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Hoops Tourney’s This Week, Daytona Kicks Off NASCAR Season

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Kevin Carver

Basketball playoffs are just around the corner, but this week are the SMAC and Western Highland tourneys. 

East Rutherford’s boys will not be the number one seed as they lost to Shelby last week for a second time this season, but they may get a third chance at them very soon. 

On the boys side of the South Mountain Athletic Conference bracket, whomever wins the Chase at R-S Central game went to Shelby to play the Golden Lions on Wednesday night.

East Rutherford likely played Freedom on Wednesday, which possibly sets up a third meeting with Shelby on Friday (Feb 22nd) in the conference tourney finals at 7:30pm in Shelby.

As for the playoffs, East Rutherford and R-S Central boys should host a playoff game at home on Monday (Feb 25).

In the girls SMAC, it looks like R-S Central and East Rutherford should play at Freedom on Thursday (Feb. 21). Patton should take on Freedom in the nightcap at Freedom. Patton maybe the hottest team in the conference right now as they have upset Central and Freedom lately.  The winners will play in the championship at 6pm on Friday (Feb 22).

The girls tourney maybe more intriguing overall, but the boys final should be great no matter who it is.

Speaking of girls basketball, it unfortunate that Chase seniors Kaitlyn Smart and Kendra Holcombe will presumably end their careers without a finding a playoff game or a winning season. Luckily they have softball to go before graduating.

Although both will miss their basketball playing days at Chase, Smart just signed to play basketball at Columbia College of Columbia, SC. Smart has over 1000 points and rebounds in her Chase career as she heads to the NAIA next season.

Playoff wise, R-S Central’s girls will host a 3A playoff game on Monday (Feb 25). East Rutherford will likely go on the road in the 2A playoffs and Thomas Jefferson has an outside shot of making the 1A playoffs depending on this week’s game or games. 

NASCAR begins another season with the Daytona 500 this weekend. It’s a new car and a different style of racing from what I have seen during testing, practice and Saturday night’s Sprint Unlimited event.

It seems tougher to pass, but one thing is certain, a big pack crash. In Daytona testing, we saw a huge crash, followed by six-car crashes in Friday’s practice and in Saturday’s night Sprint Unlimited. All of them came early in each session. 

History was made this past Sunday as Danica Patrick won the pole for the Daytona 500. Not only did she become the first woman to win the 500 pole, but the first woman to take a Sprint Cup pole. Jeff Gordon will lineup second.

The Gatorade Duels will be Thursday in Daytona. I like Tony Stewart in the first duel and Matt Kenseth in the second. I am going with Kevin Harvick to win the 500.

As for the champion this season, you can’t go wrong with Brad Keselowski or Jimmie Johnson. However, I think I am going to take Denny Hamlin to pick up a championship this year. Kasey Kahne, Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer should all vie for the title. Not to say that Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick, Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth or Greg Biffle don’t belong, but all should make The Chase. Who knows between Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards in getting that final spot of NASCAR’s playoffs.

On the local level, Forest City’s Jimmie Means will have the No.52 truckerfan.com with driver Brian Keselowski trying to make it into the Daytona 500 and they will also try to get the No.52 Nationwide car in Saturday’s race which will be driven full time by Joey Gase this season.

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