Tigers win state
The thunderstorms predicted
by the National Weather Service did not arrive in time to disrupt
the Class A State Championship football game Friday night. But
lightning named Monté Williams struck four times, electrified
a standing-room-only crowd and propelled the Commerce Tigers
to a 27-19 victory over the Buford Wolves.
Williams stunned Buford on a 41-yard touchdown pass from quarterback
Michael Collins for the game's first touchdown, then scored on
runs of 88 yards, 32 yards and 56 yards. His 272 yards on 29
carries pushed him past Emmitt Smith to number four among all-time
national high school rushing leaders, with 8,829 yards.
"Monté came to play tonight," said coach Steve
Savage. "He went out in style, I'll tell you that."
The senior running back showed why he's Georgia's most prolific
high school runner ever. On his final touchdown, a 56-yard jaunt,
Williams broke two tackles, regained his balance after a Buford
defender grabbed his face mask, and sprinted into the endzone
after Buford had scrambled to within two points.
For a few minutes, it looked like the Tigers would blow Buford
away. They used Williams' first three scores to build a 21-0
lead, only to see the Wolves climb back into the game with 19
unanswered points to make things uncomfortable for the Tiger
RAIN SUITED WILLIAMS
The rain held off until the second half, and when it came, it
suited Williams just fine.
"It was great weather - perfect weather for me to play in.
Cause people tend to get slippery (when it's raining),"
said the slipperiest running back in Georgia high school history.
While Williams was piling up yards for Commerce, the Tiger defense
limited Aiken to 74 yards on 13 carries. McDonald added 56 yards
on 11 snaps, and Payne collected 106 yards and one TD by air,
but suffered two crucial interceptions.
For Savage, it was his first state championship after a number
of close calls, and he did his best to savor it.
"With about four minutes left, I was looking at the clock
and I got to thinking it was going to be over soon. I wasn't
ready for it to be over," he said.
"This team has been building for years. A lot of people
can take credit for that championship tonight....I thought we
were close in 95 and 94. We had our best chance in 90....They
were all there tonight."
Savage was effusive in his praise for his team, particularly
"Some say it was the best senior class we've ever had. I
don't know....I can't say enough about them guys," he said.
It's been a close-knit group.
"I've got some great friendships here, and that's what I'll
remember the most," said Collins after the game. "Playing
for Commerce is really special. The supportive atmosphere is
The crowd was huge, 6,000 or more, with the home stands filled
by 6:00 and cars parked as far away as the Jefferson Road.
teams slam White County
Whether or not the White County Warriors knew it, they were in
for a rough ride at Banks County Friday night.
Banks' teams swept White County, at both the junior varsity and
varsity levels. The Leopards attained a thrilling 67-50 comeback
win while the Lady Leopards took over early to win 66-42.
For the Leopards, a tough defense would once again rise to the
occasion to squelch the Warriors' fight.
Banks County took 12 steals and 13 deflections while sending
White County to the free throw line only eight times.
"It was a great defensive effort," Leopard head coach
Mike Ruth said. "We controlled the boards and we were quick."
White County ran away with the lead early in the game. The Warriors'
aggressive attack on the Leopards helped them to a 37-29 halftime
lead. At one time during the first half, White County even led
the contest by 15 points.
Warrior sophomore D.D. Tate gave the Leopard defense fits, nailing
But after the half, everything changed.
"We had a little powwow at halftime," Ruth said. "They
came in and their heads were down. I told them to get it together
and show what we were made of. I told them that we were not going
to lay down at home."
And the Leopards didn't lay down. They arose from their first-half
slump and held White County's offense to only nine third-quarter
points. At the same time, Banks County forced the ball into the
post and scored 14 points of their own.
"We were in the zone and opened up to him (Tate) in the
first half," Ruth said. "We put Bray (Maxwell) on him
man-to-man in the second half and shut him down."
As the Leopards shut down Tate, they shut down the entire White
Going into the fourth quarter down 46-43, Banks' fans got into
the game to uplift the Leopards.
"The fans were great," Ruth said. "They got our
kids pumped up."
Just minutes into the fourth quarter, Chris Ivey sank a shot
but was fouled, getting one free throw attempt. He missed, but
Mike Ivey grabbed the rebound and put in the goal to give the
Leopards a 49-48 lead.
From there, Banks County would go on to victory, holding the
Warriors to a measly four points in the fourth quarter.
"It was a great team effort," Ruth said.
Victor Bonds led the scoring for Banks County with 22 points.
M. Ivey added 14 and C. Ivey put 11 on the board. Cody Whitlock
was also in double digits with 10 points.
Last Tuesday, Banks County downed Lumpkin County 89-63.
Bonds led the scoring again with 31 points. C. Ivey had 15 and
M. Ivey added 13 points.
A tough defense and solid scoring runs helped the Lady Leopards
secure their second win of the season, a 66-42 defeat of White
The Lady Warriors capitalized on several small Lady Leopard errors
in the first quarter to jump ahead early. But before the quarter
was even over, Banks County began taking control of the game,
pushing ahead 15-10 by the buzzer.
In the second quarter, Banks County went on a run. White County
didn't get on the board until two and a half minutes into the
quarter. By then, the Lady Leopards were ahead 20-12. They pushed
out ahead even further before the half, taking a 31-14 lead.
"Our defense had them confused offensively," Lady Leopard
head coach Mike Gordon said. "It got them frustrated."
Banks County came back out of the half with the momentum still
The Lady Leopards increased their lead to 51-30, dominating the
"We've been having slow third quarters," Gordon said.
"At the half, we talked about not letting that happen."
The Lady Leopards continued their run through the end of the
game to take the 66-42 victory.
Haley Crumley led Banks with 22 points. Ashley Freeman also hit
double digits with 10 points.
Banks County was edged out in overtime 48-46 last week against
"I hope that was our season low point," Gordon said.
"We just didn't shoot the ball well."
Crumley led the Lady Leopards' offense with 20 points, including
three three pointers.
to stay busy during break
School may be out for the holidays over the next two weeks, but
the Jefferson wrestling team will be doing more than just lying
around in front of the fire.
After a three-way dual with Madison County Friday at Cedar Shoals,
the Dragons will journey to wrestling's Death Valley, Morgan
County, Saturday for the Avado Brands Invitational. The host
Bulldogs, defending class AA state champions and winners of two
tournaments already this season, will be heavy favorites on their
Looking beyond Saturday, Jefferson has two more tournaments on
the schedule during the Christmas break.
The Duckhead Southeastern Holiday Classic, one of the premier
tournaments in Georgia, is slated for Dec. 22 and 23 at Winder-Barrow
High School. Jefferson will host the Keen Classic Dec. 28 and
FOUR MEDAL IN
Four Jefferson wrestlers returned from last weekend's John Smith
Mountaineer Invitational with hardware. The Dragons placed seventh
overall in the team competition.
Defending class A 140-pound state champion Hunter Garner defeated
Lithia Springs' Daniel Furr to claim the gold at 140, and Jeremy
Smith took second at 152, falling only to Morgan County's Scott
Konicki in the final.
Corey Mack (103) recovered from a semifinal loss to eventual
champion Jason Powers of Jackson County to earn a fourth-place
medal. Blake Gooch (130) lost to Gilmer County's Nick Long, a
returning state medal winner in class AA, but came back to take
Nathaniel Wilson and Brendon Kemp both overcame losses to eventual
finalists to finish fifth.
Scott Nix, David Parks and Andrew Morris all contributed team
points, and Sanquez Smith, Jason Fields, Brandon Seabolt, Daniel
Love and Matt Underwood also participated.
claim four of six from 8-AAA north foes
This time next week, Jackson County basketball teams will have
begun what will probably be a welcomed Christmas break. With
difficult games coming up Friday and Saturday against Elbert
County and Hart County, the Panthers may need the rest.
After Saturday's matchups at home against Hart County, Jackson
County will take 11 days off before possibly seeing the Bulldogs
again, in the Dairy Queen Classic in Hartwell Dec. 27-29.
In the most recent state rankings, Hart County's girls are second
in class AAA. The boys' team, hampered on the court by success
on the football field, is ninth.
In their first away date of the season, the Panthers split with
Madison County Tuesday night. The Lady Raiders opened the evening
with a 67-50 win, but Ron Garren's boys responded with a 71-58
nightcap victory in Dainelsville.
The Jackson County boys had their strongest outing thus far in
the season last week, in a 56-52 home loss to Stephens County.
Three Panthers (Dustin David - 21, B.J. Wilmont - 14, Tim Birdette
- 13) scored in double figures. Wilmont also picked up 12 rebounds.
Jackson County came out a bit cold on offense, hitting only 10
of 27 field goal attempts in the first half. Good defensive play,
highlighted by Wilmont's crashing the boards in the second quarter,
kept the Panthers in the game. Stephens led by only three at
The Panther guns heated up in the third. Jackson County took
only 10 shots from the field in the period, but six fell in,
including a trio of three-pointers by David. The third ended
the quarter and tied the game at 41.
Both teams played virtually error-free ball in the fourth, with
only one turnover each in the quarter. Alan Finch hit a pair
of free throws early that gave the Panthers the lead momentarily,
and a three by Birdette with 2:15 left put Jackson County up
by one late.
Stephens went back up on a basket and foul shot on their next
possession, but Wilmont tied it again at 1:15.
The Indians picked up two points and the foul on their next trip
down court. Stephens County missed the foul shot, but grabbed
the rebound and quickly threw in two more points to go up by
four with only 32 seconds remaining, and the margin held up for
the final score.
"I was real pleased, especially defensively," Garren
said. "I thought we played extremely well. Tim and Dustin
had their best games of the season. We struggled a little bit
on the perimeter, but as soon as we build some confidence, we
should play very well there." The coach continued by saying
that Stephens forced his team into man-to-man defense, and were
ready for the Panthers' traps and zones.
"We played them tooth and nail to the very end. We just
didn't get the calls and make the plays we had to. That's something
you've got to be able to do in order to be up there at the top.
It was just a great high school basketball game, and we came
up short. Those are the games you've got to win, especially at
home, so we're disappointed, but we're encouraged."
The Lady Panthers had little trouble in dispatching Stephens
County, 57-40. Freshman Nikki Sosebee scored 14 points, and seniors
Megan Elliott and April Cantrell had 12 and 11 respectively.
The somewhat easy win allowed head coach Annette Watts to give
some of her more experienced players valuable time on the court.
Nine players put points on the board for Jackson County, and
11 picked up rebounds.
Turnovers plagued both teams early. Jackson County gave the ball
over on four straight possessions in the first quarter, and each
team had eight turnovers each in the period. After one, the score
was tied at 12.
Though ball handling improved in the second, shooting did not.
Jackson County managed to hit only four of 12 shots. Stephens
fared about the same, going five-for-14 in the frame. Good offensive
rebounding gave the Lady Indians a number of second-chance shots,
and a five-point lead at the half.
Cantrell sparked the team with seven points and a steal early
in the third, and 10 Stephens turnovers - seven in a row at one
point - gave Jackson County a nine-point lead after three. The
Lady Indians mustered only five shots from the field in the quarter,
and scored only three points.
Sosebee used a convincing head fake to drive inside for easy
scores twice early in the fourth. Elliott and Kristi Healan both
sank three-pointers, and Stephens County was out of the game
long before the final buzzer.
Lady Raiders win fourth
in a row
Four consecutive wins may be in the books, but Lady Raider basketball
coach Tim Cook said his squad isn't ready to pat themselves on
According to Cook, the squad still has some strides to make to
get where they need to be.
"We're making progress... we're getting better, but we won't
be where we need to be until about February," said Cook
of his team's level of play.
The Lady Raiders continued their improved play Tuesday night,
topping Jackson County 67-50
Madison County (6-2) has a chance to continue to making progress
with rematches against Loganville and Monroe Area this weekend.
Both foes were notches in the Lady Raiders' win column earlier
in the year as the girls' squad disposed of Loganville 62-42
on Nov. 28 while overcoming Monroe Area 39-30 on Dec. 1.
But Cook said nabbing two wins this weekend will be no simple
"Loganville will be gunning for us," he said. "It's
not going to be easy-we've got to execute and focus. Monroe Area
is quick and athletic, it's hard for us to match up against them.
It's going to be tough. We've just got to take it one game at
TUESDAY VS. JACKSON COUNTY
Madison County picked up their sixth win of the year in a 17-point
stopping of visiting Jackson County Tuesday night.
Tera Bellamy got 12 of her team-leading 17 points on the night
to help guide the Lady Raiders to the win.
"She was a big key to our success," Cook said of the
senior-transfer's performance. "She shot well and played
some good defense. She has some talent."
Up by six in the third quarter, the Raiders hit their stride
in the last five minutes of the period, going on a 15-4 run to
end the quarter and push their lead to 46-29.
The team then kept the Lady Panthers at arm's length in the fourth
quarter of the contest, outscoring Jackson County 21-13 over
the final six minutes of the contest en route to the double-digit
The contest was tight in the early going as Madison County led
by only a point late in the first quarter until Heather Jones
nailed a three-pointer as time expired in the period to give
her squad a 12-8 edge.
The Lady Raider team then built some momentum in the middle of
the second quarter, going on a 14-5 run to build up a 26-13 edge,
highlighted by three pointers by Jones and Brittany Escoe, before
going into intermission up by eight.