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|SPORTS SECTION - JANUARY 12, 2000|
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Lady Tigers Make Early Run
CHS Girls Pick Up Important 8-A South Wins
Three games in four days does not sound good. It sounds tiring and taxing. But a 73-33 loss Monday to all-everything Buford aside, Commerce's Lady Tigers have to be pleased with their performance in the past week, especially in the fourth quarter.
The team used a 20-1 run in the fourth quarter to topple Jefferson 69-61 Friday night. Greater Atlanta Christian fell victim to a 26-14 edge in the final period in a 70-61 Lady Tiger victory. The team also downed Providence 61-47 with a 23-7 edge in the fourth last Tuesday. Top-ranked Buford (16-0, 6-0 in 8-A South) continued its blistering pace with a 73-33 win over Commerce Monday night.
"It's a lot to ask them to play three games in four days," Commerce coach Don Watkins said. "But that's the way the schedule is and we can't help it. In all three of our subregion wins, we had to come from behind. Those were three big ones. That should give us confidence down the road."
Commerce will take a break from action this week for final exams. This weekend, the team will take a break from subregion action with games against Oglethorpe County on Friday and Lakeview Academy on Saturday.
Things did not look good for Commerce Friday night. Jefferson had a fairly good handle on the game at the end of the third quarter. Commerce had cut the Jefferson lead to 33-29 at halftime. By the end of the third period, Jefferson was up 46-39.
But the action really had not begun.
Jefferson's Lee DuBose hit a layup with 7:00 left in the game to put the Lady Dragons up 48-40. She would score the next Jefferson basket more
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than five minutes later. In that time, the Lady Dragons managed one free throw.
Commerce was significantly more productive in that time span, going on a 20-1 streak. For ninth uncontested point of the run, Shemika Reed hit Sheka Wheeler for a layup at the 5:13 mark to give Commerce a 49-48 lead.
Free throws by Charlene Gaither and Lauren Ladd gave Commerce a 51-48 lead before Jefferson's Annie Goza hit a foul shot.
Commerce went on another 9-0 run to take a 60-49 lead. From that point, Jefferson sent the Lady Tigers to the line for the rest of the game. Commerce responded with an 8-12 mark from the line for the rest of the game. Commerce outscored Jefferson 30-15 in the final quarter. Compared to 39 points through three quarters, nearly half of Commerce's points for the game came in the final eight minutes.
Gaither led the four Lady Tigers in double figures for scoring with 15 points. She had nine points in the fourth quarter.
Reed had 14 points and seven rebounds and nine assists. Monique Diamond had 13 points and three assists. Wheeler scored 12 points and added six rebounds. Anita Pittman had six rebounds and three assists.
"We had four players in double figures," Watkins said. "We'll take that the rest of the way."
The Lady Spartans appeared to have the edge on Commerce Saturday night with a 35-21 lead at halftime. But the Lady Tigers responded by outscoring the Lady Spartans 49-36 in the second half to win 70-61.
Commerce had four in double figures again with Wheeler's game-high 16 points. She added seven rebounds.
Reed and Diamond each had 15 points. Diamond added six assists and four steals.
Gaither scored 13 points and led the team with eight rebounds. Pittman scored seven points and added seven boards.
Commerce continued to shoot well from the line, hitting on 19 of 25 attempts.
Commerce picked up its first subregion win of the season with a 61-47 win over Providence last Tuesday.
The Lady Tigers trailed 40-38 at the end of the fourth quarter before a 23-7 run in the fourth quarter gave Commerce the win.
Gaither scored 19 points to lead Commerce. Reed added 13 points, five assists, four steals and seven rebounds. Wheeler had eight points and seven boards. Diamond had nine points and five assists.
Led by 6-6 University of Georgia signee Kristy Thomas, Buford downed Commerce 73-33. Thomas scored 32 points for the Lady Wolves. Diamond led Commerce with 16 points.
Foul Line Offers
BY DREW BRANTLEY
What is free can cost a lot.
The Commerce boys' basketball team has learned that fact in a long weekend of basketball.
The team shot 44 percent from the foul line over its three games last weekend, losing two games by a total of five points.
Jefferson topped Commerce 75-73 on Friday.
Greater Atlanta Christian turned the Tigers' foul shot woes to its advantage even more, hitting 24 of 25 attempts to Commerce's six of 15 effort. That helped produce a 79-66 win for the Spartans.
Buford downed the Tigers 62-60 in a game that was played on Monday night in Commerce.
"In all three of these games we did a poor job of shooting free throws," coach Rex Gregg said. "The good teams make free throws when they need to. The teams that win in the state tournament don't miss those opportunities."
THREE IN FOUR
Commerce faced playing three games in four days entering its game with Jefferson Friday night.
Rescheduling because of the football team's advance in the playoffs forced Commerce to play two games this season on Monday nights.
The Tigers already had Jefferson and GAC on the slate for the weekend. Buford would be waiting for the game on Monday.
Neither team took a commanding lead at any point during the game between the Tigers and Jefferson.
Commerce was up 39-33 early in the third quarter, but was down 43-41 with just more than five minutes to go.
A fast-paced game in the final minute of the game, the lead changed hands four times.
Daniel Carder hit a layup with just more than a minute to go to give Commerce the 71-70 lead.
Jefferson's Buzz Wehunt hit a running short jumper to give Jefferson the 72-71 lead with a few ticks more than half a minute to play.
Twion Shealer's layup with 22 seconds left game Commerce its final lead.
Wehunt hit another short jumper with 14 seconds left made the score 74-73.
Commerce fouled Wehunt with 1.1 seconds to go. His two free throws ended the scoring.
Shealer pulled off a half-court shot before the buzzer, but the ball missed the mark.
Michael Collins scored 25 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to lead the Tigers.
Shealer added 16 points and seven rebounds. Carder had 15 points and 10 boards.
Wes Massey had four assists in his first game against his former team.
Jefferson had the edge at the foul line on Commerce, hitting 18-25 to the Tigers' mark of four out of nine attempts.
The Spartans used a 23-14 run in third quarter to take the 79-66 win over Commerce.
Collins had 23 points and 10 rebounds. Shealer had 12 points and five boards.
Monté Williams scored 12 points, while adding six rebounds and five assists.
Commerce started the final quarter down 48-40 to Buford.
The Tigers responded with a 9-0 run to lead 49-48.
The Wolves regained the edge with an 8-1 run to lead 56-50.
Williams helped lead another Tiger rally with a three-pointer with 28 seconds to go that cut the lead to 59-58.
Commerce forced a foul with 25.6 seconds to go and had the ball down 60-58, but could not produce a shot.
Buford hit two more free throws to lead 62-58. Shealer added the final Tiger basket to make the score 62-60.
Buford inbounded the ball to run out the final 1.1 seconds after a Tiger timeout.
Commerce Takes 1st
In Hab Duals
After trying for several years, Commerce came away with its first title at the Habersham Dual tournament last weekend.
Commerce won all four of its matches in the tournament to claim first place for the first time under coach Joe Haymes.
The win at Habersham came after the Mat Tigers claimed sweeps in their two previous tri-matches in the week before.
The Mat Tigers also topped East Hall and North Forsyth in their first tri-match of the new year. Commerce topped Gainesville and Banks County Friday night.
Commerce opened the team tournament in Habersham with a 61-15 win over Clarke Central.
Jonathan Beasley, Blake Milford, Kyle Moore, Lee Sorrow, Kevin Wilson, Wes Smith, Adam Perry, Taylor Massey, Tyson Brown, Eric Moore and John Martin all had wins for Commerce.
K. Moore, Sorrow and Smith each won by pin.
Commerce set Oconee County down in the next match, 62-11.
Beasley, Milford, Wes Prickett, K. Moore, Sorrow, Arwood, Smith, Chad Scoggins, Perry, Tyson Brown, E. Moore and Martin won for Commerce.
Beasley, K. Moore, Sorrow, Arwood and Scoggins had pins.
Habersham Central put up the closest score of the tournament, as Commerce downed the Raiders 37-28.
Milford, Prickett, K. Moore, Sorrow, Smith, Perry, Brown, Moore and Martin won for Tigers. Perry, Brown and Martin recorded pins.
Commerce beat Elbert County in the finals by a score of 41-24.
Milford, Sorrow, Arwood, Smith, Scoggins, Perry, Brown, E. Moore and Martin had wins for Commerce. Sorrow, Smith and E. Moore had pins.
Commerce made easy work of its home match Friday night with Gainesville and Banks County.
The Mat Tigers downed Gainesville 57-15. Beasely, Milford, K. Moore, Sorrow, Arwood, Smith, Scoggins, Perry, Massey, Brown and E. Moore got wins for Commerce.
Commerce forfeited one match to Banks County and won the rest on its way to an 83-6 win.
Beasley, Milford, Prickett, Moore, Sorrow, Arwood, Smith, Scoggins, Perry, Massey, Brown, E. Moore and Martin recorded the wins.
Commerce downed East Hall 56-12 in a match earlier this month. Beasley, Milford, Arwood, Sorrow, Smith, Moulton, Perry, Massey, Brown, E. Moore and Martin recorded wins.
Commerce downed North Forsyth 36-34. Milford, Sorrow, Smith, Perry, Brown and Moore recorded wins for the Tigers.
Leopards jump Jefferson, 75-61
BCHS girls to face top 10 team in Towns County
BY DREW BRANTLEY
After suffering tough subregion losses before the holiday break, the Banks County boys have won four of their last four games. The confidence gained should prepare them for another run through Region 8-A North.
"If we play like we have in the last few ballgames, we can play with anybody," boys' coach Mike Ruth said. "Coming out of the Christmas tournament, we learned to stick together and not give up. That was a big positive."
Banks County's biggest win of the run came Saturday night at home against Jefferson, who handled the Leopards in the first meeting of the game in December.
"Our kids have said that they may get beat," Ruth said. "But if you do, you had better be ready to play next time. That's something I like about this bunch. They're not going to throw in the towel."
Banks County topped Jefferson 75-61 Saturday night. The win came on the heels of an 81-66 win at Tallulah Falls Friday night.
Banks County will travel to Towns County Friday night before hosting Oglethorpe County Saturday night.
The Leopards jumped on Jefferson for a 25-9 edge in the second quarter to take a 41-22 lead at halftime.
The Dragons made a run in the fourth quarter to pull within 10 points, but Banks County responded.
"We called time out and Justin Smith came out with a big three-pointer that put us back on track," Ruth said.
Smith's 19 points and five three-pointers were a big key to the Jefferson win, but several players have picked up the pace in the Leopards' recent run.
Blakley Crumley scored 25 points and had 21 rebounds against Jefferson. Of his points, 12 came from three-pointers.
Mike Ivey has responded as his playing time has increased since the holiday break. His 12 points against Jefferson were aided by three shots behind the arc.
Victor Bonds added 17 points inside the paint.
Banks County used a 31-13 run in the final quarter to put away the Indians Friday night.
Crumley scored 23 points to lead the Leopards. M. Ivey scored 19 points. Bonds added 14 points to go with Smith's 13. Bray Maxwell put in 11 points as the fifth Banks County player to reach double figures in the game.
The Lady Leopards will have a tough opponent Friday night as they continue on their Region 8-A North schedule in Hiawassee.
Towns County, ranked number seven in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll, offers a team filled with good talent and strategy, Banks County coach Mike Gordon said.
"They're strong," Gordon said. "Physically they are very athletic. And they throw a lot of different defenses at you. They run three different presses. They have three different halfcourt defenses. On offense, they shoot the ball well.
"And we have to go up there to play. Hopefully we can do some things to gain some confidence."
Banks County will host Oglethorpe County Saturday night. That will leave six of the remaining games on the schedule in the subregion. The Lady Leopards can still make a run for the region tournament.
"We're still in the hunt," Gordon said. "We've got four of our last five games at home. If we can make a stand, we'll be right in the hunt."
Taking this past Tuesday off game action during finals week, the Banks County girls appear ready to hit the floor this weekend.
"We had a spirited practice (Tuesday)," Gordon said. "I feel like the girls are showing a lot of enthusiasm."
The Lady Leopards had a crushing win at Tallulah Falls on Friday night, but a slow start led to a 73-54 Jefferson win Saturday night.
"The first quarter doomed us in again Saturday," Gordon said. "If we can get by the first quarter and not make the mistakes we made, I think we can play pretty close with people."
Jefferson took a 22-10 advantage in the first period. After that point, the Lady Dragons took a 51-44 edge.
Bree Whitlock and Laura Carlyle led Banks County with 11 points each.
Other scorers against Jefferson included: Haley Crumley, seven; Johnna Williams, seven; Michelle Snipes, five; Holly House, two; Kate Whitfield, two; Ashley Freeman, two."
Getting a big win Friday night did not help the team prepare much, Gordon said.
"You don't learn a whole lot from a game like that," Gordon said. "We didn't shoot the ball well, but they didn't either."
Dragons split with local teams
Ladies trying to stay out of fourth
BY TIM THOMAS
Jefferson's basketball teams will begin the second half of their subregion schedule next week, Dragons split with local teamswith games at Greater Atlanta Christian and Providence Academy, as well as a boys' game at home with Riverside Military Academy.
Both Dragon teams have struggled early in subregion play, and the Lady Dragons are hoping to stay out of the dreaded fourth spot. The fourth seed in the subregion tournament is a virtual death knell, with that team almost certainly being matched up against the state's top team, Buford, in the semifinal round. The top two teams in the subregion tournament will move on to both the region and state sectional tournaments.
The zookeeper must have been on vacation this week, as Jefferson saw action against Tigers, Leopards and Pythons.
Subregion opponent Commerce left Jefferson Friday with a split, winning the girls' game to remain undefeated in subregion play. The Tigers went on to beat GAC Saturday, and lose to Buford Monday to go to 3-1. Jefferson's boys were victorious over Commerce, 76-73.
Buzz Wehunt led Jefferson with 24 points, followed by Daniel Goza (15), Michael Newton (11) and D'Antonio Chandler (11). The game marked the return of former Dragon Wes Massey, who was displeased with the amount of playing time he saw at Jefferson.
The game was a see-saw affair, with Jefferson leading by one after the first period, and Commerce up by two at intermission. Jefferson closed the gap in the third, and outscored the Tigers 22-18 in the final frame to take the win.
The Lady Dragons lost their second subregion game of the season, 69-61 to Commerce. Going in to the game, the two teams were ranked 13 and 14 in the state. Jefferson led by four at the half, and seven after three quarters, but the Lady Tigers shot their way back, outscoring Jefferson 30-15 in the fourth. Lee DuBose scored 25, Staci Childress 11 and Brooklyne Marlowe eight.
In Homer Saturday, the girls rebounded and the boys floundered.
Childress led the Lady Dragons with 20 points in their 73-54 win, DuBose had 17 and Marlowe 11. A 22-10 effort in the opening frame got Jefferson off on the right foot.
The boys were not as fortunate, falling behind 16-13 in the first. Banks County blew them away in the second, outscoring Jefferson 25-9. Jefferson struggled back a bit in the second half, but took the loss, 75-61.
Wehunt led Jefferson with 16, Goza had 12, Chandler nine and Nick Sheridan eight.
In Tuesday's games, the Lady Dragons defeated Paideia 63-51, and the boys lost to the Pythons, 88-77.
Dragons edge Panthers
Keen: 'What a tournament!'
BY TIM THOMAS
There's something magical about the Amicalola Classic. Each year, local wrestling coaches point to the Amicalola as the time when their grapplers start to reach their potential. This year's Classic was one of the most magical in recent years.
The entire tournament came down to the final match, and the Jefferson Dragons squeezed by Jackson County to take their fourth tournament title of the season by four points. To put that in perspective, if any one of about 40 matches had come out differently, the two teams would have reversed positions in the final standings.
"I looked at coach [Doug] Thurmond, and I said, 'what a great tournament,'" said Jefferson coach Jack Keen. An unusually large number of matches in the tournament were decided either in the final moments or in overtime.
Going into the final round, Jefferson held a half-point lead. Jackson County had the advantage, with seven wrestlers in the finals, compared to only five for the Dragons.
Three of the 14 championship matches featured Jefferson and Jackson County wrestlers going head-to-head.
Keen pointed to the 125-pound championship match between Panther Jarad Herrington and Jefferson's Justin Gooch as "one of the top 10 individual matches I've ever seen." Gooch came out on top in the aggressive, action-filled contest, with an 11-8 decision. The pair have met one other time this season, with Herrington winning, 11-9.
In the 15-team competition, local wrestlers combined to bring home 16 of the 56 medals from Dawsonville.
Jackson County and Jefferson have met in tournaments four times thus far, with the Dragons finishing ahead three times. In the four tournaments, the two teams have been separated by an average of just over 10 points. The Panthers and Dragons will square off twice more before the season ends, this weekend in the Patriot Classic at Oglethorpe County, and next weekend in the Viking Invitational at East Hall.
Lady Panthers atop 8-AAA north heap
BY TIM THOMAS
The race is far from over, but Jackson County's Lady Panthers have made established themselves as the team to beat in subregion 8-AAA north. With Friday's 56-47 win over Stephens County, the Lady Panthers completed a sweep of the first half of subregion play, extending their subregion record to a perfect 5-0. A 72-55 blowout of Athens Academy Saturday improved the team's overall record to 11-4.
West Hall trails the Lady Panthers by two games, and Habersham Central and Madison County are both three back. Though subregion standings do not directly determine which teams will see post-season action, they are used to determine the seeds in the region tournament. Region 8-AAA rules state that the team with the best record in the north will open the tournament against the team with the worst record in the south. The top four finishers in the region tournament advance to the state sectionals.
Though not on top, Ron Garren's boys are also strong contenders for the number one seed in their subregion. At 3-2, the Panthers are only a game back of North Hall. The Trojans, who defeated the Panthers with a quick start in December, will visit Jackson County Friday.
Against Stephens County, the Panthers had 27 turnovers, and shot 58 percent from the field in a 78-68 losing effort.
"I was real disappointed," said Garren. "We didn't take care of the basketball."
Jackson County started well enough, as Dustin David hit a three-pointer to take the first lead of the game. A three-point lead after the opening period was stretched to seven early in the second.
Stephens answered by capitalizing on Panther turnovers, going on a 16-5 run to assume the lead before intermission. Jackson County closed to within one in the third, but the fourth belonged to the Indians.
Turnovers early in the fourth had Garren beside himself, and a 13-7 run put Stephens up by 12. As the Panthers lost pass after pass, the Indians put on a shooting clinic, but controversial calls kept the crowd in the game until the final buzzer.
Rodrick Gresham finished with 25 points and 13 rebounds, and David scored 17 and grabbed nine.
David led Garren's squad back with an overtime win Saturday over Athens Academy. The Spartans held a five-point lead at the half, but the Panthers stayed close until the end. David hit a three-point shot with five seconds left to tie the game at 57 and force the overtime. Jackson County outscored the Spartans 14-10 in the extra frame, led by Blake Wilson's 6-for-6 performance from the free throw line. The six shots capped off a perfect 11-for-11 night from the stripe for Wilson, who has hit 80 percent of his free throws on the season.
"I felt like we bounced back against a very good team," Garren said of his team's win. "Our two transfers, Tavares Daniel and Justin Lott, played their best games of the year." Lott finished with eight points and three blocks, giving him 15 on the season. Gresham swatted three of his team-leading 23, scored 14 and picked up 10 rebounds. Wilson had 17 points, and David scored 15 and hauled in eight on the boards.
LADY PANTHER RESULTS
April Cantrell surprised the crowd Friday against Stephens County, scoring 17 points, including a beautiful half-court shot to end the first half. Stephens County stayed close early, but an eight-point run in the second quarter gave Jackson County a 27-14 lead. Stephens County could not get within nine after that point.
After Stephens grabbed a steal early in the third, Toya Thomas broke up the ensuing fast break before the Lady Panthers went on a 10-0 run to end the quarter up 43-26. Stephens evened the score a bit in the fourth, mostly against Jackson County's bench, but the gap was too wide to overcome. Everyone but the injured Carly Parr saw time on the floor for Jackson County. Monic Stewart led the team with 18 points.
In the victory over Athens Academy, Stewart and Abrielle Varnum teamed up for 42 of Jackson County's 72 points, each with 21. Cantrell continued her good play, scoring 12.
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