Area Sports...

 March 1, 2000


Tiger Track Opens Season At Dome
CHS Sends 6 To Statewide Meet In Atlanta Friday
One can look at Friday's action by the Commerce track and field team at the Georgia Dome as a start to the season or a finish.
"We can look at this as the end of our indoor season," Commerce track coach Jason Oliver said.
While this weekend's action will be the only time Commerce sees on an indoor track this year, it will be the first action for the team since last season.
Run in conjunction with the USA Track and Field Championships, the best times of returning runners and some field events will meet for the event in Atlanta.
Class A runner-up in the shot put Casey Gary is the leading returner for Commerce. Gary will compete in the shot event Friday night at 8:30.
Monté Williams will run for Commerce in the 60-meter dash. Williams was sidelined for much of the track season last year, due to his broken leg suffered in the football season before.
As a freshman, Williams was the region champion in the 200 and the runner-up in the 100.
Williams' qualifying heat will begin at 7 p.m. Friday.
Commerce's girls' mile relay team will also compete in the event Friday night at 8:10.
The girls' team claimed the region title last year and competed in the state meet in Albany.
Runners that qualify Friday night will return for the finals on Saturday.
The event at the Georgia Dome is not divided by classification, combining all competitors into one group.
"This is a great opportunity for them," Oliver said. "These will be the best runners in the state. Our people will get a chance to see what it takes to compete at that level."
Commerce will run three meets in its first week of the season.
Commerce will begin its regular season March 21 at Habersham Central.
The teams will travel to Oglethorpe two days later.
Commerce will visit Franklin County March 28.


JCPRD All-Stars Headed To State Tournament
Move To State Best Start For County Team
The Jackson County Parks and Recreation Department 9-10 boys' all-star basketball team has qualified for this weekend's state tournament in Dublin.
It is the first time a boys' team from Jackson County has progressed beyond the district tournament.
The team has used an efficient passing game and a strong team effort to defeat its opponents during the current season.
"They've played well as a team," said head coach Donald Roberts. "They've really surprised me with that. An official has told me that he's never seen a team as unselfish with passing as ours is."
The team features 10 boys from all areas of Jackson County.
Roberts also credits coach Dwayne Donker for much of the team's success, as well as a number of local residents who have supported the team financially.
The semifinal game is set for a 9:30 p.m. Friday start.
If the Jackson County team wins, they will play Saturday at 10:30 in the semifinals.
The championship game is scheduled for 3 p.m. Saturday.
Team members include: Jared Roberts, Taylor Adams, Morgan Adams, Jimmy Sewell, Brandon Rucker, Michael Conner, Chris Daniels, Kolby Gilbert, Ryan Smith and Zachary Pearson.


Lady Leopards kick first goal
Landrum boots end to drought
BY DREW BRANTLEY
Every game the Banks County girls' soccer team had played ened in a shutout before Friday night.
With the team down 3-0 to Johnson in the second half, Kristi Landrum's goal did not level the score, but it might as well have won the state title.
"The girls were very excited," girls' coach Angela Bowen said. "They were thrilled to get our first goal."
A celebration ensued that saw every player on the field mob Landrum. Banks County's goalkeeper Laura Mitchell even left her post to join in the moment.
Banks County will host Madison County for two games Friday night. The boys' game will start first at 5:30 p.m. The girls' game will begin after the boys' game is over.
The seniors will be recognized before the game, which is the final home match for the boys' players. The girls will play Lakeview April 10 in a rescheduled game.
Before the season started, the girls set the goal to score a goal this season after not getting one during last year's inaugural season.
"That was one of our mini-goals," Bowen said. "Our long-term goal is to win a game. But I think we've got a good chance to do that this year, too.
"If they get their momentum together, I think they'll be able to do it."
Banks County's girls gained confidence as the game went on, Bowen said.
"They played the ball more down the field in the second half than in the first," Bowen said. "And that was when they scored the goal."
Neither team added to the score.
The boys lost their game to Johnson.
Banks County's teams traveled to Forsyth Central Tuesday night. The Lady Leopards lost 2-0.
Forsyth Central's boys completed the sweep with a win over the Leopards.
Boys' coach Matt Miller said his team is continuing to make improvement, but the competition they face is fierce.
"Our kids have responded well," Miller said. "We've got good kids and they work hard. But because we don't have a lot of local schools that play soccer, we're forced into playing the Hall County schools.
"In Southeastern Conference football terms, that's like having to play Tennessee, Florida and Georgia every time you go out."

BCHS in showdown with Dragons Thurs.
Banks County, Jackson County and Jefferson are the host baseball teams for the Bi-County Tournament.
While two of the three have each had their shot at the tournament title, Banks County is looking for its first trip to the championship game.
"Jefferson and Jackson County have both been there," coach Michael Williams said. "We want to get in there and give it a shot."
Banks County can earn a spot in that game Saturday afternoon with a win over Jefferson Thursday afternoon.
The winner of that Leopard-Dragon match-up is guaranteed second place in the round-robin portion of the tournament.
Jackson County has already clinched the top seed with a 4-0 record with one game left to play.
The winner of the Banks County-Jefferson game will face the Panthers at 4 p.m. Saturday.
The loser will probably face the winner of Thursday's Oglethorpe County-Athens Academy game for the third-place game Saturday morning.
Banks County's only loss in the tournament so far came in a 9-4 defeat at the hands of Jackson County.
Jefferson's only loss so far also came against the Panthers.
Banks County picked up a 13-6 win Tuesday night over Oglethorpe County. The Leopards topped Athens Academy 6-3 last week to bring their season and tournament record to 3-1.
The Leopards will play a non-tournament game Wednesday at White County before facing Jefferson Thursday at 5 p.m. Homer.
Please turn


Jefferson Girls Bow Out Of State Basketball Tournament
BY TIM THOMAS
Jefferson's Lady Dragons were one of several victims in a weekend of upsets in the state basketball sectionals. Jefferson fell to Landmark Christian Friday, finishing their season with a 20-9 record.
Landmark shot the ball in much less than textbook fashion, and struggled to hit even the closest shots early. But what the Lady Eagles lacked in offensive form, they more than made up for in defensive function. A combination of good Landmark defense and poor Jefferson ball-handling accounted for 10 turnovers by the Lady Dragons in the second period. Landmark led 26-22 at the half.
The Lady Dragons continued to have difficulty getting the ball inside in the second half, and Landmark stayed tight on the perimeter to suppress three-pointers.
Annie Goza and Brooklyne Marlowe accounted for eight defensive boards in the third, but seven turnovers and three other failed possessions held Jefferson to nine points in the quarter.
Hampered by a first-half ankle injury, DuBose still managed six points in the fourth. She combined with Goza to pull the Lady Dragons to within four points with seven minutes left, and Staci Childress later hit a three-pointer to close the gap to three at 5:23.
Landmark followed with a three-pointer of their own before DuBose hit a pair of free throws to close the gap to four again. Landmark responded with a scoring run in the final two minutes to take the win.
"We got in foul trouble early," said Jefferson head coach Kevin Jacobs. "Landmark put a lot of pressure on us, and we didn't react well to it."
Jacobs attributed much of the team's success this season to the leadership of seniors Raven Moon and Bridgett Davis.
"We've got to hand it to our seniors; it was kind of their team. We were in one of the tougher subregions in class A, and we had some big wins. Overall, it was a pretty decent season."
Earlier this week, Jacobs took an opportunity to do something he tried to avoid during the season - look to next year.
"The future is bright. We'll probably be one of the favorites in the region next year."
FINAL FOUR
The girls' class A championship game is slated for Friday at 2 p.m. in Macon. A strong team from Turner County will be the likely favorite to defeat Savannah Country Day.
Region 8-A teams saw both good and bad surprises this week. Model shocked the class A field with an upset win over top-ranked Buford Friday before losing Saturday to Paideia. The Lady Pythons then lost to Savannah Country Day in Monday's final four round. Jefferson had defeated Paideia by 12 points in January.
Towns County was the Cinderella team of region 8-A, beating Calhoun Friday and Landmark Saturday to qualify for the final four. Turner County defeated a strong team from Taylor County Saturday, then overcame Towns Monday to reach the state final.


Dragons want success now
BY TIM THOMAS
Jefferson baseball coach Chuck Cook wasn't expecting a lot of wins on the diamond this season. With excellent early play, his team already has Cook pleasantly surprised.
"I was thinking that this was going to be a rebuilding year," said Cook, "but these guys want it to happen now. When you get the kind of attitude these guys have, good things can happen. There are a lot of things I am extremely pleased with right now."
Through four games, Jefferson (3-1) has outscored opponents 32-10. Dragon pitchers have combined for a trim 1.45 ERA, and the team is averaging .362 at the plate.
A win Thursday over Banks County would lock up a spot for the Dragons in Saturday's championship game of the Bi-County Tournament, in a rematch against Jackson County. The Panthers handed Jefferson their only loss thus far last Thursday, 5-2.
"For the most part, we played good defense," Cook said. "We just made a few costly errors."
Jackson County broke open a tight game in the fifth inning with four runs. Jefferson managed one in the sixth, and another in the seventh. Clint Bryson and Shane Wilburn drove in the two Jefferson runs. Kyle Potts was 2-for-4 with a double at the plate, and went the distance on the mound.
The Dragons rebounded with a 13-1 thrashing of Oglethorpe County Saturday. Corey Hill pitched four innings, striking out five and allowing only one hit. Jeremy Love finished the game, going two innings with one strikeout and one hit.
"That was a well-played game throughout," Cook beamed. "We didn't make an error in that game."
Dragon bats were hot, as the team racked up 15 hits. Love led the way, going 3-for-4 with a double, a home run and four runs batted in. Wilburn, Josh Nabors and Mark Nunley each drove in two runs.
"We came out in that game and just destroyed the ball," said Cook.
Tuesday against Lakeview, Potts was near-perfect over five innings on the mound. Potts allowed only one hit, and struck out nine batters. Christoper Wheaton worked one inning, striking out one and yeilding no hits.
"Pitching was my biggest question coming into the year," Cook said, "but through four games, we have a 1.45 ERA, with kids who have no experience in high school baseball."
Clint Bryson led the charge offensively, driving in four runs. Wilburn also drove in a pair. Bryson leads the team with nine batted in, followed by Wilburn at six. Love is hitting .571, with five RBIs.
After Saturday's tournament finale, Jefferson will face three tough games next week. The Dragons travel to Rabun County Monday, and host Dawson County Tuesday. Rabun will make the trek to Jefferson Wednesday. Tuesday's game is slated for a 5 p.m. start, while the other two will begin at 4 p.m.


4-0 Panthers playing serious hardball
BY TIM THOMAS
Rusty Hendricks must be delighted.
Hendricks' Panther baseball team won its fourth straight game Tuesday night, assuring the team of being in Saturday's Bi-County Tournament championship game. Jackson County will face the winner of Thursday's Jefferson-Banks County contest.
Lakeview Academy and the loser of Thursday's Oglethorpe County-Athens Academy game will square off at 11 a.m. Saturday, for the fifth spot. Game two will pit the loser of Banks-Jefferson against the Athens Academy-Oglethope winner for third, with the championship game following.
Saturday's action will also be accented by a barbecue. Meals will be available throughout the day.
"It's early," said Hendricks. "We're just trying to get ready for our region schedule. Some say region 8-AAA is one of the toughest in the state. Our goal this year is to get back to the playoffs and hopefully do a little better than last year."
Jackson County banged out an 11-5 win over Athens Academy Tuesday. Tim Whisnant overcame a hit batsman to lead off the fifth inning by striking out two and holding two Spartan runners on base to preserve the win. Jason Pittman also made the highlight reel with a blast over the left-field fence.
Drew Beatty and Michael Hill led the Panthers to a 9-4 win Saturday over Banks County. Beatty went 3-for-4 with 2 runs batted in, and Hill pitched seven innings, giving up only four hits and two walks.
"Drew is really on fire right now," said Hendricks. "He's hitting the ball very well. Michael started kind of loose on the mound, but turned it up a notch in the late innings. They couldn't touch him." Hill and Michael Savadge also had two hits each in the game.
Thursday's 5-2 win over Jefferson was preserved by Whisnant's imitation of Willie Mays' famous centerfield catch. With two out and two Dragons on in the fourth inning, a Jefferson batter drove the ball deep to center. Whisnant turned and chased the ball, catching it over his shoulder with his back to the infield to end the threat.
Savadge picked up the win, pitching five innings and yielding one earned run on five hits and three walks, while striking out eight. Trey McConnell earned a save, giving up only one hit while facing eight batters over two innings. Savadge reached base in three of four at-bats, and Whisnant and Cody Fortson each reached twice.
Prior to Tuesday's game, catcher Jason Bailey had thrown out four of the last five runners attempting to steal on him. The fifth was called out, but ruled safe after a dropped ball.
"He's doing fantastic behind the plate," Hendricks said of Bailey's performance.


Panthers get first-ever boys' soccer win
BY TIM THOMAS
Jackson County boys' soccer coach Ron Garren earned the first Gatorade bath in the history of Panther soccer Tuesday. Garren's boys defeated the Loganville junior varsity team 5-3 for the school's first-ever win in boys' soccer. Despite the win, Garren does not consider himself a "real" soccer coach.
"My primary goal this year is to get them accustomed to working on their fundamental skills," Garren said. "Next year, if we can find a soccer coach, maybe he can have something to build on."
Tuesday's game against a JV squad was just one of several for the Panthers, who will next travel to Johnson Thursday, and Oconee County Tuesday.
"We're playing people who have had soccer programs for 15 years," said Garren. "This is only year four for us." The JV games were planned to give the soccer teams a boost, and help foster enough confidence to play aggressively.
"It will be interesting to see, dropping down a level, just how successful our kids can be," Garren said.
Garren pointed to Carl Atwell and freshman Jacob Porter as good performers in Friday's loss to Dacula. Atwell was filling in for Justin Gee, the team's top goalie. Due to injury, Gee will not be available to defend the goal for the remainder of the season.




Near perfection
Raiders' Tolbert falls three batters short of second perfect game
BY BEN MUNRO
Armed with a 90-plus mph. fastball, the Raiders' Scott Tolbert flirted with perfection in his domination of the Cedar Shoals lineup Tuesday night.
Tolbert, with a perfect game already to his credit in his prep career, continued his assault on opposing batters as he silenced the Jaguars' offense, going six and one-third innings, fanning 13 batters, surrendering a single hit and walking one, while allowing only one unearned run to cross the plate in the Raiders' 4-1 home win.
Pitching before a host of scouts' radar guns, Tolbert looked to have his second career perfect game in the works as the Raider senior breezed through the first six innings of play, retiring 18 consecutive batters.
However, the Georgia Southern signee ran out of gas in the final inning as he surrendered a walk to start the inning, breaking up his perfect game effort. Later in the inning Tolbert allowed a one out RBI single to Cedar Shoals' Tommy Wilson to deny both the no-hitter and the shutout.
Nevertheless, the Madison County ace has been masterful in his two appearances thus far in the 2000 season. In his outings against both Monroe Area and the Jaguars, Tolbert has allowed only one earned run, three hits and two walks, while striking out 24 batters in 11 and one-third innings of work.
"He (Tolbert) threw a whole lot better than in his first start," said head coach Charlie Griffeth of his ace starter, who has been battling a stomach virus. "He had better command of his breaking ball."
In the contest, offense was scarce on both sides through five innings of play as Tolbert allowed the Jaguars no base runners while Cedar Shoals pitcher B.J. Yuill held Madison County to no hits during that period. Madison County manufactured an unearned run in the first inning as Chad Youngblood walked and was moved over to third after Andy Coile also walked and Chad Gillespie was hit by a pitch. Youngblood then scored off a wild pitch by Yuill to make the score 1-0.
However, the Raider bats warmed up in the sixth inning as Youngblood got things going by doubling to left center field to break up Yuill's no-hit bid. Then, after Coile was hit by a pitch, Gillespie cleared the bases with a with a three-run blast over the left field wall to give Madison County a 4-0 advantage.
With a three-run lead in the final inning of play, Bo Williamson came on in relief of Tolbert and nailed down the save, getting the final two outs by strikeout, leaving the Jaguars with runners stranded on first and second base.
OUTLOOK
While the Raiders have pounded 13 balls out of the park in their first five games, the team is batting just .244. Griffeth said his squad needs more consistency at the plate. He added that his club has shown they can hit "hitter's pitches," or belt high balls, but they have yet to show they can hit tougher pitching.
NOTES
Griffeth said pitcher Joseph Hardigree is expected to be out for three weeks with a strained ligament in his elbow...Colt Rice will probably be kept off the mound for the entire season due to arm trouble.

Raiders' offense explodes in wins over Eastside, Oconee
BY BEN MUNRO
These are the kind of games pitchers have nightmares about.
Saturday's back-to-back home contests against Eastside and Oconee might be better classified as home run derbies rather than actual baseball games.
Balls were flying out of Red Raider stadium at a rapid rate as a total of 13 homers were belted and 40 runs were scored during the course of the two slugfests. Madison County was able to outlast both squads, however, downing Eastside 13-7 before topping Oconee County 11-9.
AGAINST EASTSIDE
The Red Raiders smashed six homers and used a seven-run third inning to beat Eastside 13-7 in their first contest of the day.
Andy Coile and Stephen Seagraves accounted for a good portion of the damage as Coile ripped two homeruns, while Seagraves added a grand slam in the high-scoring affair.
Coile got things started in the top of the first inning as he smashed a solo shot to give Madison County, who was playing as the visiting squad, a 1-0 lead.
Eastside answered with two runs in the second inning, scoring on an error and a bases loaded to take a 2-1 lead.
Madison County erupted in the third inning however, breaking the game open as they used Seagraves's grand slam and a three-run shot from Jamaris Mattox to claim an 8-2 edge.
Jeremie Strickland and Bo Williamson provided the early spark in the inning as Strickland singled and Williamson doubled followed by Coile, who walked. With the bases full, Seagraves turned a one-run deficit into a three-run edge with a single swing of the bat as he crushed a shot over the right center field wall, putting Madison County up 5-2. With the bases clear, the Raiders went right back to work as Chad Gillespie singled and Daniel Smith doubled. Mattox then provided more fireworks as he sent a shot sailing over the right field wall, putting the squad up by six runs.
Coile then struck again in the following inning as he slammed a line drive shot over the right field fence to push the lead to 9-2.
Down by seven runs, Eastside clawed their way back into the contest in the bottom half of the fourth inning as they struck for four runs to cut the edge to 9-6.
The squad got their first three runs of the inning off back-to-back homers as Randy Allen provided a two-run shot while Matt Cook followed with a solo homer to make the score 9-5. Eastside then loaded the bases and got their final run of the inning with a sacrifice fly by Gerrard Tillson, cutting the Madison County lead to three.
The Raiders responded in the sixth inning, putting the long ball to use again and pushing three more runs across the plate. Gillespie nailed the first shot of the inning with Coile on first base as his hit blasted over the left field wall, giving the Raiders an 11-6 lead. Smith then followed Gillespie's homer with a shot of his own, sending the ball over the left center field fence, increasing the Madison County lead to six runs.
Eastside added a run in the bottom half of the inning as Tillson scored from first off a single, making the score 12-7.
The Raiders then added their final run in the seventh inning as Coile picked up another RBI, ripping a single up the middle and scoring Strickland from second.

AGAINST OCONEE
The Raiders' contest against Oconee was strikingly similar to their first contest Saturday as five more homers were hit and 20 runs crossed the plate between the two teams. However, Madison County twice had to play catchup in the matchup as the squad overcame deficits of 2-0 and 8-5 to claim the 11-9 victory.
Oconee provided the first long ball of the day as Ben Elder teed off in the top of the first inning, sending a two-run shot over the left field wall, giving the Warriors a 2-0 edge.
Madison County cut the lead in half in the bottom half of the inning as Williamson singled, stole second and then was alertly able to score from second after Gillespie hit into a fielder's choice, making the score 2-1.
The Raiders' bats then came alive in the bottom of the third as Madison County was able to accomplish the remarkable feat of bashing back-to-back-to-back homers to go ahead 5-2.
After Strickland doubled for the first hit of the inning, Coile started the home run barrage as he ripped a shot over the 360-foot sign in center field to put the Raiders up 3-2.
It was Gillespie's turn next as he crushed the ball over the left field wall to give Madison County a 4-2 edge. Seagraves then completed the trio of home runs as he sent a shot to right center field to push the Raider advantage to 5-2.
However, the momentum swung back to Oconee in the top of the fourth as they came up with six runs in the inning to grab a three-run lead.
Oconee got their first run of the inning off a dropped fly ball in the outfield, allowing Elder to score from third. The Warriors then worked a suicide squeeze to perfection on the next play to cut the lead to 5-4. The Warriors' Chad Keller smacked a double and then came home on a single up the middle to knot the game at five. Later on in the inning with two runners on base, Ryan West gave Oconee their second lead of the game as he tattooed a shot over the left field fence to put the Warriors up 8-5.
The game continued to seesaw as Madison County responded with five more runs in the bottom half of the inning. Williamson accounted for the first run of the inning as he walked, stole second, and came home on an error in the outfield to cut the lead to two runs. Two batters later, Seagraves picked up another RBI as he ripped a single to score pinch runner Youngblood to make the score 8-7. Later on in the inning with runners on second and third, Smith put Madison County back on top as he smashed a single up the middle to score Gillespie and Seagraves, making the score 9-8.
Smith then scored the Raiders' 10th run of the game as he was singled in by Nick Mattox to give Madison County a 10-8.
The Raiders added their final run of the game in the fifth as Gillespie slapped a single to center field to score Youngblood, giving Madison County a three-run advantage.
Oconee tacked on one more run in the sixth, but the Raiders held the lead the rest of the way, picking up their second win of the day.


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