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The New York Giants offensive line is generally regarded as the best in the National Football League this season.
Montrose graduate Chris Snee received credit as the leader of that unit last week when he was named as a starter for the National Football Conference team in February’s Pro Bowl in Hawaii.
The Pro Bowl selection was the first of his career for Snee, who had been an alternate in three of his first four professional seasons, but was never needed to fill a spot.
Snee’s selection had been anticipated as he continued to be acknowledged by various sources as one of the best offensive linemen in the entire league while helping the defending Super Bowl champs to the NFC East lead.
Official word came early Tuesday afternoon when the NFL announced the results of combined voting among coaches, players and fans.
“Yeah, I had an idea,” Snee said, according to an interview transcript on the team’s Web site, www.giants.com. “When I was in here, they said they’d find out around noon and sure enough a little after noon I got a call. I was hoping it wasn’t a bad phone call. But I had a feeling and it was exciting.”
Snee was picked to start in the NFC offensive line along with Dallas center Andre Gurode, Minnesota guard Steve Hutchinson, Seattle tackle Walter Jones and Carolina tackle Jordan Gross.
Teammate Shaun O’Hara, a center, is one of three back-up offensive linemen for the NFC.
WEEK IN REVIEW
TUNNEL HILL – Lackawanna Trail hurt Susquehanna with offensive rebounds and defensive pressure Saturday afternoon when the Lady Lions defeated the Lady Sabers, 65-49, in the Lackawanna League basketball season opener.
Trail took advantage of 29 offensive rebounds and 22 steals to get off 30 more shots from the floor and 10 more from the line while eventually pulling away from a tight game for a Division 3 victory.
The extra chances were enough to offset the tireless work of Christy Glidden, who led the Lady Sabers with 26 points, six assists and four steals.
“Glidden had to work hard,” Lackawanna Trail coach Tom Nasser said. “She was breaking the press, leading their defense and shooting threes.”
Extra burden was placed on Glidden when Susquehanna, already playing without one starter, went more than 15 minutes without leading scorer Hannah Price because of foul trouble.
Price finished with 12 points and four rebounds in just over half the game.
While Glidden and Price have each provided nearly 15 points per game, second-year Susquehanna coach Dori Sabatelli has been trying to develop more depth and balance on a team that is inexperienced behind its four seniors who are returning starters.
“What we’re trying to do is fill some gaps,” Sabatelli said. “We’re asking some girls to step up on the varsity court who have never had to before.”
Ashley Stein, who has scored in double figures twice this season, also fouled out Saturday when she played just 4:15. She had three fouls in 3:09 to start the game and picked up her fourth just nine seconds into the second half.
Christine Biegert, the fourth returning starter, tried to keep the Lady Sabers in the game when Price and Stein were sitting with foul trouble. She banked in two long shots and hit a 3-pointer in a span of 3:07 to end the first quarter and start the second.
Biegert’s 3-pointer put Susquehanna ahead for the last time and Glidden followed it with a steal and two free throws for a 19-16 advantage.
Trail, which got 20 points from Katie Ross and 16 points and 13 rebounds from Kelsey Deveney, moved in front to stay with a quick nine-point run that was aided by two steals.
“Typically, we have five girls on the floor who can score,” said Sabatelli, who points to rebounding, then defensive discipline as the areas the Lady Sabers have to concentrate most on improving. “We have good shooters. The key is to get movement on offense and get someone open.”
Susquehanna, which went 7-18 last season, is 2-4.
The Lady Sabers rolled to their second win earlier in the week when they shut out Carbondale St. Rose in the first and fourth quarters of a 63-13 rout.
Glidden had seven of her 21 points in the first quarter when Susquehanna opened a 13-0 lead. Price added 19 points.
Montrose defeated Mountain View, 54-49, in Saturday’s other league opener, giving an indication why it is favored to win the division.
Freshman Dallas Ely scored 17 points for the Lady Meteors, who won the game at the foul line by going 15-for-23 while the Lady Eagles were 9-for-21.
Erika Lewis had 15 points and Alex Lynn added 11 for Mountain View.
Montrose fell to unbeaten Holy Cross, 58-45, in an earlier non-league game despite 21 points by Dallas Ely.
In boys’ basketball, Jeff Madrak scored the 1,000th point of his career among his 22 points while helping Elk Lake remain unbeaten with a 55-54 victory at Athens.
Montrose suffered its first loss Saturday at Mid Valley, 55-53.
Briton Hendricks led the Spartans with 22 points.
Andy Burgh and Bill Stanburg had 11 each for Montrose.
Susquehanna dropped to 4-2 Saturday night despite 28 points from Jeff Williams in a 73-48 loss to Wyoming Area.
In wrestling, Susquehanna suffered a punishing, 75-6 loss to Scranton Prep in its Lackawanna League Division 2 opener Thursday.
The Cavaliers had the win clinched in just 4:51 of mat time with three quick pins and five forfeits.
The Sabers won the first bout by forfeit and did not win again.
“Unfortunately, Susquehanna came in with some big holes in the lineup,” Scranton Prep coach Marty Flynn said. “We know they’ve always been a stronger team than that, but they have a few people out right now.”
A night earlier, defending champion and division favorite Elk Lake opened with a 62-15 romp over Valley View.
Montrose defeated Mountain View, 42-31, in another division opener.
Brent Keyes from Susquehanna and Patrick Lambert from Mountain View are freshmen forwards on the Marywood University men’s basketball team that got off to a 5-4 start.
Keyes appeared in five of the first nine games, playing 23 minutes. He was 4-for-7 shooting while scoring nine points and grabbing four rebounds.
Lambert played 32 minutes in six games. He had eight points and six rebounds.
THE WEEK AHEAD
The holiday week is filled with tournament action for county sports teams, highlighted by the Community Foundation’s Susquehanna County Christmas Basketball Tournaments.
Susquehanna, Mountain View and Elk Lake will all travel to Blue Ridge Friday and Monday for the county girls’ tournament. Friday's schedule calls for Susquehanna to face Elk Lake at 6:30 and Montrose to take on Blue Ridge at 8.
Susquehanna, Blue Ridge and Montrose will travel to Elk Lake Saturday and Tuesday for the county boys’ tournament. Saturday's schedule is Montrose against Blue Ridge at 6 and Susquehanna against Elk Lake at 7:30.
Mountain View is part of the field at the Forest City Rotary Tournament, which was scheduled to start Tuesday, December 23 and finish Friday.
The Montrose girls are at the Riverside Tournament Friday and Monday. The Forest City girls are at the Honesdale Jaycees Tournament Saturday and Monday.
Susquehanna, Montrose and Mountain View are among the wrestling teams in the Tunkhannock Kiwanis Tournament Monday and Tuesday.
In professional hockey, the Binghamton Senators visit the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins for a Sunday game at 5:05.
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
Buck Baker Would Find A Way – The season is over and Jimmy Johnson has been crowned champion. Now maybe we can contemplate what has happened during the past few months and focus on the future.
The slow economy continues to take its toll on sponsors, fans, and teams. No one should take these times lightly.
Buck Baker in the early 1950s.
Just like in racing, you’ve got to come out with hope, expecting that you’re going to be there at the finish line. Anyone that has been in the pits before the start of the race remembers the optimism among all the drivers and teams.
Come the end of the race, there is only one winner. But prior to the next race, the hope and adrenalin forces its way back to the top.
Even as the year comes to a close, there are reasons to look forward to the arrival of the new season.
Elzie Wylie Baker, known as “Buck” was one of the toughest and most capable drivers of the 1950s. A hard-nosed competitor in the rough-and-tumble Modified division, Baker won his share of battles on the racetrack, and compiled an enviable record in post-race fisticuffs.
I met Baker once and what I remember about him was the odds he overcame to win and his optimism.
“You can’t let anyone think you’re not going to win a race,” he said during the interview. “If you talk yourself out of believing you are a winner, then you might as well stay in the pits and let someone else do the driving.
“There were times we left home without money to buy new tires. We didn’t know where the money was coming from. Heck, there’s times we didn’t have money to put gas in the truck to get to the track.
“But someone always came through for what we needed. We always could have used more and better equipment, but I’m talking about don’t let yourself believe you can’t be a winner.”
During the 1950s, Baker was active in all branches of the NASCAR racing tree. He divided his time between the tumultuous short tracks and the popular NASCAR Grand National circuit – and also took time out to win the championship for NASCAR's short-lived open-wheel Speedway Division tour in '52.
He was a driver held in high esteem among team owners, who became sought-after to drive other teams’ equipment when he wasn't campaigning his own.
In his two championship years of 1956 and '57, Baker won 24 of his 46 career NASCAR Grand National victories.
In addition to his two championships, he won the Southern 500 at Darlington three times.
Perhaps the 1960 Darlington race is the best example of his desire to race and overcome adversity.
Jack Smith had a bad wreck at Darlington in 1958 and refused to drive any more at the track. Baker took over as his substitute.
As a replacement, Baker wheeled Smith's Pontiac to victory in dramatic fashion. He finished the race on three wheels, throwing up a shower of sparks after blowing a tire with two laps remaining.
His final superspeedway triumph came in 1964 at Darlington, driving a Dodge for Ray Fox. It turned out to be the final win of his career, but even at the age of 45, he proved he hadn't lost the edge.
Baker retired as a full-time driver from NASCAR Grand National competition after the 1968 season. Not content to sit around he switched to the Grand Touring Series, which featured Mustangs and Camaros. He was a front-runner in that series too, winning eight times in four seasons.
After kicking around the short tracks throughout the Carolinas, Baker got restless and wanted to test the big-league waters one final time.
In 1976, at the age of 57, he struck a deal with team owner Junie Donlavey to make his return at Darlington for the April 11 race. After qualifying 13th, Baker went on to finish in sixth place.
What makes Baker stand out as one of my heroes is he never gave up.
Growing up on a farm near Chester, South Carolina, Baker had to outrun the police on his very first whiskey run in order to stay out of jail.
“If there was something going on that you dare not go to, like the roughest side of town or roughest joints, that’s things I played,” he told a reporter shortly before his death in 2002.
“I was brought up like an alley dog. I kind of felt like I was Buck Baker, a tough somebody. That may have been because I didn’t have the care of a mother and father, maybe brothers and sisters.
“Maybe I just had a bad outlook on life. I lived like that for an awful long time, but I never went to jail in the 1930s.”
Baker quit school after the ninth grade. His many activities included boxing, football, golf, working in a bakery and selling automobiles.
After a hitch in the Navy during World War II, he and his family (wife, Margaret and son, Buddy), moved to Charlotte where he found work as a Trailways bus driver.
Baker got his first notion about driving a race car at the age of 27, when he was older than most of the other drivers who were already running a circuit. He competed in his first race in 1946. In 1952, after beating out Lee Petty at Columbia, SC, he decided to become a NASCAR series regular—at the age of 34.
During his career in NASCAR Grand National racing, Elzie Wylie Baker competed in 636 races, won 46 times, and was the first driver to exceed $300,000 in official career earnings.
The world needs a lot more people like Baker in these troubled times. If he didn’t know what to do, he would either find a way or make one.
Next Week: “Tiger” Tom; Little Man With a Big Desire.
Racing Trivia Question: Which state is Kasey Kahne from?
Last Week’s Question: What year was the first Daytona 500 held? The year was 1959 and it was won by Lee Petty.
You may contact the Racing Reporter at: email@example.com.
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