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TUNNEL HILL - Lackawanna Trail succeeded in dictating the pace of play Thursday when the top two teams in Lackawanna League Division 3 boys’ basketball met for an early-season showdown.
Montrose may have played faster than it wanted to, but the Meteors never stopped taking care of the two most important areas of the game.
The Meteors held the Lions to 6-for-23 shooting over the final 7 1/2 minutes to pull away for a 72-58 victory.
Montrose limited Trail scoring leader Bobby Pacholec to 5-for-26 shooting, including 1-for-15 from 3-point range.
“That was the key,” Montrose coach Todd Smith said. “We had to shut him down and we had to rebound.
“But, I say that every game. I figure if we play good defense and outrebound people, we’ll do alright.”
The Meteors gave up 18 points above their average and 11 more than they had in any other game, but that was the result of the number of shots taken.
“The pace of the game was ours all night,” Kettel said. “Montrose doesn’t want to play at the pace we do.”
Montrose limited Trail to 31 percent shooting from the floor and 14 percent shooting from 3-point range while dominating on the boards, 55-39, despite the presence of 6-foot-10 Trail center Steve Miller.
“Obviously, their pressure sped up the game,” Smith said. “It was their goal, but we were getting open looks so we kept attacking.
“We haven’t played that type of game for a while.”
Bill Stranburg took advantage of the open space to go 4-for-7 on 3-pointers and 8-for-12 overall while scoring a game-high 20 points.
“He’s a shooter,” Smith said.
He was not, however, the only option.
Montrose got at least four points from every starter in the fourth quarter to pull away from what was a two-point game when Trail’s Jake Bedford opened the quarter with a 3-pointer.
Colby Major had six of his 15 points in the fourth quarter when he also helped Jeff Liddick shut down Pacholec.
Rob Volk added 11 points, 14 rebounds and three blocked shots.
Alan Charles had 10 rebounds and Liddick contributed eight rebounds and eight assists.
Bedford led Trail with 16 points, six steals, six rebounds and four assists. Miller added 13 points, seven rebounds and seven blocked shots.
The Meteors began to take control when Cole Wheaton came off the bench to hit back-to-back, 3-pointers to end the half for a 35-30 lead. The Meteors extended that to a 15-2 run and 12-point lead before the midway point in the third quarter.
“They’re a good basketball team,” Kettel said. “They made the big shots.”
The Lackawanna Trail game was the closest of three Montrose faced in the first week of league play.
The Meteors opened the league with a 60-43 win over Mountain View and added a 63-44 victory over Blue Ridge Saturday.
Major had 21 points while Stranburg and 14 points and Volk had 12 points, nine rebounds and four blocked shots against Mountain View.
Luke Jenkins led the Eagles with 21 points.
Wheaton had 14 points, Charles 11 and Major 10 against Blue Ridge.
Jared Conklin had 10 points for Blue Ridge.
Elk Lake also won its first three boys’ basketball games to finish the week tied for first with Montrose.
WEEK IN REVIEW
Mountain View ended the first week of girls’ basketball league play tied for first in Lackawanna League Division 3 with Western Wayne with 3-0 records.
Montrose and defending champion Forest City were each 2-1.
Mountain View opened the season by knocking off division favorite Montrose, 46-43.
The Lady Eagles, who recovered from a 24-19 halftime deficit, were led by Alex Lynn with 18 points. Olivia Zick added 10.
Dallas Ely had 15 points to lead Montrose.
Mountain View then defeated Blue Ridge, 43-25, and Susquehanna, 58-10.
Alex Lynn had a game-high 16 points while holding Blue Ridge’s Kaitchen Dearborn to three.
“Alex has taken over the role of defensive stopper,” Mountain View coach Errol Mannick said. “She is taking 15-to-20 point scorers and holding them down under double digits.
“That’s a big help.”
Montrose recovered to defeat Lackawanna Trail, 39-25, when Ely and Katelyn Spellman had 10 points each.
In wrestling, Montrose ended the week in a three-way tie for the Lackawanna League Division 2 lead with Scranton Prep and Western Wayne at 2-0. Defending champion Elk Lake was 1-0 going into Tuesday night’s match at Montrose.
Dunmore running back/linebacker Michael Perry was named as the recipient of the Fiore Cesare Award, which honors a Lackawanna Football Conference senior player who excels in academics, athletics, and attitude.
An original group of 40 nominees was narrowed down to 11 finalists from the league’s 20 schools.
Blue Ridge student John Salinkas, who played for Susquehanna in the cooperative sponsorship of the sport between the two schools, was one of the 11 finalists.
Salinkas, a running back and defensive back, averaged nearly seven yards per carry while ranking second on the team with 533 yards rushing.
Jesse Walsh, a 6-foot-7 freshman forward from Forest City, is seeing playing time in men’s basketball at Division II Bloomsburg University.
Walsh played in six of the first 10 games for Bloomsburg, scoring 13 points and grabbing 17 rebounds in 43 minutes. His rate of well more than a rebound every three minutes is by far the best on the 6-4 team.
In addition to going 6-for-14 (42.9 percent) from the floor, Walsh is 1-for-5 at the line.
Walsh has been at his most productive during the two games in which Bloomsburg played down against Division III schools. He had six points in eight minutes of his college debut during a 75-44 victory over Penn State-Hazleton then had five points and nine rebounds in 17 minutes of a 91-38 rout of Penn State-Wilkes-Barre.
THE WEEK AHEAD
Forest City has an important week ahead in girls’ basketball.
The Lady Foresters play consecutive home games against the teams they beat out in playoffs to win last season’s title. Forest City plays Montrose Thursday and Mountain View Monday, January 18.
In professional hockey, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins are at the Binghamton Senators Friday night in an American Hockey League game.
TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached online at RobbyTR@aol.com.
Pioneer Racer, Larry Frank Passes
By Gerald Hodges; The Racing Reporter
Larry Frank, former NASCAR racer and ex-Marine, died this past week in Piedmont, SC, at the age of 80.
For those who are too young to remember, or not well-versed in NASCAR history, Larry Frank made an indelible mark on the sport in 1962 when he was eventually named the rightful winner of Darlington Raceway's Southern 500. Hall of Famer Junior Johnson received the checkered flag on Sunday afternoon but an overnight scoring recheck revealed Frank as the winner.
Larry Frank, pioneer NASCAR driver.
It was the only race Larry would win during his colorful, but abbreviated career. To writers of Larry's day, stock car racing was still trying to gain acceptance in newspapers, on radio and television (there was no internet at the time), he was probably one of the most popular drivers on the circuit. He always had time for the media in a period when stock car drivers, other than Richard Petty, didn't have much to say.
Larry always had something to say and when he and racing buddy Tiny Lund got together, you could have opened a comedy club on the spot. Lund, a Daytona 500 winner, was a big fella (6-5, 260 or so) and dwarfed Larry in size, but Tiny always said he'd rather tangle with a pride of lions than his pal Larry Frank.
It was only fitting his lone victory came at NASCAR's toughest track because Larry Frank set the standard for toughness in a sport that definitely required it during his racing days.
EVERNHAM MAY RETURN TO NASCAR
Ray Evernham the crew chief that helped Jeff Gordon win four NASCAR Cup championships said he would like to return to NASCAR. But for those fans who think he might again take on the role of Gordon’s crew chief, Evernham said that wouldn’t happen.
But he did tell Michael Smith of SportsBusiness Journal, that if he can clear up some legal issues, he would like to return as an engineer or project manager for some team, preferably with Gordon’s or one of the other Hendrick teams.
“Sure, I get the itch a lot to return,” said Evernham. “ Part of my NASCAR consulting with Richard Petty Motorsports is exclusive. It’s a non-compete. Once we get that settled, I’d love to help Jeff Gordon or Rick Hendrick. I’ve always felt like that place is home to me. I have no interest in going 38 weeks a year sitting on top of the pit box. I was a crew chief before in my life, and had a great run with Jeff Gordon, but I’m a project guy now. Let me help figure out how to make a car go faster or how to straighten out a driver’s head. Give me a project.
“Economically, it’s harder on everybody, no matter if you’re Rick Hendrick or Tommy Baldwin. Even Rick has had to squeeze his people and watch his headcount and watch his spending.
“The business model of multiple teams works if you have sponsorship. The problem is that you’ve got these teams trying to run multiple cars, and they’ve only got one car sponsored. The other cars just drain the one that has sponsorship. Over the years, teams have taken on a lot of overhead, they’ve built their own cars and engines. The shops went from 30,000 or 40,000 square feet to over 100,000 square feet. Drivers’ salaries skyrocketed, crew salaries skyrocketed. That overhead is tough to maintain.
“Now there are a lot of empty buildings and a lot of people who were making six figures walking the streets. If it wasn’t for (owners) Rick Hendrick, Joe Gibbs, Jack Roush and Richard Childress, the sport could be in real trouble. They’re winning a majority of the races, and they’re holding it together.
“Unfortunately, I see the teams in the future being owned by multiple partners. To start something these days, you’ve got to be like the guy from Red Bull and have a gazillion bucks. NASCAR’s got a lot of work to do to say, “What is the sport going to look like 10 years from now?” They’ve got to keep the costs down, keep a strong hand on the way things are run, and not be too greedy.
“NASCAR is going through a little bit of an identity crisis at the top, and at the same time the economy went in the Dumpster. We hit a peak, it’s coming down, and it’ll go back up, but not at the same trajectory.”
When asked to give his thoughts on Dale Earnhardt, he replied, “I’d sit and talk to him, ask him what he thinks. I’m a little bit surprised and amazed they didn’t run any better. Dale Jr. has the talent to drive, unquestionably. He’s got the equipment. So what does he feel is missing? It’s got to start with him because the team revolves around the driver.”
TALLADEGA FLAG FLIES OVER TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY
Clad in Crimson Tide apparel, Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage raised the Talladega Superspeedway flag over the Texas Speedway Club offices, much to the delight of Talladega Superspeedway President Rick Humphrey. The flag ceremony was a condition the two presidents agreed upon when making a friendly wager on the outcome of Thursday night’s BCS Championship game.
The University of Alabama’s 37-21 victory over the University of Texas assured that the Talladega Superspeedway flag will fly over Texas throughout the weekend and that Talladega will receive a shipment of Sonny Bryan’s Smokehouse beef brisket.
“I’m very excited to know the Talladega Superspeedway flag is flying over Texas Motor Speedway,” said Humphrey. “But more importantly, I’m excited for the University of Alabama and the pride that a national championship brings to our state. I love Talladega Superspeedway and I love the Alabama Crimson Tide. Today is a great day for both.”
Racing Trivia Question: Who will drive the No. 82 Red Bull Toyota in this year’s Budweiser Shootout?
Last Week’s Question: How many Cup teams will Roush Fenway Racing have in 2010? They will have four, driven by Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth, and David Ragan.
You may contact the Racing Reporter at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
When the girls’ basketball season opened, Mountain View stumbled against tough competition.
By the time tournament play arrived at the end of the month, Kayla Kazmierski had the Lady Eagles heading in the right direction.
Kazmierski contributed the big things like controlling the boards for Mountain View and the little things like making better outlet passes to start smoother transitions from defense to offense.
The 6-foot-2 junior center put it all together in time to earn tournament Most Valuable Player honors when Mountain View dominated two opponents to win the Susquehanna County Holiday Tournament.
For her efforts, Kazmierski has been selected as the Susquehanna County Transcript Athlete of the Month for December.
“The rebounding is the biggest thing from her and the most important,” Mountain View coach Errol Mannick said of Kazmierski, who ranks second on the team in scoring with 9.8 points per game while leading in rebounding with 14.2. “The other thing she’s doing a real good job with is her outlet passes.
“We’re a running team and early on, she was making some mistakes with her outlet passes. Now, she’s doing a better job and that’s really what gets our offense started.”
The offense is moving now, including in the tournament where Mountain View ripped Susquehanna, 55-9, and ran past Elk Lake, 58-35, in the championship game. With three more wins to start league play in January, the Lady Eagles have now won six out of seven since starting 0-4.
“In the beginning of the season, my outlet passes weren’t the greatest,” Kazmierski said. “I worked on it.
“I just try to take my time and make better passes. I’m not turning the ball over like I was.”
When Kazmierski’s outlet does not result in the rest of the team scoring on the run, she can become part of the offense. She converts on some of her rebounds and is trying to make the next step in her game by adding more low post moves and taking the ball to the basket stronger.
Kazmierski led Mountain View in both tournament games. She followed up 14 points against Susquehanna in the semifinals by scoring 20 and grabbing 17 rebounds against Elk Lake.
The result was the tournament MVP award.
“I definitely didn’t expect that,” Kazmierski said. “(Teammate) Alex Lynn is such a good player and she had a good tournament.”
Kazmierski moved into the starting lineup for the final six games of her freshman year and also started last year.
Kayla, who lives in Clifford, is the daughter of Christine Kelley and Al Kazmierski. She also plays volleyball where she is a two-year starter on Mountain View’s playoff-qualifying team and is on the track team where qualified for the district meet in the shot put and the discus last year.
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