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MONTROSE - The Susquehanna Community Foundation holiday basketball tournaments took on a new look this season with a move of all games to one site, creating four games each on two different days.
After two long days at Montrose High School, the Blue Ridge boys emerged as the champion of the Susquehanna County Christmas Tournament behind the play of tournament Most Valuable Player Alex Cardoza and the Montrose girls won the Denise Reddon Memorial Christmas Tournament with MVP Dallas Ely leading the way.
The two titles were decided in a Wednesday night doubleheader.
The girls' tournament was renamed after Reddon, the former Susquehanna mayor, athletic director and coach who passed away earlier in 2010.
The combined events raised about $3,500 for scholarship funds. The tournaments will stay together for 2011 when they move to Susquehanna.
SUSQUEHANNA COUNTY CHRISTMAS TOURNAMENT
Cardoza spent the first 20 minutes of the final using his dribble penetration to break down the Elk Lake defense and set up his Blue Ridge teammates for open shots on the perimeter.
Then, Cardoza took matters into his own hands and broke the game open.
The junior point guard scored nine points as Blue Ridge ran off 13 straight in less than three minutes, breaking the game’s final tie and sending the Raiders on their way to a 62-44 victory.
“My team needed me to step up,” Cardoza said.
Bryan Grosvenor gave Elk Lake its last lead, 26-24, less than two minutes into the second half.
The Raiders then outscored the Warriors, 24-5, for a 48-31 lead on Matt Principe’s three-point play 32 seconds into the fourth quarter.
“We like to play a fast-paced game,” Blue Ridge coach Brian Woodruff said after the Raiders scored 40 second-half points while forcing 10 turnovers and committing just one. “We were down by two at halftime and looking to have a big quarter.
“Our guys work hard and are in great shape. We’re heavy on guards, but that helps with our speed and ballhandling.”
Cardoza’s 3-pointer from the right corner broke the last tie, gave Blue Ridge a 31-28 lead and started the 13-point streak. By the end of the third quarter, Cardoza showed he could hit from behind the line, from on the 3-point line twice, by pulling up at the foul line and by going all the way to the basket for a reverse layup.
Cardoza finished with 17 points and six assists.
Matt Principe added 16 points, Sawyer Dearborn had 13 points, eight rebounds and five steals and Jesse Pruitt had 10 points and eight rebounds.
Elk Lake was led by Rob Heft with 12 points, Mark Bush with 10 points and eight rebounds and Joe Woolcock with six assists.
Cardoza, Dearborn and Heft made the all-tournament team along with Montrose’s Bill Stranburg and Susquehanna’s Andrzej Tomczyk.
Blue Ridge and Montrose had a close battle throughout the semifinal, which the Raiders won, 52-51, on Cardoza’s pull-up shot on the baseline off an-inbounds play in the closing seconds.
The teams were tied, 15-15, after one quarter. Blue Ridge led, 28-26, at halftime and Montrose led, 40-39, going into the fourth quarter.
The Raiders took the ball out under the basket with five seconds left and scored with about one remaining.
Cardoza’s game-winner also made him the game’s high scorer with 19 points. Dearborn added 12.
Montrose was led by Steve Squires with 18 points.
Elk Lake defeated Susquehanna, 53-41, in the other first-round game.
Bush scored seven of his 15 points in the first quarter to help the Lady Warriors to a 21-6 lead.
Woolcock added 11 points.
Tomczyk scored all 17 of his points in the second half.
Montrose needed a big second half to beat Susquehanna, 62-51, for third place.
The Sabers led, 18-10, after one quarter and, 28-26, at halftime.
Stranburg finished with 17 points for the Meteors, who used a 28-11 third quarter to post the win.
Tom Lewis added 13 points and Squires 10 in the win.
Susquehanna was led by Cole Mallery with 19 points and Tomczyk with 16.
DENISE REDDON MEMORIAL CHRISTMAS TOURNAMENT
The Lady Meteors were facing a deficit when they came out of a timeout midway through the first quarter of the championship game.
Ely made sure that situation did not come up again.
The 5-foot-8 junior guard scored the next six points to start a streak of eight straight points that carried Montrose to a comfortable 53-22 victory over Elk Lake.
Ely’s drive to the basket followed by two pull-up jumpers gave Montrose an 11-6 lead with two minutes left in the quarter. Elk Lake never got any closer and Montrose soon started the process of running away with the game.
“It just basically came down to intensity and ball movement,” Lady Meteors coach Al Smith said. “We were a little lackadaisical at first.”
By halftime, Montrose led 26-12 and Ely had 16 of her 20 points on a variety of shots on the move, including some running one-handers over defenders.
“That just comes with playing a lot,” Smith said. “The kid is on the court playing and creating and eventually, it’s something that comes naturally to her.”
Sara Krupinski added 10 points, four assists and three steals to earn an all-tournament spot and help keep the Lady Meteors unbeaten through six games.
“She’s a game manager who does well to balance our movement and keep us offense set up,” Smith said of Krupinski.
Katelyn Spellman led all players in the game with seven rebounds and five steals to go along with her eight points.
Spellman led a defense that forced 10 Elk Lake turnovers in the second quarter and 11 in the third.
Katie Mitchell led Elk Lake with eight points and six rebounds. Teammate Mazie Tyler made the all-tournament team.
The tournament opened Dec. 27 with Elk Lake’s 46-22 victory over Susquehanna.
Mazie Tyler got Elk Lake off to a strong start with five of her nine points in the first quarter to help the Lady Warriors to a 12-2 lead.
Elk Lake made the lead 20-6 at halftime and 31-12 after three quarters.
Katie Mitchell scored eight points in the fourth quarter to finish with a team-high 12.
Cassie Tyler added eight points.
Brianne Bianco led Susquehanna with seven.
Montrose pounded Blue Ridge, 53-8, in the other semifinal.
The Lady Meteors led 24-2 after one quarter, 36-2 after two and 45-6 after three.
Ely finished with 13 points and Krupinski with 11.
Blue Ridge recovered to take third place with a 34-24 victory over Susquehanna.
Kristen Brown led the Lady Raiders with 18 points on her way to a spot on the all-tournament team.
Bianco scored 10 points to lead Susquehanna.
Emily Carmody represented the Lady Sabers on the all-tournament team.
WEEK IN REVIEW
Montrose 103-pounder Heather Traver was one of three county wrestlers who placed fourth in their weight class at the 33rd annual Tunkhannock Kiwanis Tournament.
Tom Maby finished fourth at 140 and Nick Vales finished seventh at 145 for Susquehanna, which finished 20th out of 24 teams in the vent with 39 points.
Wyalusing beat out Honesdale, 216 1/2-191 1/2, for the team title.
Elk Lake’s Devon Fiorentino was fourth at 135 pounds.
Montrose’s Zach Thorne finished sixth at 171.
Montrose was 22nd with 32 points while Elk Lake was last with 26.
In boys’ basketball, Forest City won the title of its own Forest City Rotary Tournament Dec. 26.
Joe Caruso scored 23 points in a 43-40 championship game victory over Mountain View.
In girls’ basketball, Forest City placed third in the Honesdale Jaycees Tournament.
After suffering their first loss in the semifinals against Honesdale, the Lady Foresters pounded Western Wayne, 71-37, in the consolation game.
Dan Brown, a sophomore from Montrose, is a 197-pounder on the Wilkes University wrestling team.
Brown placed fifth at the Monarch Invitational and went 1-2 at Messiah’s Petrofes Invitational.
THE WEEK AHEAD
Lackawanna League wrestling opens Wednesday, including Blue Ridge at Susquehanna in a Division 2 match.
In other Division 2 openers, Elk Lake is at Lackawanna Trail and Valley View is at Montrose.
In boys’ basketball, Montrose plays at Blue Ridge Friday in a rematch of their one-point holiday tournament game.
TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached online at RobbyTR@aol.com.
Slipping Revenue Hurting NASCAR
Many sports writers and racing philosophers have attempted to point out what is wrong with NASCAR. I’m not going to try and follow their words, because I don’t have any concrete answers, especially when it comes to the drop in television viewers.
But I have attended the races, talked with fans, track and stadium personnel, as well as NASCAR officials. And without a doubt, the economy is hurting the sport.
One main theme that NASCAR has focused on for the past year or two is the loss of fans from ages 18-35. This is the largest single group of fans that are leaving the sport.
If NASCAR officials could come to a point when they can call an orange an orange, and not try to make it into an apple, they might be able to find the correct answers.
Stock car racing was born in the south, raised in the south, and continues to be a southern sport. NASCAR has tried to make their brand of racing into a worldwide sport, but let’s face it, not everyone cares for it.
Racing in itself hasn’t lost its appeal to younger fans, but stock car racing as it currently exists has. Kids today are turned on by things like extreme motocross and X-Games.
The younger generation craves more excitement. I believe that is why the National Football League is doing so well. They have more hard-hitting, down-to-earth, shove-it-down-your-throat action than other traditional sports, especially NASCAR.
The younger group cares more for this type action than baseball or NASCAR.
There used to be lots more younger people that followed veteran racers, but all those old drivers are dead. The new ones will never have the appeal or charisma of the older ones.
Jimmie Johnson has been called the world’s greatest stock car driver. But where is his greatness. It’s certainly not in his thrilling on-track performance he put on for the past five years.
Jimmie Johnson is the perfect example of a “Corporate Driver.”
Compare him with Dale Earnhardt Sr., who was not one of those darling, politically correct drivers. He was just the opposite. Drivers and fans knew he was going to put on a show and give it his all during every race.
Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Richard Childress in 1996.
Johnson has all the best of everything. Earnhardt didn’t. Richard Childress told me in 1996 that the team had fallen behind the ‘learning curve.’ “We relied too much on Dale,” he said. “We knew Dale could take a car that was not up to par and win more races than someone with better and faster equipment.”
A hero is one that performs heroic deeds through his own abilities.
If you will look back through history at popular drivers, you will find the ones that are best remembered are the ones that persevered over difficult situations.
While many NASCAR races have become boring during the middle stages of a race, the slipping revenue that fans have available is also part of the slump in track attendance.
It isn’t just NASCAR tracks that are hurting. With the exception of the NFL, which is having a banner year, most other forms of sports and entertainment venues are hurting. They’ve felt the pocket book pinch for several years.
The last two years was tough for the entertainment and concert business, as high ticket prices kept many fans at home. Promoters now say they plan to make shows more affordable in 2011. But they’ll also try to sell more T-shirts and other merchandise to make up for lost revenue.
Heading into last summer, usually the busiest time of the year, prices were set too high despite the sluggish economy. Managers and promoters believed fans would keep paying for the one or two concerts they see on average each year.
Instead, many stayed home and dozens of shows were canceled. Lots of venues filled seats with fire-sale prices.
Records show that most NASCAR tracks’ revenue began to slip in 2005. The next year was even worse. This is when most track owners knew they had to change their pricing strategy.
But general attendance is only one of several revenue streams.
“It would be hard for us to make it, if we didn’t have sponsors,” said Atlanta Motor Speedway’s general manager, Ed Clark. “We rely on that money. It helps us turn a profit, but more importantly, it helps keep the fans ticket prices lower.”
With lower revenue, it doesn’t take many companies discontinuing their sponsorships or luxury suites to eat into the bottom line, Clark said.
In 2009, ticket prices began to come down at least $10 at practically all NASCAR tracks. Some of the more expensive seats were more heavily discounted. Although the average ticket price is expected to fall a little more in 2011, attendance is still expected to drop.
Bill Haley is a district sales manager for a retail office supply company in Marietta, Georgia. He lives just west of Douglasville, Georgia. His home is about midway between the Atlanta and Talladega tracks.
“It has just gotten too expensive for me,” said Bill. “My income is down from two years ago. We used to attend 4-6 races per year. Paying over $400 for decent seats for four people at each race is just too much.
“Talladega has reduced their prices about 15 percent, but we’re still going to have to limit the number of races to 1 or 2 next year.
“Just can’t afford to go like we used to.”
Combine the economy, long-boring races, and you have a partial answer to the unfilled seats at most NASCAR races.
Racing Trivia Question: Who was the driver that won three Cup championships while driving for Junior Johnson?
Last Week’s Question: Which Cup team will Ryan Newman drive for in 2011? Answer. He will continue to drive the No. 39 for Stewart-Haas Racing.
You may contact the Racing Reporter at: email@example.com.
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