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CHS Hoops Teams Hit Home Stretch
The rest of the road for Commerce will decide the season. Starting with a visit to Buford this Friday, the boys' team will play nine games in 15 days. Of those nine games, seven will be subregion matchups.
Since Riverside Military Academy does not have girls, the Lady Tigers will face eight games in 15 days, with six of the games in the subregion.
Commerce was to have played Newton on Tuesday, but results were not available at press time.
The CHS teams had an impressive weekend. The Tigers handled Oglethorpe County 56-34 Friday night, before disposing of Riverside 50-23 Saturday.
The Lady Tigers beat Oglethorpe County 63-47 Friday. Before the boys played Riverside, Commerce's girls beat Lakeview Academy for the third time of the season 60-36.
Commerce jumped on Oglethorpe County 17-6 in the first quarter and cruised to the victory.
The win gave the Tigers a sweep of the season series over the Patriots.
Daniel Carder led Commerce with 17 points. Michael Collins added 13 points.
Saturday night, Commerce used defense to stifle Riverside. Leading 27-10 at the half, the Tigers allowed the Blue Devils 13 points in the final two quarters.
Collins led the Tigers with 17 points. R.T. Poole added nine points. Carder scored eight for Commerce. Shealer contributed seven points in the low-scoring affair.
Commerce completed its sweep of the Lady Patriots Friday night with a 63-47 win.
An 18-9 Commerce run in the second quarter gave Commerce a comfortable lead it never relinquished.
Shemika Reed led Commerce with 19 points and five assists. She added eight rebounds.
Anita Pittman had a double double with 11 points and 10 rebounds for Commerce.
Charlene Gaither scored 13 points. Monique Diamond had nine points and four assists.
Playing in the unseasonably mild afternoon, Commerce played a sluggish game with Lakeview Saturday.
Lakeview played pesky basketball before a 12-5 run in the third quarter gave Commerce an edge to build on.
Diamond finished with a team-high 19 points. Gaither added 11 points and five rebounds.
Reed had nine points and seven assists.
Commerce opened the season with a win over Lakeview and added a victory in the WJJC Holiday Classic to set up the third win over the Lady Lions.

Cheer Squad Claims Region Title

Getting past the hard part, from now on it just gets harder.
The Commerce High School competivie cheerleading team won the region championship Saturday by downing the defending titleholder Dawson County.
Now Commerce has to wait two weeks for the state event and their three minutes of action in the Columbus Civic Center Jan. 29.
"It's pretty hard to beat Dawson County," Com-merce coach Diane Cottrell said. "They've got a solid team. They stunt very well. They're a tough team to beat."
But winning the region does not guarantee success at state. Last year, Dawson County took the Region 8-A title, while Commerce was the only other team to compete in the sport in the region. Commerce went to state and came home as the Class A runner-up.
"Last year, (region) was a little different," Cottrell said. "When you've got two teams competing and the top two go to state, you knew you were going to make it. This year we had several teams competing. Jefferson had been doing real well in their first year. It was kind of a scary thing."
Now on to state.
"The pressure is on there, too," Cottrell said. "We'll be competing against 16 single A teams. We got second last year, so the pressure of that will be there.
"We're used to competing against four or five teams. There will also be a lot more judges down on the floor."
State qualifying teams from Regions 2, 3, 6 and 8 were decided last weekend.
Region championships for competitive cheerleading will conclude this weekend for the remaining regions.
So for the next two weeks, the team can only practice, pace and pray until the state event Jan. 29.
"This is a little different than football or basketball," Cottrell said. "Here you've got to do your best and hope that it falls into place. You've got two and a half minutes. You don't have time to fall behind and catch up."
The state competition will be held at the Columbus Civic Center on Saturday, Jan. 29. Classes A and AA will begin at 10 a.m.
Commerce will be the 10th team to perform in Class A. A group of eight teams will take the floor, alternating each turn with their Class AA counterpart.
After an intermission, Commerce is scheduled to be the second Class A school to participate.
Class AAA and AAAA will begin the second session of state at 3 p.m.
Admission for the state event will be $7.
In the meantime, Commerce will work on improving their performance at region, which was their highest point total of the year, Cottrell said.
"We're going to work on some of the things the judges pointed out," Cottrell said. "You get a lot of comments. Some people like certain things. But we'll look at what the majority of the judges said.
While there are no guarantees at state, having members who have been through the ordeal is a big plus, Cottrell said.
"With the seniors and some of the juniors, they know what to expect as far as the feelings of being out there," Cottrell said. "Our experience has helped us all year. They've worked hard and adapted well.
"We've had to change the routine due to injuries. They work well together."

Leopard teams get sweep of Oglethorpe
Crunch time is here.
Banks County High School has seven games left in the regular season for basketball in 15 days. Of those seven, five are subregion matchups.
Banks County will have the home-court advantage for most of the games remaining.
This weekend will see Banks County travel to Rabun Gap and Commerce.
But, four of the remaining five games will be played at BCHS.
All of the regular season Region 8-A North games lead to the subregion tournament, which starts Feb. 7.
Towns County's girls are ranked in the top 10 in the state and lead the way in the subregion.
On the boys' side, Rabun County has one loss. Towns County and Union County are battling for second.
What to do on a Saturday night? For Banks County's basketball teams, the answer is simple. The next two Saturdays will be spent on dates with Commerce.
This Saturday, the Leopard teams will travel to Commerce.
On Saturday, Jan. 29, Banks County will get a chance to host the Tigers. Each of the schools' two basketball teams met on the court this year at the WJJC Holiday Classic tournament in Commerce. After winning their opening games, the two teams met in the championship round.
Banks County's girls fell to Commerce 65-47. The Leopard boys made a strong run before falling 78-76 to the Tigers.
The Commerce-Banks County games represent the only remaining non-subregion games for both schools. Commerce competes in Region 8-A South.
Banks County started its final run Tuesday night with a visit to Lakeview Academy.
Banks County's girls downed Lakeview Academy 56-46 Friday in Gainesville.
Lakeview came out on top of Banks County's boys 71-61.
Banks County experienced both sides of a sweep this weekend.
After losing a pair to Towns County, the Leopard teams got two wins Saturday night over Oglethorpe County.
Banks County's wins over Oglethorpe were tough to come by for both the boys and girls.
The Lady Leopards opened up a lead of more than 10 points in the fourth quarter. However, late in the game, the Lady Patriots made a run.
Timely free throws by the Lady Leopards kept Oglethorpe County from regaining the lead.
Haley Crumley led Banks County with 11 points.
In the boys' game, the pattern was reversed. The Leopards finished the game with ease.
It was the first two quarters that almost spelled doom for Banks County.
The Leopards had a difficult time sinking shots in the second quarter.
Oglethorpe County managed modest success in shooting on their end. The Patriots led 33-23 at halftime.
In the first half the boys were inviting defeat at every turn. But in the third quarter, they were invincible.
Down by 10 at the start of the third period, the Leopards mounted a 20-8 run in the quarter to lead 43-41 at the start of the fourth.
But Banks County rolled on in the final period, outscoring Oglethorpe County 25-9.
Victor Bonds led the Leopards with 28 points. Chris Ivey had 10 points.
Mike Ivey and Justin Smith each added nine points.

BCHS wrestlers hit mat at Patriot Classic tourney
The Banks County wrestling team competed in the Patriot Classic Tournament this Saturday in Lexington at Oglethorpe County High School.
Yoric Erb-Summer led the team with a tie for fifth place.
Erb-Summer pinned Kyle Dameron of Monroe Area to secure fifth and score three points for the Leopards.
Kevin Hall picked up a win in the preliminary rounds for Banks County at 189. Hall defeated Johnny Bryson of Social Circle.
Jefferson took first place in the team scores with a mark of 196. Commerce was second with 185.
Jackson County took third place with 161.5 points.
The event featured several teams that will compete in the Area 4-A tournament at Dawson County High School on Feb. 5.
In addition to Jefferson and Commerce, Area 4-A teams Social Circle, Dawson County, Oglethorpe County and Washington-Wilkes competed in Saturday's tournament in Lexington.

Dragons split in brawl; Gurley suspended for two games
THE LADY Dragons defeated Greater Atlanta Christian Tuesday night The win assured Jefferson of no worse than third in the regular-season subregion race, which means they will not have to meet Buford until the finals of the subregion tournament. Jefferson's boys fell to the eighth-ranked Spartans, 94-75.
Last Saturday, on a night that could only be described as mind-boggling, Jefferson teams split with Athens Academy.
The Lady Dragons overcame a multitude of turnovers to defeat the Lady Spartans, 50-45. The game was a highly physical bump-and-grind affair, accentuated by the apparent reluctance of the officials to use their whistles.
Fans on both sides of the gymnasium decried no-calls throughout the game; particularly vocal were the visiting Spartan fans. Athens Academy's Elizabeth Guess fell hard at center court, taking a loud rap to the head as she hit the floor.
Fans from Athens Academy, already fuming over the no-calls, were livid, even though Lady Dragon Raven Moon was called for the foul. But the most unbelievable part of the night was yet to come.
If the officials' whistles stayed dry in the girls' game, they gathered dust in the boys'.
The play of the game came when Ryan Gurley dove to the floor to fight for a loose ball. Gurley and the Spartans' Keith Wiggins continued to tussle for the ball after the whistle, and the official ejected Gurley, saying he'd thrown a punch at Wiggins. Gurley was also suspended from the next two Dragon games, and coach Bolling DuBose earned a technical foul for arguing the call.
After the game, the Athens Academy coach informed DuBose that Wiggins had said Gurley had not thrown a punch during the play.
DuBose declined to comment on the matter, except to say that he has been in contact with GHSA officials concerning the incident.
After Gurley's ejection, the game turned into a street-ball shootout. Despite the rough play, there were no further incidents. Athens Academy won the game, 75-58. Nick Sheridan scored 15 to lead the Dragons.
The Lady Dragons struggled with turnovers in the first three quarters of their game, and Athens Academy scored with three-pointers and underneath. Going into the final frame, Jefferson held a 36-32 lead. The Lady Spartans fought back, and took a 37-36 lead after the collision between Moon and Guess, at the 3:27 mark.
Down the stretch, Melinda Floyd hit a three-pointer, and the Lady Dragons combined to go 11-for-13 from the free-throw line in the final three minutes to earn the win. Floyd sealed the win, hitting two charity shots with eight seconds left to put her team up by five.
Friday at Wesleyan, the Lady Dragons squeaked by the Wolves, 57-55. Annie Goza led Jefferson with 17, Lee DuBose had 13 and Bridget Davis 12.
Kevin Jacobs' ladies lit up the board early, outscoring Wesleyan 19-9 in the first quarter of play. The Wolves made it a game in the third, with an 18-7 run of their own, but Jefferson pulled out the win after a low-scoring fourth.
Wesleyan's Dane Richards scored with three seconds remaining to defeat Jefferson's boys, 69-67. Buzz Wehunt led the Dragons with 24 points. The win marked Wesleyan's first in subregion play, and dropped Jefferson to fifth in the race.
Jefferson will see a full slate of subregion action in the coming week. The Dragons visit Providence Friday, and will host Buford Tuesday. In addition, Riverside will bring its team to Jefferson Saturday to take on Jefferson's boys.

Panther teams face big week in hoops
Girls could clinch subregion title
This time next week, Jackson County's Lady Panthers may have clinched the regular-season subregion title. The Lady Panthers are 6-0 in subregion play. Wins this week over Madison County and Habersham Central would drop those teams from contention, and two losses by West Hall would eliminate them as well. The Spartans are scheduled to face Habersham, Stephens County and North Hall this week, before visiting Jackson County next Friday. Stephens and North Hall have already been eliminated.
The boys' team is locked in a virtual dead heat with North Hall for the top spot in subregion 8-AAA north. All six teams in the subregion are still alive in the race, but a heavy slate of contests this week will almost certainly clarify the picture.
Though regular-season subregion standings are not used in determining advancement to the state playoffs, they are used to determine seeds in the region tournament. The top four teams in the region tournament advance to the state sectionals.
The Lady Panthers earned their sixth subregion win Friday over North Hall. The Lady Trojans are 0-6 in the subregion. Jackson County stormed ahead early, but struggled to maintain the lead. Abreille Varnum led the first-period effort with six points, and broke up a Lady Trojan fast-break early to keep North Hall behind the pace. Though the team looked to be off its game, Jackson County led 14-7 after the first quarter, thanks in large part to eight North Hall turnovers.
The Lady Trojans continued to juggle the ball in the second, and Megan Elliott led the Lady Panthers with a trio of three-pointers as they surged ahead 40-22 by halftime.
Jackson County went cold in the third, at one point missing six straight shots under the basket. North Hall doubled up on the Lady Panthers, 18-9 in the period to rally to a 49-40 deficit.
The ball seemed to have grease on it for both teams in the fourth, particularly for Jackson County. The two teams combined for nearly 20 turnovers in the quarter, but Krystal Britt's eight points and clutch free-throws by Varnum and Crystal Edge were enough to keep the Lady Panthers on top, 69-56. The team finished a perfect 12-for-12 from the line in the game.
Britt led Jackson County with fourteen, Edge and Monic Stewart each scored 12, Varnum 11 and Elliott nine.
The boys' game started with an emotionally charged first quarter. A number of controversial calls had coach Ron Garren incensed with the officials. The Panthers started with a 6-0 run before North Hall fought back to take a 13-10 lead.
Jackson County had trouble both shooting and rebounding to start the second, but managed to tie within the first four minutes. The home crowd started getting into the game, and Jackson County went on a 13-0 run to close the half with a 30-18 lead.
Garren's boys held the lead into the fourth, but poor performance at the foul line helped the Trojans back into the game. In the fourth period, Jackson County hit only seven of 17 from the stripe, and North Hall went on a 12-5 run to close to 51-46. The Trojans made it a three-point game with 26 seconds remaining, but Blake Wilson hit a free-throw with 19 left to stretch it back to four. Tim Birdette hit another at the seven-second mark to finish the scoring at 58-53.
B.J. Wilmont led Jackson County with 21, Rodrick Gresham hit for 14, Dustin David 11 and Birdette eight.
North Gwinnett, likely to be the 8-AAA south champion, took the Panthers to task Saturday, handing the team its worst loss of the season, 83-51. By intermission, Jackson County already trailed by 23 points. The Panthers attempted to rally, outscoring the Bulldogs 20-13 in the third period, but North Gwinnett added insult to injury in the fourth, blasting Jackson County 23-7 to wrap up the win.
Gresham led the Panthers with 15, and David scored 10.
The girls' game was a nail-biter, with the two teams staying even most of the way. North Gwinnett led 21-19 at the half, but the scoring stayed even from there. The Lady Bulldogs took the win, 42-40.
"We almost pulled off a win," said Jackson County coach Annette Watts. "We made a run at the end which was sparked by the hustle and hard play of Abrielle [Varnum], but the clock ran out on us." Varnum was named player of the game by the team.
The Lady Panthers shot only 34% from the field, and continued to struggle inside. North Gwinnett has handed Jackson County two of their five losses on the season, by a total of only five points. The Lady Bulldogs are ranked seventh in the latest polls, while the Lady Panthers continue to be overlooked.

Panthers make good showing in Patriot
The Jackson County wrestling team will observe senior night Tuesday at the Gordon Street Center, prior to its final dual match of the season. Oconee County and North Hall are scheduled to visit, and varsity action is slated to begin at 6 p.m.
The Panthers will meet Dacula and Newton County Thursday at Dacula before heading to East Hall Saturday for the Viking Invitational.
Last weekend at Oglethorpe County, the Panthers earned their fourth third-place tournament finish of the season, this time in the Patriot Classic. Jackson County wrestlers brought medals home in nine of the 14 weight classes.
Jarad Herrington avenged last weekend's loss to Jefferson's Justin Gooch by winning 6-0 in the championship final at 125. Brian Bowles took first place at 130, and Stephen Ledbetter rounded out the champions for Jackson County with the gold at 135.
Jason Powers (103), Rusty Colley (119), Wesley Colley (145) and David Elkins (160) each finished second. Spencer Testement took fourth at 140, and Steven Barber fourth at 215.
Josh Jackson, Travis Ingram, Booni Bishop, Brian Gower and Lee Reece also saw action for the Panthers.
Jackson County also traveled to Elbert County last week, to participate in a dual match with the host Blue Devils and Crescent, S.C. Crescent is ranked second in their classification in South Carolina.
Crescent jumped out to an early 9-0 lead after the first two weight classes. Jackson County's four dominant wrestlers - Rusty Colley, Herrigton, Bowles and Ledbetter - brought their team back with four straight wins, but only Herrington could manage a pin. The string put Jackson County up 17-9 after six matches.
Crescent took four of the next six matches to tie at 27 with two remaining. W. Colley and Elkins held off the charge with wins at 145 and 160. Jackson County lost the final two matches by a total of only four points, and Crescent skimmed by with a 33-27 margin.
The Panthers earned their 10th win of the season against Elbert County, 42-24. Powers started the dual match with a 7-0 win, and Jackson County led throughout.
R. Colley, Herrington, Bowles and Ledbetter all won again, providing 21 points to the team's cause. W. Colley and Barber each scored six points off pins, and Jordan Breit's pin at 171 insured the win for Jackson County, now 10-3.

MCHS squads trounce Prince Ave.
The Madison County boys' and girls' squads barely broke a sweat in their contests at home against Prince Avenue Tuesday, both claiming lopsided wins as the Raiders thrashed the Wolverines 72-43, while the Lady Raiders dismantled the Lady Wolverines a 64-21.
It was pure domination from start to finish in Danielsville as Madison County picked up a 29-point win against Prince Avenue, which the Raider squad topped on two other occasions this year, to claim their sixth victory of the season, already matching their win total from a year ago.
The Raider squad wasted little time getting hot in their contest as they went on a 14-2 run to close out the first quarter of play to push themselves out to a 22-7 edge.
Madison County pushed the visiting Wolverines even further down in a hole during the second period of action as they went on an 11-2 spurt, highlighted by a three-pointer by Donny Stamper, during the last two minutes of the first half to give themselves a 39-16 advantage at intermission.
After the Wolverines scored the first five points of the second half, the Raiders responded by putting together an 11-4 spurt in the third quarter to give them a lopsided 25-point edge with 1:39 left in the period.
Madison County carried a 54-33 lead into the final period of play and kept their tempo up as they outscored the Wolverines 18-10 in the last eight minutes, capped off by a thunderous dunk by Jonathan Berrian on the last play of the game to send the fans home happy.
Berrian was the top scorer of the evening for Madison County as he registered 11 points followed by Chris Lattimore and Travelle Heard, who threw in 10 apiece. Stamper had nine. Chad Gillespie threw in eight. Jamaris Mattox and Trellis Appling both picked up six. Ben Baker had seven. Drew Sparks finished with four and Corey Berryman added two.

Needless to say, the Lady Raiders did quite a number on the visiting Lady Wolverine squad as they held Prince Avenue to only 21 points in the contest while hammering them by an astounding 43-point margin.
Ashley Myers led the way in the route as she turned in one of her best offensive performances of her Lady Raider career, throwing in 15 points. Tawana Moon also registered in double figures in the game, chipping in 11 points.
Madison County didn't explode until midway through the first quarter as they turned a 7-4 lead into a 12-point margin at the end of the quarter by way of an 11-2 run.
The second quarter was owned by the Lady Raiders as the squad outscored Prince Avenue 19-4 during the course of the period to stake claim to an overwhelming 37-10 lead at intermission.
The Lady Wolverines continued to get buried by the Lady Raiders as Madison County scored the last 14 points of the third quarter to push the lead out to 54-15.
The lead continued to grow for the Lady Raiders in the final quarter of play as Madison County led by as much as 45 points.
Also scoring points in the contest were Aiyana Hunter, who had nine; Sheena Mason, who added eight; Heather Jones, who had six; Renee Mathews, who finished with five; and Stacie Beard and Brittney Escoe, who each had four.



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