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Improving on a championship effort is not an easy task, but the Mountain View Eagles found a way to do just that in boys' basketball.
Mountain View captured its second straight Lackawanna League Division III title last week when it completed an unbeaten run through the league schedule.
"It's definitely a great accomplishment," Eagles coach Patrick Heaton said. "It's tough to beat everybody in the division twice. We've earned ourselves a little break before the playoffs."
Mountain View needed a playoff with Lackawanna Trail to take the all-season title last year. That tightened up the schedule between the end of the regular season and the start of district play.
Now, the Eagles will have a few extra days before starting play in the Class AA tournament, which should be the toughest in District 2 with three teams in the field that went unbeaten in league play.
Robbie Johnson added an individual accomplishment to the team celebration Friday night.
Johnson had 15 points in the 73-54 victory over Forest City, surpassing Frank Rowe's 39-year-old school scoring record of 1,366 points. Johnson reached the record despite being more of a playmaker in his first two seasons and remaining someone capable of setting up his teammates while being the leading scorer the last two seasons.
"He accounts for about 40 percent of our offense every game," Heaton said, referring to Johnson's points and assists.
Nick Stoud, the team's second-leading scorer on the season, had 22 points in the win over Forest City. Joe Scanlon added 11 for his fifth straight game scoring in double figures.
"We've had either three or four guys in double figures for the past several games," Heaton said.
Scanlon led the way in the biggest challenge of the league season, scoring 14 points in a 63-62 victory over Lackawanna Trail the night before the Forest City game. Patrick Lambert added 13 points and Johnson had 12.
WEEK IN REVIEW
Montrose was unable to match its unbeaten, championship finishes of the previous two seasons, but the Lady Meteors did finish with the best league record among Susquehanna County girls' basketball teams.
The Lady Meteors lost only twice, to unbeaten Lackawanna League Division III champion Carbondale.
Montrose finished league play with two more romps, 56-26, over Lackawanna Trail and, 61-12, over St. Rose.
The Lady Meteors opened leads of 11-2 after one quarter and 31-11 over Trail on Senior Night. Eight players scored between five and eight points.
Montrose had leads of 24-2 after a quarter and 37-2 at halftime against St. Rose.
Julia Koloski, who also had six steals, and Chelsea Lunger led with 11 points each. Christine Brown added five assists.
The final second-half standings were: Carbondale 8-0; Montrose 7-1, Blue Ridge 6-2, Forest City 5-3, Elk Lake 4-4, Lackawanna Trail 3-5, Susquehanna 2-6, Mountain View 1-7 and St. Rose 0-8.
Combining both halves, the standings were: Carbondale 16-0, Montrose 14-2, Forest City 11-5, Blue Ridge 10-6, Elk Lake 7-9, Lackawanna Trail and Susquehanna 5-11, Mountain View 4-12 and St. Rose 0-16.
In boys' basketball, the final second-half standings were: Mountain View 8-0, Elk Lake and Forest City 6-2, Carbondale 5-3, Lackawanna Trail 4-4, Montrose and Susquehanna 3-5, Blue Ridge 1-7 and St. Rose 0-8.
Combining both halves, the standings were: Mountain View 16-0, Lackawanna Trail 11-5, Elk Lake, Forest City and Carbondale 10-6, Montrose 7-9, Susquehanna 5-11, Blue Ridge 3-13 and St. Rose 0-16.
In professional hockey, Jean-Francois Jacques matched a team record by scoring four goals Friday night when the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins tied a record for their biggest win ever in a 7-0 American Hockey League romp over the Binghamton Senators.
Binghamton did not have a shot for the first 16:13, managed only two in the first period and was outshot, 16-3, in the game's first 25 minutes.
The Penguins used three power-play goals to take charge after a scoreless first period.
Jacques scored two of the power-play goals then completed the hat trick at even strength when he converted a Kurtis McLean pass 23 seconds into the third period. McLean set him up again for the goal that tied the team record set by Erik Christensen on Opening Night of the 2005-06 season.
"Just look at the passes Mack gave me," Jacques said. "Those were unreal passes. I had to put them in or I'd feel bad."
The Penguins missed a chance to gain on Norfolk and Hershey in the AHL East Division race when they scored just one goal total while losing games the next two days.
If the Marywood University women's basketball team is winning, chances are Amanda Lass had a big night.
Lass hit the game-winning free throw January 29 in a 55-54 victory over Rosemont College, starting a stretch in which the Pacers won three out of five games.
In each of those wins and the previous two Marywood wins, Lass was the team's leading scorer.
The 6-foot-1 freshman from Montrose dominated Cedar College in two meetings. She went 10-for-10 at the line while scoring 20 points in a 58-33 win at Cedar College then had 17 points and 11 rebounds in a 71-45, home-court win February 11.
The 17-point, 11-rebound line was also what Lass produced against Rosemont.
Lass had 22 points in each of the two earlier Marywood wins. She had 17 points and 10 rebounds at halftime on the way to 22 points and 14 rebounds in a 66-47 win over Eastern. She had 22 points and 11 rebounds in a 72-71 win over Wesley.
Lass has been one of the leaders of a Marywood team that went 6-10 in the Pennsylvania Athletic Conference and is 10-15 overall. She averages a team-high 13.3 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocked shots. She leads the team in free throws made and attempted, going 93-for-132 (70.5 percent).
THE WEEK AHEAD
The District 2 basketball playoffs get underway this week.
Pairings were set to be officially released at a Monday afternoon meeting in Pittston.
The pairings, however, were able to be formed from the district standings following coin flips that were held at a Sunday meeting of the basketball committee.
The Forest City girls earned the highest seed among county teams, taking second in Class A. They are scheduled to open up Saturday in a quarterfinal game at home against Bishop Hannan.
The remaining county girls' teams are all in Class AA.
Montrose and Blue Ridge earned first-round home games. Montrose, the third seed, plays Lake-Lehman while Blue Ridge, the sixth seed, plays Wilkes-Barre GAR in opening-round games Thursday. If both teams win, they will meet Saturday in the quarterfinals on a neutral floor.
The other Class AA games have ninth-seeded Elk Lake at Hanover Area, 13th-seeded Susquehanna at Riverside and 15th-seeded Mountain View at Dunmore.
In boys' basketball, Mountain View lost coin flips with the other unbeaten division champions and was placed as the third seed in Class AA behind Bishop Hoban and Wyoming Seminary.
The Eagles open at home against Wilkes-Barre Meyers Wednesday.
Elk Lake is also at home, as the eighth seed against Riverside.
Blue Ridge, the 15th seed, needed a home preliminary round game just to get into the round of 16. The Raiders were set to face Mid Valley Monday.
Montrose, the 12th seed, will open at Dunmore Wednesday.
Susquehanna is the ninth seed in Class A and will travel to Freeland MMI for a Wednesday opener, trying to get a shot at unbeaten, top-seed Old Forge Friday night.
Forest City opens the tournament Friday night in a quarterfinal against Bishop Hannan and would face Old Forge in the February 27 semifinals if it wins. The Foresters are seeded either fourth or fifth in the 10-team event, depending on the result of a league finale Monday.
In high school wrestling, the District 2 championships are scheduled for Friday and Saturday.
All five county wrestling schools are in the Class AA tournament, which has been moved from Scranton Prep to Lake-Lehman this season.
Blue Ridge, Elk Lake, Montrose, Mountain View and Susquehanna are joined in the tournament field by Berwick, Bishop O'Hara, Dallas, Wilkes-Barre Meyers, Wilkes-Barre GAR, Nanticoke, Hanover Area, Lackawanna Trail, Lake-Lehman, Scranton Prep, Valley View, Western Wayne and Wyoming Area. Berwick is the clear favorite with Lake-Lehman the most likely challenger and Elk Lake expected to be the top county team.
In professional hockey, the Penguins and Senators continue to see a lot of each other. They meet for the third and fourth time of their five games in 19 days when they play at the Broome County Arena Friday and Saturday.
In professional boxing, the former Scranton CYC will be the home of an ESPN fight card Friday night.
The main event features cruiserweights Kelvin Davis, the IBF champion, and Darnell Wilson. Lackawanna County fighters Chris Mills, Marty Flynn and Anthony Cusumano are also expected to have bouts on the card.
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
HARVICK Makes A Daytona Sweep, Daytona Beach, FL – Kevin Harvick became only the fourth driver in NASCAR history to win both the Daytona 500 and Busch Series race in one weekend. The other three winners were Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2004), Darrell Waltrip (1989), and Bobby Allison (1988).
Kevin Harvick celebrates his Daytona 500 win.
Mark Martin, making his 23rd attempt at a Daytona 500 win, seemed to have victory in hand Sunday, when a hard-charging Harvick came along the outside to earn his second victory at Daytona International Speedway in two nights.
NASCAR red flagged the 200-lap race on lap 197 after several cars spun out. These involved Jamie McMurray, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Ricky Rudd, and Martin Truex Jr.
This set up a two-lap, or green/white/checkered finish.
Martin, who had taken the lead on lap 179 was the leader in the No. 01 Ginn Racing Army Chevrolet. Behind him were Kyle Busch, Greg Biffle, David Gilliland, Elliott Sadler, Mike Wallace, and Kevin Harvick.
For the first one and one-half laps, Martin was able to keep the field behind him. As the cars entered turn three Harvick got a run on the outside, and passed everyone but Martin.
Harvick pulled even with Martin, and then it was a drag race down the front stretch, which Harvick won by two-one hundredths of a second.
“I didn’t let it off the floor and we just kept hitting things; the wall and bouncing off other cars,” said Harvick. “Man, this is the Daytona 500, and I just can’t believe it.”
Harvick started 34th, the farthest back any driver has ever started to win the Daytona 500.
Martin is still winless after 23 Daytona 500 tries.
“Well, I saw Harvick up there, and we were doing everything we could, but this is the Daytona 500,” said Martin. “I didn’t get it done, but I thought they were going to throw the caution.”
Coming out of four on the last lap, several cars got sideways and things got pretty bad as five or six cars wrecked, including the 07 driven by Clint Bowyer, which came across the finish line on its roof.
Normally NASCAR puts out a caution as soon as cars start wrecking, but in Sunday’s race that was not the case. Instead, they allowed Harvick and Martin to take the checkered flag before they put out the yellow.
Not many of the favorites were around for the finish.
Kurt Busch got into Tony Stewart on lap 152 after Stewart’s car began to slip and slide.
“It was my fault,” said Stewart, who finished 43rd. “The car just took off on me. I don’t know what happened. I was really happy after I had to go to the back after the speeding penalty, and then come back to the front.”
Series champion Jimmie Johnson lost control of his car on lap 159, and took out Jeff Green and Tony Raines.
Jeff Gordon, who had to start last in the 43-car field, had handling problems and never was a threat to the leaders. He wound up 12th.
Chevrolet swept the top-four positions.
The finish of the four Toyota drivers: Dale Jarrett-23rd, Michael Waltrip-30th, Dave Blaney-34th, David Reutimann-40th.
Top-10 finishers: 1. Kevin Harvick, 2. Mark Martin, 3. Jeff Burton, 4. Mike Wallace, 5. David Ragan, 6. Elliott Sadler, 7. Kasey Kahne, 8. David Gilliland, 9. Joe Nemechek, 10. David Stremme.
Two Strikes For WALTRIP – Is Michael Waltrip about to strike out as he embarks on one of the biggest challenges of his racing career?
With the help of Toyota, Waltrip has been able to form three Nextel Cup teams, including the No. 55 NAPA team, which he drives. After his No. 55 team was caught cheating prior to the Daytona 500, Toyota passed the word that they wouldn’t tolerate any more rules violations by their teams.
“This has been the worst Daytona 500 of my life,” said Waltrip, after his car was confiscated by NASCAR officials.
Waltrip’s car was found to have an unidentified, gel-like performance additive, which NASCAR inspectors have sent out for laboratory analysis. Results of the lab tests are expected to be announced next week at California.
“This is not the action of an organization, a manufacturer or a sponsor,” continued Waltrip. “This was an independent act done without consent or authorization from me or any of my executive management team.”
I’m sorry Michael, that’s hard to swallow.
Waltrip says they have narrowed the culprit down to one or two workers, but it’s difficult for me to believe that one individual’s actions such as pouring a gel or other unapproved liquid in the gas tank would go unnoticed.
Other members of the team, as well as the crew chief had to have some idea of what was going on.
No, I don’t accept Waltrip’s claim that it was a random, careless act by one person.
But one thing’s for certain, Toyota is not happy.
“This is not the way you want to enter NASCAR's Nextel Cup Series by any means,” said Jim Aust, the president and CEO of Toyota Racing Development. “For this to happen to him (Waltrip) is extremely disappointing and extremely disappointing to Toyota.”
Toyota isn't resting on Waltrip’s apology. Company officials are expected to send a letter out to all Toyota teams next week stating Waltrip's organization has used two of the company's three strikes.
Aust says the next Toyota team that gets caught cheating will face the loss of the manufacturer's support.
NASCAR also penalized Waltrip with the loss of 100 driver championship points. The team was fined $100,000 and his crew chief David Hyder was put on an indefinite suspension.
NASCAR has become such a big money sport that teams will do anything to win, including cheating. In the past, the risk of paying a small fine was well worth it for a team to finish up front, impress a sponsor and move up in the points.
NASCAR has been reluctant to penalize drivers and the penalties and fines they handed down in the past usually amounted to chump change. For teams that have an operating budget of $15-$20 million dollars, a few thousand isn’t going to be noticed.
Maybe, just maybe, NASCAR is getting serious about cheating. During the Daytona 500 week they handed down four other indictments to teams that were caught cheating. If they put some teeth into the penalties and maybe take away an undeserved win, teams will get the message that they must race by the rules.
HARVICK Wins Busch Opener At Daytona – Kevin Harvick continued his winning ways in the Busch Series by winning Saturday’s Orbitz 300 at Daytona International Speedway over Dave Blaney. It was the 27th victory for the two-time Busch Series champion.
SPRAGUE Gets Daytona Truck Win – Jack Sprague pulled off a daring outside move on the last lap to win Friday’s Craftsman Truck Series race at Daytona over Johnny Benson and Travis Kvapil. Mike Skinner, Todd Bodine, Joey Clanton, Ron Hornaday, Matt Crafton, Ted Musgrave, and Rick Crawford rounded out the top-10.
All three of NASCAR’s major series’ will be at the two-mile California Speedway in Fontana, CA.
Friday, February 23: Craftsman Trucks San Bernardino County 200, race 2 of 25, 100 laps/200 miles, 9 p.m. TV: Speed Channel.
Saturday, February 24: Busch Series Stater Bros. 300, race 2 of 35, 150 laps/300 miles, 7:30 p.m. TV: ESPN2.
Sunday, February 25: Nextel Cup Auto Club 500, race 2 of 36, 250 laps/500 miles, 3 p.m. TV: Fox.
Racing Trivia Question: Which former NASCAR driver qualified for the NASA astronaut program?
Last Week’s Question: Who is the oldest winner of a Daytona 500 race? Answer. Bobby Allison was 50 years, 2 months, and 11 days old when he won the 1988 race.
You may read additional stories by the Racing Reporter at www.race500.com.
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