Area Sports...

January 24, 2001

Leopards take top-ranked Tigers
In a stunning performance Saturday night, the Banks County Leopards outplayed Commerce both physically and mentally to take a confidence boosting 73-61 win.
"We did all the right things," head coach Mike Ruth said of his team. "Commerce has got a lot of good athletes but we played our game."
Leopard senior Chris Ivey scared fans early in the first quarter, taking a fall underneath his own goal. Seconds later, C. Ivey, holding his right arm, was taken out of the game.
"He went to the doctor and nothing is broken," Ruth said Monday. "All his weight hit on his arm when he hit the floor. The doctor said he could play by Friday for sure."
Banks County will definitely need C. Ivey's scoring potential in its last few crucial games. The Leopards have several tough bouts coming up against Rabun, Union and East Hall.
"They will put some folks on the floor that will bury us," Ruth said. "We will probably be out manned the rest of our schedule. But I love our enthusiasm. The kids are all behind each other right now."
The Leopards will be traveling to Rabun County Friday and Oglethorpe County Tuesday before hosting their final three games at home next week.
If the Tigers didn't have respect for Banks County before Saturday, they certainly do now.
Banks County was able to completly frustrate the Commerce offense. Ruth made the decision to rotate his defense around to different Tiger players to throw off their offense. His move worked, keeping Commerce out of a sound offensive rhythm.
The Tigers' leading scorer and college prospect Michael Collins was held to only 14 points. Collins also fouled out midway through the fourth quarter on one of two charging fouls. The foul drew harsh criticism from Tiger fans, and welcoming cheers from Banks' stands.
Commerce only consistency came behind big postman Twion Shealer. Shealer compiled an impressive 32 points in his team's loss.
"We had some trouble with Twion," Ruth said. "We just don't have a lot of muscle inside. He's like a condo stuck right there in the lane."
As the game opened up Saturday night, Banks and Commerce stayed fairly close to each other. Will Gordon went into the game for the injured C. Ivey, who already had five points.
"Will stepped in and played a heck of a consistent game," Ruth said. "A lot of kids stepped up that had to. We clicked pretty dad gum well."
The game was tied at 14 after the first quarter but the Leopards began to pull ahead in the second. Banks County, which was able to move the ball around well, pushed ahead to a 35-25 halftime lead.
And as the third quarter started, the Leopards saw no reason to relinquish their lead. The Tigers started pressing Banks County aggressively, but the Leopards still managed to increase their lead to 55-44.
In the fourth quarter, the Leopards really began to eat at Commerce's mental composure. The Tigers lost several balls and begin making elementary mistakes. Banks County even frustrated their opponent enough to draw a charge on Collins, setting him on the bench for the rest of the game.
"I saw kids hustling and getting on the floor and going after loose balls," Ruth said. "That's what it's all about."
Mike Ivey led the Leopards scoring attack with 26 points. M. Ivey also nailed five three pointers. Bray Maxwell was also in double digits with 17 points, as was Cody Whitlock, who scored 16 points. Other scorers included: C. Ivey, five; Gordon, four; Casey Murray, three; and Tyler Sims, two.
The Leopards also played on top of their game against Apalachee Friday night.
Banks County grabbed 53 rebounds against Apalachee, helping themselves to a 59-36 subregion victory.
C. Ivey topped the Leopards' scoring attack with 19 points. M. Ivey added 13, C. Whitlock had 12 and Murray put up 11 points.
Corey Sims and Gordon had two points each.
Though Banks County lost 95-60 to East Hall last Tuesday, Ruth said the defeat was a learning experience for the team.
"We were bound and determined that loss was going to help us later down the road," Ruth said. "We looked at some stuff after the East Hall game and made some adjustments. It was like a building block for us."
M. Ivey topped Banks' scoring with 16 points. C. Ivey and C. Whitlock were also in double digits with 14 and 11 points respectively.
Other scorers included: Gordon, eight; Maxwell, four; T. Sims, Ross Oliver and Ryan Loggins, two; and Joseph Whitlock, one point.

Wrestling teams hope to build momentum heading into areas
Wrestling teams from all three Jackson County high schools were scheduled to participate today (Wednesday) in the Tri-County Duals at Winder-Barrow High School. The event features teams from Jackson, Barrow and Walton counties.
Expected to join Jackson County, Jefferson and Commerce in the event were Apalachee, Loganville, Monroe Area, Social Circle and the host Bulldoggs.
The dual meet tournament will be conducted under the eight-team bracket format. Coaches submitted votes for seeding purposes earlier this week, and seeds were determined from those results Tuesday by tournament officials.
The schedule is light for all three local teams next week in preparation for the areas 4-A and 4-AAA tournaments next weekend.
Jefferson hosts Habersham Central Friday in its final dual meet of the season.
Jackson County will travel to Butler High School Friday and Saturday for the Bulldog Duals.
Commerce, the only one of the three teams in action next week, hosts Stephens County.
The Area 4-AAA tournament will be held next Friday and Saturday at Cross Creek High School in Augusta. Other teams in the area include Eastside, Elbert County, Hart County, Loganville, Madison County, Monroe Area, Stephens County and Winder-Barrow.
Jefferson and Commerce will both participate in the Area 4-A tournament next Saturday at Social Circle. The list of opponents includes such teams as the host Redskins, Wesleyan, Buford and Providence.
Last week, Jackson County placed second behind Dacula in East Hall High School's Viking Invitational. Jefferson was fourth, behind Elbert County.
Both the Panthers and Dragons won close dual meets at home last Wednesday, Jefferson by a 40-33 margin over West Hall and Jackson County 33-30 against Elbert County. The Panthers also picked up a lopsided 74-0 win over Cedar Shoals.
For individual wrestling results, see this week's Jackson Herald.

Lady Tigers Hit Stride With Two Big Wins
After winning two big games on the road this past weekend, the Commerce Lady Tigers will host two big games this coming weekend.
Commerce used an at-the-buzzer shot last Friday to beat Providence Christian Academy 67-64, then manhandled Banks County 65-52 at Homer to improve their record to 13-2 (6-1) atop Region 8A.
This Friday, the Lady Tigers will host Wesleyan, a team that beat them 90-32 earlier the season in what was the Lady Tigers' worst game of the season.
"Hopefully, the 'other' Commerce team will show up Friday, and I believe it will," said coach Don Watkins. "Everything that could go wrong did."
On Saturday, the Lady Tigers will host Buford, a team they beat 68-47 Jan. 16.
They were scheduled to take on Rabun Gap Tuesday night and they will travel to Lakeview Academy next Tuesday.
In a game that was nip-and-tuck all the way, senior Monique Diamond had her second game-winner at the buzzer this season.
The Lady Tigers led 11-10 after the first period, trailed 32-26 at the half and entered the final period up 49-48.
Buford tied the game at 64 and had a chance to win the game, but Anita Pittman drew a charge with 4.4 seconds left to give Commerce the ball.
Providence knocked away the in-bounds pass, and with 2.2 seconds left, Commerce got another chance. Diamond tossed the ball in to Shemika Reed, who pitched it back to Diamond. She launched the ball from the corner as the buzzer went off, and the three-point shot gave the Tigers their 12th victory of the year.
Charlene Gaither led the offense with 17 points, followed by Diamond at 15 and Reed at 12. Sheka Wheeler and Lauren Ladd scored eight apiece, Pittman scored five and Crystal Rainwater added two.
Gaither and Reed had seven rebounds apiece, Reed had seven assists and Reed and Wheeler each had three steals.
"It was just a good effort all the way around. I was just pleased at the way they kept battling," said Watkins. As for Diamond's last-second heroics, the coach said "That's what you like for your seniors to do."
After trailing 13-8 at the end of the first quarter and 32-27 at the half, the Lady Tigers outscored the Lady Leopards 38-20 the rest of the way to earn their 13th victory of the year.
Diamond scored 21 to pace a balanced offense. Reed added 14, Wheeler 12, Gaither and Ladd added seven each, Rainwater scored three and Pittman one.
Reed and Wheeler had nine rebounds apiece, Diamond had four steals and Reed had five assists.
"It was right after a tough game Friday night on the road," Watkins pointed out. "We were down by five at the half and they came back and stepped it up a notch. That's just what we want to be doing this time of year."

Lady Raiders look for consistency after erratic weekend play
A team described by their coach as inconsistent this season couldn't have experienced a more erratic weekend.
The Lady Raiders picked up an impressive 63-58 win Friday night at home over subregion foe Franklin County, avenging a 17-point loss earlier in the year to the Lady Lions, but the team came out flat a day later, falling 43-35 to Oconee in Watkinsville.
"We've got to be able to come out and play every night," Madison County girls' head coach Tim Cook said. "We can't pick and choose when we want to play hard."
Cook said he believed his squad "left everything on the court Friday night" but then wasn't ready to play Saturday in their match-up with the Lady Warriors, who Madison County beat 48-43 earlier in the season.
"Friday night we shot the ball well and got them (Franklin) out of their zone and made them play man to man," he said.
But against the Lady Warriors Cook described his squad as "unfocused and flat."
Cook said the squad must keep their motivation level high as they enter the final stretch of the season.
"We've got six games left and it would be easy for us to lose every one of them if we don't come out ready to play," he said. "The girls have to get after each other and push each other."
Another subregion opponent awaits the 15-4 Lady Raider team as they will square off with Elbert County (11-7), who Madison County played January 12. The Lady Raiders downed the border-county foe in a 56-47 overtime win.
"Elbert County is really athletic and plays a good man-to-man defense," Cook said. "We've just got to go out and improve upon what we've won with all year long."
For the rest of this story, see this week's Madison County Journal.

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