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Tiger Basketball Teams In Subregion Battles
Cold, Wet Weather Changes Altered Schedule
Just when the season was heating up, wintry weather cooled off Commerce's basketball season for a few days.
Downed trees and icy roads put an end to Saturday's game with Banks County.
The threat of more bad weather postponed Monday's matchup with Providence Christian to Wednesday night. The game with Providence had been set for a Monday after the prolonged football season forced a new slate.
Even though some weather forecasts say more ice and sleet may be on the way this weekend, a slate of hot games is set for Friday and Saturday.
Commerce will host rival and Region 8-A South foe Jefferson Friday night. Banks County will host Commerce Saturday night.
The Lady Tigers are in a battle for second place in Region 8-A South with Jefferson. Buford has locked up the top spot on the girls' side and earns a bye in the first round of the tournament.
In the girls' subregion bracket, the second-place team also gets a bye in the first round.
Girls' teams in the subregion play 10 regular season games. Jefferson (6-2 in 8-A North) has only games with Com-merce and Buford remaining. The Lady Dragons cannot finish worse than third.
The Lady Tigers (3-2) have five games left in the regular season.
Greater Atlanta Christian (3-5) is in fourth place. If Com-merce's girls win three of their five remaining games, they will finish no worse than third.
The winner of the Jefferson-Commerce game will have the edge in race for second place.
But both the second and third place teams will avoid top-ranked Buford until the subregion tournament finals.

Steal, Pass, Shot Downs Buford
Commerce Splits With Wolves
Coaches preach teamwork in every sport. For Commerce's boys basketball team, that was never more evident than the game-winning shot in a 59-58 win over Buford Friday night.
The boys' victory over the Wolves was the first for the Tigers under coach Rex Gregg and offered a split, as the top ranked Buford girls downed Commerce 79-39.
Commerce had led by as much as 20 points in the second half before the Wolves took a four-point lead in the fourth quarter.
The Tigers battled back to trail 58-57 with a basket, leaving just seconds to play. After a timeout, Buford lined up to inbound the ball.
Michael Collins started the timely Tiger outcome by blanketing the ball. Collins' 6-6 frame helped cover up the close defense the rest of the team supplied.
When the ball did enter play, Daniel Carder was able to cut in front and make a steal in the corner.
Collins was open for a quick pass from Carder. Rather than take the shot, Collins fed Twion Shealer underneath for short hook shot to seal the win.
"That was three different people making great plays in a row," Gregg said.
Collins led the Tigers with 19 points and 12 rebounds. Carder had 18 points and nine boards. Shealer finished with 13 points on the night.
Commerce had less luck last week against New-ton, ranked 11th in Class AAA. The Rams opened up a 15-point lead by halftime and took the 80-60 win.
Collins had 23 points and 11 rebounds for Commerce. Carder reached double figures in scoring with 12 points.
The last two games offered a daunting task for the Commerce's girls.
Last Tuesday, the team had to face Region 8-AAA Newton. Friday night they faced the top team in Class A, Buford.
Newton took a 64-49 decision against the Lady Tigers. Buford continued its roll through Region 8-A South with a 79-39 win.
Shemkia Reed led Commerce with 12 points and eight rebounds against Newton. Charlene Gaither added 11 points. Monique Diamond also reached double figures with 10 points.
Diamond had 14 points and six rebounds against Buford. Reed added 12 points.

CHS Pins GAC, W. Hall
Commerce's wrestling team picked up two wins Friday night over Greater Atlanta Christian and West Hall.
The Mat Tigers topped GAC 43-21 before downing West Hall 53-21.
Tyson Brown and John Martin won both their matches Friday by pin.
Other wrestlers winning both matches included: Jonathan Beasley, Blake Milford, Lee Sorrow, Wes Smith, Chad Scoggins, Adam Perry and Eric Moore.
Last Tuesday, Commerce downed Fannin County 48-27 and Johnson 51-21.
Sorrow, Perry and Brown won both their matches by pin.
Other winners in both matches included: Greg Elrod, Daniel Arwood, Wes Smith, Eric Moore and John Martin.
Kyle Moore and Kevin Wilson won their junior varsity matches.
Commerce hosted Jefferson and Madison County in a tri-match Tuesday, but results were not available at press time.
Commerce will compete at the area meet at Dawson County Feb. 5.
The top four wrestlers in each weight class will advance to the state tournament at Riverside Military Academy Feb. 11-12.

BCHS hoops teams set for homestand
Leopards host three of four final games
Just when the season was heating up, wintry weather cooled off Banks County's basketball season for a few days.
The teams got their game in Friday at Rabun Gap.
Downed trees and icy roads put an end to Saturday's game with Commerce.
Even though some weather forecasts say more ice and sleet may be on the way this weekend, a slate of hot games is set for Friday and Saturday.
Banks County will play three of its four remaining games at home. Friday the Leopard teams host Dawson County.
Banks County is set to welcome Commerce Saturday night. The two teams met last month at the WJJC Holiday Classic Tournament in Commerce.
The subregion tournament will be held Feb. 7-9 at Dawson County High School.
Eight teams vie during the regular season for the Region 8-A North tournament. Woody Gap gets a bid in the tournament even though it does not play a subregion schedule.
Woody Gap plays an in-game with the number eight seed in each of the boys' and girls' tournaments.
The two teams in the finals of the subregion tournament advance to the region tournament at Jefferson. All four of the teams in the region will move on to the first round of the state tournament. First round games at state will be hosted by the girls' champion of Region 7-A.

Rabun County sweeps Leopards
Banks County lost two home games Tuesday night to Rabun County. The girls fell 62-54, while the boys lost 75-68.
Bree Whitlock was the standout player for Banks County over the last week.
After scoring 32 points against Lakeview last Tuesday, she added 37 points against Rabun Gap. Whitlock poured in 20 points this Tuesday against Rabun County.
Banks County led 35-24 at halftime but faltered in the final two periods. Rabun County outscored the Lady Leopards 10-2 to start the fourth period to take the lead.
Whitlock led the team with 20 points. Michelle Snipes added 14 points.
Other scorers against Rabun County included: Haley Crumley, seven; Ashley Freeman, six; Laura Carlyle, five; Brittany Holcomb, two.
The girls picked up an easy win Friday night over Rabun Gap 75-49.
After Whitlock's 37-point effort, Crummley added 12 points.
Snipes had seven points. Holly House and Carlyle each scored four points.
Johnna Williams, Kate Whitfield, Laura Mitchell, Freeman and Megan Williams each scored two points.
Free throws were the difference in the Leopards' loss to Rabun County Tuesday night. Banks County's boys had cut the lead to three points in the final two minutes despite shooting nine of 22 from the foul line for the night.
"Other than free throws, we had a pretty good night," coach Mike Ruth said. "We did a good job on the board. We had 33 defensive rebounds. I felt like we shot well. But free throws were crucial. When they needed them, they knocked them down. And we couldn't hit them."
Five Leopards reached double figures in scoring. Mike Ivey led the team with 15 points. Blakley Crumley had 14 points. Victor Bonds added 12 points. Chris Ivey and Casey Murray each had 10 points.
Banks County picked up a 72-39 win at Rabun Gap Friday night. B. Crumley had 19 points. Bonds added 15. C. Ivey had 13 points, while M. Ivey added 11.

Dragons, Tigers to clash at CHS Friday
Boys fighting for third; girls can take second
Jefferson basketball teams will cross the river Friday night to face rival and subregion foe Commerce. The teams split at their last meeting, with the Jefferson boys and Commerce girls coming out on top.
This time, the girls' game is important in determining Jefferson's future, but it is pivotal for the Lady Tigers. Commerce stands at 3-2 in subregion play, and can avoid the dreaded fourth subregion seed by winning three of their last five. Otherwise, the Lady Tigers must count on GAC to lose one.
The fourth seed will take on top-ranked Buford in the subregion semifinal, which will almost certainly mean elimination from further postseason play. Jefferson has already assured itself of no worse than third, but a second-place finish would give the Lady Dragons a bye in the opening round, meaning they would need only a single win to make the state sectional tournament.
Jefferson's girls endured their second loss of the season to Buford Tuesday, though they played much better this time around. The Lady Dragons improved in maintaining control of the ball, but the Lady Wolves' impressive roster offered too much talent to overcome. Buford took the game, 76-46.
The boys' game saw Jefferson go up early, but let Buford come back in the second period. The two teams stayed neck-and-neck until midway through the fourth, when Dantonio Chandler and Buzz Wehunt each hit three-pointers to give Jefferson a 58-49 lead. The Wolves fought back, but an offensive foul with 17 seconds remaining ended the threat, and Jefferson won, 69-62.
Dragon teams combined to go 3-1 in other subregion action this week. The Lady Dragons fought back from a 28-15 halftime deficit to defeat GAC in overtime, 72-62. Jefferson was 10-for-13 from the free throw line in overtime, including a 4-for-4 performance from Raven Moon. Staci Childress and Lee DuBose each made double-double contributions. Childress hit for a team-high 18 points, made 10 assists, grabbed seven rebounds and took five steals. DuBose scored 14 and pulled in 16 boards. Melinda Floyd hit four three-pointers on the way to 14 total points. Annie Goza scored 13, Brooklyne Marlowe seven and Moon six.
The story was different in a win over Providence, as the Lady Dragons posted a 25-11 lead after the opening quarter. The Stars fought back in the second, but a 13-6 performance by Jefferson in the third put the game out of reach. The Lady Dragons went on to win, 68-56. DuBose had her second double-double in as many games, with 15 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. Annie Goza also hit double digits in two categories, points (25) and rebounds (14).
Bolling DuBose's boys lost to GAC, 92-75, but rebounded with a 61-58 revenge win over Providence. The Stars trounced Jefferson 94-78 in December.
Chandler scored 20, including six three-pointers, against GAC, and Buzz Wehunt added 18.
Nick Sheridan earned a double-double against Providence, with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Wehunt led the team with 17 points, and Michael Newton added 14, including four threes in the first half. Daniel Goza scored eight and pulled down 10 rebounds.

Tribute to a friend, coach Jim Stoudenmire
JHS teacher and coach
I feel extremely fortunate to have had the honor of knowing Jim Stoudenmire as a co-worker, but more importantly as a true friend for the past 35 years. I had the privilege of working with him at Jefferson for 16 years.
Jim was the first person I called when another long-time friend - Jim Lofton - left in 1975 to take a position in Alabama. The Jefferson school board and administration never questioned my decision not to interview any other applicants, and Jim was hired immediately as our head football coach. He did an outstanding job for seven great years.
Without question, as both a coach and a teacher, he was one of those very few that those with whom he worked would classify as among the best of the best. During all his 16 years at Jefferson, he was an absolutely wonderful assistant to me in track and wrestling, and I think through the years he learned to love both of these sports somewhat as he did his first love - football.
As a coach and teacher, Jim did not baby his athletes. Quite the contrary, he was sometimes brutally frank and honest. He told it like it was. His integrity and moral convictions were totally unquestioned by anyone who knew him, including his athletes. As they grew from boys to men under his leadership, they also grew to like and respect him for his honesty in dealing with them. They learned to handle pressure, took greater responsibility for building their own self-esteem, and quickly became infected with his enthusiasm for competing to the best of their abilities.
He was one of those very rare coaches who was able to get the most out of whatever talent his athletes had. He could truly motivate his kids to perform close to their maximum potential, whatever that might be. This is what separated him as a great coach from the average coaches.
But much more than that, Jim and his family were our next-door neighbors and friends. We saw all of Jim and Carlene's four children born while they were here in Jefferson, and they grew up with our five kids. I think that Jim and I had similar personalities and philosophies about teaching and coaching, but also about life in general. Based on this, in our own way, we became true friends - as close as any that I've had in 42 years of coaching. Jim was respected by me and by others as a quiet, intelligent, introspective, tough-minded man, who always tried to do the right thing, regardless of the consequences.
After Jim took the Oglethorpe County job in 1982, we continued to keep in touch over the next 19 years. This was made easier by both our connections with sports, but also by our children's participation in them. In more recent years, Jim was a familiar face during wrestling matches and track events.
The fact that Jim was able to battle his devastating illness for almost 10 years was of course due to his own determination, toughness and strong constitution, but also to the strength and closeness of his immediate family. They have all been amazing through all of this.
Carlene and all of this very loving family should be extremely proud not only of his many accomplishments as a leader of young men, but also of the good life that he lived as a man. He was both respected and loved by all of his family, friends, athletes and fellow coaches.
The hearts of myself and the rest of my family go out to Carlene, 'little' Jim, Ken, Tim and Leigh at this very, very difficult time.

8AAA north races tighten as season nears end
Madison County hands Lady Panthers first subregion loss
As the great Yogi Berra used to say, it ain't over till it's over.
The race for the top spots in subregion 8AAA north is still on, and Jackson County is in the hunt for both. The Lady Panthers recorded a 1-1 record in subregion play this week, making them 7-1 so far. Ron Garren's boys also split, to move to 5-3. The boys need to win over West Hall Friday and Stephens County Tuesday, while the Lady Panthers can wrap up the top spot with a win Friday.
Madison County's Brittney Escoe drained a three-pointer as time expired Tuesday night in Danielsville, giving the Lady Raiders a 47-44 win over Jackson County.
The Lady Panthers, who suffered their first sub-region loss, were led by Monic Stewart, who scored 15. Abriele Varnum finished with 12. Krystal Britt added seven, while Crystal Edge tallied six and Toya Thomas chipped in four.
Both teams stalled out of the gates Tuesday, with Jackson County carrying a 6-4 lead into the second quarter. The Lady Panthers trailed 27-20 early in the third period, but took a 36-34 lead with about six minutes to play.
With the teams tied at 44 with 16 seconds to play, Jackson County called time out to set up a game-winning shot, but Edge wrestled for the ball with a Lady Raider defender. A jump ball was called with 11 seconds left. The possession arrow favored Madison County, setting the stage for Escoe's last-second shot from the right wing.
Solid shooting from the free throw line helped Jackson County's boys pull away from Madison County in the final moments of Tuesday's 66-55 Panther win.
Jackson County went 10 for 12 from the free throw line in the final three minutes of Tuesday's contest to hand Madison County their thirteenth loss in 19 games.
The Panthers, who led by 10 at the end of three periods, held a 52-40 lead midway through the fourth quarter, but Madison County cut that edge to five, 56-51 on Jamaris Mattox's third three-pointer of the night with 1:51 to go.
The Raiders would get no closer, as David hit five free throws down the stretch, while Tim Birdette added three and B.J. Wilmont tossed in two from the charity stripe in the game's final moments.
Roderick Gresham and Wilmont led Jackson County with 16 points each. David had 13, Birdette eight, Tavares Daniel six, Blake Wilson five and Michael Savadge three.
In Friday's loss to Habersham Central, turnovers wreaked havoc on the Panthers again. Jackson County outrebounded the Raiders 40-15, but had 22 turnovers to only eight for Habersham.
"Thats been our achilles heel all year," said Garren. "We just dont take care of the basketball." Jackson County played well in the fourth, particularly so in handling the game clock. Birdette put up a three-pointer to tie at the buzzer, but good defensive work rushed the shot and held the win for Habersham. Birdette finished with a career-high 18 points, while Gresham had 19 with 15 rebounds, and Wilmont 10 with 13 boards. David also added 10.
In a win last Wednesday over Oconee County, the Panthers played well against a tough opponent.
"We pretty much dominated the game from start to finish," Garren said. "Oconee County is the second-best team on the other side, so that was a quality win for us." Wilmont led the team with 18 points, David 12 and Birdette10. Gresham added nine, and pulled in 19 rebounds. Gresham is expected to reach the 1,000-point career mark Friday.
The Lady Panthers won 64-34 over Oconee, with Stewart blasting the scoreboard with 25, and Varnum getting 14. A 67-34 Friday win over Habersham gave Jackson County a valuable subregion win. Monic Stewart reached the 1,000-point plateau in the opening moments of the game, and finished with 10. Varnum also had 10, and will likely hit the 1,000 mark Friday. The Lady Panthers continued to shoot well from the free-throw line, hitting on 17 of 22 attempts.
Saturday's games at Hart County were cancelled due to severe weather.

Severe weather interrupts sports events
Several local wrestling and basketball teams saw their schedules abruptly altered by Saturday's winter storm.
Jackson County and Jefferson wrestlers took time out between matches in the Viking Invitational to enjoy the scenic snowfall that began around 11:30 a.m. Less than two hours later, participating coaches had voted to cancel the event and send everyone home, at the urging of the Hall County Sheriff's Department. The tournament was in the quarterfinal round at the time.
According to local coaches, matches that were completed prior to the cancellation will count toward a wrestler's record, and for future seeding purposes, but no tournament awards were presented. Loganville was in the driver's seat at the time of cancellation, with a significant number of wrestlers expected to make the finals, though Jefferson and Jackson County were still in contention.
Jackson County's middle school wrestling team was in the midst of a tournament Saturday at Dawson County when the snow began to fall. The event was postponed until this Saturday, but has since been cancelled due to more severe weather in the forecast.
Jefferson's home basketball game with Riverside was rescheduled for Wednesday, and Jackson County's games at Hart County were cancelled.
The Jackson County Parks and Recreation Department was also forced to postpone a number of basketball games Saturday. The games are expected to be rescheduled.

String music
Escoe lifts MCHS over Jackson Co. 47-44 with three-point buzzer beater
Lady Raider coach Tim Cook offers this warning about his sharp shooter Brittney Escoe:
"Don't play her in horse," he says. "She'll beat you."
But Escoe proved again her prowess extends beyond that old backyard game. The junior hit the game-winner over Jackson County as the buzzer sounded Tuesday- the gentle click of the net giving way to a thunderous roar of a near- capacity crowd and a pileup of players, cheerleaders and students near midcourt.
"She's (Escoe) as good as anybody at creating a shot," said Cook after the Lady Raiders' 47-44 victory. "And she did it tonight."
But Cook's final play didn't go as planned.
His team tied with subregion leader Jackson County at 44 with four ticks left on the clock, Cook drew up a play to get leading scorer Tawana Moon the ball on a back-door cut.
"We only needed two points," said Cook.
But the Jackson County defense stifled Lady Raider plans for a shot off a screen inside. Needing only a two-pointer to win, the Lady Raiders were forced to put up a lower percentage attempt from behind the three-point arch on the right wing.
Seconds earlier, a Madison County shot to win the game seemed unlikely. With the game knotted at 44, Jackson County's Monic Stewart drove into the lane, but Lady Raider Aiyana Hunter blocked her path, drawing a charge. However, Renee Mathews then overthrew a long inbounds to Escoe, who was streaking down the court. And Jackson County got the ball back, calling time out with 16 seconds left in the game, apparently to set up a final shot.
But Mathews tied up Crystal Edge, nearly grabbing the ball away from the Lady Panther and forcing a "jump ball" with 11 seconds left. The possession arrow favored Madison County, setting the stage for the last second dramatics.
Neither squad showed much life offensively in the game's opening quarter, which ended with Jackson County up 6-4. But Madison County outscored the Lady Panthers 21-14 in the second period to take a 25-20 lead into the locker room. Ashley Myers ended the first half with a bucket at the buzzer, followed by a free throw. The Lady Raiders upped that lead to seven early in the third quarter, but Jackson County, which fell to 7-1 in the subregion, trimmed that edge to one soon after, and the game was close until the final buzzer, with Madison County leading 32-30 and Jackson County grabbing a 36-34 edge with about six minutes to go.
Moon led Madison County with 25 points, eight rebounds and two steals. Escoe had 10 points. Myers finished with five. Hunter tallied four. Heather Jones chipped in two and Ashley Collins hit a free throw.
While pleased with the win, saying his squad "continues to amaze" him, Cook said his team did not play particularly well Tuesday. He noted a lack of ball control as a major problem.
"The three-day layoff hurt us," said Cook, whose team last played against North Hall on Friday. A Saturday matchup with Oconee County was canceled due to the weather.
Cook, who expressed dismay with a lack of fan support last week, said Tuesday's large crowd played a crucial role in his team's win.
"I believe if it wasn't for the students and citizens getting behind us, I don't think we would have won," he said. "They were a tremendous help to us when we began to get down on ourselves."
Tuesday's win keeps Madison County's hopes alive for a sub-region title, with a three-way tie for first possible if Madison County wins its final three games and West Hall beats Jackson County.
But Cook said his team can't focus on the standings.
"There's a lot of basketball left to be played," he said.
The Lady Raiders are now 16-3 overall and 6-2 in the subregion.

Madison County kept up with the athletic Panthers for most of the game Tuesday, but some solid shooting from the free-throw line helped Jackson County pull away from the Raiders in the final moments, 66-55.
The Raiders, who held a 15-11 edge late in the first quarter, led 24-22 with just over two minutes to go in the first half. But Jackson County's Dustin David hit a three-pointer at the second period buzzer to give his team a 29-26 lead. The Panthers, who led by 10 at the end of three periods, held a 52-40 lead midway through the fourth quarter, but Madison County cut that edge to five, 56-51, on Jamaris Mattox's third three-pointer of the night with 1:51 to go.
But Jackson County held on for the win, going 10 for 12 from the free-throw line in the final three minutes.
Chris Lattimore led the 6-13 Raiders with 14 points. Mattox and Chad Gillespie had 12. Trevelle Heard finished with six. Chad Youngblood had four. Jonathan Berrian chipped in three and Drew Sparks and Trellis Appling added two each.



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