Area Sports...

January 17, 2001

Banks 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 season.
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 said.
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 met.

Area basketball 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.

Pinning Panthers 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 four.
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.
The Panthers continued their impressive dual meet performance against Area 4-AAA teams last week with a 56-11 drubbing of the Eastside Eagles.
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 second.
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 people open."
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 lead.
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.
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 win.
"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 away.
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 rivalry-filled weekend
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 of basketball."
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.
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 Journal.

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