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Elk Lake used a strong performance in the first half of the Lackawanna League schedule to earn a shot at the Division 3 boys' basketball championship.
The Montrose girls had to settle for second place in their division, but had the best league record of any county basketball team. Mountain View matched Elk Lake's overall league record, but did not get any playoff shot after settling for second-place in the second-half boys' standings.
After winning its first six league games, Elk Lake dropped the first-half boys' finale then went just 3-4 in the second half to finish 9-5 in league play.
The first-half championship, however, put the Warriors into the division championship game. That game, against second-half champion Lackawanna Trail, was scheduled to have been played Monday night.
Mountain View used a 57-41 victory over Elk Lake in Friday's regular-season finale to match the Warriors at 9-5. The Eagles went 5-2 in the second half to finish behind Lackawanna Trail, which was 6-1.
Forest City and Carbondale tied for third at 4-3, followed by Elk Lake and Susquehanna at 3-4, Montrose at 2-5 and Blue Ridge at 1-6.
Lackawanna Trail went 11-3 overall, two games better than Elk Lake and Mountain View. Forest City was 7-7, Susquehanna and Carbondale were 6-8, Montrose was 5-9 and Blue Ridge was 3-11.
The Montrose girls finished second to unbeaten Carbondale in each half.
Blue Ridge improved from 2-5 in the first half to 5-2 in the second half.
The final second-half girls' standings were: Carbondale 7-0, Montrose 6-1, Blue Ridge 5-2, Forest City and Lackawanna Trail 3-4, Elk Lake and Mountain View 2-5, and Susquehanna 0-7.
The all-season girls' standings were: Carbondale 14-0, Montrose 11-3, Blue Ridge 7-7, Mountain View 6-8, Elk Lake and Lackawanna Trail 5-9, and Forest City and Susquehanna 4-10.
WEEK IN REVIEW
Alex Pashchuk scored 19 points and Jon McBride added 17 for Mountain View in its win over Elk Lake in a make-up game that completed the league schedule.
A.J. Lunger had 17 points to lead Elk Lake.
Mountain View had a closer call earlier in the week when it edged Montrose, 41-39.
The game was tied after the first and third quarters and Mountain View had a one-point lead at halftime.
Patrick Lambert scored 12 points and Pashchuk added 11 for the Eagles.
Kyle Bonnie led Montrose with 10 points.
Susquehanna continued its season-long trend of getting caught in tight games when the Sabers rallied from a seven-point deficit after three quarters to pull out a 59-55 win over Elk Lake.
The Sabers were still behind until Kirk Fallon hit a 3-pointer with 22 seconds left. After the defense of Craig Soden, Jeff Williams and Fallon combined to force a turnover, Fallon hit two free throws with 4.5 seconds left to clinch the win.
Brent Keyes had seven of his 15 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Sabers. Fallon added 12 and C.J. Felter had 11.
Jeff Madrak went 11-for-13 from the line while scoring 16 to lead Elk Lake. Mike Greenwood had 11 points and Payton Baltzley added 10.
Baltzley had Elk Lake's only two field goals of the fourth quarter.
In girls' basketball, Julia Koloski and Monica Turner helped Montrose overcome early deficits to win its final two league games.
The Lady Meteors won at Mountain View, 49-38, after falling behind, 15-3, in the first eight minutes.
Koloski had 19 points, 10 steals and seven rebounds. Turner added 16 points and seven rebounds.
Andie King chipped in with 10 points and seven rebounds while Autumn Ely had five assists.
Sara Evans led Mountain View with 11 points.
Montrose handled Elk Lake, 68-48, when it used a 22-8 second quarter to erase a one-point deficit.
Turner finished with 22 points and 12 rebounds. Koloski had 18 points and five steals.
King added 10 points and three blocked shots while Chelsea Lunger dished out seven assists.
Jaclyn Vaow and Karley Caines each had 16 points to lead Elk Lake.
Whitney Williams was in the lineup as the starting shortstop when the University of Massachusetts opened its softball season Friday at the FAU Kick Off Classic in Boca Raton, FL.
The Minutewomen went 1-3 with the losses each coming by one run against Michigan, Maryland and North Carolina.
Williams, who spent much of last season there, started at shortstop in all four games. The sophomore from Mountain View was one of many Massachusetts players to struggle offensively, going 0-for-8.
"Whitney has great athleticism and talent as a middle infielder, and she is great to have out there," Massachusetts coach Elaine Sortino said.
THE WEEK AHEAD
District 2 basketball tournament play will begin this week.
Official pairings were scheduled to be announced during a Tuesday afternoon meeting in Pittston.
Tournament play begins Wednesday with one preliminary round game needed to cut the Class AA boys' field to 16 teams.
Blue Ridge could be in that game, possibly at home.
The Class AA girls' tournament needs two preliminary games Thursday to get down to 16 teams. Susquehanna could be in action in that round, with a home game possible and Wilkes-Barre GAR or Mid Valley as the most likely opponents.
The Class AA boys' tournament continues Friday.
Elk Lake and Mountain View are in position to be seeded in the top eight and start out at home. Montrose will be on the road, possibly at Northwest.
The Class AA girls' tournament continues Saturday.
Montrose could be seeded fourth behind division champions Dunmore, Carbondale and Wilkes-Barre Meyers.
Blue Ridge, Mountain View and Elk Lake will all have to start out on the road. Elk Lake may have to play at one of the division champions as would Susquehanna, if the Lady Sabers can get through the preliminary round.
There are only four teams in Class A boys, which will open with semifinal play Monday, February 18 when Susquehanna faces Forest City.
The Class A girls' tournament has just three teams. Forest City will play Freeland MMI Tuesday, February 19 in a semifinal game.
The other tournaments also continue February 18 and 19.
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
Earnhardt Wins In Hendrick Debut, Daytona Beach, FL – Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was the story of the night for the 30th Running of the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona.
Making his Hendrick Motorsports debut, Earnhardt, Jr. led 47 of 70 laps in a hard-fought battle of two-and three-wide racing to capture the win. Finishing out the top-five was Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Reed Sorensen, respectively.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. celebrates Saturday's Bud Shooutout win at Daytona.
Earnhardt, Jr. becomes a two-time winner of the Budweiser Shootout and brought back some “old style” passing with the new car.
“I got (the slingshot) used a couple of times on me – and I was able to make it happen – so it looks like it’s back,” Earnhardt said in victory lane. “I had a blast. I had a really great race car. That was 50 percent race car and 50 percent teammate. Jimmie Johnson gave me a push there at the end when he and Kasey were lined up on the outside. That was great for us and I want to thank them for that.
“This is great for us. This is exactly what we needed coming out of the gate. I hope the fans enjoyed that race because it was so fun for me, the National Guard and Tony, and everybody that has helped us in the off season. This makes it all worth it.”
Friday’s accident-filled final practice session left many teams with wrecked race cars and flared tempers, including Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch.
But when the field took the green for the Budweiser Shootout, tempers were in check and there was two- and three-wide racing all night. Stewart finished second and raced side-by-side racing with Earnhardt, Jr.
“That was awesome,” Stewart said. “I don’t know how you can ask for a better race than that. Dale Jr. is one of the best there’s ever been in a restrictor-plate car. He drove his butt off tonight and put his car where he wanted. So I don’t know how I could be disappointed with second tonight.”
Johnson Is On Pole For Daytona 500 – Jimmie Johnson, with a time of 48.10-seconds will start on the Pole in Sunday’s Daytona 500. Michael Waltrip (48.19-seconds) will be on the outside pole.
Only the front row is set. The remainder of the drivers must race in one of the two-qualifying races (Twin Gatorade Duels) on Thursday to determine the next 33 positions. The last eight of the 43-car starting field will be determined by NASCAR provisionals and past champion provisional.
Annett Wins Daytona ARCA Race, Daytona Beach, FL – ARCA RE/MAX Series rookie Michael Annett survived the “big one” at Daytona. The Des Moines, Iowa driver also held off what was left of the hungry pack for the final 32 laps to take home the biggest victory of his career Saturday afternoon, winning the 45th annual ARCA 200 at Daytona.
Annett, in the No. 28 Bill Davis-owned Pilot Travel Centers Toyota, finished three lengths in front of Justin Allgaier.
“We didn’t qualify where we wanted to qualify,” said Annett, who started third. “We wanted the pole, but we knew we had a good car in the draft. These tracks are a lot of fun and being in a Bill Davis Toyota makes it even more fun. The only two tracks I’ve raced in with Bill Davis was the restrictor plate tracks and we won both of those so I can’t wait to see how I tackle these intermediate tracks.”
Four Drivers That Must Produce In 2008 – Each year there are drivers that need to perform better than last season. Some of them face a make-or-break situation. There are at least four Cup drivers that need to improve on their 2007 performance.
They are Ryan Newman, Elliott Sadler, Reed Sorenson, and Jamie McMurray.
Ryan Newman was one of the hottest drivers in Cup racing in 2003. That year he had eight wins and 11 poles. Since then, he has only three victories.
Many fans are wondering what is wrong with him and his No. 12 Penske Racing team.
Newman’s contract is up at the end of 2008. If he doesn’t win this year, he might start looking elsewhere.
Jamie McMurray, driver of the No. 26 Roush-Fenway Ford finished 17th in points, while two of his teammates, Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards were in last year’s Chase.
If the other Roush drivers, including Greg Biffle have another decent year, McMurray might be in trouble. Jack Roush loves a winner, and if you ain’t winning for him, you are probably on your way out.
Elliott Sadler left Robert Yates Racing midway of the 2006 season saying, “This is not a winning team.”
Well, it’s been two years, and Sadler has only one top-five since moving to a Ray Evernham-Gillett Dodge.
Sadler has three career Cup victories, but he needs to break out in 2008.
Reed Sorenson of Peachtree City, Georgia was a terror during his short track racing career, but after two full Cup seasons, he managed only a 24th and 22nd in points.
His teammate Juan Montoya won in his rookie season, and now car owner, Chip Ganassi has brought in Dario Franchitti, a former IndyCar Series champ.
Sorenson must kick it up a bit if he is to remain a part of Ganassi’s lineup.
The 50th running of the Daytona 500 on Sunday, February 17, will carry a record purse of more than $18 million.
The posted awards for "The Great American Race" will be $18,689,238. The awards for the 2007 Daytona 500, which was won for the first time by Kevin Harvick in a photo finish over Mark Martin, were $18,386,023.
The winner of this year's race will collect a minimum of $1,445,250. The second, third, fourth and fifth-place finishers in the Daytona 500 will receive a minimum of $1,044,400, $752,400, $598,450 and $471,500 respectively. The last-place finisher in the Daytona 500 will receive $233,865.
The winner of the inaugural Daytona 500 back in 1959 – Lee Petty – collected $19,050 and the last-place finisher – Ken Marriott – earned $100.
Thursday, February 14, Twin Gatorade Duels (qualifying race to determine Sunday’s Daytona 500 starting lineup), 2 p.m. TV: Speed.
Friday, February 15, Craftsman Truck Series Chevy Silverado 250, 100 laps/250 miles, 7:30 p.m. TV: Speed.
Saturday, February 16, Nationwide Series Camping World 300, 120 laps/300 miles, 12 noon. TV: ESPN2.
Sunday, February 17, 50th Annual Daytona 500, 200 laps/500 miles, 3:30 p.m. TV: Fox.
Racing Trivia Question: Has the Daytona 500 always been the first race of the year?
Last Week’s Question: How many Daytona 500s did Dale Earnhardt, Sr. win? Answer: His only win came in 1998.
You may contact the Racing Reporter at: email@example.com.
Elk Lake hardly fits the description of a team that lacks scoring options.
"We have a lot of playmakers on our team," junior forward Jeff Madrak said. "Whoever's night it is can get it done."
Despite playing on a championship team with other offensive threats, Madrak has consistently been the top scorer in any division of Lackawanna League boys' basketball.
Madrak finished as the only player in the league to average more than 20 points per game, surpassing 30 at times, and helped the Warriors earn a spot in the Division 3 all-season championship game. For his efforts, Madrak has been selected as the Susquehanna County Transcript Athlete of the Month for January.
Elk Lake earned a shot at the championship by winning its first six league games and taking the first-half division title with a 6-1 record.
"The first half is pretty important," Madrak said. "We knew we had to come out strong."
By taking the first-half title, the Warriors assured themselves of at least a playoff game for the division championship. Even after slumping in the second half, they are in that position.
"With one good game, we can wipe that all away," Madrak said.
The Warriors clinched the first-half title with the last of the six straight wins to open league play. They got it when Madrak scored 11 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter of a 69-58 win over Susquehanna, the only time the Warriors beat the Sabers in three tries this season.
"That was a good game for us," Madrak said. "We played them in the Christmas Tournament and they beat us there.
"We wanted to get some vengeance and we did."
Madrak is in his second season as Elk Lake's leading scorer. He also started on the baseball team as a sophomore, playing pitcher, first base and the outfield.
Most of the year, however, is spent on the basketball court. In addition to playing at Elk Lake, Madrak is a member of the 21 Hoops AAU team.
Jeff is the son of Robert and Theresa Madrak of Meshoppen.
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