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Class AA basketball teams are no longer guaranteed a spot in open District 2 tournaments beginning next season, but they will have a similar opportunity through a tournament created by the Lackawanna League at a meeting following the end of the season.
League playoffs will help determine district qualifiers in Class AA and AAA. Class A and AAAA teams will still have an open District 2 tournament because less schools are involved. Susquehanna and Forest City compete in Class A.
The decision also means the start of league play will have to move to before Christmas to finish the season in time for the additional playoffs. Also, Class A and AAAA teams will have a break in their schedules between league and district play while the Class AA and AAA teams have their playoffs.
“That was one of the discussions, that if we went to this setup, there may be a little time in between,” said Montrose principal Jim Tallaricho, who serves as president of the Lackawanna Interscholastic Athletic Association, which oversees Lackawanna League sports. “The schools knew that when they voted for the proposal.”
The Wyoming Valley Conference, which makes up nearly half of District 2, recently decided not to create league playoffs as a qualifying process for districts.
With District 2 eliminating its open tournaments in Classes AAA and AA, the Lackawanna League decided to use a playoff format for those classes rather than rely strictly on league records to qualify district teams.
League play will determine the top qualifiers from the league. In Class AA, there will be an eight-team tournament to fill the last two spots of five that the league has in the district event.
Montrose, Mountain View, Elk Lake and Blue Ridge compete in Class AA.
During the meeting, the Lackawanna League also made a minor adjustment in its division alignments.
Western Wayne will return to Division 2 after two seasons in Division 3. Lakeland will drop from Division 2 to Division 3 in both boys’ and girls’ basketball.
Lakeland’s two teams combined to win just once in 56 games in Division 2 the past two seasons.
“It’s not setting any precedent,” Tallarico said of the adjustment in division alignment to help a team become more competitive. “We’ve done it before in other sports.”
WEEK IN REVIEW
Last week represented the end of the regular season for regional professional hockey teams the beginning of the season for professional baseball.
The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and Binghamton Senators finished the American Hockey League regular season by playing each other in each city on the final two days of the season.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton will continue to the Calder Cup playoffs while Binghamton fell short despite a strong finish.
The Senators defeated the Penguins, 3-1, in Binghamton Saturday in a game that featured all the scoring in the first period.
Derek Smith scored two straight goals for Binghamton after Zach Sill had given Wilkes-Barre/Scranton a 1-0 lead.
The Senators clinched a winning season with the victory, one night after being eliminated from the playoffs. They finished 36-35-6-3, including 14-6-3-1 in the last 24 games.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton closed out the regular season Sunday with a 3-0 home-ice victory over Binghamton.
Brad Thiessen made 28 saves in the shutout to help the Penguins finish third in the AHL East Division with a 41-34-2-3 record.
In professional baseball, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees opened with a 1-0 shutout of the Buffalo Bisons Thursday but then lost their next three International League games.
Ivan Nova, Mark Melancon, Boone Logan and Jonathan Albaladejo combined on a five-hitter with 11 strikeouts in the rain-delayed game.
David Winfree’s home run provided the only run.
The Binghamton Mets also started 1-3 in the Eastern League.
Right before the start of the season, the Binghamton Mets and New York Mets announced that the organizations have signed a two-year Player Development Contract that will extend their working relationship through the end of the 2012 season. That will make 21 straight years that the teams have worked together since the Binghamton Mets came into existence.
In high school softball, Brooke Darling threw a one-hitter as defending District 2 Class AA champion Elk Lake opened the season with a 10-0, five-inning victory over Forest City.
Two Elk Lake graduates are members of the Misericordia University men’s track and field team.
Freshman Brent Salsman is a distance runner and senior Kyle Karpich is a thrower for the Cougars.
Salsman was the team’s second-best 1,500-meter runner in the Danny Curran Invitational at Widener University to open the outdoor season. Karpich was Misericordia’s third-best javelin thrower in the event in 133-3.
During the indoor season, Salsman had the team’s second-best mile with a time of 4:45.89. He also had the team’s fourth-best 3,000-meter run in 10:07.50.
Karpich was named to the Middle Atlantic Conference Winter Academic Honor Roll during indoor track season.
THE WEEK AHEAD
The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins open the Calder Cup playoffs against the Albany River Rats.
After playing in Albany Wednesday and Friday, the Penguins are home Sunday at 3:05 and Monday, April 19 at 7:05 p.m. Game Six, if necessary, would also be in Wilkes-Barre April 24.
In softball, two defending champions will meet when Elk Lake plays at Blue Ridge Monday, April 19.
Elk Lake won the District 2 Class AA title. Blue Ridge won the Lackawanna League Division 3 title.
In boys’ track, Holy Cross is at Blue Ridge Tuesday in boys’ track. Both teams entered this week with unbeaten records, but Blue Ridge was scheduled to face Mid Valley, the third unbeaten, Tuesday.
TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached online at RobbyTR@aol.com.
“Flyin’” Ryan Is Back
AVONDALE, Ariz. - Ryan Newman, once dubbed, “The Rocket Man,” because of the number of poles he won in a single season, flew by Jeff Gordon on a green-white-checkered restart at Phoenix to break a 77-race Cup winless streak.
“I saw the white flag, and I was like I don’t have that far to go,” said Newman. “On every restart when I was on the inside, I couldn’t get going. But on that last one I got going, held my line, and that was all we needed. It was just the right time, right place.
“This is the most emotional win of my career.”
"Flyin'" Ryan Newman, Phoenix Cup winner.
Capitalizing on a late caution that extended the race three laps past its scheduled distance of 375 laps, Ryan Newman and crew chief Tony Gibson snatched victory from Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch with a two-tire call under the final caution.
Both Busch and Johnson took four tires on Lap 373, under caution for Scott Riggs' blown tire in Turn 4 one lap earlier. Gordon, who took two tires and left pit road with the lead, spun his tires on the decisive restart on Lap 377, allowing Newman to surge into the top spot.
For the second consecutive race Jeff Gordon finished in the runner-up spot.
“I just spun the tires on that last restart,” said Gordon. “I knew it was over by the time we got to turn-1.”
Johnson charged from seventh to third during the green-white-checkered-flag finish. Mark Martin, also on two tires for the final restart, ran fourth, one position ahead of Juan Pablo Montoya. Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch, Clint Bowyer and Joey Logano completed the top 10.
Busch and Johnson had dominated the two long green-flag runs that preceded the two-lap dash to the finish. In fact, Busch, who tied Johnson for most laps led with 113, stayed out front from the time he passed Johnson on Lap 262 until Riggs' accident 110 laps later.
“I can't freaking believe this,” Busch shouted on the radio to crew chief Dave Rogers when the ninth and final yellow flag flew. “What do you want to do?”
Busch and Rogers opted for four tires. Busch restarted 8th, too far back to even challenge the leaders.
Johnson made the same call for his No. 48 team.
“I was excited to see the caution come out, because it was an opportunity to win,” Johnson said. “I decided - I made the call for four tires. It's the first time that I can remember in a long time that I actually said what I wanted for a pit stop, with the way Martinsville played out and Bristol and last night's (Nationwide) race (where four-tire calls proved successful). I knew with the green-white checkered there weren't a lot of laps, but I felt we might get a caution with everybody racing so hard.
“So I made the call for four and made the most of it. We got from seventh to third and just did what we could. So, not a bad night at all. Excited to see us stretch out the points a little bit and get another top-five finish here.”
Racing for the first time since March 31 surgery to repair a torn ACL in his left knee, Denny Hamlin completed the race in 30th place, two laps down.
Asked after the race if he was in pain, Hamlin replied, “More than I can tell you. I'm pretty sure I didn't do any damage or anything like that, but I'm absolutely exhausted right now.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 12th and held on to 10th in the Cup standings. … A one-lap penalty for pitting outside his box dropped Jeff Burton to 25th at the finish. … Polesitter AJ Allmendinger came home 15th. … Kyle Busch, Logano and Edwards supplanted Paul Menard (29th Saturday), Kurt Busch (35th) and Brian Vickers (37th) in the top 12. … Newman improved six positions to 16th in points.
Top-12 Chase contenders after 7 of 36: 1. Johnson-1073, 2. Kenseth-1037, 3. Biffle-961, 4. Harvick-961, 5. J. Gordon-948, 6. Bowyer-885, 7. Burton-873, 8. Edwards-873, 9. Stewart-869, 10. Earnhardt-865, 11. Logano-862, 12. Kyle Busch-855
KYLE BUSCH WINS NATIONWIDE THRILLER
Kyle Busch drove one of the best races of his careeer as he overcame a potentially devastating penalty with 50 laps left to win the Phoenix Nationwide Series race.
“All I know is I paid NASCAR back by winning,” Busch said.“Man, this car was pretty awesome tonight. It was super, super fast. Hopefully, that was an exciting win for the fans. I don't know how we could have made it any better of a show right there.”
Busch led the field to a restart on Lap 137 from the outside lane, but Keselowski nosed ahead before the cars reached the start-finish line. Cars in the outside lane stacked up behind Busch, triggering a 10-car wreck that necessitated a stoppage of nearly 10 minutes, as track workers cleaned up the debris.
NASCAR ruled that Busch failed to restart the race in the designated area between two red lines on the frontstretch wall and awarded the top position to Keselowski. On the subsequent restart on Lap 145, NASCAR posted Busch's No. 18 Toyota for a pass-through penalty for jumping the restart.
The penalty dropped Busch to 19th in the running order, 20 seconds behind Keselowski. Over the next 38 laps, Busch improved to 11th before NASCAR called a caution for debris on Lap 188.
In fact, the only segment of the race Busch didn't lead resulted from an out-of-sequence pit stop on Lap 17. Keselowski inherited the top spot for 15 laps, but Clint Bowyer stalled in Turn 1 to bring out the second caution, and Busch regained the lead by remaining on the track.
Kevin Harvick passed Keselowski and came home second. Brendan Gaughan ran fourth and Greg Biffle fifth. Polesitter Carl Edwards, Paul Menard, Scott Lagasse Jr., Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Joey Logano completed the top 10.
Keselwski took the lead in the series standings by four points over Edwards.
Top-10 points leaders after 6 of 35: 1. Keselowski-974, 2. Edwards-970, 3. Kyle Busch-959, 4. harvick-929, 5. Allgaier-923, 6. Menard-804, 7. Logano-728, 8. Biffle-718, 9. M. Wallace-664, 10. Lagasse-663
Weekend Racing: It’s on to the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway for the Sprint Cup and Nationwide teams this weekend. The Trucks do not race again until May 2.
Sat., Apr. 17, Nationwide Series O’Reilly 300, race 7 of 35, Startting time: 3 p.m. ET; TV: ESPN2.
Sun., Apr. 18, Sprint Cup Samsung 500, race 8 of 36, Starting time: 1 pm ET; TV: Fox.
Racing Trivia Question: Where is Cup driver Paul Menard’s hometown?
Last Week’s Question: Which Cup team is Martin Truex Jr. driving for this year? Answer. He is driving for Michael Waltrip Racing.
You may contact the Racing Reporter at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alex Stanton had done enough to be the Susquehanna County Transcript Athlete of the Month for March when he began the month as the county’s most accomplished individual winter sports athlete in state competition.
Stanton, however, was not finished.
The Blue Ridge senior made sure his award-winning month included a significant contribution to the spring sports season as a newcomer to the boys’ track and field team.
Stanton winds up celebrating the award for the combination of success built on years of commitment to one sport with a quick impact he has been able to make in another.
Throughout his high school career, Stanton specialized in one sport. As a wrestler, he won three district titles, building the experience that would carry him through this year’s postseason tournament run.
Stanton followed up being named the Outstanding Wrestler of the District 2 Class AA Tournament in February by winning his first Northeast Regional title and finishing fourth in the state at 140 pounds.
A fourth-place finish last season had been Stanton’s best ever at the state’s strongest regional tournament. He went to Williamsport needing a top three finish to reach the state tournament for the first time and instead came away as champion after dominating with two pins and an 8-0 decision of Shamokin’s Derek Shingara in the final.
“The regional championship was pretty huge,” Stanton said when asked to name the wrestling accomplishment of which he was most proud. “Being the first in my school to get one meant a lot.
“My coach (John Ciotoli) agreed that it’s as big as finishing in the top three in the state. It was a good confidence booster coming into my first year in states.”
Stanton went to Hershey and won his first two bouts to reach the semifinals where he fell to Schuylkill Valley’s Colin Shober, who was on his way to a 53-0 record and state title. Stanton won one more time before losing in the consolation final to Greenville’s Cody Copeland (42-2).
The top eight wrestlers in each weight class receive state medals and are recognized at the awards ceremony.
“My goal was to get on the podium,” said Stanton, who finished his season with a 39-3 record to build his career mark to 111-14.
After putting his dedication into wrestling throughout high school, Stanton had decided late in the season that he would join the track team when he was done.
Showing versatility, he has helped the team in the pole vault, javelin, triple jump and 400.
Stanton won the pole vault and finished second in the javelin on opening day when Blue Ridge defeated last year’s Lackawanna Track Conference Division 3 co-champion Elk Lake, 77-72.
Alex is the son of Shelly and Melissa Stanton of Jackson.
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