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Clarks Summit Every other boys and girls basketball team in Susquehanna County was done for the season when Forest City finally opened play in the District 2 Class A girls tournament last Wednesday at Abington Heights.
The Lady Foresters represented the last chance for a county basketball team to reach the state tournament.
That, however, should have been considered just about automatic.
Behind Amanda Vitzakovitchs 37 points, Forest City handled Pittston Seton Catholic, 62-43, to reach the district final and clinch a state playoff berth.
The Lady Foresters streak of five straight district titles ended three days later in a 43-31 championship game loss to Bishop OReilly, but the teams run of 22 straight state appearances under coach Carl Urbas remains intact.
"Every year around this time, I have to tell the girls, we need this game. I dont want to break my record," Urbas said.
Despite some sloppiness in their first game after 13 days off, particularly in terms of defensive rebounding, the Lady Foresters made sure that this would not be the year the streak ends.
Forest City has just two of its top six players from last seasons district championship team, but as Urbas pointed out, building a team around Vitzakovitch and Dana Bennett "is a good place to start."
Vitzakovitch, the schools all-time leading scorer and a starter on three straight district championship teams, was outstanding with the state streak on the line.
The senior hit 16 of 23 shots from the floor, including 2-for-4 on 3-pointers, while going 3-for-5 from the line. She also led the team with nine rebounds and six steals while sharing the assist lead with Kelsey Tyson by setting up three baskets.
Vitzakovitch hit a 3-pointer to start and split a double team to score with three seconds left to finish a 17-4, second-quarter advantage that essentially decided the game. She also had baskets to start streaks of eight and six points while scoring 11 during the quarter.
Seton Catholic rebounded 19 of its 32 misses in the second quarter to keep the game interesting until late. The Lady Eagles got 14 points off offensive rebounds without allowing the Lady Foresters any.
Tina Durako led the Lady Eagles with 16 points and 16 rebounds, including 11 on the offensive end. Aniell Caprari added 11 points and 14 rebounds.
After Seton Catholic cut the 30-14 half-time lead to 10 for the only time in the second half, Vitzakovitch took over.
Vitzakovitch hit two free throws, scored on a baseline drive and turned a steal into an 8-footer in transition for six straight points and a 57-41 lead with 2:16 left.
Laura Heck added eight points without missing a shot for Forest City. Bennett had seven rebounds before fouling out.
Tara Martines came off the bench to contribute three steals and two assists while making her only shot.
Forest City forced 25 turnovers, including 16 in the first half.
WEEK IN REVIEW
In addition to the Forest City girls basketball team, two individuals qualified for winter sports state championships.
Blue Ridge wrestler Justin Herbert and Elk Lake swimmer Collin Lunger each advanced to the state tournament.
In wrestling, Herbert was second at 160 pounds in the Class AA Northeast Regional Tournament at Williamsport.
Herbert won two matches before losing to returning state runner-up Joe Rovelli of Wilkes-Barre Meyers, 10-6, in the finals.
Herbert reached the final by pinning Central Columbias Brandon Gibble in the first period, then beating South Williamsports Sean Gephart, 6-3.
Blue Ridge teammate Nick Pease fell one win short of qualifying for the state tournament in Hershey when he placed fourth at 152 pounds.
The top three wrestlers in each weight class advance from what is annually the states strongest Class AA regional.
Pease won one rematch but lost another. He opened the tournament with a 5-3 victory over Jeremiah Searfas of Athens.
After being pinned by Bloomsburgs Steve Anceravage, Pease reached the consolation final by avenging two district losses to Western Waynes Dave Arnold in a 4-2 overtime victory.
It was Searfas who avenged a loss at that point. Searfas pinned Pease in 2:54 to earn the state trip.
Montroses Jeff Snyder and Mountain Views Matt Panasevich were the only other county wrestlers to win a bout at regionals. They were both eliminated in the consolation semifinals.
Snyder had a pin in the consolation quarterfinals at 112.
Panasevich opened with a 5-1 loss to T.K. Spencer of Towanda and came back with a 5-0 victory over Lake-Lehmans Joe Klemunes.
Montroses Jeff Olienacz and Adam Poodiack; Elk Lakes John Brooks, Rich Harvey, Dylan Griffiths and Brandon Griffiths; Blue Ridges Louis Villella and Harry Marvin; Susquehannas Ryan Holleran; and Mountain Views Greg Nixon all went 0-2.
Villellas second loss came by forfeit.
Brooks came the closest to getting a win. He was eliminated in a 5-3 loss to Western Waynes Jeff Morcom.
The Lackawanna League had just two regional champions. Kyle Davis of Valley View won in Williamsport while Dave Morgan of West Scranton won a title in the Class AAA tournament in Bethlehem.
In swimming, Lunger missed out on taking one of the two state berths in the 200 meter free-style by seven-hundredths of a second when he finished third in 1:54.61, behind Berwicks Eric Smith in 1:54.54.
Lunger made sure of his state berth and district gold medal in the 500 free-style when his time of 5:04.45 won by 3.19 seconds over Bishop Hobans John Dougherty.
Tom Search also had a strong meet for the Warriors. He placed third in the 100 free-style and fifth in the 50 free-style.
Elk Lake was seventh in the 11-team event with 86 points. Bishop Hoban was the team champion.
With Lunger and Search getting help from Chris Kelley, Cameron Ross and Brian Benscoter, Elk Lake took fifth in the 400 free-style relay and sixth in the 200 free-style relay.
The Elk Lake girls were last in the 14-team field. Their only six points came with an 11th-place finish in the 200 free-style relay and a 12th-place finish in the 200 medley relay.
Scranton Prep edged Bishop Hoban, 366-350, for the team title.
In girls basketball, Bishop OReilly used its pair of 6-foot-1 post players to handle Forest City in the Class A final.
Janelle Zabresky scored 22 points and was joined in double figures by Erin Chesnavich.
Forest City continued to have rebounding difficulty and Bishop OReilly held Vitzakovitch to six points.
Bennett led the Lady Foresters with 10 points. Tyson added eight and Amanda Rizner had seven.
Montrose was also unable to defend its title.
The Lady Meteors lost, 53-46, to Wilkes-Barre Meyers in the Class AA quarterfinals to finish a 16-10 season.
Montrose and Meyers were tied after each of the first three quarters. Meyers then won the game with a 16-9 fourth quarter.
Ashleigh Sawicki scored eight of her 11 points in the fourth quarter for Meyers. Rose Morgans led the Lady Mohawks with 20.
Kate LaBarbera had 11 of her 18 points for Montrose in the second half. Chelsey Parvin finished with 15 points and eight rebounds, Erika Brown added 11 points and Amanda Lass had seven rebounds.
Blue Ridge was eliminated in the same round with a 63-50 loss to Bishop Hannan.
In boys basketball, Forest City was knocked out in the Class A semifinals with a 54-51 overtime loss to Old Forge.
In professional hockey, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins produced their first three-game, regular-season winning streak since January 27, 2001 when they rallied to defeat the Syracuse Crunch, 5-4, Friday night.
Toby Petersen scored the game-winning goal to cap a rally from an early 3-0 deficit.
The winning streak featured three one-goal road victories, including an earlier overtime win in Syracuse and Wednesdays 4-3 win in Binghamton.
Defenseman Jesse Cook scored his first goal with 9:53 left to produce the win in Binghamton.
Alexandre Giroux had two goals in the game for the Senators.
The Montrose junior varsity girls basketball team went 20-0 this season.
The team consisted of sophomores Ashley Jones and Amanda Lass and freshmen Christine Brown, Brittany Ely, Caitlin Ely, Samantha LaMont, Jessica Franklin, Keesha Lunger, Maggie McNamara and Cortney Hoffa.
Montrose doubled its opponents scoring for the season, winning by an average of 42.7-21.3.
The freshmen players were part of an undefeated team for the second straight season. Since seventh grade, they have gone 56-2.
Three former Susquehanna County high school players, including two freshmen, started at times this season for the Wilkes University womens basketball team that finished 3-21.
Danielle Kresock, a 5-foot-4 junior guard from Forest City, saw the most playing time of the trio.
Kresock averaged 19.9 minutes for 21 games, including 14 starts. She was fifth on the team in scoring with 6.0 points per game, second in 3-pointers made (17) and third in assists (27) and steals (19).
Lauren Pantzar, a 5-foot-7 freshman guard from Forest City, appeared in 21 games, including five starts. Pantzar averaged 2.5 points and 1.7 rebounds per game.
Ashley Twining, a 5-foot-10 freshman forward from Mountain View, made four starts among her 19 appearances. Twining went 21-for-23 from the line for a team-high 91.3 percent. She averaged 3.4 points per game.
THE WEEK AHEAD
The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins return home from a seven-game road trip to face the Binghamton Senators Wednesday night. The two regional rivals went into Sunday tied for the fifth and last playoff berth in the American Hockey League East Division.
In wrestling, the state tournament gets started Thursday at the Giant Center in Hershey.
Blue Ridges Herbert opens the 160-pound competition against the wrestler with the least wins in the 16-man bracket. Herbert, a junior with a 35-4 record, opens with Coudersport senior Isaac Wright, the third-place finisher from the Northwest Region with a 22-6 record.
If Herbert gets through the first round, he will probably have to face the wrestler with the best record in the weight class. Mike Mackie, the Southeast Regional champ from Brandywine Heights, brings a 43-0 record into the tournament.
The other unbeaten 160-pounder is also in Herberts half of the bracket. Southwest Regional champ A.J. Graves of Jeannette is 28-0.
Rovelli, the two-time regional champion from Meyers, has the best record in the other half of the bracket at 34-1.
In girls basketball, the Forest City girls have to travel to Martz Hall in Pottsville for a 2:30 game Saturday against District 11 champion Cardinal Brennan (22-5).
Cardinal Brennan, from Ashland, will be playing close to home. It enters the tournament ranked fifth in the state among Class A teams, according to the Harrisburg Patriot-News.
TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached on-line at RobbyTR@aol.com.
TONY STEWART Is Ready To Duel In The Desert
Tony Stewart is looking for a good showing Sunday at Las Vegas, despite all the new rules changes.
NASCAR Nextel Cup series teams entered 2004 facing many changes from 2003. A new title sponsor in Nextel, a new fuel supplier in Sunoco, a softer tire compound developed by Goodyear and a reduction in rear spoiler height are what teams had to adapt to.
To help adjust to the new changes, Stewart and his No. 20 Home Depot team tested at the Las Vegas track in hopes of getting a jump on some of the other teams.
But after two races, it's difficult to see just how the reduced rear spoiler height coincides with the softer tire. And that's because the first two races on the schedule were at different venues.
The season-opening Daytona 500 was a restrictor plate race, where the rear spoiler height was actually increased a half-inch from last year in an effort to curb speeds at one of the series' fastest race tracks. And at Rockingham (NC), the most recent race on the schedule, the tire used was of the same compound used during last year's race in November.
Stewart finished second to Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the Daytona 500.
So it is this weekends UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400, at Las Vegas, where the softer tire and the new five-and-a-half-inch rear spoiler finally meet.
"Any time you have a new tire, especially when you take some spoiler away and take some downforce out of the car, there's a learning period," said Stewart. "But I think that suits this Home Depot team well. We have a team that's capable of winning a championship this year because we don't have to rely on what made us successful last year. We can take a new set of circumstances and pinpoint all of the variables to find a new combination that works for us on the race track.
"We knew that with less downforce the car wasn't going to be stuck to the race track like it typically had been. It wasn't a surprise. We knew there were going to be some adjustments we'd have to make.
"Now we have to budget our tires. We can't go out there and just run flat out the whole time, and with that comes a lot more passing. Guys who get in too big of a hurry and go out and abuse their tires early in a run will get passed by guys at the end of a run because they're more patient.
"Our testing helped us, and I think weve found a good combination. We are going to be a force to be reckoned with this year, and I think everyone knows it."
BUSCH BROTHERS Race Against Each Other At Vegas If things go as planned, Tom Busch will get to watch his sons, Kyle and Kurt go head-to-head March 7 in the Nextel Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
The last time the brothers drove against each was in 1999 in Dwarf and Legends cars on the 3/8-mile paved oval outside the Las Vegas track.
"At that level we had our Legend cars pretty well scienced out and we could run 1-2 most every week, so we had to challenge one another for wins," Kurt said. "Now, within the Nextel Cup ranks, it's going to be another 41 other drivers plus us two, so there are many more variables.
"It will be fun. Maybe we'll have a chance to run side-by-side for a little bit and get some pictures out of it. I think it would be nice to say we raced each other in his first race, but anything can happen."
Kurt is already an established star in NASCAR's top stock car series at the age of 25, but Kyle is just getting started.
"I didn't expect to be racing against Kurt so soon, but I'm excited to do it, especially at home," Kyle said. "That is going to be a special weekend for me and my entire family."
Kyle would have been in NASCAR sooner if not for a ruling late in 2001 that a driver had to be 18 to compete in its top three series.
Will RUSTY Win Again The legions of Rusty Wallace fans are asking, "when."
Wallace isnt able to tell them when he will win another NASCAR Nextel Cup race, but he believes it will come.
"Well, Ive had two bad years, and now Im out to prove that we can do it again," said Wallace. "Ive got a good crew chief, weve made some changes, so weve got to do something better. But were not going to change the driver."
He has not won a race since April, 2001. Thats a total of 100 races. But several other drivers have endured even longer dry spells before they bounced back. Bill Elliott had a winless streak of 227. Sterling Marlins winless streak totaled 171 over a five year period.
BUSCH, NEWMAN & JOHNSON Are Las Vegas Favorite One Las Vegas sports bookie has made Kurt Bush, Ryan Newman, and Jimmie Johnson an 8-5 favorite to win Sundays Nextel Cup UAW Daimler/Chrysler 400.
Here is the betting line offered by Sports Line: Kurt Busch - 8-5, Ryan Newman - 8-5, Jimmie Johnson - 8-5, Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 9-1, Jeff Gordon - 10-1, Matt Kenseth - 10-1, Tony Stewart - 11-1, Kevin Harvick - 13-1, Bobby Labonte - 14-1, Rusty Wallace - 15-1, Dale Jarrett - 15-1, Kasey Kahne - 18-1, Jeremy Mayfield - 18-1, Sterling Marlin - 20-1, Jamie McMurray - 20-1, Bill Elliott - 20-1, Michael Waltrip - 25-1, Mark Martin - 25-1, Jeff Burton - 25-1, Elliott Sadler - 30-1, Greg Biffle - 30-1, Ricky Rudd - 30-1, Brendan Gaughan - 35-1, Robby Gordon - 35-1, Brian Vickers - 35-1, Kyle Busch - 35-1, Scott Wimmer - 40-1, Terry Labonte - 50-1, Ricky Craven - 50-1, Joe Nemechek - 60-1, John Andretti - 60-1, Ward Burton - 60-1, Scott Riggs - 60-1, Casey Mears - 100-1, Kevin LePage - 100-1, Johnny Sauter - 100-1, Jeff Green - 150-1, Ken Schrader - 175-1, Kyle Petty - 300-1, Larry Foyt - 500-1, Derrike Cope - 500-1, Field (all others) - 100-1.
For those fans that might not understand betting, it means if you were to place an $ 8 bet on either Busch, Newman, or Johnson, and won, your payoff would be $13.
The NASCAR Nextel and Busch teams are in Las Vegas for a Saturday and Sunday show. The Craftsman Trucks do not race until March 13.
Saturday March 6, Busch Series Sams Town 300, race 3 of 34, 200 laps/300 miles, 3:30 p.m. TV: FX Channel.
Sunday, March 7, Nextel UAW/CHRYSLER 400, race 3 of 36, 267 laps/400 miles, 2:30 p.m. TV: Fox.
Racing Trivia Question: What is the home state of Kurt Busch and his younger brother, Kyle?
Last Weeks Question: With 200 wins Richard Petty is the winningest Winston Cup driver in NASCAR history. Who is the second most winning driver? Answer. David Pearson (105).
If you would like to read additional racing stories by Gerald Hodges/the Racing Reporter, go to www.race500.com www.race500.com.
Winning is something the Lady Meteor basketball players from Montrose know a lot about. After losing the first game of the 2001 season as seventh graders, they have gone undefeated in three years. In seventh grade, 2001-2002, they had a record of 16-1. As eighth graders, they were 19-0. They also won the Tiger Invitational Tournament in February of 2003. They won the Union Endicott Tournament, which is a ninth grade tournament, as eighth graders in March of 2003. This year they have won 20 straight games with a record of 20-0. They have outscored opponents this season by 428 points. They averaged 42.7 points per game and their opponents average score was 21.3 points per game.
Team members (l-r) are: front row Courtney Hoffa, Caitlin Ely, Brittany Ely, Samantha LaMont; second row Maggie McNamara, Christine Brown, Ashley Jones, Amanda Lass, Jessica Franklin, Keesha Lunger. Missing from photo: Coach Terry OReilly.
This group of girls, many of whom have played together since fifth grade, also play together in the summer for the Northern Tier Thunder AAU Basketball Team. This group of eight freshmen and two sophomores is an example of what hard work, determination, and teamwork is all about.
Congratulations girls, on your hard work and dedication.
BOWLING HISTORY Ken DeGroff, West Lawn, PA and Carl Malucci, Orange, CA have made their mark as two of Americas premier deaf bowlers over the years, but neither has experienced years like 2003.
DeGroff, who made deaf bowling history with back-to-back perfect games in Florida in 1996, did it for a second time last fall in Reading, PA, throwing 24 consecutive strikes after a 223 opening game. They were his third and fourth 300s of the year.
Two days later, Malucci rolled his 35th 300 (and third of the year) in the Mercantile League, in Orange, CA.
DEAF BOWLING RECORDS Masters Bowling Association publicity director Connie Marchione said Americas deaf and hearing-impaired bowlers recorded a record 31 perfect games in 2003, including two by women Stacey Thompson and Laura Lee Daniel.
TEEN CHAMP Patrick (P. J.) Haggerty of Weimar, CA, has been selected as ABCs 2003 Chuck Hall Star of Tomorrow. The 18-year old Colfax High School graduate will receive a $1,000 scholarship, renewable for up to three years if he remains in school.
Haggerty, who has already recorded three 800 series (including a personal-best 858) and 20 career 300 games, is currently bowling for Cal State-Fresno where he plans to major in finance. He has won three California State Young American Bowling Alliance titles.
COUTURE HONORED Two-time ABC Senior Masters champion Pete Couture of Cocoa, FL has been elected to the ABC Hall of Fame for superior performance. "My dream was just to bowl on tour and make a living," Couture said. "Ive been very fortunate throughout my whole career its been more than I ever expected. Its a great honor to be in the ABC Hall of Fame."
Couture, who has five other Senior Masters top ten finishes in addition to his two titles, has also won five PBA Tour titles and seven PBA Senior Tour titles.
Other candidates on the regular ballot were: Gene Stus, Taylor, MI; John Handegard, Nacogdoches, TX; Harry Sullins, Chesterfield Township, MI; Mickey Higham, Battle Creek, MI; Jeff Richgels, Oregon, WI; Pete McCordic, Katy, TX; and John Hricsina, Franklin, PA.
SEVEN DECADES OF EXCELLENCE Jerry Morrell of Elmira, NY is proud of an accomplishment few ABC members can match. He has rolled 700 or better series in seven consecutive decades, starting with a 703 on April 18, 1940, at age 19 in the New York State Bowling Association Tournament.
Since then he has added a: 709 on October 6, 1954 in Elmira; 710 in December, 1968 in Liverpool, NY; 767 on November 28, 1979 in Elmira; 705 on April 8, 1980 in Elmira; 702 on November 28, 1995 in Elmira; 706 on November 26, 2003 in Elmira at age 83.
Morrell claims to be both the youngest (at the time) and oldest to bowl a 700 in Elmira. "Im probably not the only one (with 700s in seven decades), but you have to live a long time and bowl pretty well along the way to do it," he said.
A BOWLING WHIZ Tyler Payne, a junior at West Fargo High School, North Dakota, bowled back-to-back 300 games and had 33 strikes in 36 frames including 25 consecutive strikes in a three-game league series. He totaled 858 series, a record for junior bowlers.
Trout season opens April 17 at 8:00 a.m. Creel limit of five per day.
Water Area Date Time Meet Location Number/ Species
Starrucca Ck. 3/3 2:00 p.m. Lanes. P.O. 570 Bk, 1330 Rb
Canawacta Ck. 3/3 2:00 p.m. Lanes. P.O. 120 Br, 280 Rb
Wysox Cr. 3/9 12:15 p.m. Int. Rts 187 & 6 / Wysox 570 Bk, 1330 Rb
Silver Ck. 3/9 12:15 p.m. Int. Rts 187 & 6 / Wysox 360 Br, 840 Rb
Snake Ck. 3/11 1:30 p.m Basil Leaf Rest. 960Bk, 2240Rb
E. Br. Wyl. Ck. 3/16 1:30 p.m. Basil Leaf Rest. 870Bk, 2030 Rb
Salt Lick Cr. 3/17 1:30 p.m. Trail Diner 540 Bk, 1260 Rb
Tuscarora Cr. 3/18 12:45 p.m. Int Rts. 6 & 367 390 Bk, 910 Rb
N. Br. Wyl. Ck. 3/25 1:30 p.m. Basil Leaf Rest. 270 Bk, 630 Rb
M. Br. Wyl. Ck. . 3/25 1:30 p.m. Basil Leaf Rest. 420 Bk, 420 Br 560 Rb
Quaker Lake 3/29 1:00 p.m. PFBC Access 1200 Rb
Fall Brook 4/2 1:30 Basil Leaf Rest. 150 Br, 350 Rb
Gaylord Ck. Brook 4/2 1:30 Basil Leaf Rest. 840 Bk 360 Br
Rb= Rainbow Trout, Br= Brown Trout, Bk = Brook Trout
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