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Christmas Special December 23rd

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Local Sports Scene

Foresters Second; Eagles Third In Forest City Rotary Tournament
By Tom Robinson

Forest City and Mountain View each dominated St. Rose Academy but fell short against eventual champion Western Wayne during the Forest City Rotary Tournament, a boys’ basketball event that opened the holiday tournament season.

The Foresters reached the final before settling for second place while the Eagles won in the consolation to take third in the only local tournament to start before Christmas.

Forest City reached the championship game with a 61-18 victory over St. Rose Academy Dec. 23 after Western Wayne edged Mountain View, 40-38, in the opener.

Joey Siclari and Sean Sheridan had 11 points each to help Western Wayne get through the opener.

Western Wayne had leads of 8-2 after one quarter and 20-9 at the half before holding off Mountain View.

Luke Jenkins led Mountain View with 15 points.

Dave Cavalieri led a balanced Forest City attack in the second semifinal with 11 points.

Jake Evans led St. Rose with eight points.

Jenkins made the all-tournament team after scoring nine more points in Mountain View’s 59-9 rout of St. Rose Academy in Saturday night's consolation game.

Julian Williams had a team-high 14 points in the win.

Joe Marchese had five points for Sacred Heart and made the all-tournament team.

Western Wayne took the title with a 48-38 victory over Forest City.

Siclari had 14 points, Dustin Brooks 12 and Nick Baldo 11 for Western Wayne.

Sheridan was named tournament Most Valuable Player while Siclari joined him on the all-tournament team.

Joe Caruso had 21 points for Forest City in the championship game and also made the all-tournament team.


Elk Lake and Mountain View each won games Saturday night to reach the girls’ championship game of the Susquehanna County Holiday Tournament, which was scheduled for Tuesday night.

Karley Caines scored 20 points and Keek Morahan added 17 to lead Elk Lake past Blue Ridge, 62-58, in the tournament opener.

Shanna Hettinger led Blue Ridge with 16 points and Kaitchen Dearborn had 14.

Mountain View then crushed host Susquehanna, 55-9, in the second game.

Kayla Kazmierski led Mountain View with 14 points.

Montrose fell to host Riverside, 50-36, in the opener of the Taylor Lions Tournament.

The Lady Meteors had started the week unbeaten before splitting a pair of non-league games against teams from higher divisions.

Julie Kosin scored 23 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to lead Holy Cross to a 47-32 victory over Montrose December 21 in a meeting of unbeatens.

Dallas Ely led Montrose with eight points.

Ely then had 15 points Wednesday to lead the Lady Meteors to a 42-34 victory over Division 1 member North Pocono.

In non-league boys’ basketball, Colby Major had 19 points when Montrose downed Tunkhannock, 56-43.

Alan Charles and Rob Volk each added 11 points for the Meteors.


Robbie Johnson’s status on the Misericordia University men’s basketball team is clear from the fact that, for the second straight season, he is leading the Cougars in minutes played.

Johnson started all nine games and averaged 33.1 minutes as Misericordia went 6-3 before the holiday break.

The junior guard from Mountain View also leads the team in assists with 4.4 per game.

Johnson is second on the team in 3-point shooting percentage at 47.1 on 8-for-17 shooting. He also ranks third in scoring (13.1 per game), field goal percentage (49.0) and blocked shots (four).

As a sophomore, Johnson averaged 11.9 points and 3.0 assists.


The Lackawanna League basketball season gets started with girls’ play Monday, January 4 and boys’ play Tuesday, January 5.

The opening girls’ games in Division 3 are: Forest City at Elk Lake, Lackawanna Trail at Susquehanna, Mountain View at Montrose and Blue Ridge at Western Wayne.

The boys’ openers are: Elk Lake at Forest City, Susquehanna at Lackawanna Trail, Montrose at Mountain View and Western Wayne at Blue Ridge.

The boys' basketball tournament season concludes Wednesday with the finals of the Susquehanna County Tournament at Blue Ridge. The tournament was scheduled to start Monday with semifinals featuring Elk Lake against Montrose and Susquehanna against Blue Ridge.

In high school wrestling, the Zurn-Bush Duals will be held at Elk Lake Saturday. Blue Ridge, Mountain View and Susquehanna are also part of the field.

Elk Lake, Montrose, Mountain View and Susquehanna are all in the Tunkhannock Kiwanis Tournament, a two-day event scheduled to wrap up Wednesday.

Blue Ridge is in the Berwick Duals Wednesday.

In the American Hockey League, the Binghamton Senators play at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins Wednesday night.

TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached online at

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By Gerald Hodges

James Finch, Nascar’s Last Independent

By Gerald Hodges; The Racing Reporter

James Finch doesn't have the deep pockets of owners, Rick Hendrick, Jack Roush, Joe Gibbs or Richard Childress, but after his driver, Brad Keselowski's last-lap pass of Carl Edwards at Talladega last year, Finch got his first big win.

“The Talladega 500 where Brad (Keselowski) won was my biggest race,” said Finch. “It’s so hard in Cup racing to win, because of the factory teams and all the other big teams you go up against. You’ve usually got the same winners, because they are the ones that have the most money.

James Finch and driver Brad Keselowski celebrate their first Cup win at Talladega.

“I’ve run 20-something years and most of the time I’ve had to sponsor the teams myself. It’s all about performance. When you get to the Cup level, you try to get a good sponsor. Then when you get one, you try to keep it, because they are really hard to come by.”

Brad Keselowski, the driver of the No. 1 Miccosukkee Chevrolet was shocked after winning the Talladega spring race.

“Man, that was an awesome race,” said Keselowski. “You just never know going into Talladega what’s going to happen. It really is a crapshoot. I had such a strong car, especially when I was able to get behind someone and push them. I think Carl (Edwards) and I were going over 200 miles per hour there at the end when the two of us hooked up together.

“I had such a great time racing with those guys, and I hope I was able to gain some respect from them in the process. The fact that I won really didn’t sink in for a long time. What a great day for Phoenix Racing and James Finch.

“I went into my coach and turned on the TV so I could watch the replay of the race. Up until that point I still hadn’t seen exactly how it all played out. It was really interesting hearing the reaction of the TV announcers when they realized I won the race.”

Finch, Phoenix Racing, and Keselowski have all been underdogs.

“I have no factory help or engineering support,” said Finch. “We are a little more competitive on the superspeedways because they have the restricted motors. It takes a lot more work, but we are able to run better on them than at tracks like Charlotte.

“We are going to run all the 2010 Nationwide Series races with James Buescher as the driver. He drove in the Truck series last year and will be running for rookie of the year. We’ll do about 18-20 Cup races with Aric Almirola.

“We’ve already got sponsors lined up for those races, and if I come up with more, then we’ll run some additional Cup races. If we have a lot of wrecks and get the equipment tore up, the money will have to come out of my company’s pocket. You’ve got to watch what you do and not tear up a bunch of cars.

“I like for my drivers to race hard, but I tell them to drive smart and try to take care of the equipment.”

Born in Panama City, Fla., Finch's love for racing never swayed him from leaving his Florida home. He uses money from his Panama City construction company to race with, but maintains a policy of not spending more than his race teams make.

His staying power has earned him the respect of many NASCAR stars, including Dale Earnhardt Jr.

“James deserves to win, because of what he's been able to put into the sport,” said Dale Jr., who owns the car driven by Keselowski full time in the Nationwide Series. “So I'm really proud. I've gotten to know him much better over the last couple of years. He did an awesome job putting Brad in the car this year and giving him an opportunity.”

Before his breakthrough in Alabama - his team's 105th Cup start - Finch probably was best known for an incident in February 2004 during the final Cup race at North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham, N.C.

The race was several teams short of a 43-car field, so Finch entered Joe Ruttman. His car was black-flagged by NASCAR for starting the race without a pit crew, and Ruttman parked his Dodge after completing one lap. He earned $54,196 for last - more than tripling the $16,150 that Johnny Benson Jr. had won for Finch by finishing ninth in the Busch Series race a day earlier.

“They didn't have enough cars so we decided to get a Cup car and try and get the purse money,” Finch continued. “It's not like we were robbing NASCAR. We were just trying to help out.”

Finch entered his first Nationwide race in 1989 and made his Cup debut a year later but generally has raced more on NASCAR's lesser circuit. He has raced the Nationwide schedule full time since 2005 and has 476 starts and 11 victories in the series.

Several well-known veterans (including Sterling Marlin, Jimmy Spencer, Martin Truex Jr. and Geoffrey Bodine) have driven Finch's cars. He dedicated Keselowski's win to the family of Neil Bonnet, who was killed in a Finch-owned car in practice at Daytona in '94.

Finch's Phoenix Racing shop in Spartanburg, S.C., employs about 25 people (roughly 5 percent of the staffs at Hendrick Motorsports or Roush Fenway Racing) and fields cars in both NASCAR and ARCA, the minor-league circuit where he tries, “to help someone out, every once in a while.”

“I've had a lot of people help me and so we try and pass it down to some of these kids in the ARCA series,” Finch continued. “It's really tough now. The short-track races 30 years ago were paying $600 to win, and they are paying $600 to win now.

“I guess I'm one of the only independents to race on a regular basis. Some of them come in for a few races and leave because it's so expensive, and there's no glory. My dream was always to win a Cup race. I finally did.”

Racing Trivia Question: Which Cup team will Brad Keselowski drive for in 2010?

Last Week’s Question: Where is the first Cup race of the regular season held? Answer. Daytona Beach, Fla.

You may contact the Racing Reporter at:

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