SPORTS DIGEST by Bill Byham

Sports announcer, writer Bill Byham and famous for "That's 30" signoff

Sports announcer, writer Bill Byham and famous for "That's 30" signoff

DADE CITY, FLORIDA – I see by the web pages that the two colleges in Williamsport have moved from their winter sports programs toward what comes with spring.Where we are right now spring has sprung in a big way. Baseball and softball are all over the place. High school track and field practices have passed and meets have been held under the kind of weather all you in the Valley wish you could have.

Last week was one of six days of sun, very few clouds and day time temperatures running in the mid-70’s.

(I really had not planned to let you know about our weather. Sort of a bush league play on my part but, you know, I can’t keep a secret).

Yep! We are down here on our annual trip to visit our daughter and her family who live just outside of Dade City. Out of their minds already is the winter season of basketball and wrestling. You go down to the town’s Little League complex and see eight games all going at the same time. You walk over to the far end of the complex and three fields are filled with soccer teams. The high school baseball and softball fields, located down the block a ways, are lighted most nights with either practices or games.

When we left home there was a large number of games and matches to be played out in a lot of sports. Both Lycoming and Penn College had basketball teams that were working hard to get into a post season, Lycoming was finishing off a good year in swimming at the Middle Atlantic Conference championships. Roger Creb’s wrestlers were heading for the Empire State Conference championships and where Chris Dahlheimer (165 pounds) won his weight to qualify for the D-3 Nationals in March, while county high school wrestlers and ball players were playing to Heartland Conference crowns plus post season openings.

We have been doing this same thing for a lot of years. It means we are packing and leaving when there is so much unfinished business to happen. I get down here and have to check web pages, make phone calls and hope everyone of those contacted have good stories to tell me. So far, so good. Good ball games with the gyms full. Exciting wrestling building toward state championships. What I would very much like to hear would be a team or teams plus some individuals from the Valley who have made it a PIAA state championship year. That would really be great news!

I have to be excited about the South Williamsport basketball team because I have a history with that program. I had coached the Mounties for two years before moving into WMPT radio. I figured my team coaching experiment was over but in the mid-70’s Rod Morgans, South’s athletic director at the time, called me into his office and offered me the job of coaching the Lady Mounties. I said No and he offered Bob Lesher up as a co-head coach. We both said No but the big guy kept on us until we said Yes.

It was a good era for Lady Ball as all of the schools in the county had pioneered girl’s basketball programs. The Loyalsock Twp Kiwanis Club was a big booster as they supported “an end of the regular season” tournament that ran, I think, about four years. Muncy, Warrior Run, Bishop Neumann, Montgomery, South, Montoursville, Hughesville and Loyalsock Twp. sent teams. I know I had the ball club from South there in 1975 and Bob had the 1976 team.

Mike Allison, the current South coach, has been at it for some 20 years. He had played his high school ball for Williamsport, did his college work and came to the South Williamsport faculty,. The Lady Mountie history under Allison has been pretty consistent but this has been an unforgettable season for his team and their fans. In our era we played our schedules in the spring but today Lady Ball and Boy Ball are played at the same time which can create a lot of excitement in any of the school districts.

LAZORKA STARTING AT THE BOTTOM – The Commonwealth League of the Middle Atlantic Conference has, as it always does, ranked the teams in all sports such as lacrosse, softball and track.

Lycoming found itself ranked 7th and dead last in softball, a vote that has my interest up quite a bit. The vote is handled by the league coaches and the Lady Warrior 2009 position is, as you can imagine, based pretty much on how Lycoming played in the 2008 season.

But, there is a new element involved with Lycoming softball this spring that is the cause for my added interest. It is to note that Dan Lazorka will be coming in as the new head coach of the program.

Lazorka is coming off an achieving softball program in Jersey Shore. He brings with him a hard edge coaching style that he wants his Warrior players to adopt.

Starting at the bottom of the league has to be a direct challenge to the Lazorka staff. Getting this team off the bottom has to be a priority.

Lycoming is playing down in North Carolina this week and will not have a home game until top ranked Lebanon Valley, with freshman Kerri Datras of Loyalsock Twp. on the LV roster, comes in on March 17th.

THAT’ 30

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