Area Sports...

February 14, 2001

Going to state!
Call it drive. Call it willpower. Or call it old-fashioned well-played basketball.
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 County game.
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 half.
"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 hearts out."
The Leopards hit 16 of 28 free throws in the contest Tuesday night.
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 11 points.
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 at 61-61.
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 was fouled.
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.



Panther 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 at 112.
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 opening round.
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 next year.

Dragons 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 each.
"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 finished fifth.
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 At State
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 girls relaxed."
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 win.
"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 17-point win.
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 dominance.
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 second quarter.
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.


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