August 25, 2006
Saraceno streak still alive
There he goes again.
Cortland Country Club head pro Tony Saraceno will be doing a familiar chore — packing his bags — this fall after winning the Central New York Senior Section Championship/PGA National Professional Championship qualifier Thursday at Oswego Country Club.
Saraceno fired a one-under 70 over the 6,200-yard layout to go with his 71 on Wednesday and claimed the event for the sixth straight time — in every year that he’s been eligible. He will again be heading to the Senior PGA Professional National Championship in Port St. Lucie Oct. 19-22.
Also earning Florida trips were Jack Bergin from the Skenandoa Club and Bill Galloway of Dutch Hollow Golf and Country Club, both of whom finished at 142 (Bergin with 73-69, Galloway with 72-70).
Paul Zurek from Thousand Island Country Club was fourth at 143 (72-71), with Drumlins’ Joe Tesori fifth at 149 (76-73).
“Our executive director, Chuck Harty, is going to check with the national PGA to see if that’s ever been done,” Saraceno said of his perfect record since becoming eligible to compete in Senior events by reaching age 50. “It gets harder all the time; every year a lot more guys hit that magic number, good players, and you have more guys to fight off while you’re getting older.
“Paul (Zurek) is one; he was the head pro at Oswego for years, so I was giving up home-course advantage. He eagled the nice hole and was up by three strokes on Galloway and me heading to the back nine. Nothing against him, but I said to myself, ‘I played this course Wednesday and know a little about it. I’ve won this five years in a row. Let’s see if you can win it.’”
The year’s victory was the closest Saraceno can remember in the event. “I don’t think I ever had to do something on the last hole,” he said. “I made a three-foot left-to-right bender to make on the last hole or there could have been a playoff.
“I thought that if I was able to shoot two-under for the last nine holes it would be good enough, and it was.”
Saraceno, who admittedly hadn’t been having one of his better seasons prior to this week, will be heading back to the Senior PGA Professional_National Championship after having had his best performance there last year, finishing in a tie for 13th out of 360 players. As one of the top 35 finishers, he qualified for last May’s Senior PGA Championship at Oak Tree in Oklahoma.
“When you get to Florida you have to keep playing well,” he said. “A lot of guys will be after it this time, because next year’s Senior PGA is on the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island (S.C.).”
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Monarchs off to strong start
The Associated Press
Detroit Shock’s Deanna Nolan (14) takes a shot over Connecticut Sun’s Erin Phillips, left, and teammate Lindsay Whalen, right, during the second half of their WNBA Eastern Conference Final game Thursday in Auburn Hills, Mich. The Shock won game one in the best-of-three series 70-59.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Although the Sacramento Monarchs’ first-round grace was gone, they still had the grit and grind they needed to stay with their biggest rivals.
And then Kara Lawson and Nicole Powell provided just enough graceful moments against the Los Angeles Sparks to put the Monarchs on the verge of a return trip to the WNBA finals.
Yolanda Griffith scored 18 points and hit the go-ahead layup with 10.3 seconds left in the Monarchs’ 64-61 victory in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals on Thursday night.
Powell scored eight of her 17 points in the fourth quarter, and Lawson hit a tie-breaking 3-pointer with 48 seconds left for the defending league champion Monarchs, who rallied from a nine-point deficit late in the third quarter.
Although the Monarchs haven’t lost a home playoff game in five years, the Sparks never allow this rivalry to get comfortable. Los Angeles was the better team for most of the first three quarters while Sacramento struggled.
“There were a lot of things that we could have hung our heads about,” Lawson said. “There were times that they really dominated us. They made a run where they got up nine. There were a lot of reasons for us not to come back and win. We got in there, and we grinded it out.”
Indeed, it wasn’t pretty for either of these longtime rivals. Sacramento got just three points from its vaunted bench, and the Sparks — who couldn’t score in the first 5:55 — fell apart offensively when they were perhaps two good fourth-quarter possessions away from a win.
But the Monarchs kept it together, and now Sacramento has two chances at one victory in Southern California.
“I really thought my team showed determination, character, courage, whatever you want to call it,” Monarchs coach John Whisenant said. “We needed this one badly.”
In Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals, Detroit beat Connecticut 70-59.
Sacramento has won 10 straight playoff games at Arco Arena dating to 2001.
Mwadi Mabika nearly carried the Sparks to victory with 23 points, including 20 in the second half of her latest outstanding game against Sacramento. Lisa Leslie had 11 rebounds but just seven points on 3-of-13 shooting for Los Angeles, which led throughout the second half until Powell hit her third 3-pointer with 4:17 left to tie it at 51.
Temeka Johnson, who scored 14 points, made two tough layups for the Sparks, but Sacramento tied it again on Ticha Penicheiro’s 3-pointer. The Monarchs went ahead on a 3-pointer by Lawson, who scored 13 points on a poor shooting night.
Mabika tied it at 61 on a 3-pointer with 34 seconds left, but the Monarchs ran down the clock until Griffith scored over two defenders on a pass from Lawson. Johnson missed a tough layup on the other end, and Lawson hit one free throw with 3.1 seconds left.
Lisa Willis missed a long 3-pointer at the buzzer, and the Monarchs hit the road for Game 2 on Saturday night — which will be played in Anaheim while an American Idol-related concert takes over Staples Center.
“Sacramento did what it was supposed to do, and now we have a chance to go home and hopefully make our shots this time,” Leslie said. “We learned from the (first-round) series against Seattle that it can be done. It just takes composure.”
If necessary, Game 3 will be Sunday at Staples Center — and the Sparks must replicate their two first-round home victories over Seattle to get to the WNBA finals.
“We’re in Sacramento, (and) this is the toughest place to win,” Sparks coach Joe Bryant said. “This is a jungle in here. They’re the defending champs. That’s why we fought all year for homecourt advantage, so we wouldn’t have to play here twice.”
Chamique Holdsclaw sat out with a foot injury, leaving the Sparks without their second-leading scorer essentially for the third straight game. Holdsclaw played 2 minutes in Game 2 of Los Angeles’ first-round series with Seattle, then sat out Game 3.
But the Sparks got a remarkable game from Mabika, who has played for Los Angeles in every season of the WNBA’s existence. She made a series of difficult outside shots in the second half, seemingly getting points whenever the Monarchs got close.
The teams are meeting in their fourth straight postseason, with the Monarchs eliminating Los Angeles in the first round in 2004 and 2005.
Shock 70, Sun 59: Cheryl Ford pulled down a postseason-record 23 rebounds and scored 11 points for Detroit.
“That’s just a Herculean effort,” Shock coach Bill Laimbeer said. “She’s been very driven and focused all year, and it has been a joy to watch.”
Connecticut, outscored 22-10 in the fourth quarter, needs to win the final two games at home to advance to their third straight WNBA finals. Detroit is trying to get back to the championship round for the first time since winning the 2002 title.
“Obviously, we have our work cut out for us,” Connecticut coach Mike Thibault said.
Ford broke Lisa Leslie’s postseason rebounding record of 18 late in the third quarter, then broke her own overall franchise record of 22 in the fourth. The league record for rebounds in a game is 24 by Chamique Holdsclaw.
“It just seemed like the ball was falling right into my hands,” said Ford, the daughter of NBA Hall of Famer Karl Malone. “I was just trying to get to everything I could.”
Deanna Nolan led all scorers with 21 points, while Katie Smith added 17 and Plenette Pierson had 11 off the bench.
Connecticut, which was missing leading scorer Katie Douglas to a foot injury, got 13 points each from Lindsay Whalen and Erin Phillips.
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Farrell’s owns National Crown
With a hot bat from a young player and veteran leadership, Farrell’s closed out a remarkable season with a 14-5 win over Bad Beagle A_to complete a two-game sweep_for the Cortland Men’s Slow Pitch Softball League National Division championship.
Farrell’s won 24 of its last 25 games en route to dominating its post-season foes.
In the American Division championship series, NAPA took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series with an 11-7 win over Palm Gardens. Game two is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. today at Dexter Park, with the third game, if needed, to follow immediately.
Farrell’s 14, Bad Beagle A 5: Ryan Stevens was 3-for-4 with two doubles while going 7-for-8 in the two-game sweep. Jamie Buck delivered three extra base hits (two home runs, one triple) and seven RBIs during his 3-for-4 night while Chad Lansing was 2-for-3 with four runs scored. Brian Taylor and Jim Hogan each went 2-for-4 with two RBIs for the champs while Frank Tibke was also 2-for-4.
It was the first championship for Stevens while Tibke and Hogan were the two veterans credited with bringing the extra guidance and veteran leadership that Farrell’s counted on in 2006.
Shawn Badman (double), Pat Curry and Jeff Hopkins each went 2-for-3 for Bad Beagle A.
NAPA 11, Palm Gardens 7: NAPA overcame a 4-2 deficit with four runs in the bottom of the second inning and continued to score runs in every frame to win the first game of the American Division championship series.
Steve Phillips paced the NAPA attack by going 3-for-4 with a triple and home run. Dick Coats (double) and winning pitcher Bill Phillips each added 2-for-3 efforts.
Greg Ruocco led the Palm Gardens offense by going 3-for-4 with two doubles while losing pitcher Tim Ecker helped his own cause with a home run.