Call it drive. Call it willpower. Or call it old-fashioned well-played
But whatever it was helped the Leopards annihilate White County
55-37 in the first round of the region tournament Tuesday night.
The win guarantees Banks County a spot in the state tournament,
which begins Feb. 23 at East Hall. The Leopards also made history
with their win as the first Banks County boys' basketball team
to make back-to-back trips to the state tournament.
The Leopards' next contest in the region tourney will be on Friday
at 5:30 p.m. against the winner of the East Hall and Lumpkin
VS. WHITE COUNTY
The Banks County Leopards could not have played a better game
against White County to clinch a state playoff berth.
"I told our younger guys to give everything for this bunch
of seniors and pick up what the seniors missed," Leopard
head coach Mike Ruth said, referring to his pregame speech to
the players. "I also told the seniors to respond and give
all they had to give."
The Leopards held the Warriors to only 18 first-half points and
kept White County scoreless for nearly nine minutes during the
"Our defense was just great," Ruth said. "We knew
we could shut them down if were aggressive enough defensively.
In the first half, we couldn't do anything wrong."
Banks County fell behind 7-2 early in the game but would go on
a 17-0 run before White scored again.
The Leopards fouled White County only six times in the first
half, compared to the Warriors' 10.
In the third quarter Banks County outscored their opponent 13-4.
White County's only points came off a rare goal-tending call
and a controversial technical, both called against Chris Ivey.
"We got a little timid in the third quarter, but it's my
fault because I told them to," Ruth said.
White County went on to outscore the Leopards 15-12 in the final
quarter, not enough to overcome Banks' lead.
"I cried," Ruth said referring to his postgame speech
in the locker room. "I just told them they played their
The Leopards hit 16 of 28 free throws in the contest Tuesday
Mike Ivey, who suffered a severe ankle injury less than two weeks
ago, led Banks' scoring with 26 points. M. Ivey also had two
three-pointers and was eight for 10 from the line.
C. Ivey put 12 points on the board as the Leopards' only other
scorer in double digits.
Other scorers included: Cody Whitlock, six; Casey Murray, four;
Will Gordon, three; and Bray Maxwell and Joseph Whitlock, two.
White County's Bryan Teague led his team's scoring effort with
VS. DAWSON COUNTY
A last-second shot by sophomore Dustin Bonds set the Leopards
into third place in the subregion Friday night and snapped a
five-game losing streak.
After maintaining a small lead over Dawson County for the first
three quarters of play, the Leopards fell slightly behind the
Tigers late in the fourth quarter. But with less than a minute
to play, Maxwell hit Gordon, who sank a shot to tie the game
On Dawson's next possession, C. Whitlock deflected a pass picked
up by C. Ivey. Ivey was fouled, but missed his one-and-one shot
from the line.
Dawson County grabbed the rebound and drove down court. The Leopards
got the ball back on a walking call and moved the ball around
the perimeter before calling a time out with 11 seconds left.
As play started back up, Dawson County called a time out. Then,
Banks County inbounded the ball and Bonds found his way down
the center of the paint and laid the ball in to give the Leopards
a 63-61 lead with four seconds on the clock.
Bonds was fouled on the play and hit his free throw to give Banks
a 64-61 lead.
Dawson County took the ball as C. Whitlock stepped up to steal
a pass down court. After a brief confusion between the officials
and the clock operator, Banks inbounded the ball to Gordon, who
Gordon hit the second half of his free throws to put the Leopards
ahead 65-61 to give Banks County the win.
The Leopards' victory set them at third place in the subregion
and capped off a 13-10 regular season.
C. Ivey led the scoring for Banks County with 22 points and four
threepointers, all of which came in the first half.
Gordon topped his season-high singl- game point total with 16
points. C. Whitlock was also in double digits with 11.
Also scoring were: M. Ivey and Bonds, five; J. Whitlock, Murray
and Tyler Sims, two points.
grapplers enjoy best finish ever in state tournament
The Jackson County Panther wrestling team recorded its best finish
ever in a state tournament last week, finishing third in the
2001 Class AAA state championship. Lovett won the event with
176 points, followed by North Forsyth at 126.
Jackson County trailed North Forsyth by only six points in the
final tally. Lovett fielded 14 wrestlers in the tournament and
North Forsyth 13, while Jackson County was not represented in
three of the 14 weight classes.
Going into Saturday morning's critical semifinal round, Lovett
had established the early lead with 86 points, but North Forsyth
(75) and Jackson County (59.5) were still very much in the hunt.
The Panthers featured five wrestlers in the semifinals, while
both teams ahead of them had six.
The Lions pulled away from the pack in the semis, winning four
of their six matches. Jackson County took three of five, while
North Forsyth won only two of six.
Jason Powers was the only Panther to make it all the way through
his bracket, winning the 103-pound individual state title. Powers
compiled a 46-2 record on the season, and defeated North Forsyth's
Justin Andress in the semifinals and Eastside's Anthony DiCarlo
in the finals to avenge his two season losses.
Rusty Colley entered the 125-pound final against Fannin County's
Travis Summers whom he'd already beaten this season
with a 47-0 record, but fell 6-2 in what observers called a great
match. Summers also won a state title last year, in Class AA
Jared Herrington also made the final round, at 135, and lost
a painfully close 2-1 decision to Lovett's Andrew Allman.
Matt Potts was third at 130, while Elbert County's JoDanyae Hall,
whom Potts beat in last week's area tournament, earned the gold
medal in the class.
Chris Kubiak lost to Lovett's Daniel Allman, a former state runner-up,
in the semifinals at 145, but recovered to take fifth.
Travis Ingram and Brian Gower were sixth at 160 and 275 respectively.
Ingram lost to eventual champion Rory O'Day from Lovett in the
quarterfinals, and Gower to runner-up Brandon Wilkes of Loganville
in the semifinals.
Also participating in the state tournament for the Panthers were
Jonathan Sanders, Casey Berryman, Michael Henderson and Adam
Ledbetter. Three of the four lost to eventual medal winners.
Henderson fell victim to a poor draw in the brackets, losing
to 189-pound runner-up Matt McCullers of Gilmer County in the
The Panthers enjoyed a rebound of sorts in the event, surpassing
area champion Loganville by more than 35 team points.
Jackson County rang up 22 wins on the year against only one loss.
The team also had one regular season tournament championship,
four runner-up finishes and one fifth.
All but one starter (Henderson) will return for the Panthers
win state wrestling title
In one of the most competitive state tournaments in recent memory,
the Jefferson Dragons edged Bremen and McIntosh County Academy
to claim the 2001 State Class A wrestling championship last weekend
at Adairsville High School.
Jefferson accomplished the feat even though they were without
a representative in the 171-pound weight class.
Not since the 1996 Class AAA tournament in which the top
three teams finished only 10 points apart has a state event
been so close between the top three participants. A year earlier,
the Dragons edged Armuchee by only one-half point in Class A.
Jefferson amassed 187.5 points in this year's event, with Bremen
at 172.5 and McIntosh only one-half point out of second at 172.
Adding to the incredible level of competition was the fact that
Brookstone and Walker both finished with more than 140 points
"It's just been wonderful," head coach Doug Thurmond
said of the days following the tournament win. "If it wasn't
so close, it wouldn't be so neat. We were biting our fingernails
and our stomachs were in knots, but we enjoyed it."
In fact, the fingernail biting continued until the final matches,
with the outcome not determined until Hunter Garner repeated
as 140-pound state champion in the final round. By that time,
only seven individual matches remained in the entire tournament.
Jefferson trailed both McIntosh and Brookstone going into the
semifinals, but managed to push five wrestlers through the point-heavy
round to take a 1.5-point lead. Jeremiah Wilson recovered from
a 4-1 deficit late in his match to win 7-4, and Blake Gooch executed
a punishing throw in overtime to win 4-2.
Bremen had a huge edge in the consolations, with several Blue
Devil wrestlers moving through a number of rounds to earn team
points. Bremen was poised to take over the lead in the consolation
finals, but Jefferson earned big wins over Bremen opponents from
Corey Mack at 103 and Jason Fields at 125 to earn third- and
fifth-place medals and put Bremen on its heels. The Dragons also
got help from rival Commerce in the round, as Johnathan Beasley
earned a win over a Bremen opponent at 112 and Lee Sorrow won
in overtime against a Blue Devil.
In the finals, Jefferson needed to win three of five to seal
the victory. Gooch wrestled what may have been the best match
of his career to win at 130, and the effort was helped somewhat
when McIntosh's Antoine Armstrong lost at 135. That set the stage
for Garner's title-clinching win.
Jeremy Smith put the icing on the cake at 152, downing defending
state champion Sterling Sebek of Brookstone to win the gold.
Prior to the loss, Sebek had compiled a 38-0 record on the season.
Jeremiah Wilson and Brendon Kemp finished second at 119 and 215,
respectively, and Mack and Nathaniel Wilson were third. Fields
Also contributing to the team win were Scott Nix, Daniel Love,
David Parks, Cory Hill and Matt Underwood.
"We were real pleased," Thurmond said of his team's
performance. "There were only five starters back from last
year, so a lot of our young guys really had to pick it up. A
lot of our kids ended up beating area champions from other areas
to help us win. It was a total team effort."
Though the concept of being state champs likely still hasn't
completely sunk in, the Dragons can look ahead to next year and
set their hopes high as well. Of their 13 state wrestlers, only
Hill and Parks are seniors.
Jefferson has previously won state wrestling championships in
1983, '84, '89 and '95.
5 Tiger Wrestlers Medal
While cross-county rival Jefferson won the Class A State Wrestling
Tournament last weekend at Adairsville, the Tigers finished seventh
and had five medal winners.
The Dragons won with 187.5 points. Bremen was second with 172.5,
followed by McIntosh Academy with 171, Brookstone with 147, Walker
County with 144, Metter with 125 and the Tigers with 85 points.
There were 24 teams in the tournament.
Blake Milford was high man for the Tigers, winning second place
at 125 pounds. Lee Sorrow saw his undefeated streak end in the
semifinal round and placed third at 145 pounds. Justin David
took fifth place at 275, and Jonathan Beasley and Taylor Massey
placed sixth at 112 and 189 respectively.
Milford opened with a second-period pin of his Treutlen County
opponent in the first round, then won 19-3 in the second round
over a wrestler from Bremen. In the semifinal round, he got a
13-5 decision over a Metter wrestler before falling 10-2 to a
wrestler from Walker County.
Sorrow started out with a 16-0 first-round win over a Heard County
opponent and in the second round pinned his opponent from Treutlen
County in the second period.
That put Sorrow up against Brookstone's W. Bickerstaff in the
semifinal round, and Bickerstaff managed a 7-3 decision.
Sorrow pinned a wrestler from McIntosh Academy in the consolation
finals, then beat a Bremen wrestler 12-6 in the medal round.
David won by a first-period pin in his opening round but got
pinned in the first period of the second round. In the consolation
rounds, David won his first match with a second-period pin and
repeated the feat in the second round. He got pinned in the semifinals
in the first period, then in the medal round pinned his opponent
to earn fifth place.
Beasley won 5-3 in the first round, then 12-1 in the second.
He was pinned in the semifinal round, lost 13-9 in the consolation
semifinal round and fell 12-2 in the medal round.
Massey won by a first-period pin in the opening round, lost 6-1
in round two, won with a second-period pin in the second consolation
round, lost 9-2 in the consolation semifinals and fell 5-4 in
the medal round.
Madison County topples
Loganville; locks up first state tourney berth since 1988
The Madison County girls' basketball team soundly defeated Loganville
61-32 in Hartwell Tuesday night, earning the Lady Raiders' first
state tournament appearance since 1988.
The win put Madison County in the Region 8-AAA semifinals against
the winner of the Elbert/Jackson County game scheduled for Wednesday.
The Lady Raiders will hit the court again at 7 p.m. Friday at
Loganville. If Madison County wins Friday, the squad will play
again at Loganville in the region championship Saturday night
at 7 p.m.
The top four teams from the region advance to the state tournament.
"It (making the state tournament) was one of our goals this
year," said Lady Raider head coach Tim Cook. "And we
wanted to put ourselves in position to win the region tournament.
Now we're one game away from playing for it (the region championship)....I'm
really proud of the girls."
Cook's 21-5 squad opened the game with some cold shooting. But
the Lady Raiders' defense was stifling. Madison County's full-court
pressure forced Loganville into numerous turnovers and the Lady
Raiders, who were strong on the offensive boards all night, claimed
a 13-4 lead after one quarter.
"We didn't shoot the ball well in the first half,"
said Cook. "We came out tight, but once we got a lead the
Madison County took a double-digit lead, 18-8, at the 5:15 mark
in the second quarter when Brittney Escoe hit a bucket and a
free throw after a foul.
The Lady Raiders never let the Lady Red Devils back into the
contest. Escoe nailed a three-pointer shortly before intermission
and Madison County carried a 33-17 lead into the locker room.
After a Loganville basket to open the third quarter, Renee Mathews
hit a basket and free throw to spark a 7-0 run that put Madison
County up 40-19. The Lady Raiders opened the fourth quarter with
a 46-13 lead. And Sheena Mason made string music twice from deep
range to extend the lead early in the period.
Cook said Ashley Myers was a key player in the Tuesday night
"Ashley continues to get better," said Cook. "She's
getting more aggressive offensively taking the ball to the hole.
She's one of our biggest keys to success."
Myers finished the night with 14 points. Escoe had 13. Bellamy
chipped in 10 and Mason tallied eight.
After the game, Cook emphasized that the fan support has been
great for his team the past few games. Another large crowd showed
up in Hartwell to support Madison County Tuesday.
"The girls have talked about it (the fan support),"
said Cook. "The fans have helped."
FRIDAY VS. JACKSON COUNTY
The Madison County girls' basketball squad made the Lady Panthers
their Friday night road kill, toppling the Jackson County team
63-46 in Jefferson.
Senior Tera Bellemy led the offensive assault in the Madison
County win, tallying 19 points in the regular season finale.
Also registering in double figures in the win were Ashley Myers,
who finished with 14, and Brittney Escoe, who had 11.
After a shaky first half, the Lady Raiders exploded in the third
quarter, outscoring Jackson County 21-4 to spark them to a convincing
The Lady Raiders were tied with Jackson County at 30 entering
the second half and then led 33-32 after the first two minutes
of third-quarter play, but Ashley Myers soon went on an offensive
tear, scoring eight consecutive points over the next two minutes
to give the Lady Raiders a 41-32 edge. Madison County then continued
the scoring barrage, going on a 10-2 run to close the quarter
out, pushing the Lady Raiders' lead to 51-34.
Madison County led by as much as 23 points during the final period
of play in collecting their 20th win of the year.
The first half didn't foreshadow the Lady Raiders' second half
After taking a 14-5 edge in the first quarter, Madison County
started to stumble, as the Lady Panthers outscored them 10-0
over the next two minutes to claim a 15-14 lead early in the
Madison County looked to regain the momentum they had during
the first quarter as they eased themselves out to a 23-18 lead
with five minutes remaining before intermission, but Jackson
County answered right back, outscoring the Lady Raiders 13-7
to close the half out.