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MONTROSE - Montrose was perfect in three important meetings with Lackawanna Trail during the 2009-10 Lackawanna League Division 3 boys’ basketball season.
The Meteors were also 3-0 in non-league games to start the 2010-11 season.
One night into league play, however, Lackawanna Trail has already shown why it went into the season regarded as the possible favorite to win the division title this season.
The Lions limited the defending champion Meteors to just six field goals over the first three quarters Dec. 22 on the way to a 37-28 victory in an Opening Night game that matched the division’s top two teams from a year ago and, quite possibly, for this season as well.
“They’re a great team,” Lackawanna Trail coach Andrew Kettel said.
The Lions saw just how good a year ago when they went 11-1 against the rest of the division, but could not beat the Meteors, including in a playoff for the first-half championship.
Lackawanna Trail entered league play with just a 1-4 record, including losses to Riverside and Tunkhannock, two teams that Montrose had already beaten.
None of that mattered with Lions center Steve Miller dominating on the defensive end.
Montrose’s collapsing defense surrounded Miller and held the 7-foot junior to just five points. Miller, however, made his contributions with seven blocked shots, two steals and 10 of his game-high 12 rebounds on the defensive end.
Matt Lochen went 6-for-10 from the floor while scoring 14 points to lead the Lions.
Lochen was the only player in the game to hit as many as half his shots and the only one to score in double figures in the defensive struggle.
David Boslough hit a 3-pointer at the first-half buzzer to put Lackawanna Trail ahead to stay, 15-14.
Neither team scored for the first 3:45 of the second half until Tanner Holmes hit another 3-pointer and Miller scored off a rebound to give the Lions a 20-14 lead.
Montrose answered with a Tom Lewis basket, but after Lochen scored on a drive with 1:50 left in the third quarter, the Meteors never got closer than six the rest of the way.
Miller helped the Lions to a 19-11 rebounding advantage in the second half, giving them a 35-32 lead for the game.
"We did a great job on the boards, both offensively and defensively," Kettel said, "and, we took care of the ball."
Lackawanna Trail got the ball to Miller on the low blocks on its second and third possessions and the center turned it into a 3-0 lead.
The Lions missed their next 12 shots, including seven 3-point attempts, while the Meteors moved in front, 5-3, until Luke Sweppenheiser tied the game with the last basket of the first quarter.
The lead changed hands four times in the second quarter. Cole Wheaton’s 3-pointer with 45 seconds left in the half gave Montrose its last lead, 14-12.
Wheaton led Montrose with seven points and seven rebounds. Bill Stranburg had four assists. Colby Major grabbed five rebounds and made two steals.
The Meteors finished just 10-for-36 (27.8 percent) and committed 18 turnovers.
WEEK IN REVIEW
Susquehanna quarterback Dan Kempa was selected to the offense as an athlete when northeastpafootball.com named its first District 2 football all-star team, honoring the top 30 players in the entire district in all classes.
Kempa also highlighted the Lackawanna Football Conference Division 3 team selected by the Web site, which covers District 2 football and includes a network of live audio Internet broadcasts on game nights.
Dick Bagnall was named Coach of the Year for leading the Sabers to the division title and Kempa was selected as the division’s Offensive Player of the Year and first-team, all-star quarterback.
Tight end/defensive lineman Stephen Skurski and athlete/defensive back Cole Mallery each were two-way, first-team, all-stars.
Brandon Saddlemire and Mark Willchock were both on the first-team offensive line.
Linemen Rob Hubal and Jarrett Coleman, linebacker Nick Marco and punter Eric Onyon made the first-team defense.
Kempa was a first-team all-star at one position and a second-team star at two others while Coleman made the first and second teams. Kempa was a second-team pick as kicker and defensive back. Coleman was a second-teamer in the offensive line.
Wide receiver Sean Stanley and linebacker Jesse Pruitt also gained second-team berths.
The 11 first-team selections for the Sabers were the most by any team in any division of the LFC.
In boys’ basketball, Blue Ridge produced a dramatic win in the season opener.
Sophomore Sawyer Dearborn hit a long 3-pointer at the overtime buzzer to lift the Raiders to a 53-52 victory over Elk Lake, another team that was involved in Division 3 championship playoffs a year ago.
The Warriors forced overtime with Bo Bushnell’s 3-pointer for his only basket and a 48-48 tie at the regulation buzzer.
Elk Lake led, 52-50, when Blue Ridge took the ball out at midcourt with 2.2 seconds left. Dearborn, who finished with 26 points, received the pass just beyond midcourt, took one dribble to get a stride into the frontcourt and launched the winning shot.
In other openers, Susquehanna edged Forest City, 42-40, and Lakeland defeated Mountain View, 67-53.
Both Susquehanna and Lakeland, which competed in Division 2 at the time, won just one league game a year ago.
In girls’ basketball, Dallas Ely scored 23 points to help Montrose open defense of its Lackawanna Division 3 title with a 54-31 romp over Lackawanna Trail.
In other games: Elk Lake edged Blue Ridge, 38-34; Forest City defeated Susquehanna, 61-28; and Mountain View defeated Lakeland, 61-55.
Montrose graduate Tara Chiarella was one of six fall athletes honored by the Landmark Conference as Senior Scholar Athletes.
A panel of conference officers, athletic directors and sports information directors honored one senior from each sport for their accomplishments in all areas of college life, including athletics, academics and other extracurricular activities.
Chiarella was one of the top runners at Moravian for all four years of her career. She got off to a strong start by finishing fourth at the 2007 Landmark Conference meet to lead Moravian to a second-place finish and gain Rookie of the Year honors from the conference. She placed in the top 50 at NCAA Regionals twice, including 39th in 2009.
As a student, Chiarella has been on the Dean’s list four times while majoring in psychology with a minor in Spanish.
THE WEEK AHEAD
The Susquehanna County Christmas Tournament will conclude Wednesday with four games at Montrose.
The format changed this season to move the boys’ and girls’ tournament to the same site. The event was scheduled to get underway Monday with four semifinal games.
Wednesday’s schedule calls for girls’ consolation at 2, boys’ consolation at 3:30, girls’ final at 6 and boys’ final at 7:30.
Susquehanna, Elk Lake, Blue Ridge and Montrose are competing in the event.
League play resumes after New Year’s.
Montrose is at Elk Lake in a girls’ basketball game Monday, January 3, pitting two teams who each won their openers against each other.
TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached online at RobbyTR@aol.com.
Robby Gordon To Race In Dakar Rally
Robby Gordon turns up his winter racing schedule in preparation for the Dakar Rally
Gordon will be participating in his seventh Dakar Rally and piloting the No. 303 Speed Energy / Toyo Tires Hummer. Gordon will depend on his navigator, Kellon Walsh, to maneuver through the ever changing terrain of the cross country race
2011 marks the 33rd running of the international test of endurance and determination known as the Dakar Rally, which for the third consecutive year will take place in the South American countries of Argentina and Chile after security threats in Mauritania in 2008 caused the ASO, the race organizers, to move the race from Africa.
With more than 5,903 miles to be completed from January 1 to 16, 2011, the Dakar Rally is easily the "world's most grueling race."
Based on fourteen stages, known as "specials," the winner of the rally is the team with the shortest elapsed time over the fifteen day event. The terrain that competitors traverse is extremely difficult. Most of the competitive specials are off-road, crossing dunes, mud, camel grass, rocks among other elements.
To be successful at the Dakar Rally, a team must possess three things: state of the art equipment, first rate driving and navigational skills, and true determination and perseverance. The slightest mistake by man or equipment can cost a team valuable seconds in their effort to achieve the ultimate objective: winning the Dakar Rally.
Sports Illustrated named Jimmie Johnson’s fifth consecutive Sprint Cup championship as their top racing story of 2010.
The careers of most of the Sprint Cup drivers younger than 35 will eventually be considered in context of the Jimmie Johnson era. Like baseball's Dead Ball Era, Johnson's dominance will influence the consideration of every achievement within it. And there's no telling when this epic NASCAR epoch will end. Not in 2010. Johnson withstood a challenge from Denny Hamlin, overtaking him for the title in the final race of the season in what might be both Johnson's and crew chief Chad Knaus' most masterful effort.
For Johnson fans it was good news, but others in NASCAR didn’t see the previous season as all that glamorous. NASCAR battled declining TV ratings and attendance.
New Hampshire Motor Speedway president Jerry Gappens says NASCAR has sustained a 67 percent drop in interest from the coveted 18- to 34-year-old demographic and is "at the tail end of losing a whole generation." Television ratings have cratered, and attendance continued to flag despite a compelling season and the most interesting Chase for the Championship ever.
NASCAR's woes involve more than the financial plight of its fans. After years of wild growth, the sport faces great self-evaluation as it attempts to prevent a recession out of the major leagues.
For the past several years, NASCAR has been trying to promote a friendly oriented approach. They encourage drivers like Johnson and Jeff Gordon to bring their babies to the track, so they can be seen by viewers on television. Another angle NASCAR has taken is to introduce Hollywood celebrities during racing events, in hopes of creating more “glitz.”
One of the latest drivers to try his hand in Hollywood is Carl Edwards.
Edwards has been cast in HBO's forthcoming Civil War mini-series, "To Appomattox," as General John B. Gordon, a Confederate General selected by Robert E. Lee to surrender the Army of Northern Virginia. The real Gordon became one of the two authors of "Honor Answering Honor" and, by this gesture, returned the private Southern soldier to the Union with respect and dignity.
The series centers around the final battle of the Civil War and stars Michael C. Hall (Dexter) as General Ulysses S. Grant, William Petersen (CSI) as General William Tecumseh Sherman, Paul Giamatti (John Adams) as James "Pete" Longstreet and Bill Paxton (Big Love) as Stonewall Jackson. The series is in discussions with additional NASCAR drivers to play other roles.
There was much hype about Danica Patrick's 13-race Nationwide Series excursion into NASCAR this past season. It was documented with opinion-page scrutiny and reality-show drama. Crowds swarmed her, especially early in the season at Daytona; other drivers humored her, then stopped abruptly late in the season, leading the 28-year-old IndyCar star to ask if she had a target on her person or race car.
Ultimately, the statistical analysis was mundane: an average finish of 28th with three DNFs. Her final race of the season, at Homestead-Miami Speedway, was her best, starting fifth, finishing 19th. She'll do it all again in 2011, and the drama this time around will be the fact that she's racing in a contract year with both her IndyCar team and JR Motorsports.
Unless her performance improves, she is not likely to garner as much attention as she did this past season. The new has worn off.
There are various theories about the causes for NASCAR’s decline, and one of them involves Patrick’s car-owner, Dale Earnhardt Jr.
He needs to win some races. He leads the sport in fans, T-shirt sales and commercials, but he rarely leads a race. The move to Hendrick Motorsports didn't produce the expected success, but if he could get one or two checkered flags, 2011 could be a different story.
Racing Trivia Question: Which Cup team will Ryan Newman drive for in 2011?
Last Week’s Question: How many Cup championships does Bobby Labonte have? Answer. His single Sprint Cup championship came in 2000.
You may contact the Racing Reporter at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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