with a 44-41 victory over Elk Lake.

Bonnice scored nine points in the championship game.

Jeff Liddick led the Meteors with 11 points.

Troy Hinkley had half of Elk Lake's six 3-pointers while scoring 15 points to lead the Warriors.

The game was close throughout. Montrose led, 7-5, after one quarter, 16-15, at halftime and, 30-27, going into the fourth quarter.

Susquehanna took third place with a 57-43 victory over Blue Ridge in the consolation game.

Kirk Fallon led the Sabers with 22 points while Cody Scepaniak added 12.

The tournament debuted this year with the boys playing at Montrose and the girls playing at Elk Lake.

Susquehanna and Mountain View are scheduled to serve as the host schools next year.


Forest City – Montrose held Forest City scoreless for the final 5:18 and Monica Turner hit a short jump shot from just to the left of the lane with 11 seconds remaining to pull out a 38-37 victory Saturday afternoon in a Lackawanna League Division III girls' basketball game.

The Lady Meteors handed the Lady Foresters their first league loss, leaving the two teams tied for second in the division behind unbeaten Carbondale.

"It was height against speed," Montrose coach John Cherundolo said. "They do a very good job dribbling and a good job passing. They're very deliberate on offense and make many turnovers."

Senior center Jessica Franklin, who had at least an eight-inch height advantage on every Forest City player, scored Montrose's first 10 points. The Meteors got the game's final five points on the inside.

In between, however, Forest City defended the paint better, keeping the game tight.

Turner's game-winning basket off Andie King's feed from the baseline created the 12th lead change in a game that was also tied four times.

Montrose had the game's only five-point lead when it held Forest City scoreless for 5:50 to end the first quarter and start the second.

Franklin, who finished with a team-high 14 points and nine rebounds while playing less than 19 minutes, finished a 5-for-6 first quarter with two buckets in the final minute. She scored inside with 55 seconds left then hit an 18-footer from the left baseline for a 10-9 lead at the quarter.

Caitlyn Ely scored the first four points of the second quarter for the game's biggest lead at 14-9.

Tara McGraw then scored eight of her 13 points during a 12-3 run that gave Forest City one of its two four-point leads late in the half.

The Lady Foresters matched that lead at 37-33 with 5:18 remaining in the game. Freshman Amanda Collins hit a 3-pointer and Kristal Griffiths answered with a drive on the fastbreak 24 seconds later to close Forest City's scoring.

Forest City called timeout with 8.6 seconds left, needing to go the length of the floor while trailing by a point. Griffiths made a cross-court pass to Collins, but her 7-footer from the left side bounced out with two seconds left.

"I thought that was going in," Forest City coach Carl Urbas said. "We had a play that was going to have Griffiths going all the way to the basket, but the kid made a good pass."

Griffiths and Katelyn Bothwell helped Forest City offset Montrose's size advantage. Griffiths made all seven of her shots, working primarily on the inside, while scoring a season-high 18 points. Bothwell led all players with 11 rebounds helping Forest City stay within, 30-23, on the boards.

Caitlyn Ely had nine points, four assists and two steals for Montrose. King came off the bench for six rebounds and two assists.

Both teams won games earlier in the week.

Montrose recovered from a three-point deficit after one quarter to defeat Susquehanna, 50-30.

The Lady Meteors put four players in double figures. Turner and Caitlyn Ely each scored 11 while Franklin and Brittany Ely added 10.

Caitlyn Ely had six steals while Brittany Ely and Christine Brown added five each.

Franklin blocked four shots.

Christy Glidden led Susquehanna with 10 points.

Forest City defeated St. Rose, 47-13, with the help of 18 points by McGraw.

In boys' basketball, Susquehanna kept Montrose from building any momentum off its tournament title. The Sabers jumped out to a 13-4 lead after one quarter and used an 11-4 advantage in the fourth quarter to defeat visiting Montrose, 46-32, in a Lackawanna League Division III game.

Scepaniak went 6-for-8 from the line while scoring a game-high 16 points. Craig Soden added 14 while Fallon had 12 with the help of two 3-pointers.

Montrose bounced back to hold Forest City to two fourth-quarter points in a 35-32 victory.

Dean Moore led the Meteors with 14 points.

Stan Vitzakovitch and Jesse Walsh had 10 each to lead Forest City.

Montrose trailed, 30-27, heading into the final quarter.

In high school wrestling, Elk Lake won the title in its own Zurn-Bush Tournament.

The Warriors went undefeated to reach the final of the dual meet tournament, then won on tiebreaker criteria after finishing in a 35-35 tie with Palmerton in the championship match.

Palmerton lost because it had a team penalty point for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Derek Green (140) had a first-period pin and John Brooks (130) had a technical fall, but the Warriors also got help from being able to win close decisions. Eric Noldy beat Jared Shoop, 1-0, at 160; A.J. Reed beat Kevin Booth, 2-0, at 189; and Jake Eastman topped Craig Ferber, 7-4, at 171.

Josh Jenkins finished fifth at 189 pounds to lead Susquehanna to a 16th place finish out of 23 teams in the Tunkhannock Kiwanis Wrestling Tournament.

Brant Thomas added a seventh-place finish at 140 pounds to help the Sabers score 47 points in the tournament.

Montrose was 20th with 38 points.

D.J. Brown (215) finished sixth while Mylon Spolar (145) and Mike Rihl (152) each took seventh for the Meteors.

Mountain View was last with six points.


Dana Bennett, a junior center from Forest City, is the runaway leader in scoring and rebounding for the Wilson College women's basketball team.

Bennett is averaging 11.4 points per game, 3.3 more than her closest teammate. Her average of 13.5 rebounds is 8.5 more than everyone else on the team. She also leads with 2.5 blocked shots per game.

Wilson, an NCAA Division III school in Chambersburg, is a member of the Atlantic Women's Colleges Conference. It is off to a 2-6 start this season.


Mountain View, the unbeaten Lackawanna League Division III leader, has a pair of important boys' basketball games coming up at home. The Eagles face Forest City Friday, then take on Lackawanna Trail Tuesday.

In girls' basketball, Forest City is home against Carbondale Monday.

TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached online at

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By Gerald Hodges

The Racing Reporter

BOBBY HAMILTON Dies At 49 – Bobby Hamilton, a NASCAR owner/driver passed away Sunday at his Mount Juliet, Tenn. home.

Bobby Hamilton celebrates after 2005 Daytona win.

Hamilton, who won four Cup races as well as the 2004 Craftsman Truck Series title, died Sunday after a nearly year-long battle with cancer. He was the 1991 Winston Cup rookie of the year and made 371 career starts in Cup. His Cup wins came at Phoenix in 1996, Rockingham in1997, Martinsville in 1998 and Talladega in 2001.

He also had one Busch Series win in 86 starts, and accumulated 10 Craftsman Truck Series wins in an 11-year period from 1996-2006.

“NASCAR is saddened by the passing of Bobby Hamilton,” a statement from NASCAR said. “Bobby was a great competitor, dedicated team owner and friend. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of the Hamilton family.”

A Nashville, Tenn., native, Hamilton got his start at the Nashville Fairgrounds after winning the 1987 late model championship.

He is survived by his wife, Lori, and his son, Bobby Hamilton, Jr.

Funeral arrangements are incomplete at this time.

You Never, Ever Gave Up – Smokey Yunick was one of the most colorful, outspoken, and smartest car owners in racing. He was a sly mechanical genius whose reputation as one of the premier mechanics in automobile racing never diminished over the years.

Yunick, who operated a Daytona Beach garage (Best Dammed Garage in Town) was continuously at odds with NASCAR founder, Bill France, Sr. over NASCAR’s rules. He had 57 NASCAR wins, plus the 1960 Indy 500.

I had the privilege to tape several interviews with Smokey until his death in 2001. This are some of his comments from a 1997 session. As you can tell, he was not afraid of being quoted or stating his honest opinion.

“If these people (current drivers and team owners) are racers, then I never was a racer. That’s just how different they are. There is no way to compare what happened sixty years ago when I first started hanging around the tracks.

“We couldn’t buy any insurance.

“We couldn’t borrow any money.

“We were considered trash.

“If we went to a motel and told the man we were automobile racers, it was, ‘sorry mister, we don’t have any rooms.’ We had to park around the block so they couldn’t see the race car and hauler.

“Sometimes we raced for the hell of it. You worked all week at your regular job, and then worked on the race car, and with the nickels and dimes you got tried to make it to the next race.

“We all stayed at the same motel, which was usually the cheapest in town. The only ones that didn’t stay with us were Lee Petty and a couple others who had a little money.

“We partied, we played, and we were a big family.

“Then on race day, it was every dog for himself.

“If you couldn’t get ready to qualify, and I was ready, then I would come help you.

“But if during the race, I thought you did something dirty, we would go over and try to beat the stew out of you.

“But the thing is, it was one big family back then.

“The first time I went to Indy was ’58. I didn’t have any money and we blew a clutch the day before qualifying. There was about 100 cars entered and at least half of those car owners offered to loan me a clutch so I would have a chance of getting in the race.

“And there were at least 75 mechanics that offered to help me put it in. But on the other hand, if we had made a team mad, we might have a hell of a fight after the race was over.

“When the races ended, I didn’t leave until I saw that everyone of our team had enough money to get home. Sometimes we would have to help a driver get his car back in shape so he could get it back home, because we only had a race car and a tow car. There weren’t any trailers or haulers back then.

“If I had two helpers on race day, that was a luxury, and nobody received any pay.

“Gypsies, that what we were. We all stuck together, and if somebody on the outside stuck his nose in and gave us a hard time, all of us would jump on him. We’d kick the hell out of him, or do whatever was necessary to solve the problem.

“We looked out for one another, because it was a different world. There wasn’t any opportunity to become a millionaire if you won the race like there is today.

“We had zero public acceptance and we were working with a bunch of fans that had no interest in automobile racing at all. Blown tires, wrecks, and deaths are what they wanted to see.

“You could race for five years and never make the papers, but if you got killed, you made the front-page. You had to be killed to be written about.

“We all started off at zero. Ninety per cent of racing is, how bad do you want it? The guy who wants to win the most, is going to win the most.

“Racing really isn’t a case of Einstein-type brains; it is an experiment where the racer is actually racing Mother Nature. If you’ve got 500 horsepower, who can make that car go the fastest? Who can make that car go the most miles with the same amount of gas?

“You didn’t race each other, you raced nature, and you learned about hot tracks, cold tracks, and rubber on the track. All those things were brand new and they were just like the computer industry; if you started off learning 20 years ago, you probably really understand the stuff. But if you come in today and start to learn it cold, you’ve got your hands full.

“We had to learn about cars, tracks, people, money, and everything. It is like an evolution that has started at ground zero. When I was racing, I was totally convinced that nobody in this world could beat me in making a race car go fast.

“There was only one man, Clay Smith, who lived in California that could make a car go as fast as I could, and I lived from week-to-week to beat him. But it never happened. Clay got killed before I got to where I could beat him.

“That’s what made us tick. In the morning you walked out there, pulled your pants up, said, ‘all right, let’s have a race.’ If you didn’t get it done, then you came back the next week and tried to correct your past mistakes.

“You never, ever gave up.”


The testing sessions begin at Daytona International Speedway, Monday, January 8 running through Wednesday, January 10 for approximately half the teams.

The following drivers and car numbers are expected to participate in the first Nextel Cup Series test session on January 8-10: Jimmie Johnson-48, Dale Earnhardt Jr.-8, Kasey Kahne-9, Tony Stewart-20, Kevin Harvick-29, Greg Biffle-16, Jamie McMurray-26, Ricky Rudd-88, Scott Riggs-10, Martin Truex Jr.-1, Bobby Labonte-43, Tony Raines-96, Robby Gordon-7, Dave Blaney-22, Casey Mears-25, Sterling Marlin-14, Reed Sorenson-41, Jeff Green-66, Ward Burton-4, Boris Said-60, Kirk Shelmerdine-27, Dale Jarrett-44, Brian Vickers-83, Joe Nemechek-13.

Test sessions will resume Monday, January 15 through Wednesday, January 17, for the remaining teams.

The remaining six tracks that will host test sessions are: Las Vegas Motor Speedway – January 29-30, Bristol Motor Speedway – February 28-March 1, Richmond International Raceway – April 3-4, Lowe’s Motor Speedway – May 7-8, Dover International Speedway – May 14-15, Talladega Superspeedway – September 10-11.

NASCAR instituted a new track testing policy in 2006 that pre-sets a schedule for when and where Cup Series tests are to be conducted. The scheduled tests are the only opportunities teams will have to test at Cup tracks. The policy was implemented to serve as an aid to maintain better overall competitive balance for the teams and contain costs.

Racing Trivia Question: What is the longest track on the NASCAR Cup circuit?

Last Week’s Question: When will the “Car of Tomorrow” be introduced? Answer. It will make its debut March 25 at Bristol.

You may e-mail the Racing Reporter at:

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Forest City's McGraw Named Athlete Of Month
By Tom Robinson

Forest City – Tara McGraw tries to be comfortable regardless of where she is shooting the ball.

"I worked with a 3-point shooting coach (Willie Miller) in Wilkes-Barre since seventh grade," McGraw said. "He taught me that if you can make a lay-up, you can make a shot when you step behind that line."

McGraw turned Miller's theory into reality through practice.

"She is the rare kid who really works and puts practice time into her game all year," Forest City coach Carl Urbas said. "It shows."

McGraw was at her best during a four-game winning streak that helped the Lady Foresters arrive at the New Year as one of two teams with an unbeaten record in Division III of the Lackawanna League.

The senior guard hit 14 times from 3-point range and had a streak of 15 straight foul shots made during the winning streak. For her effort, McGraw has been selected as the latest Susquehanna County Transcript Athlete of the Month.

McGraw started and ended the streak with 25-point games. She hit six 3-pointers in a 54-39 win over Elk Lake and four during a 62-33 romp over Susquehanna.

"We just all play as a team," McGraw said. "Whoever’s open shoots it."

The Lady Foresters use slick ball movement and strong shooting to offset being one of the smallest teams in the league. Although her teammates can shoot, Urbas likes to see McGraw get her chances.

"We try to set her up," the coach said. "She's a very good 3-point shooter and she's also a good defensive player."

McGraw finished the month averaging 17.3 points and almost three 3-pointers per game while shooting 82.9 percent from the line. She led the team in scoring each game and is trying to lead a team of five senior starters to a successful season.

"We just use our speed and play with heart," McGraw said. "The five of us have been playing together since we were in seventh and eighth grade."

McGraw saw limited varsity action late in her freshman year and started a few games as a sophomore before becoming a full-time starter and team scoring leader the last two seasons. She also spent three years on the varsity soccer team where she was a second-team division all-star this fall.

Tara is the daughter of Tom and Cindy McGraw of Vandling.

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