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SPORTS SECTION

SPORTS SECTION - JANUARY 5, 2000

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CLASS A STATE FOOTBALL FINAL



Commerce Sweeps Holiday Tournament
Boys Battle Banks County In Championship Game
BY DREW BRANTLEY
One went fairly easy, the other went down to the wire.
But Commerce's boys came away as champions of their holiday tournament for the first time since 1995.
The Commerce (5-0) boys put away Lakeview 76-54 before battling Banks County for the 78-76 title win.
FINAL COUNTDOWN
In a boxing match, two fighters stand toe-to-toe to slug out a contest. Thursday night, Banks County and Commerce went shot-for-shot for much of the game. Commerce had the lead at the end of the first quarter, but Banks County went into the intermission with a 32-31 lead.
Banks County continued in the second half, taking a five-point edge that reversed itself in just a few minutes. The Leopards then finished the third quarter with a 51-49 edge.
Commerce pulled away late in the fourth quarter, but Banks County came back on two three-point shots by Mike Ivey. The game was decided at the foul line, as Jefferson transfer Wes Massey hit a free throw in the final seconds to give Commerce a four-point edge. Banks County added another basket, but Commerce ran out the time to take the win.
Michael Collins continued his noteworthy work in the early season with 29 points and 16 rebounds. He added six assists and four steals.
Daniel Carder also contin-
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ued his high-scoring ways with 25 points.
Massey finished the night with 12 points and three steals. Twion Shealer had nine points and 10 rebounds.
LAKEVIEW
Commerce opened the game by posting a 23-6 lead on the Lions after the end of the first quarter. Lakeview quickly had that lead down to five in the second period. The Tigers posted a 14-4 run to the half to lead 39-22.
Collins had 27 points and 11 rebounds. Twion Shealer added 14 points and seven boards.
Sophomore Vonté Reed had his highest scoring game of the season with 10 points. He added three rebounds and two assists. Reed's play in the early games has been a welcomed if not expected for Commerce coach Rex Gregg.
"He's probably the biggest surprise of the games so far," Gregg said. "He has played very well for a 10th grader. He played super for us at the tournament at Athens Academy. He's probably the biggest reason we won down there."
Having Reed and junior Monté Williams working at point guard had helped the team in several ways, Gregg said.
"(Carder) had a good year for us last year, but he had to run the point guard which took away from his numbers," Gregg said. "Now we're able to move him out, he's able to get some more shots. (Reed and Williams) give us a lot of help on defense at the point."

Mat Tigers Take 2nd At Keen Classic
BY TIM THOMAS
Commerce High School's wrestling team put seven wrestlers in the finals of the Keen Classic at Jefferson last week to lock up a second place finish.
The event was divided into two days of action. Tuesday's wrestling matched up teams. Commerce came out with 163 points to trail event winner Jefferson's 196.
Wednesday's rounds were a traditional individual tournament.
Commerce finished with 155 points. Jefferson won the second day's action as well with 216 points.
Jefferson had 408 combined points to top Commerce's 318.
Armuchee was third overall with 267 points. Dawson County and Oglethorpe County rounded out the top five with 224 and 211.5 points, respectively.
Wes Smith came away with the lone title for the Tigers with a win in the 145-pound weight class.
Blake Milford (119), Lee Sorrow (135), Daniel Arwood (140), Adam Perry (160), Tyson Brown (189) and Eric Moore (215) all took second place in their weight classes.
John Martin claimed third place in the 275 division.
Dragons win 30 in a row
In their final three years under coach Jack Keen, the Jefferson wrestling team has accomplished something no other Dragon team has. In day one of last week's Keen Classic, the Dragons broke the 30-consecutive-wins barrier by taking five convincing dual-match victories. Jefferson teams have previously won 25 matches in a row twice.
Jefferson scored wins over Adairsville, Oglethorpe County and Armuchee before taking a 1-0 forfeit from Buford for their 30th straight. The Dragons followed that with a 65-9 win over Commerce in the final dual match.
The dual-match string may not last long, as the Dragons will take on class AA powerhouse Morgan County in two weeks. Morgan has finished ahead of Jefferson in two tournaments this year, and holds a 7-5 edge in individual matches.

CHS Girls Grab Two Easy Wins
Commerce's Lady Tigers made a big surge in each of their two games in the WJJC Holiday Classic tournament last week.
Lakeview fell victim to a 20-8 run in the first quarter of the opening 57-38 win for Commerce.
The Lady Tigers waited until the second quarter to put a 21-7 run on Banks County on their way to a 65-47 win in the championship game.
BANKS COUNTY
The Lady Leopards looked more in control of the game than their 14-12 edge at the end of the first quarter.
However, things quickly changed. Three consecutive steals by Charlene Gaither were converted into Commerce baskets that set off the Tigers' run.
Shemika Reed finished with 18 points and 14 rebounds.
Gaither added 13 points. Anita Pittman finished in double figures with 10 points.
Monique Diamond had nine points, while Sheka Wheeler scored eight. Stephanie McFadden joined the balanced scoring with seven points.
LAKEVIEW CRUISE
Commerce began the season with a nine-point victory over Lakeview's girls team this year.
In the opening game of the Holiday Classic, the Lady Tigers improved the margin.
The Lady Lions were held to 10 second-half points after trailing 34-20 at the intermission.
A total of 13 players saw action in the game.
Reed had 17 points and seven rebounds. Diamond had 15 points and eight steals.
Wheeler and Gaither each added nine points and five rebounds.
Reed and Gaither were named to the all-tournament team for Commerce.



Banks County basketball teams claim second place in holiday tournament
BY DREW BRANTLEY
Of the 13 remaining games on the Banks County varsity basketball schedule, nine are against subregion foes.
Only matchups against Oglethorpe County, Commerce and Jefferson will not count on the slate for the postseason tournament seeding.
Banks County opened the new year Tuesday night at Tallulah Falls, but results were not available at press time.
The Leopard teams will host Jefferson on Saturday to finish off that series. Two games with Commerce will come a week apart at the end of the month.
Not only will more of Banks County's games be important, there will also be more of them in a short amount of time.
When the team travels to Towns County next Friday, it will begin a stretch of playing on every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday for the rest of the season.
After Tuesday's games with Lakeview, the Leopards will have six home dates remaining. Of those six, only three are subregion games.
Banks County will close the season with a home date against Towns County on Feb. 4.
Rabun County and Dawson County will visit Banks County on Jan. 25 and 28, respectively.
HOLIDAY TOURNEY
Both Banks County teams opened the WJJC Holiday Classic with impressive wins, but fell in the championship game to Commerce.
Banks County's girls fell to Commerce 65-47. The Leopard boys made a strong run before falling 78-76 to the Tigers.
Banks County opened the tournament against Oglethorpe County, a team it had swept in its season opener.
The Leopard teams repeated the effort, as both Banks County teams advanced to the final game.
COMMERCE
In a boxing match, two fighters stand toe-to-toe to slug out a contest. Thursday night, Banks County and Commerce went shot-for-shot for much of the game.
Commerce had the lead at the end of the first quarter, but Banks County went into the intermission with a 32-31 lead.
Banks County continued in the second half, taking a five-point edge that reversed itself in just a few minutes.
The Leopards then finished the third quarter with a 51-49 edge.
Commerce pulled away late in the fourth quarter, but Banks County came back on two three-point shots by Mike Ivey.
The game was decided at the foul line, as Jefferson transfer Wes Massey hit a free throw in the final seconds to give Commerce a four-point edge. Banks County added another basket, but Commerce ran out the time to take the win.
M. Ivey led the Leopards with 20 points. Blakley Crumley added 19 points.
Justin Smith and Victor Bonds each reached double figures with 15 and 14 points, respectively.
Jonathan Dumas scored six points. Chris Ivey added two points.
Commerce's Michael Collins had 29 points and 16 rebounds. He added six assists and four steals.
Daniel Carder added 25 points for the Tigers.
Massey finished the night with 12 points and three steals. Twion Shealer had nine points and 10 rebounds.
GIRLS
The Lady Leopards looked more in control of the game than their 14-12 edge at the end of the first quarter.
However, things quickly changed for Commerce's favor.
Three consecutive steals by Charlene Gaither were converted into Commerce baskets that set off the Tigers' run.
Haley Crumley led Banks County with 13 points.
Michelle Snipes added 11 points. Bree Whitlock added nine points.
Other Banks County scorers included: Ashley Freeman, six; Brittany Holcomb, three; Laura Carlyle, three; and Holly House, two.
Shemika Reed finished with 18 points and 14 rebounds.
Gaither added 13 points. Anita Pittman finished in double figures with 10 points.
Monique Diamond had nine points, while Sheka Wheeler scored eight.
Stephanie McFadden joined the balanced scoring with seven points.



JHS blows through Keen Classic field
Dragons win 30 in a row for first time
BY TIM THOMAS
IN THEIR final three years under coach Jack Keen, the Jefferson wrestling team has reached yet another milestone. In day one of last week's Keen Classic, the Dragons broke the 30-consecutive-wins barrier by taking five convincing dual-match victories. Jefferson teams have previously won 25 matches in a row twice.
Jefferson scored wins over Adairsville, Oglethorpe County and Armuchee before taking a 1-0 forfeit from Buford for their 30th straight. The Dragons followed that with a 65-9 win over Commerce in the final dual match. The victories earned Jefferson 196 points in day one, and the team added another 214 in the individual tournament to take the Classic title with 410 points. Commerce finished second at 318.
All 14 of Jefferson's starters earned team points in the individual tournament, and 12 won medals.
Jeremiah Wilson (103), Nathaniel Wilson (112), Justin Gooch (130), Eric Wilburn (140) and Steve Green (171) all took first place in their respective weight classes, combining for 40 wins and no losses in the Classic.
Hunter Garner (145) and Brendon Kemp (275) took second, Blake Gooch (125), Jeremy Smith (135), Chris Seibert (160) and Clint Bryson (215) third, and Casey Wilkins (119) fourth. Joseph Carter and Chad Hemphill each finished fifth.
Also competing for the Dragons during the dual-match portion of the event were Chris Gooch, Zach Evans, Jon Veldhuis and David Parks.
The dual-match string may not last long, as the Dragons will take on class AA powerhouse Morgan County in two weeks. Morgan has finished ahead of Jefferson in two tournaments this year, and holds a 7-5 edge in individual matches.

Wolves rip Dragons in subregion clash
BY TIM THOMAS
Buford star Christi Thomas showed Tuesday why size matters in basketball. The 6'6" center, who has signed a letter of intent with the University of Georgia, cast an impenetrable presence across the court in the Lady Wolves' 69-31 win over Jefferson.
Buford took the lead early on a Thomas three-pointer, and the Lady Dragons struggled to get inside against the Wolves' defense. The tale was told early, as Buford took a 21-4 lead into the second period.
The other three quarters looked much the same, with Buford passing inside to Thomas and hitting threes from outside. The Lady Dragons pulled in a number of defensive rebounds, but had trouble converting on the other end. Turnovers and missed foul shots haunted Jefferson throughout the game.
Freshmen Annie Goza and Sunny Bush shared time guarding Thomas, and Bush came up with the play of the night for the Lady Dragons.
Midway through the third period, Buford held a commanding 47-18 lead when Thomas grabbed a defensive rebound under Jefferson's basket. Bush reached in and ripped the ball from Thomas' hands, put it up for an easy two points, and drew a foul in the process. Bush capped off the three-point play with a free throw, and finished the game with six points.
Lee DuBose led Jefferson with 12 points. The Lady Dragons were only 9-for-25 from the foul line.
The boys' game looked to be a shootout from the opening tipoff. Goza tipped the ball to Nick Sheridan, who took it in for an easy two points and the early lead. Goza poured in 10 in the first period, as the early scoring looked much like that from an NBA game. Jefferson led 29-26 after only the first quarter. Jason Lee played his best game of the year in the frame, pulling in several defensive rebounds and scoring six points, including a nice move inside to end the period. Goza's scoring included two three-pointers from the baseline.
The two teams must have tired after the shooting spree. Buford and Jefferson combined for a total of 28 points in the second period, with Buford having a slim edge and closing the gap to 42-41 at halftime. At one point, the Dragons earned defensive rebounds on five straight Buford possessions, but could not capitalize with points on the other end.
Buford unleashed the three-pointers in the second half, taking the lead for the first time at 56-55 on a three-pointer late in the third period. The Wolves would not trail again, though Jefferson stayed close until the end.
Buzz Wehunt hit for three of his 18 points with three minutes left, to bring the Dragons within three. Kyle Potts grabbed a defensive rebound at 1:21, and Goza converted for two points, but turnovers and poor defensive play in the final minute put the game out of reach. Buford took the win, 81-74.
Goza led Jefferson scorers with 19, and Sheridan had 10.
Jefferson hosts subregion rival Commerce Friday at 7 p.m.



Panthers finish second, fourth in Dairy Queen Classic
Parr to miss at least four weeks
BY TIM THOMAS
CARLY PARR might advise Monté Williams to lock himself in his house.
One day after the two were named The Jackson Herald athletes of the year, Parr suffered what might be a season-ending injury in the championship game of the Dairy Queen Classic at Hart County.
From the opening whistle, Thursday's game against A.C. Reynolds looked to be a tough one. The Lady Panthers were outmatched in height at nearly every position. Reynolds' starting center weighs nearly as much as Jackson County's two largest players combined, and she threw that weight around throughout the game.
Lady Panthers fell to the floor a number of times. Parr's turn came late in the third period, as she tried to draw a charge from the Reynolds center. Though Parr seemed to have the position, no foul was called. After the rebound, both teams rushed to the other end of the court, leaving Parr motionless on the floor, the wrist on her shooting hand fractured.
Coach Annette Watts said earlier this week that Parr will wear a cast for at least four weeks, which would leave about a week before post-season play. Her status after that point is unsure.
The Lady Panthers opened the tournament with a win over McBee, S.C., and followed by soundly defeating Hart County, 80-54.
In Thursday's final, Reynolds got off to a quick start, hitting on their first four field goal attempts. Jackson County lost a number of turnovers early, due to Reynolds' double- and triple-team defense.
Monic Stewart and Krystal Britt, both of whom were named to the all-tournament team, led the Lady Panthers back to within five in the opening frame. Britt grabbed an inbound pass under the Panther basket after a good defensive switch-off with Megan Elliott, then put the ball in for an easy two points. Stewart had four points in the period, and Britt hit for three and grabbed two steals.
Stewart lit up the scoreboard in the second quarter, with 11 of the Lady Panthers' 18 points. Jackson County scored the first four points of the period to pull to within three, but Reynolds ran it back to seven by halftime.
Jackson County poured on the pressure in the third, playing an aggressive game against the physically superior Reynolds team. Parr's injury came with 2:30 left in the quarter, and the Lady Panthers tied the game at 47 shortly thereafter. Reynolds finished the period with five unanswered points.
The big guns came out for Jackson County in the fourth. Elliott, April Cantrell and Abrielle Varnum each hit three-pointers, and the Lady Panthers were within one with less than two minutes to play.
Britt, who had been knocked hard to the floor more than once, took her fifth foul with 1:16 remaining and her team trailing, 62-61. The Lady Panthers could not mount an offensive threat from that point, and took a tough loss, 66-61.
Stewart finished with 24 points and Varnum had 13.
BOYS
Ron Garren's boys started the tournament on a high note, defeating one of the best teams in South Carolina, but fizzled as the tournament wore on.
In the opening round, the Panthers won over fifth-ranked Spartanburg, 79-73. Spartanburg is in South Carolina's class AAAA, and is the largest school in the state. One of the team's players has already verbally committed to play at the University of South Carolina.
Blake Wilson had 22 points for the Panthers, followed by Rodrick Gresham (16), Dustin David (15), B.J. Wilmont (14) and Tim Birdette (9).
The Panthers led host Hart County 28-13 mid-way through the second period, but the Bulldogs went on a 22-10 run to close the half down by only three, 38-35. The hot streak continued after the intermission, as Hart County outscored the Panthers 25-5 in the third. The final score was Hart 80, Panthers 54.
In the consolation final against Franklin County, the Panthers put on their best Jekyll & Hyde performance of the season. Jackson County led throughout, until late in the third quarter. Franklin County charged ahead with a 7-0 run to close the third with a 50-45 lead.
The Lions never looked back, and took the game and third place in the tournament, 59-53.
"We didn't really play with a lot of aggressiveness," said Jackson County head coach Ron Garren. "It was really just a lackluster performance by us."
Jackson County's boys now stand at 8-4 overall, and 3-1 in subregion play. Four of the team's last six subregion games are at home, including Friday's game against Stephens County. The 3-0 Indians sit atop the subregion pack, a spot the Panthers can take over with a win.
"We don't have to ask for help from anybody other than ourselves," Garren said of his team's hunt for the subregion title. "It's there for the taking. Whether we're good enough to take it, only time will tell."
Due to football playoffs, Oconee County requested that next Tuesday's game be rescheduled. The new date for the contest is Wednesday, Jan. 19. The ninth-grade boys will play at 4 p.m., followed by varsity games beginning at 6 p.m.



Raiders romp Gainesville, Pickens
BY ZACH MITCHAM
Madison County wrestlers showed no signs of rust Tuesday, returning from a Christmas break with resounding victories over two foes on the road.
The Raiders topped Pickens County 48-18 and Gainesville 39-28 on the Red Elephants' home mat.
Against Pickens County, Michael Wallace and Greg Hamilton starred for Madison County, both posting come from behind pins for the 11-9 Raiders. Hamilton downed his opponent with a pin in the third period after trailing 13-0.
Also winning by pin over Pickens were Steve Austin, Gary Evans and Joey Cash. Matt Cleghorne and Randall Ballenger won matches by decision.
Cleghorne and Adam Thompson both pinned their Gainesville opponents, while Ballenger and Evans both posted wins by decision against their Red Elephant foes.
"We did a good job," said Raider coach Greg Gaines. "But we're fixing to get into some heavy competition. We have nine matches in four days coming up. I think we're in good physical condition. But we'll find out this weekend."
The Raiders will hit the mat again at home at 5 p.m. Friday versus Washington-Wilkes and North Hall. The squad will travel to Mt. Airy at 8 p.m. Saturday for the Habersham Duel tournament, before hosting Newton and Stephens County at 5 p.m. Monday.

Hoops action gets rolling again Fri.
BY ZACH MITCHAM
Madison County boys' and girls' basketball teams will hit the hardwood again Friday at West Hall, before traveling to Elbert County Saturday.
The girls' tipoff will be at 7 p.m. both nights, with the boys' game following both evenings. Both Raider and Lady Raider junior varsity teams will play Friday and Saturday, with the girls' tipoff at 4:15 Friday and 4 p.m. Saturday and the JV boys beginning at 5:30 p.m. both days.
The games will be the first action in two weeks for the Madison County squads. The varsity Raiders will look to rebound after a 4-8 start, while the 10-2 girls' team will try to keep their momentum alive following a Christmas tournament championship at Athens Academy last month.
Raider coach Benjie Wood said his team is capable of playing well, but the squad has struggled to keep all cylinders running.
"We have to get more consistency," said Wood. "We're better than what we've shown."
Wood said guard Chad Youngblood, who suffered an ankle injury before Christmas break, should be back in action Friday.
Lady Raider coach Tim Cook said his team will face a tough challenge against West Hall, last year's region champion.
"They (West Hall) are not as good as last year," said Cook, whose team is tied for second in the sub-region with West Hall behind Jackson County. "But they're still a really good club....That will be a big game to help set our tone for the rest of the season."
Despite his team's 10-2 record, Cook said the Lady Raiders still have a lot to prove.
"We need to step up and win a big game," he said. "Basically, we've won the games we're supposed to. But we need to beat West Hall and Jackson County."
Cook, who said the recent play of Ashley Myers has been a spark to his team, pointed to his squad's half court play as a focus for improvement. And he said he expects to play more zone defense as the season winds down.
Lady Raider standout Brittney Escoe suffered an ankle injury during a practice this week and was scheduled for a doctor's appointment Wednesday. Cook said Escoe's injury did not appear to be a season-ending ailment, but he did not know if the team's second leading scorer will be available Friday.
"We'll just have to have other girls step it up," he said.


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