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Tunnel Hill – Two upsets on the final night of the schedule forced two playoff games to determine the first-half Lackawanna League Division 3 girls’ basketball championship.
Forest City, which opened the door for other contenders with its shocking loss to last-place Blue Ridge, recovered to win the two playoff games and the first-half title that went with them.
“It was a nice game for the kids,” coach Carl Urbas said after the Lady Foresters held on for a 33-30 victory over Mountain View Friday night to take the title. “It was a long way through after Blue Ridge.”
Katie Yale scored 12 points and made eight steals in the final playoff game.
“I can’t say enough about Yale,” Urbas said. “She was aggressive on defense and she made some great post moves.”
Mountain View won a coin flip and a bye in the three-way playoff while Forest City had to get past Montrose.
“It was tough coming into the playoffs thinking about how we had lost to Blue Ridge,” Yale said.
Forest City had to overcome 39 turnovers to hand Mountain View just its second loss in nine games.
Mountain View had troubles of its own. The Lady Eagles missed their first 21 shots from the floor to fall behind, 14-4, before Marissa Smith hit an 18-footer from the left baseline with 2:05 left in the half.
The Lady Eagles never led, but they did come back to tie the game, 30-30, on a 3-pointer by Kelsey Whitaker with 1:52 left.
Erica Lewis had six steals and Sara Evans had five to lead a pressure defense that sparked the comeback. They each had three steals in the fourth quarter.
“The last game, they stayed man-to-man the whole time,” Urbas said. “They’re a pretty athletic team. We had a hard time seeing over their 1-3-1 trap and we dribbled into it too much.”
Forest City scored the game’s final three points when Alyssa Borick hit the front end of a one-and-one and Kierstin Collins made two of four foul shots.
Kierstin Collins came off the bench to finish with 10 points. Amanda Collins had 10 rebounds, four assists and four steals. Cassie Erdmann had 10 rebounds and three blocked shots.
Lewis led Mountain View with 10 points. Kayla Kazmierski grabbed 12 rebounds.
Forest City overcame the turnovers by making the most of the shots it did get. The Lady Foresters shot 12-for-30 (40 percent), including 3-for-6 (50 percent) on 3-pointers.
“We’ve got some good shooters,” Urbas said.
The Lady Foresters shot 19-for-41 (46.3 percent) in the first playoff game.
Amanda Collins scored a season-high 20 points and Cassie Erdmann added 17 as Forest City defeated Montrose, 55-39, Wednesday night at Valley View.
Collins hit a pair of 3-pointers and scored eight of her points in the first quarter to get the Lady Foresters out to a 12-8 lead.
Erdmann had two 3-pointers in the third quarter and three in the game.
“We went inside-outside and used quick passing,” Collins said.
Forest City was also strong on the perimeter defensively, holding Montrose to an 0-for-15 effort from 3-point range.
“We had good shot selection,” Forest City coach Carl Urbas said. “We did a nice job on defense guarding their freshman (Dallas Ely).”
The Lady Foresters switched defenses throughout the game. Alyssa Borick and Katie Yale often handled the match-up on Ely and one other shooter in a triangle-and-two defense.
Katelyn Spellman led Montrose with 10 points, 11 rebounds and three steals.
The Lady Meteors played without starter Julia Koloski, who was sidelined with a separated shoulder.
The loss was the third straight for Montrose, which had been 5-0 and alone in the division lead before a 58-53 loss to Forest City in which Erdmann scored 20 points to offset 21 by Ely. Koloski was Montrose’s second-leading scorer in that game with 14.
“We hit a streak. We were playing good basketball,” Montrose coach Al Smith said. “We had won five in a row. All of a sudden, we just stopped doing the little things – execution, turnovers and rotations on defense – and it’s showing up in the results.”
In the playoff meeting, Erdmann also had eight rebounds and four steals. Collins had six rebounds, five steals and four assists.
Sarah Kimsey had 12 points and eight rebounds for the Lady Meteors.
Mountain View and Lackawanna Trail were tied for third entering the final night of the first half and the winner of their head-to-head meeting only had a chance if Montrose and Forest City both lost.
Karley Caines had 19 points as Elk Lake took care of Montrose, 47-37.
The shocker came when previously winless Blue Ridge broke out in front on Forest City, lost its lead, then recovered for a 41-36 upset victory.
Lauren Findley scored 15 points, Kaitchen Dearborn added 12 and Shayna Hettinger had 10 for Blue Ridge.
Collins and Jessica Butler led Forest City with 10 each.
Hettinger did all of Blue Ridge’s scoring for an 8-4 lead after one quarter.
Findley had six points in the second quarter for an 18-10 halftime lead.
Collins connected on a pair of 3-pointers to allow Forest City to tie the game, 22-22, going into the fourth quarter.
Dearborn scored six points in the fourth.
Mountain View played its way into the three-way tie with a 43-35 victory over Lackawanna Trail.
Lewis had seven of her 15 points in the fourth quarter when the Lady Eagles broke open a two-point game. Evans added 10 points.
Kelsey Deveney scored 14 points and Kristyn Grunza added 11 for Lackawanna Trail.
Behind Forest City, Montrose and Mountain View in the standings, Elk Lake and Lackawanna Trail were all part of the jumble within a game of the lead with 4-3 records. Western Wayne went 3-4 while Blue Ridge and Susquehanna tied for last at 1-6.
WEEK IN REVIEW
Elk Lake technically clinched at least a tie for the Lackawanna League Division 2 wrestling title and realistically eliminated the last of its threats when it posted a 40-25 win at Blue Ridge Wednesday.
Brent Salsman and Tyler McCauley had back-to-back pins at 160 and 171 to start a closing stretch of five straight bout wins, erasing a 12-point deficit.
Brandon Cleveland followed with another pin, assuring the Warriors of the win.
In boys’ basketball, Luke Jenkins scored 24 points and grabbed 13 rebounds as Mountain View finished as unbeaten first-half champion in Lackawanna League Division 3 with a 59-46 victory at Lackawanna Trail.
The Eagles opened an 11-point lead at halftime on the way to their eighth straight victory.
“The two things we’ve stressed all year are defense and rebounding,” first-year Mountain View coach Lawrence Tompkins said. “If we do those two things, then our offense is going to take care of itself.
“Right now, our offense is getting better every game, but our defense is what we’ve been able to depend on.”
Elk Lake moved past Montrose into second place, breaking the Meteors’ winning streak at seven games, 47-37.
Jeff Madrak went 12-for-14 from the line while scoring a game-high 20 points. Sean Morahan added 12.
Andy Burgh scored 15 to lead Montrose.
Mountain View’s 7-0 record was followed in the first-half standings by Elk Lake at 6-1, Montrose at 5-2, Lackawanna Trail, Blue Ridge and Forest City at 3-4, Susquehanna at 1-6 and Western Wayne at 0-7.
Justin Herbert was named Franklin & Marshall Athlete of the Week after breaking the school’s 75-year-old record for pins in a career.
Herbert tied and broke Paul Cassel’s record of 29 pins during the week of January 12.
The 174-pound senior from Blue Ridge tied the mark with a 23-second pin of Sacred Heart’s Michael Hartman. He posted his 30th career pin with a win over American International’s Yaakov Bloch in just 1:14.
Herbert set the school’s season record for pins as a junior when he had 17. He has seven this season.
THE WEEK AHEAD
The District 2 Dual Meet wrestling tournament will be held Friday and Saturday.
The Class AA tournament, where Elk Lake is likely to be one of the higher seeds, will have quarterfinal and semifinal rounds Friday at Lake-Lehman. The finals will be Saturday at Pittston Area.
Blue Ridge is also a likely participant.
The second half of Lackawanna League basketball play began Monday for the girls and Tuesday for the boys.
Two of the three teams involved in the first-half tie will play Monday, February 2 when Mountain View is at Forest City.
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
New Format For Bud Shootout – The Bud Shootout, NASCAR’s first non-points race of the season, has so changed that it hardly resembles any previous Shootout. While most drivers haven’t had much to say about the changes, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., winner of last year’s race, was quoted in Sports Illustrated as saying he didn’t like the new format.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., winner of the 2008 Bud Shootout.
“It just sucks because I'm such a historian of the sport, and I just like all the history, and I like all the cool things about the history,” he said. “And I like looking back on the guys who were in this race in the '80s and '90s, and why they were in it, and how they got in it, and who missed it the next year and made it the next year. Maybe there's nothing wrong with this new format. Maybe I just hate change. But I don't like it. I like the old format.
“They should just rename the ‘Budweiser Shootout’ the ‘Bailout Shootout’ because the emphasis has been taken away from the drivers and put on the car manufacturers of the ailing automotive industry.”
The race used to be an All-Star event, featuring all the pole winners from the previous season. Last year, Budweiser dropped their sponsorship of the Pole Awards. Coors, Budweiser’s rival beer-maker, picked up the sponsorship, so NASCAR had to make changes, so Coors wouldn’t receive publicity at a Budweiser event.
The race will now feature the top six teams from each car manufacturer. Last week, NASCAR added a revision that will allow a "wild card" entry for each manufacturer, which increases the field to 28 cars.
The previous races were like real “Shootout” races, with as little as 20 laps per segment, but now it appears it will be just another race.
With the rule change for 2009, four pole-winning drivers lose out on making the race: Paul Menard, Ryan Newman, Joe Nemechek, and Patrick Carpentier.
“Whether we like it or not, let’s get over it,” said Darrell Waltrip.
“Don't worry about the format, or how so and so got in. It's the opening race of the 2009 season. There will be cars on the track running under the lights. Isn't that really all that matters? They haven't messed up the Bud Shootout. It's a race, and when that green flag falls, the guys are going to be after that trophy, fighting tooth-and-nail. Just be glad we have the Bud Shootout and trust me, it will be fun to watch either from the grandstands or at home on the couch!”
The race will be held Saturday, February 7.
Meanwhile, Brian France told the news media at Charlotte last week that NASCAR would draw on its strength as an organization to work through the tough economic times.
Throughout, the message was clear that despite the current economic challenges the sport is facing, NASCAR is well-equipped to carry on, move forward and assist other components of the industry to do the same.
“In tough times like these, strong people tighten their belts, put a little extra zip in their step, and focus on the things they do best,” France told a crowd of more than 200 media. “In our sport, that’s racing… and no one does it better than our drivers and teams.
“The NASCAR management team has been extremely busy this winter, working with teams and tracks to keep our sport moving in the right direction. One of the key areas we're zeroing in on is helping our teams develop new business models to fit today's ever-changing economy. We’re exploring ways to manage costs. We’re working with our media partners to explore additional ways to take our product to our fans. And we’re meeting with our tracks to brainstorm new promotions for ticket opportunities.”
Labonte Is Going With Hall Of Fame – When Bobby Labonte signed with Hall of Fame Motorsports to drive the No. 96 Ford in the sprint Cup Series, many in the business wondered why he chose to drive the No. 96 instead of the No. 8 for Earnhardt Ganassi Racing.
The HOF team is not considered one of the strongest teams on the Cup circuit. They recently signed some type of agreement/merger with Yates Racing for the 2009 season.
“There were a lot of ifs in there (EGR),” said Labonte. “It was kind of wild, like a horror movie, with drama and all of that. Everything wasn’t 100 per cent wrong, it just wasn’t 100 per cent right.”
Tom Garfinkel and business partner, Jeff Moorad bought a majority interest in HOF two-thirds through the 2007 season.
The team struggled on the track last year, with only partial sponsorship from DLP, and finished 2008 outside of the top-35 in points.
“It’s going to take time in NASCAR, but if we didn’t think eventually at some point we could be competitive in the sport, then we wouldn’t [have done this],” Garfinkel said.
Garfinkel has known team owner Doug Yates for more than a decade. He also said he sat and talked with people from the Fenway Sports Group, co-owner of Roush Fenway Racing, at a Diamondbacks-Red Sox game.
“Yates was already ramping up, so in a lot of ways, it was a great marriage,” Garfinkel said. “They had a team in place. They had the equipment already in place for Daytona, and we were able to bring sponsorship dollars and some assets and some other thoughts on how we wanted to do things and merge it into what they already had in place.”
Waltrip Might Be Leaving – I like Michael Waltrip. He is a super nice guy. If he sticks by a statement he made last week, then a lot of fans, including myself, are going to miss him after the 2009 season.
Waltrip said one of his goals for the 2009 Sprint Cup season is to run up front.
“But if I don't do those things, if I can't compete at the level that my teammate David Reutimann does, then I probably won't get to do this again in 2010,” he said.
“This is a real important year for me, because I still love it,” Waltrip said. “I'm still emotional about it. That's a great feeling. I'm glad I have that. I'm glad I feel the way I do, and I'm also glad that I own my car, because if this is my last year then I'm fine, because that means I got somebody faster or better than me to drive my car in 2010, and that's how it was supposed to be.
“I'm not going to be standing around thinking, ‘Well, what am I going to do now?’ I know exactly what I'm going to do now, I'm going to continue to try to influence my drivers and my team and my sponsors to be the best team that we can be.”
Next Week: Let’s Get Ready for the 2009 Season.
Racing Trivia Question: Do you think Michael Waltrip should retire? We’ll give you the fan response next week.
Last Week’s Question: Who won the first Daytona 500? Answer: Lee Petty.
You may contact the Racing Reporter at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
On January 2, a three-on-three basketball tournament was held at Mt. View High School. This event was organized by Jon McBride for his graduation project, and all proceeds went to the Class of 2010. Pictured above (l-r) are the winners, "Team Hartman": Luke Jenkins, Peter Hartman, Jon McBride, Ravi Figgles. All are members of the class of 2010 and also the Mt. View Eagles Boys’ Varsity Basketball team.
Hannah Price became just the second Susquehanna girls’ basketball player in school history to reach the 1,000-point mark for her career when she reached the milestone January 15 in a 51-39 win over Blue Ridge.
Price, entering the game, needed just one point and made a layup with 2:22 left in the first quarter to become the first to reach the achievement in a game on her home court.
The game was stopped for Price to be congratulated for reaching the mark. The Lady Sabers then got on a roll that produced their first Lackawanna League win of the season.
Price said she wanted to thank all those who attended the game and made it a special night for her and others who offered congratulations through e-mail or at school. The crowd included elementary and junior high players who brought signs and chanted her name, adding to the excitement of the game.
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