Area Sports...

January 3, 2001

Three from Banks County named to all tourney team
Though neither Banks County team was able to take the gold at last weekend's WJJC Holiday Classic, both left the tourney with a stocking full of goodies.
The Leopards placed second in the classic, edged out 52-46 by Commerce in the championship game. The Lady Leopards took third, defeating Oglethorpe 70-58 in the girls' consolation game.
Three Banks County players were named to the all-tournament team.
Haley Crumley, who combined Friday and Saturday for 40 points, joined Oconee's Deanna Patrick and Commerce's Shemika Reed, Sheka Wheeler and Charlene Gaither on the girls' team.
For the boys, Bray Maxwell and Mike Ivey made the team, along with Commerce's Michael Collins, Casey Gary and Twion Sheeler.
Ivey combined both nights for 27 points, including six three-pointers. Maxwell scored only nine in the tourney, however, his ball handling abilities and defensive effort earned him a spot on the team.
The Lady Leopards ended the weekend tourney in the number three spot. But they did so without several fighters.
Key scorer Ashley Freeman is still battling hip problems. Head coach Mike Gordon said Freeman could begin jogging this week, however, her break from action over the past few weeks will likely hurt her conditioning.
Joni Martin, who has 30 points in eight games for the Lady Leopards, missed the weekend tourney because of an illness.
Banks County was also without post player Laura Mitchell, who was out of town for the holiday weekend.
Despite the team's absentees, the Lady Leopards were still able to post a 70-58 win for third place.
"We had multiple people scoring," Gordon said. "It's hard not to win when you have four people in double digits."
Crumley, Megan Williams, Laura Carlyle and Dana Garrish all hit double digits against the Lady Patriots, scoring 19, 18, 11 and 10 points respectively. Garrish also nailed two three pointers in the contest.
Rounding out the scoring were: Maggie Elrod and Taffy Carruth, four; Regina Veal, three; and Ashley Strickland, one.
The Lady Leopards were downed 66-52 by Oconee County in their opening bout Friday night.
Banks County led in the game 16-15 at the close of the first quarter, but were overtaken by the Lady Warriors in the second, falling behind 32-22.
"We only scored six points in the second quarter," Gordon said. "We were missing shots and our shot selection was poor. That was the difference in the ball game right there."
Crumley again topped the scoring for the Lady Leopards with 21 points. She is averaging almost 16 points per game so far this year.
Carlyle was also in double digits with 10 points.
Other scorers included: Carruth, seven; Veal, five; Jessica Kennedy, four; Garrish, three; and Williams, two.
The Leopards underwent a solid defensive attack on Commerce but wasn't able to muster enough second-half defense in the championship game as they fell 52-46.
Banks County contained the Tigers' leading scorer, Micheal Collins, to only 18 points, 12 of which came in the second half. Before that game, Collins was averaging almost 30 points per game.
"We did a great job defensively," Leopard head coach Mike Ruth said. "With our defense against Athens Academy and Commerce, you couldn't ask for any better."
But Banks' defense, which held Commerce to 14 first-half points, wasn't able to overcome the team's offensive struggle.
"They outscored us 16-8 in the third quarter," Ruth said. "We couldn't hit our shots and we made three or four turnovers."
Commerce virtually shutdown the Leopards' offense in the third quarter, covering up the post and forcing Banks to shot from the outside.
"We couldn't capitalize on the outside shooting," Ruth said. "They frustrated us."
Banks County put two scorers in double digits against Commerce. M. Ivey put 13 points on the board, including four three-pointers, while junior Cody Whitlock added 12.
Also scoring were: Victor Bonds, eight; Maxwell and Casey Murray, five; and Will Gordon, three.
The Leopards won their opening bout in the tournament, downing Athens Academy 43-35.
The Spartans jumped ahead of Banks County early, taking a 10-7 first-quarter lead. But the Leopards turned the tide in the second quarter, leaping to a 27-19 halftime lead.
Banks County maintained its lead in the second half to take the win.
M. Ivey again led the scoring for the Leopards with 14 points. Bonds followed with 13.
Gordon added seven points; Murray and Maxwell put up four; and Whitlock scored one to round out the Leopards' scoring.

Dragon, Tiger hoopsters to square off Friday in Commerce
THE RIVALRY is always a hot one, regardless of the venue.
The Jefferson Dragon and Commerce Tiger basketball teams will face off Friday in Commerce for the first time this season. Tipoff for the girls' game is set for 7 p.m.
All four teams come into the game highly touted, and three are coming off tournament championship wins last week.
Jefferson's girls defeated Stephens County Saturday in the final round of the Alltel-Regions Bank Raider Rumble at Habersham Central High School.
The Lady Dragons dominated the game from start to finish, holding Stephens County to 10 points or less in all four quarters in the 60-36 win. On the flip side, Jefferson scored no less than 12 per frame.
Lee Dubose led Jefferson scorers with 16 points and five steals. Melinda Floyd put in 14, thanks mostly to four three-pointers. Annie Goza pulled in 12 rebounds, and Staci Childress had six steals and eight assists.
Jefferson downed Greenwood, S.C., in the opening round, 70-57. Greenwood is one of the larger schools in South Carolina, and would be Class AAAAA in Georgia.
The Lady Dragons jumped out to an early 20-9 lead in the first period, and led by 13 at intermission. Greenwood outscored Jefferson only once, 15-13 in the fourth quarter.
Dubose led the charge again, scoring 29. Along the way, the junior sensation was a perfect 17-for-17 from the free throw line.
Childress added 16, and Brooklyne Marlowe scored 13.
Round two provided Jefferson with their closest game, a 57-54 win over the host Lady Raiders.
Habersham led by four after one and by six at the half, but the Lady Dragons went on a 20-12 run in the third to erase the gap and assume the lead.
Dubose scored 15 in the game, but Childress (14 points, 11 assists) and Goza (15 points, 13 rebounds) each finished with a double-double.
Coach Bolling Dubose's boys were not as fortunate, emerging from the tournament in seventh place.
Greenwood's boys, ranked #1 in their classification in South Carolina, were held in check by the Dragons early, but a late second-quarter surge started the buckets flying and gave the Eagles an imposing 101-49 win.
The Dragons trailed by only seven after one, but a number of turnovers even at that point left the impression that the tone of the game was about to change.
One of Greenwood's two Division I college prospects failed on three early uncontested slam attempts, hitting the rim each time.
Trailing 24-21, Jefferson's Buzz Wehunt grabbed an open-court chance and raced to the basket for an impressive and successful slam of his own.
The downside was that Wehunt was called for a technical foul for hanging on the rim. The call was quite controversial, and caused a stir among the Jefferson faithful in attendance.
Still, the call stood. Rather than being spirited by Wehunt's slam into a scoring spurt, the Dragons looked disheartened, while Greenwood looked even more determined. The Eagles went on a 13-point run that put Jefferson out of contention at halftime.
The second half was all Greenwood.
Michael Newton led Jefferson scorers with 13 against Greenwood. Wehunt had 11, and Shaudrick Martin contributed 10.
"A good team will show your weaknesses real quickly," Dubose said of Greenwood. "I thought we had a great effort in the first half, but in the second, we did not.
"The thing that upset me most about the tournament was not losing to Greenwood by 52, but losing to Winder-Barrow by three. We didn't play well at all in that game. We were lethargic. We had the lead and the ball with three minutes left, and still didn't win. We had some critical turnovers and some bad shots, and missed some crucial free throws."
The game was tied at 61 with 20 seconds remaining when the Dragons made a critical mistake in their press and gave up an easy layup.
"We had a lot of mental errors. Mental mistakes are almost like cutting your own throat," Dubose said.
Wehunt scored 23 in the Winder loss. Dantonio Chandler had 18, and Newton 11. Jefferson outscored Winder in all but the third quarter.
The Dragons rebounded in their final game of the tournament to defeat White County 77-55 for seventh place.
"We played a lot better against White County," Dubose said. "Particulary in the second half, we relaxed and shot the ball better.
After Friday's rivalry games, Jefferson hosts Athens Academy Saturday at 6 p.m., and welcomes Rabun Gap for a region contest Tuesday at 6 p.m.
The Rabun Gap meeting begins a stretch of seven straight region matchups in 18 days that will likely determine the Dragons' chances for making the state tournament.

Panthers enter subregion schedule Friday at home
THE JACKSON County Panthers will open up the Panther Pit to subregion opponent Eastside Friday beginning at 7 p.m. The game is the first subregion contest of the season for the Panthers, who will travel to Loganville Tuesday for a 6 p.m. subregion tipoff.
Both Panther teams came out of last week's Dairy Queen Classic at Hart County with wins against strong teams from South Carolina.
The Lady Panthers opened with a 74-55 loss to Laurens. Jackson County led 13-10 after the first period, but an 18-6 second put Laurens on a roll that continued after the break.
Tarla Ransom contributed 19 points in the loss. April Cantrell had 12, and Melissa Lerette nine.
Laurens' LaQuinta Meely, who has committed to Florida State University, led all scorers with 30 points.
"We played hard," head coach Annette Watts said of her Lady Panthers' effort. "We're gradually getting a little better."
In Thursday's 57-44 win over the Lady Lions of Daniel, tight defense by Jackson County maintained the 11-point lead the Lady Panthers established in the first half.
Freshman Nikki Sosebee scored 17, and seniors Cantrell and Megan Elliott added 12 and 11, respectively.
Watts' Women downed a normally powerful Westside team by an overwhelming margin Friday, 71-37.
"We just jumped all over them," Watts said. "Our defense was the best it's been all year long. It was so much fun to watch."
Cantrell was hot, pouring in 22 points. Sosebee added 11, Kristi Healan 10 and Crystal Edge and Tarla Ransom eight each. Ten players scored points for the Lady Panthers.
Sosebee and Cantrell were named to the all-tournament team.
Ron Garren's boys opened the DQ Classic with a disappointing 52-48 loss to Dorman. The Panthers hit only four of 13 tries from the free throw line.
Dustin David scored 17 in the game, and Tim Birdette added 12.
Thursday against Daniel, Adam Hughes and David combined for a 4-for-5 effort at the stripe in the first quarter to get the Panthers off on the right foot. Jackson County trailed by one at the end of one.
Daniel went on a 12-point run to start the second, and stretched their lead to 12 at the half.
The Panthers outscored Daniel 17-14 in the third, but managed only nine points in the closing frame against 16. Daniel took the win, 59-43.
David had 20 of his team's 43 points, and Birdette added 10.
Friday against Irmo, the Panthers were back in the win column.
B.J. Wilmont returned from his controversial two-game suspension brought on by two technicals in a recent game to score 24 points. David added 12, and the Panthers regained their composure at the foul line, hitting 22 of 26.
The game was a battle of defense through three quarters, with Jackson County leading 31-20 going into the fourth and eventually winning 49-39.
Former Lady Panther Abrielle Varnum had her best night so far for the Kennesaw State Owls Saturday at home against Montevallo.
Varnum played only four minutes of the game, but managed eight points, three rebounds and a steal during her tour.
Varnum, who is recovering from off-season ankle surgery, has seen limited playing time during her first season with the Lady Owls.

Tigers Win Holiday Tournament
The Commerce Tiger boys' basketball team has to feel pretty good, winning two tournaments in their first four games of the season. But after sweeping through the WJJC Holiday Classic last weekend, the Tigers will face a sterner challenge when they host the Jefferson Dragons this Friday.
Varsity action should start at about 7:00 and Rex Gregg's 4-0 Tigers will face a 7-3 Dragon squad that is 2-0 in the region and averaging around 90 points a game.
"They've got a lot of shooters. We're going to have to get better before we play them," Gregg said.
The Tigers won't have much time to prepare. They were scheduled to play at Athens Christian Tuesday night.
"We have to take it just one game at a time. We haven't had time to think ahead," Gregg said, referring to his team's lack of practice time caused by the state football championship.
"We have to adjust on the spot, and I think we've been doing pretty good at that so far," Gregg stated. "We've got to see if we can contain them a little and play good defense. We need to keep them from getting into their transition game and we're going to have to play great defense and control the backboards."
Although they've got only four games under their belt, the Tigers have proven to be awesome at times. They jumped out in front of Oglethorpe County early in the opening round of the tournament last Friday and won 78-53 with star Michael Collins sitting out most of the second half. Then, on Saturday, the Tigers used a fourth-quarter surge to go up 46-30 over Banks County with three minutes to go, then coasted to a 52-46 win to take the tournament title.
"I thought the first night everybody played really well. The half that Collins played was just an unbelievable effort," said Gregg.
Collins poured in 34 points, 31 of them in the first half, then sat out most of the second half because he wasn't feeling well.
"The second night, I thought we adjusted to what they were doing," Gregg commented. "We've played great defense all four games. We were really patient and shot better than 50 percent from the floor. Twion Shealer drew four charges and Casey Gary gave us a big lift on the boards."
Collins put on a scoring clinic. He hit from three-point range, shot from the lane and electrified the crowd with three first-half dunks.
Dominating on the court as much as Monté Williams dominated on the football field, Collins led the Tigers to a 24-14 first-quarter lead and a 46-26 halftime advantage. After three quarters, the Tigers were up 63-38.
Collins scored 34 points, shooting 50 percent from the field, and he was six of 10 from the free throw line. He also had 10 rebounds. Shealer and Casey Gary scored 10 apiece, Wes Massey added eight, Dustin Martin four, Vonté Reed, Brody Bearden and Rob Brown three each, Steven Bihss scored two and Scott White added one. Shealer also grabbed eight boards.
The Leopards did not roll over so easily. After Commerce led 9-7 at the end of the first quarter, Banks County took a 17-14 halftime lead. Commerce got back on top after three periods, 30-25, built up a 16-point lead and won 52-46.
Collins was again the leading scorer with 18 points, and he had nine rebounds. Shealer scored 15 and pulled down seven boards, Massey added eight, Gary five, but also 10 rebounds, and Reed, Bearden and Brown scored two points apiece.

Madison County squads to face top-10 teams in return to hard floor
The Madison County basketball teams may have gotten a break from school, but their return to the hard floor will be anything but a vacation.
Friday night will feature a tangle between two AAA top ten teams when the tenth-ranked Lady Raiders face top-ranked Hart County while the Raiders will match up with the Bulldogs' sixth-rated boys' squad.
The contests with Hart County will be the subregion openers for both Madison County's boys' and girls'teams.
The Madison County girls' squad is riding an eight-game winning streak after downing Athens Academy and Oconee County two weeks ago to win the Athens Academy Christmas Tournament. The boys, meanwhile, have suffered eight straight setbacks after losing both their contests in the holiday tourney.
The Hart County squads will be a bit fresher as they hosted the Dairy Queen Classic last week. The boys' squad (11-1) swept through the event, winning all three of their contests while the girls (10-2), who had four players suspended for the tourney, suffered their first setbacks of the year, losing two and picking up a win.
In the girls' contest, Lady Raider head coach Tim Cook said his squad must be prepared for a stern test with the Lady Bulldogs.
"They're very athletic at every spot," he said. "They're big in the post. They've got one girl who is 6"2" and another that's 6'0"...They've got a point guard who's super quick...And they've got a wing that shoots well outside."
Cook said there are several keys to stopping the number one-ranked outfit from Hartwell.
"We've got to keep the big girls off the board...We've got to control their point guard who really makes them go and we've got to get a hand in their shooter's face," he said.
Cook added that Hart County's dropping two contests in the recent tournament wasn't a "good indication of how they play" due to the suspensions that left them without two of their starters.
Cook said he had been implementing no new schemes in practice for the Lady Bulldogs, adding that his squad was "going to stick with what won them ten games this year-playing aggressive defense and pushing the ball."
Cook also said he hopes the team's fans can give them a home court advantage.
"The community and fans should be excited," he said. "It's rare to have two top ten teams in the same subregion. If someone wants to see a good ball game, they want to see the one Friday night. We need a good crowd."
Conversely, the boys' teams' matchup with the talented Bulldogs might not have the best timing as Madison County is trying to halt an eight-game losing streak. The team was recently dealt its worst loss of the year in the December 20 match up with Athens Academy and lost a day later to Prince Avenue, a team they downed by 16 points earlier in the year.
Crouse said his squad has to improve their shooting and cut down on mistakes if it's to be competitive against Hart County.
"We've been shooting a lot in practice," Crouse said. "Our shooting hasn't been good lately...Teams have been giving us the outside shot, but we just haven't been hitting it. We've also been working on cutting down on our turnovers and rebounding. We've averaging 15 turnovers per ball game and 15-20 offensive rebounds per ball game."
Crouse said Hart County will throw a lot of athleticism at the 3-9 Madison County squad, adding that his team needs to make the Bulldogs play at the Raiders' pace.
"They're going to be more athletic," he said. "We've got to control the pace and tempo of the game...They're going to play tough man-to-man defense. We've just got to execute and be patient."
Crouse said his team can't let Hart County's defense pressure lead to mistakes.
"It's going to be tough," Crouse said. "They like to trap. We can't let their pressure create turnovers."
Crouse said that while the task is a difficult one, it is within his team's power to compete with their highly ranked foes.
"I told our team that if we play with intensity and with a good attitude, we can compete with anyone in our subregion," he said.

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