to tackle tough subregion foes
The remainder of the basketball season will be a critical time
for Banks County.
Of the Leopards' and Lady Leopards' last eight games, half will
be against subregion opponents. The outcome of those four subregion
contests will help determine Banks' standing in postseason play.
The Lady Leopards will crank up the last part of the schedule
against subregion foe Apalachee Friday night in Winder.
In their first outing, Banks County overwhelmed Apalachee 51-25.
Saturday, the Lady Leopards are slated to host Commerce. The
Lady Tigers edged Banks County 70-61 in overtime earlier this
The Lady Leopards will return to subregion play Tuesday evening,
hosting Greater Atlanta Christian. The Lady Spartans are ranked
number one in the state in Class AA by the Atlanta Tipoff Club.
The Leopards will be heading into a vital part of their subregion
schedule without their leading scorer and post man.
Senior Victor Bonds, who was averaging 17.6 points per game,
was removed from the team for academic reasons.
Without Bonds in the post, pressure will be put on Banks' outside
shooting, which hasn't been as strong as the Leopards would like
so far this year.
"We've got to regroup right now," head coach Mike Ruth
The Leopards will be taking on Apalachee Friday, who they barely
edged 77-70 the last time they faced them.
On Saturday, Banks County is hosting Commerce. The Tigers are
ranked sixth in Class A in the state by the Atlanta Tipoff Club.
Banks County will host 11th-ranked GAC Tuesday. The Leopards
lost 77-45 amid controversial officiating the last time the teams
teams at or near the top in region standings
BASKETBALL teams from Jefferson and Jackson County may have experienced
a difficult night Tuesday, but all four teams have succeeded
in placing themselves firmly in the midst of their respective
region and subregion races.
At Jackson County, Annette Watts' girls fell in a cross-region
contest at 58-46 at Franklin County, but earlier wins over subregion
foes Eastside, Loganville and Winder-Barrow have the Lady Panthers
tied for the south subregion lead at 3-0, alongside this Friday's
adversary, Monroe Area.
For Ron Garren's boys, last week's home loss to Winder-Barrow
dropped them to third in the subregion. Eastside, whose sole
subregion loss was to the Panthers, leads the way.
Across town at Jefferson, the situation is much the same, though
the proverbial shoe is on the other foot.
Bolling DuBose's boys have somehow managed to work through the
loss of one starter after another from last year's team to go
6-1 in the first half of region play. Wesleyan handed Jefferson
their first region loss Tuesday night. Friday will also be a
big night for the Dragons, as second-place Lakeview comes calling.
The Lady Dragons have coach Kevin Jacobs in the hunt for the
region title as well. Prior to Tuesday's loss at Wesleyan, Jefferson
was 5-1 and just behind the Lady Wolves in second.
Tuesday's loss, combined with Commerce's win at Buford, moved
the Lady Tigers up one notch into second, and dropped Jefferson
to third. Friday's contest with Lakeview is also big in the girls'
race, as the Lady Lions could move to within a single game of
third place, and possibly second if Commerce also loses at Providence.
Region 8-A representatives chose not to subdivide at their preseason
meeting, meaning all region games count for playoff seeding purposes.
In Region 8-AAA, only subregion records will count toward seeding.
Games against teams in the opposing subregion will not count
unless a tie-breaker is needed.
prowl in Patriot
After playing second fiddle in its last three tournaments, the
Jackson County wrestling team marched on Lexington Saturday and
came away with the Patriot Classic's championship trophy.
Jackson County edged crosstown rival Jefferson by two and one-half
points in team scoring, and area foe Loganville by 15 and one-half.
Host Oglethorpe County tied with Dawson County for fourth, more
than 70 points off the pace.
Two Panthers Jason Powers and Jared Herrington claimed
gold medals in the tournament, and Matt Potts, Chris Kubiak,
Travis Ingram and Casey Berryman all finished second.
Not surprisingly, Jackson County led the 12 teams in the event
with six wrestlers in the finals. Their success in the semifinal
round was a major factor in the final outcome. Jefferson pushed
five wrestlers through the crucial semifinal round, and Loganville
Another factor in the win was the strong performance of several
Panther wrestlers in the consolation rounds.
Unseeded Chris Kinsey overcame a loss in the 112-pound quarterfinals
to finish fourth, Jonathan Sanders won twice after losing in
the semifinals to take third at 140 and both Adam Ledbetter and
Brian Gower repeated Sanders' feat in their own wieght classes.
Andrew Beauchamp also lost in his quarterfinal match, but recovered
to win one in the consolations to earn team points. Lee Reece
and Michael Henderson both picked up points by winning matches
in the quarterfinals.
Jackson County was without Rusty Colley - perhaps their most
dominant wrestler - in the tournament due to illness. Head coach
Phil Thurmond expects Colley to return to action this week.
AREA DUAL WIN
The Panthers continued their impressive dual meet performance
against Area 4-AAA teams last week with a 56-11 drubbing of the
Powers, Kubiak, Berryman and Kyle Davis all pinned their opponents,
and both Herrington and Gower took forfeit wins. Beauchamp, Colley,
Potts, Ledbetter and Ingram each won by decision.
In JV action, Jacob Griffith, Jonathan Sanders, Josh Retkovsky
and Daniel Farmer all won.
JV team fourth
Junior varsity Panther wrestlers finished fourth in team points
in the Wildcat JV tournament last weekend at Duluth. Seth Potts
took the gold at 140 pounds for the Panthers' sole championship
of the tournament. Kyle Davis also made the finals at 189, finishing
Adam Nichols and Chris Autry were third at 275 and 119, respectively.
Mancell Allen (125), Josh Anglin (171) and Daniel Farmer (215)
finished fourth in their classes.
Massey, Bearden Boost
Tigers Over Wesleyan
The Commerce Tigers established themselves as one of the top
basketball teams in Region 8A when they beat Wesleyan last week,
but the pecking order will be more clearly established after
this Tuesday's (Jan. 16) game with the Buford Wolves. Details
of that game were not available until after deadline.
Commerce improved its record to 9-1 last week, 4-1 in the region,
with victories over Wesleyan Jan. 9, 80-76; Lakeview Academy
Jan. 12, 61-42; and Tallulah Falls Jan. 13, 79-65.
At Wesleyan last Tuesday, the Tigers trailed 18-16 after the
first quarter, but built a commanding 46-31 lead during the second
period. Wesleyan closed the gap to 11 at 66-55 after three periods,
but could not catch the Tigers.
Commerce got a surge in offense from guard Wes Massey, who hit
four of seven three-pointers and led the Tigers with 23 points.
Michael Collins followed with 22, Brody Bearden scored 13 and
Twion Shealer added a dozen as four Tigers got into double figures.
"We got a really big lift from Wes Massey and Brody came
off the bench and stepped up for us," Coach Rex Gregg said.
"They tried to defend Mike and did a great job, but they
put two people on him wherever he went, and that's going to leave
Also scoring were Casey Gary, seven, and Rob Brown, three.
The rebounding was also spread out, with Massey grabbing nine
boards and Bearden, Collins and Gary pulling down eight apiece.
Massey had five assists and Gary six.
Commerce was up by 16 points with four minutes to go, but trouble
shooting foul shots and a lot of fouls called on Commerce
by the referees let Wesleyan back in the game.
For a quarter, it looked as though the Tigers might be in trouble.
Nothing they put up went in, and Lakeview Academy built a 10-8
It was to be short-lived, as the Commerce offense finally warmed
up. The Tigers led 25-18 at the half and 44-31 after three periods.
Collins paced the offense with 27 points and dominated the boards
with 16 rebounds. Shealer added 10 points, Massey and Vonté
Reed scored seven each, Gary put in four, and Bearden and Scott
White added three apiece.
"They came out and played something they hadn't played all
year, man-to-man, and put on a lot of pressure," Gregg said.
"We don't play a great man-to-man game."
But the Tigers played a good defense.
"Vonté did a great job on Jason Clark, who was average
18 points, holding him to three," Gregg said.
VS. TALLULAH FALLS
Tiger fans had to be a little nervous during the first half,
as Commerce led 19-13 after one period and trailed 35-33 at the
half. But Commerce came on strong in the fourth period, outscoring
Tallulah Falls 29-12, to go up 62-47, then coasted in for the
"We were kind of ragged and didn't play very well,"
Gregg admitted. "And they shot the lights out in the first
half with seven threes."
But the Tigers used a 17-0 run in the third quarter to put the
game out of reach and Shealer, who has experienced foul trouble
in most games, got in more minutes as the Tigers put the game
Collins racked up 33 points and had 14 rebounds, while Shealer
scored 17 and pulled down 16 rebounds as the Tigers again dominated
the boards. Gary scored 10 points and had seven rebounds.
Bearden added six points, Dustin Martin scored four, and Massey,
Reed and Brown contributed three apiece.
Lady Raiders set for
Call it rivalry weekend.
Though the Lady Raiders have gotten back on track from their
Jan. 5 loss to top-ranked Hart County with four straight wins,
a tough pair of battles with traditional foes-Franklin and Oconee-
threatens the winning ways of the 14-3 outfit this weekend.
"We've got a really big week...We're just going to try to
take them one at a time," head coach Tim Cook said.
The Lady Raiders look to settle a score this Friday against Franklin
County as they will lock up with the squad that dealt them their
first loss of the season. The Lady Loins downed Madison County
55-38 on November 20.
The team will then hit the road Saturday to take on Oconee County,
which the Lady Raiders disposed of 48-43 on Dec. 21.
Cook said his squad is struggling to find consistency.
"We've played in spurts," he said. "We've not
played four quarters well yet..."We need an intense 32 minutes
The Lady Raiders have had to contend with the absence of point
guard Brittney Escoe during the past two games. Cook said the
senior irritated a shoulder injury over the Christmas holidays
which had been bothering her all year. Cook said Escoe should
be back in the next couple of weeks.
But the head coach praised the recent play of Tera Bellamy, who
tallied a combined 34 points over the weekend, and Heather Jones.
Cook said both have done a good job getting points on the board
during Escoe's absence.
And points they will need this weekend.
The contest with Franklin has major implications for second place
in the 8-AAA North subregion as Cook said that his squad will
be clashing with a traditional rival that has hit a hot streak.
"Well, it's always been a big rivalry and they've been playing
really well...They beat Elbert pretty well, and beat Stephens
and Winder. It's a big test for us-an important ball game...We're
going to have to play better than we have all year to be able
to beat them."
But according to Cook, his squad will be prepared for the Lady
Lion test, a matchup that has a bit of a revenge factor.
"Yes, my girls will be ready to play this game," he
said. "After the girls came in the locker room after the
loss to Franklin, several of them said, 'That was embarrassing.'
I hope they remember it and I'll be sure to remind them of that-that
loss woke us up."
As for the Oconee contest, Cook said the Lady Raiders-Lady Warriors
series always seems to present a barn-burner, no matter what
the teams' records are.
"Every time we play, no matter how good or bad either team
is, it's always a close ball game," he said. "It (the
Oconee game) has nothing to do with the subregion, but it has
to do with pride and it's a rivalry."
Cook added, ""Ron Dickins has done a great job since
he's been there...His kids play hard. It's a good rivalry between
the two schools...The game draws a good gate."
Cook's squad put three more notches in the win column this past
week, downing Elbert County 56-47 Friday, Athens Christian 70-48
Saturday and then Stephens County 55-28 Tuesday.
TUESDAY VS. STEPHENS COUNTY
The girls whipped a struggling Stephens County team this past
Tuesday night, 55-28. Stephens County took a 2-1 lead early in
the game, but it would be their last advantage.
The Lady Raiders went on a run lasting the rest of the first
quarter and for most of the second. Aiyana Hunter sparked Madison
County early, hitting six free throws. Sheena Mason also hit
a jumper with five seconds left in the first quarter to give
the Lady Raiders a 12-2 lead after eight minutes of play. The
second quarter turned into the "Tera Bellamy Show"
as she rolled off eight of the team's 14 points. The Lady Raiders
went up 20-2 with 3:30 left and the team ended the quarter hitting
two jumpers and two foul shots to take a 26-6 lead into the half.
For the rest of this story, see this week's Madison County