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Local Sports Scene

County Basketball Tournament Returns For Second Season
By Tom Robinson

The Susquehanna County Christmas Basketball Tournament, sponsored by the Community Foundation of Susquehanna and Wyoming Counties, returns for its second season with events at two local high schools during the holiday week.

The girls' tournament will be held Wednesday and Friday at Mountain View. The boys' tournament is scheduled for Thursday and Saturday at Susquehanna.

Both defending champion teams are back. Each tournament features four Susquehanna County schools in a two-round, varsity format and each junior varsity team also gets one game.

Proceeds from ticket sales and donations are used for a scholarship fund.

Girls' action begins Wednesday with Susquehanna playing host Mountain View in a junior varsity game at 4:30. The semifinals feature defending champion Elk Lake against Blue Ridge at 6 and Susquehanna against Mountain View at 7:45.

The boys' tournament starts the next day in Susquehanna with Montrose facing the Sabers in a 4:30 JV game. The semifinals are Elk Lake against Blue Ridge at 6 and defending champion Montrose against Susquehanna at 7:45.

Friday's schedule of girls' games opens with Blue Ridge and Elk Lake in a 4:30 JV game. The semifinal losers play for third place at 6 p.m. followed by the championship game at 7:45.

Elk Lake and Blue Ridge start the Saturday boys' schedule with a 4:30 JV game. The third-place game is at 6, followed by the championship at 7:45.


Just three days into the boys' basketball season and already two of the likely top-three contenders for the Lackawanna League Division III basketball title had their first league loss.

Defending champion Mountain View showed it is still capable of being part of the championship mix when it opened league play with a 49-41 victory over Forest City, one of the favorites.

Forest City bounced back to hand Susquehanna its first loss, 63-62, in triple overtime to drop the Sabers to 1-1.

Among the favorites, only Elk Lake made it past Wednesday without a loss. The Warriors beat Lackawanna Trail, 80-70, in their opener.

Blue Ridge used a 31-point fourth quarter to rally past Montrose, 66-54, in another opener.

Ben Hinkley had 15 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter.

Kyle Bonnice had 18 points and 12 rebounds in the loss.

In girls' basketball, defending champion Carbondale was the only Division III team to enter league play with a winning overall record.

The Lady Chargers then defeated Susquehanna, 54-27, in the first league game.

Monica Turner had 11 points and 10 rebounds to lead Montrose past Blue Ridge, 40-26, in another opener. The Lady Meteors are likely to remain as the top challenger to Carbondale.

Mountain View and Elk Lake also won openers.

In wrestling, Elk Lake, Montrose and Blue Ridge each won their Lackawanna League Division 2 openers.

In professional baseball, the New York Yankees announced that there will be only one change on the field staff for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees Class AAA team next season.

Manager Dave Miley will return.

Rafael Chaves will take over as pitching coach for Dave Eiland, who has been promoted to New York.

Butch Wynegar will be back as hitting coach and Alvaro Espinoza will be back as infield coach.

The Yankees had an International League-best, 84-59 record in their first season in Moosic.

"I'm excited to be back in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre," Miley said. "I had a lot of fun last year. It was a great baseball atmosphere and the fans were tremendous."


Susquehanna graduate Amber Gaffey needed just two meets to make an impact on the Towson University track and field program.

In the second indoor meet of her freshman season, Gaffey was one of two individual winners to help Towson to the team title in the 17-school Ursinus Winter Track Invitational.

After clearing 2.85 meters in the pole vault in her college debut, Gaffey went 3.04 meters (about 10 feet) at Ursinus.

Towson also won a relay race while compiling 137 points, well ahead of second-place Coppin State with 86.5.

Gaffey was a state champion, a four-time state medal-winner and a District 2 record-holder in the pole vault during her high school career.


The Binghamton Senators are at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins Saturday in an American Hockey League East Division game.

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

A Racer Named Louise – Each holiday season I try to find a story that will highlight what Christmastime is all about. This year, the story is about Louise Smith of Greenville, SC.

File photo of Louise Smith, courtesy of NASCAR.

Smith, who became the first woman inducted into the International Motor Sports Hall of Fame, in Talladega, Alabama, got her start in racing in 1945 when Bill 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.

“Childhood memories become our dreams as we grow older,” she said during a 1996 telephone interview. “Racing was the desire of my heart, but some of my fondest memories were during childhood.”

Smith was born in Barnesville, Georgia in 1916. Her father moved the family to South Carolina in 1920. Remembering the childhood memories about growing up on the family farm brought back pleasant emotions to her.

“It was one Christmas right after the family moved to South Carolina that stands out in my mind,” she continued. “Santa Claus brought me a wonderful gift. It was a doll, but not just an ordinary doll. It was much more than that.

“She was a ‘China Doll.’ Her face, hands and feet were made of porcelain china, but her body was soft, and she had on a long, beige embroidered dress. I can still recall her face with the pouting lips. She looked like a queen, with reddened cheeks and lips, and curly locks.

“Looking into her eyes was like peering into someone with a living soul.

“Remembering the love I felt holding her, is still with me. As we grow older, we become afraid to love and touch. I think that’s a shame.

“My life has been so rewarding. I’ve gotten to live out a life most people only dream about. Many of my days were like diamonds. The highs really outweighed the lows.

“We never know in advance what form an angel might take. Don’t be afraid to give, or love. And don’t be afraid to hold on to what’s dear to your heart.”

After racing on local tracks, Smith sneaked off to Daytona in February of 1947, to see if she could tame the famed beach course. She planned to use her husband’s new Ford, 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 a Greyhound bus, her husband asked her where the car was.

After an explanation that refused to convince her husband, he 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 continued. “But I gave it all I had.”

She was notorious for some of her wrecks, with one in particular that nearly ended her life. At Hillsborough one year she crashed her car after it launched into the air, and it took workers over thirty minutes to cut her free. She ended up with four pins in her knee and forty eight stitches to close the wounds.

Her career spanned from 1945-1956, with 38 wins over the next 11 years, often competing against the true legends of early Stock Car racing. Richard Petty, Buck Baker, Tim and Fonty Flock, and more, 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.

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 was affiliated with the Living Legends Club in Daytona and The Old Timer’s racing club in North Carolina.

Louise Smith was a true pioneer, not only in sports but for the women who would follow. She complained about not being able to walk that well as she grew older, but remained very comfortable behind the wheel until her death, at the age of 89, in 2006.

Record ARCA/REMAX Testing Turnout, Daytona Beach, FL – In preparation for the 45th annual ARCA 200, February 9, 2008, at Daytona, a record 79 drivers and 68 racecars participated in the three-day ARCA RE/MAX Series open test this past weekend, Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Daytona Int’l Speedway.

And despite the record turnout and a healthy crop of development teams on the grounds, it was, in the end, ARCA RE/MAX Series regulars Venturini Motorsports and Country Joe Racing that topped the speed charts.

Venturini Motorsports, renowned for their restrictor plate savvy, was quickest in single car runs with Canadian rookie Ryan Fischer in the driver’s seat. Fischer circled the legendary 2.5-mile superspeedway in 49.558 seconds, an average speed of 181.605 mph.

Fischer, from the province of British Columbia, edged Roush Fenway Racing teammates Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. and Erik Darnell, who were second and third on the single car speed charts with speeds of 181.580 mph and 181.243 mph respectively.

Stenhouse, from the open-wheel ranks, recently announced that he would be running the full 2008 series schedule for Roush Fenway. Darnell won two RE/MAX Series events in 2007 at Kentucky and Michigan while participating in the full NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series schedule.

Country Joe Racing’s James Buescher was fourth quickest overall in single car runs ahead of Mario Gosselin and five-time and defending ARCA 200 at Daytona winner Bobby Gerhart. The event marked Gerhart’s return to the cockpit after recovering from injuries sustained in a crash at Pocono Raceway in July of 2007.

Former series Rookie of the Year Chad Blount, Dominick Casola, Ed Kennedy, and Matt Carter completed the top-10 fastest drivers in single car runs. Carter, son of longtime NASCAR car owner Travis Carter, was aboard Larry Clement’s No. 46 Ford Taurus, the same ride recently vacated by Frank Kimmel.

Donny Lia, John Townley, Stenhouse, Jr., Darnell, Chase Austin, Dexter Bean, JR Heffner, Tayler Malsam, and Patrick Sheltra completed the top-five best speeds in the draft.

Lia’s effort (182.678 mph) was the best among the Toyota teams in attendance, which included the 2007 Talladega winner Michael Annett and Eddie Sharp Racing’s two-car team with Formula 1 veteran Scott Speed and Ken Butler, III driving.

Other notable drivers that tested included 2007 Indy 500 winner and IndyCar Series champion Dario Franchitti, who was 23rd fastest (178.384 mph) overall, and Landon Cassill, who placed 16th fastest in the draft and 45th overall in single car runs.

Racing Trivia Question: Who claimed the 2007 Busch Series Owner’s title?

Last Week’s Question: How many Cup teams will Hendrick Motorsports field in 2008? Answer: Four; Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Casey Mears.

You may contact the Racing Reporter at:

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