Area Sports...

 April 12, 2000


Diamond Tigers To Close Year
Commerce Faces Wesleyan, Buford In Final Games
Commerce will wind down its baseball this week with two subregion games Thursday and Friday.
Wesleyan visits the Tigers Thursday. Commerce will travel to Buford Thursday.
The team won one of its three games over spring break. Greater Atlanta blanked the Tigers 10-0. Banks County picked up a 15-8 win in Commerce Thursday.
The Tigers took a big lead and then held off Riverside for a 15-11 win Friday.
With a 5-12 record on the season, Commerce will get more of a look at the younger players, coach David Cash said.
"We're going to try and let everybody play," Cash said. "We'll shuffle the lineup a little."
One of the players Cash wants to see more of is Chad Jordan.
"He pitched well for us against Banks County," Cash said. "We're going to try and get him some more innings pitched this week. He's been hitting the ball for us, too."
BANKS
Banks County took a lead and held off the Tigers for a 15-8 win Thursday afternoon.
Wes Masey had three hits in three trips to the plate. Jordan added two singles.
RIVERSIDE
Commerce took a 12-0 lead in the first inning against the Blue Devils Friday.
Riverside came back to score 11 runs through the fourth inning.
Cottrell and Carder shut down the Blue Devils in the final three innings.
Cottrell pitched a scoreless inning in the fifth. Carder struck out the side in two innings to close out the game.
Stphenson had two hits, including one home run and five RBIs.
Jordan had two hits and one run driven in.
GAC
Defending Region 8-A champion and state runner-up GAC showed why they have repeated for the subregion title.
The Spartans scored eight runs in the third inning. They added one in the bottom of the fifth to end the game by the 10-run rule.
The Spartans scored 10 and allowed three hits on defense. GAC has clinched the Region 8-A South.
Adam Stephenson picked up two hits. Dane Cottrell had the other hit.


GHSA Denies Region Move Request By JCCHS
BY TIM THOMAS
The Georgia High School Association has refused a petition by Jackson County Comprehensive High School to move to region 7-AAA. The decision came Tuesday, after Jackson County athletic director Greg Lowe presented the proposal to the GHSA executive committe.
Lowe said that the committee considered the request, and informed him of the decision via telephone early Tuesday afternoon.
"It's not going to make or break us," Lowe said during a telephone interview. "I thought there was some good in it for our kids and our community. The fact that it is the middle of April made it very difficult, I'm sure."
Lowe said he was not given a reason for the decision, but that he expects to receive an official letter of notification within the next few weeks. Whether an explanation for the committee's decision will be included in that letter remains to be seen.
The decision leaves Jackson County in region 8-AAA, along with former region opponents Stephens County and Madison County and new members Eastside, Elbert County, Franklin County, Hart County, Loganville, Monroe Area and Winder-Barrow.
Under the GHSA's tentative alignment, region 7-AAA consists of eight teams, while there are 10 in region 8-AAA. If Jackson County's request is granted, there will be nine schools in each region.
The GHSA's region 7-AAA is made up of Fannin County, Forsyth Central, Gainesville, Gilmer County, Johnson, North Forsyth, Pickens County and South Forsyth.
Lowe had cited that moving to Region 7-AAA would have meant similar traveling times. He also said that Jackson County had "a better history" with the schools in 7-AAA.
Regions will be finalized during a meeting of the GHSA Executive Committee April 17 and 18. Coaches must submit completed football schedules by May 1.


Tiger Netters To Close Year At Region Tourney
Commerce's tennis team wrapped up the the regular season with a home match Tuesday against Wesleyan. Results were not available at press time.
Heather Stockton, Janna Morris, Aaron Talbot and John Harrison will also represent the team April 13-14 at the region singles tournament. Commerce's tennis team wrapped up the the regular season with a home match Tuesday against Wesleyan. Results were not available at press time.
Heather Stockton, Janna Morris, Aaron Talbot and John Harrison will also represent the team April 13-14 at the region singles tournament.



Diamond Leopards can reach playoffs by winning last three
BY DREW BRANTLEY
After dropping its last three meetings with the leading teams in the subregion, the Banks County baseball team still enjoys the comfort of control.
"We still control our own destiny," coach Michael Williams said. "If we can win today and tommorow, we would have a one-game playoff with Dawson County."
The Leopards will travel to Towns County today. Banks County will visit Rabun County Friday.
Banks County lost its best chance to win the subregion with its 22-8 loss at Union County Friday afternoon. However, Rabun County downed Dawson County to keep Banks County in a tie with Dawson.
If the two teams finish the year tied, Banks and Dawson will meet next Monday to decide the second spot in the region tournament. Williams said the site of the game would be determined by a coin flip.
Banks County (18-4) has already won as many games as it had in the two previous seasons combined. Having the succes they have enjoyed this year would be even better in the postseason.
"It would be a little dissapointing to go 20-4 and not make the playoffs," Williams said.
Union County can clinch the region tournament by winning out.
Union County and the runner-up from Region 8-A North will move on to the region tournament against 8-A South champion Greater Atlanta Christian and runner-up Buford.
If Banks County claims the number two spot, they would play Greater Atlanta Christian in the first round in a best-of-three series. Union County will take on Buford.
HOME CLOSER
Banks County played its final home game of the season Monday, claiming a 15-0 win over Tallulah Falls.
The Leopards' two seniors, Justin Smith and Steven Cruce, were honored. Smith recorded the win. Cruce will get the start in against Towns County.
COMMERCE
Banks County closed out a regular season sweep over the Commerce with a 15-8 road win last Thursday.
It was the first game the Leopards had played since hosting Rabun County March 27. Several pitchers were used in the game.
UNION
Union County scored 11 runs in the first inning on its way to a 22-8 win over Banks County Friday.
"We played terrible," Williams said. "We had six errors and several passed balls. And they capitalized on our mistakes."


Setting the new table
Region 8-AA prepares for '00-'01 year
BY DREW BRANTLEY
After all the initial furor over the realignment in the Georgia High School Association, things have almost returned to normal.
Banks County and the rest of the new Region 8-AA members were to have met Wednesday night to finalize how to handle schedules for most sports.
Banks County will join Apalachee, Dawson County, East Hall, Greater Atlanta Christian, Lumpkin County, Rabun County, Riverside, Towns County, Union County and White County in the final alignment for the region.
Consensus on the football schedule has already been reached, according to Banks County athletic director and football coach Rance Gillespie.
Riverside Military Academy and Towns County have opted to not play a region schedule in football for the next two years.
That leaves the rest of the football-playing teams with eight region games.
The schedule for the region games is to be decided at Wednesday's meetin, Gillespie said.
Banks County will pick up Jefferson and Jackson County as its two non-region games, Gillespie said.
Basketball has agreed to subdivide, as 11 schools compete in the sport.
East Hall, GAC, Apalachee, Dawson County and Banks County will make up one side of the region.
Riverside, Union County, Towns County, Rabun County, White County and Lumpkin County will be on the other side.
According to the plan that was to be adopted at the region meeting, each team will play its subregion foes twice and the other region teams once in basketball.
The region basketball tournament will have the top four teams from each subregion meet.
Two-time defending Region 8-A champion GAC and East Hall appear to be contenders next year.
But Banks County boys' coach Mike Ruth said he would rather be in the subregion with them.
"I'd rather be with them than on their over side. If you finish third or fourth on the other side, you have to start out with one of (GAC or East Hall).
"If you finish third on our side, you think you can compete well with all the teams on the other side. If you win the first night, you still have to play (GAC or East Hall), but you're already in the state playoffs."
The baseball teams in the region are trying to play a region schedule next year, Gillespie said.


Dragons blast opponents' rackets
BY TIM THOMAS
Jefferson tennis teams were scheduled to make up a previously rained-out match against Jackson County Wednesday. The event is the last on Jefferson's regular season schedule. The top two Dragon singles players and one doubles team for both the boys and girls will take part in a tournament this weekend that will finish Jefferson's season.
At Habersham Central, the Lady Dragons blasted their opponents, winning 5-0. Misty Lance, Lara Bridges and Vanessa Greenwood all had singles wins. Molly Cleveland and Ashley Wheaton combined for a doubles win, as did Holly Hensley and Heather Simmons.
Bridgett Davis and Brittany Buffington earned JV singles wins, and Jessica Roberts teamed with Ashley Evans for a doubles victory.
Jason Lee led the boys' team with a win at number one singles, and Coda Carloss added a singles win. Ryan Herring and Caleb Smith finished the scoring for Jefferson with a win at number one doubles.
Last week at Brenau, the Lady Dragons also earned a 5-0 win. Lance, Bridges and Greenwood were victorious, as were the doubles teams of Cleveland/Wheaton and Hensley/Simmons. Evans and Roberts added an exhibition doubles win.


JHS golfers pick up two wins at Eagle Greens
BY TIM THOMAS
The Jefferson golf team will wrap up their regular season next Thursday against Banks County and Oglethorpe County, at Eagle Greens in Commerce.
The Dragons were scheduled to face Riverside Wednesday at Chicopee Woods, and a four-way match with Providence, East Hall and Jackson County is set for Tuesday at Eagle Greens.
The region 8-A tournament will be held at Scales Creek on April 24, with the state tournament following on May 8 at Fields Ferry.
The Dragons breezed to their sixth and seventh wins of the season Monday, shooting a 167 to defeat Jackson County (195) and Athens Academy (180).
John Bramblett led Jefferson with a 40. Johnathan McEver and Michael Newton each registered a 42, and Sanford Jackson entered the clubhouse with a 43. The wins improved Jefferson's record to 7-4 on the season.


Region meet nears for Panthers
BY TIM THOMAS
The Jackson County track teams will wrap up their regular season Tuesday, with a home meet against West Hall and North Hall. The girls' region 8-AAA meet is set for next weekend, with the boys' a week later.
Jackson County hosted strong region foe Dacula Tuesday, as well as Dawson County. The Falcons came out on top in both girls' and boys' competition, racking up over 100 points in both. Jackson County finished second, well ahead of both Dawson County teams.
"We ran against probably the best girls' team we've seen all year in Dacula," said head coach Steve Collins. "They've got a lot of talent. They have really good field events people, and their sprinters aren't bad, either."
With the split, Jackson County's boys are now 10-2-1 on the season. The team scored eight season-best performances Tuesday, by Tim Birdette (long jump, 400 meters), Terriss Hale (pole vault), Justin Lott (110-meter hurdles), John Hardie (110-meter hurdles), Jason Sweet (300-meter hurdles), Kelly Parr (3200 meters) and the 400-meter relay team of Birdette, Brandon Shields, Roger Pilgrim and Chris Kubiak. Birdette took first place honors with a 20' 6.75" long jump, and Chuck Kubiak was the top placer with the discus.
Lacey Phillips (long jump), Emily Edwards (100 meters), Brandy Logan (triple jump), Crystal Yonce (high jump) and both the 400- and 1600-meter relay teams put up season-best performances Tuesday.
Carly Parr grabbed two first-place slots, at 1600 and 3200 meters, and Melissa Lerette had the longest discus throw of the day.
Jackson County will host Stephens County, Madison County and Oconee County Thursday, and will participate in the Jefferson Relays Saturday.


Panther golfers prepare for region
BY TIM THOMAS
Golfers at Jackson County Comprehensive High School are fine-tuning their swings in preparation for the region 8-AAA golf tournament, to be held April 24 at Royal Lakes.
The Lady Panthers have a pair of matches this week to wrap up the regular season. Megan Elliott shot a season-low 52 Tuesday, and sank a 30-foot putt on the fifth hole at Eagle Greens for a birdie. The Lady Panthers finished with a 117 ­ their lowest score thus far ­ against a powerful Oconee County team.
"Oconee hs a fantastic team," said coach Clay Harris. "They have one girl who has already signed to play golf with the University of Alabama next year." In addition to the Lady Warriors, Harris said he believes West Hall has a chance to make waves in the region tournament. The top team in the region, plus one individual from another team, advance to the state tournament.
For Joe Lancaster's boys, Dustin David led the way against Jefferson and Athens Academy Monday with a 46. William Wilbanks followed at 49, and Michael Tiller and B.A. Williams each scored a 50. The Panthers' 195 was short of a win against the Spartans' 180 and Jefferson's 167.
Next up for Jackson County's boys is a pair of matches against Johnson Thursday and Monday, Jefferson Tuesday and East Hall next Thursday.


JCCHS to stay in 8-AAA
BY TIM THOMAS
The Georgia High School Association has refused a petition by Jackson County Comprehensive High School to move to region 7-AAA. The decision came Tuesday, after Jackson County athletic director Greg Lowe presented the proposal to the GHSA executive committe.
Lowe said that the committe considered the request, and informed him of the decision via telephone early Tuesday afternoon.
"It's not going to make or break us," Lowe said during a telephone interview. "I thought there was some good in it for our kids and our community. The fact that it is the middle of April made it very difficult, I'm sure."
Lowe said he was not given a reason for the decision, but that he expects to receive an official letter of notification within the next few weeks. Whether an explanation for the committee's decision will be included in that letter remains to be seen.
The decision leaves Jackson County in region 8-AAA, along with former region opponents Stephens County and Madison County and new members Eastside, Elbert County, Franklin County, Hart County, Loganville, Monroe Area and Winder-Barrow.


Raiders win three as postseason nears
BY ZACH MITCHAM
AND BEN MUNRO

Madison County won three of four games over the past week, losing to North Gwinnett and downing North Hall, Habersham Central and Jackson County to improve to 17-7 on the year.
Now with just two games left on the regular season schedule - a home game against Stephens County at 7 p.m. Wednesday and a 5:30 p.m. matchup at West Hall Friday - the Raiders can begin to think about the postseason.
According to Madison County head coach Charlie Griffeth, the Raiders appear destined to finish second in the subregion to Stephens County, which defeated Madison County 4-3 March 17. Griffeth said his team could force a tie if they beat Stephens County and the Indians lose to Habersham Central.
On the other side of the region, North Gwinnett is in first after Newton faltered with some recent losses.
Griffeth said his squad is getting geared up for the postseason.
"After the North Gwinnett loss we revamped things to try to get guys ready for tournament play," he said. "We're trying to get our pitchers sharp and make sure the right nine are out there on the field."
Griffeth said his team's biggest problem is that he has "a lot of 150-lb. kids who think they're home run hitters."
But he added that he has been pleased with the improvements of several players this season. The coach pointed out that Andy Coile and Chad Gillespie have been "steady all year," noting that Gillespie, a 6'7" basketball standout, has helped save the team runs with his long stretch at first base. He said Coile "never missed a beat" despite a mid-season injury. Griffeth said Jonathan Pou and Jamaris Mattox have shown improvement and that starter Dustin Dinsmore, a transfer, has been "a savior" for the team.
Here's a brief recap of this past week's action:
MADISON COUNTY 10
HABERSHAM CENTRAL 0

Raider pitcher Dustin Dinsmore baffled Habersham batters Friday night, allowing just one hit while walking one and striking out six in a five inning shutout.
But Madison County blasted Habersham pitching, ending the game early thanks to the 10-run mercy rule.
Andy Coile put the Raiders on the scoreboard with a three-run first inning blast. Then in the fourth inning, Chad Gillespie launched a solo homer. Jamaris Mattox soon followed with an RBI single, scoring Chad Youngblood. Bo Williamson smacked a two-run triple and Jeremie Strickland hit an infield single to score Williamson. Daniel Smith ended the game in the fifth with a two-run homer.
MADISON COUNTY 9
NORTH HALL 3

Tied at one with North Hall after four innings, the Raiders broke open the game, scoring eight runs over the next three innings to win the contest.
After a one-out double by J. Mattox in the fifth and a walk by Williamson, Strickland ripped a single to right to score both runners, giving Madison County a 3-1 lead. Smith soon followed with an RBI bloop single to right and Cooper then tagged an RBI single to left.
North Hall answered with one run in the bottom of the fifth, but Coile smashed an RBI double and Gillespie drove home Strickland with a sacrifice fly in the top of the sixth. Williamson capped off the Raider scoring with a two-run double to the left field fence in the seventh.
Youngblood was the winning pitcher, allowing six hits, two runs - one earned - and two walks, while striking out four in four innings. Williamson pitched in relief.
Madison County finished with 11 hits on the night, including two from Williamson, Strickland, Nick Mattox and J. Mattox.
MADISON COUNTY 10
JACKSON COUNTY 1

Madison County traveled to Jefferson Monday seeking its 17th win of the season and the Raiders got just that, downing the Panthers 10-1, aided by a seven-run explosion in the fourth inning.
Raider star starter Scott Tolbert struck out nine batters in six innings, picking up the win, his fifth of the year.
J. Mattox provided the fireworks at the plate, launching a home run and scoring three runs. And Coile and Williamson had two hits.
NORTH GWINNETT 15
MADISON COUNTY 7

The North Gwinnett Bulldogs shellacked Madison County 15-7 Thursday, handing the Raiders their seventh loss of the season.
Madison County claimed a 7-4 edge in the top of the fourth, but North Gwinnett scored 11 unanswered runs to take the victory.
Starter Scott Tolbert struggled in his outing against the Bulldogs as he worked four and one-third innings and departed after Brandon hit the Bullogs' go-ahead three-run blast. Williamson then relieved him and worked an inning and two-thirds, followed by Gillespie, who worked the rest of the way for the Raiders.
Jeremie Strickland, who scored the Raiders' first run of the evening on an error, provided the offensive highlight of the night for Madison County as he tattooed a three-run shot over the right center field wall to put Madison County up by three runs in the fourth inning.
However, disaster struck for the Raiders in the bottom half of the inning as the Bulldogs struck for seven runs, giving North Gwinnett a commanding 11-7 edge.


Raiders win 3-0 in final home game
BY ZACH MITCHAM
Madison County blanked Habersham Central 3-0 Friday in Danielsville. The win, which helped keep the Raiders' postseason hopes alive, was more more than a mark in the victory column. It was a scrapbook moment - a final hurrah before the homefolks - for several Raider seniors and head coach Sam Rafal, who will no longer coach soccer after this season.
The game began with Rafal's 2-year-old son, Noah, kicking off the ball at midfield and ended with Madison County improved to 6-3-1 overall on the season and 3-3-1 in the region.
"It meant a lot to me that these players would go out and work so hard for the win," said Rafal. "That made it special."
Soccer star Manny Trujillo led the way for the Raiders with two goals and an assist. Junior Alan Alvarez had a goal and an assist.
Madison County, which led 1-0 at the half Friday, had to fight hard against the Mt. Airy club.
"Habersham Central is a strong team with skilled, physical players all over the field," said Rafal. "We played aggressive soccer and we were able to match their physicality. We kept our wits about us."
Rafal praised the play of a number of players, pointing out that goalie Joe Zorbanos played an all-around great game, "booming his kicks, making diving saves and showing strong leadership." The coach said freshman Joseph Jones "contained one of the region's star midfielders." Levi Dykes, who suffered a severe laceration in a recent game, "turned in a courageous performance," the coach said, noting that Dykes fought for every 50-50 ball and "didn't back off a bit."
Rafal said Donnie Hatcher showed very aggressive, physical and smart play.
"He (Hatcher) continues to be a two-way player," said Rafal. "I think he's making the difference for us."
Rafal said Trujillo and Alvarez are "working well together up front."
"They put a lot of pressure on the opposing goal, but they are also working hard in the midfield," he said. "They're helping us win balls and intitiate attacks. Not all forwards will do that and they do it instinctively."
The Raiders, who faced Central Gwinnett Tuesday - results were unavailable as of press time - close out the regular season Friday at Dacula at 7 p.m.
The region playoffs are scheduled to begin April 18 and Rafal says the Raiders will have a good chance to earn a postseason bid if the squad can win its final two games.
Seniors on this year's Madison County team include: Trujillo, Zorbanos, Brandall Casstevens, Tim Costyn, Dykes, David Harrison, Hatcher and Ryan Shenk.


Tennis teams gearing up for postseason
BY ZACH MITCHAM
Madison County's tennis teams hit the home stretch on the courts this week, with the girls downing Hart County and the boys losing to the Bulldogs.
The squads were scheduled to wrap up their regular season Tuesday at Central Gwinnett - results were not available as of press time.
Both Madison County teams have had good seasons. The girls' outfit was nearly perfect this year, losing just once in 12 matches. Unfortunately, that loss to West Hall knocked the second straight sub-region crown from the Lady Raiders' grasp.
Meanwhile, the 8-4 boys are locked in a three-way tie for first in the sub-region with West Hall and Jackson County. Just how that will affect post-season seedings had not been determined as of press time.
Madison County coach Cliff Craig said his teams are looking forward to region team and individual tournaments. The singles and doubles Region 8-AAA tournaments will be held at Oconee County High School Friday and Saturday, April 14-15. The region team tournament will be held at the same locale Wednesday and Thursday April 19-20.
"We're in pretty good condition as far as the region goes," said Craig, who added that getting at least two wins in boys' singles play is crucial.
Craig pointed out that number one boys' singles player Chris Clark is playing particularly well, downing a tough Hart County player Thursday.
VERSUS HART COUNTY
In girls' play Thursday, Madison County's Renee Mathews downed Jantzen Starrett 6-1, 6-0. Stacie Beard topped Ken Maxwell 6-0, 6-3. Rochelle Comer lost to Whitney Kay 3-6, 5-7. Elizabeth Turner and Christy Thomas defeated Laura Cartledge and Skipper McInerney 6-1, 6-2. And Sallie Fitzpatrick and Tiffany Ledford lost to Kristi Toney and Deana Rogers 6-4, 1-6, 2-6.
In boys' action, Clark picked up the only Raider win, defeating Phil Skelton 6-1, 6-7 (3-7), 6-2. Kenny Powers lost to David Cooper 1-6, 0-6. Brandon Myers fell to Ben DeWitt 6-3, 3-6, 1-6. The doubles team of Drew Perry and Cole Tonge lost to Steve Guyer and Hank Chatham 2-6, 1-6. And Nathan Myers and Paul Wildes lost to Brandan Setchel and Raleigh Burroughs 2-6, 3-6.


Girls' soccer team downs Morgan 2-1 in overtime
BY BEN MUNRO
Jana Ackerman's goal with 45 seconds left in the second overtime period Thursday night lifted Madison County past Morgan County 2-1 and to a program best sixth victory of the season.
After neither team scored during the first overtime period - the rules call for two 10-minute overtime periods - Ackerman, who also scored during regulation, became the Lady Raider hero of the night as she got an assist from Lindsay Weaver and found the net with under a minute left to give Madison County the thrilling win.
The Lady Raiders, who finished with a 5-8-1 mark a year ago, moved their record to 6-6-1 with the win, assuring them of the program's best record in their six-year history.
"The girls worked really hard for the win," said head coach Andy Felt. "We tried some new formations on offense in the game and got some more power up front."
The contest stood knotted at zero after the first half of play and the Raiders then trailed in the second half as "some costly mistakes" led to a Morgan County goal, Felt said.
However, Ackerman then came up with her first big goal of the night as she scored a goal with under three minutes remaining in regulation to tie the contest at one.
With the Lady Raiders setting their record for wins, Felt believes the program is heading in the right direction and growing stronger.
"This is the strongest that the varsity and junior varsity have ever been," Felt said. "We've worked really hard this year and more girls are wanting to play in the off-season, so the program is building."


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