Area Sports...

February 28, 2001

Banks to host Union County
After falling to a tough Lumpkin County team last week, the Banks County soccer Leopards and Lady Leopards will look to rebound against Union County next week.
Banks County was scheduled to take on the Panthers Friday night. However, since Union County's boys' and girls' teams are in the state playoffs, the game was canceled.
Instead, Union County will come to Homer Tuesday for a 5 p.m. match in Banks' season opener.
"I look for it to be a tough match," boys' head coach Skip Johnston said. "I hope that with a week of practice we will be ready to perform better than we did last week. Hopefully, we will play well and improve on some things."
Lady Leopards head coach Mike Brownlee said he also hopes his team will use this week's practice to improve upon its performance.
"We've got to get better at controlling the ball," Brownlee said. "I'm glad we'll have a little more time to get ready."
Brownlee added that several of his players are battling sickness this week, but he expects them to be well by Tuesday.
The Lady Leopards were downed by Lumpkin County last Friday evening.
"We have a good defense but we struggled offensively," Brownlee said. "I wish we would've scored a goal."
The Lady Leopards, down 2-0 at the half, gave up two quick goals early in the second half to shift the momentum in Lumpkin's favor. The Indians went on to score two more to take a 6-0 victory.
"In the last part of the second half, we did real well," Brownlee said.
The Leopards also fell to Lumpkin County Friday.
"Lumpkin has got a great team and there's a reason they're ranked near the top," Johnston said. "I was disappointed in the way we played. They grabbed some early momentum and we couldn't rebound and get in the game."



Panther girls, both Jefferson teams advance to state basketball tournaments
IT'S NOT every year that an area basketball team qualifies for the second round of the state tournament ­ otherwise known as the Sweet 16 ­ but it's rarer still for five area teams to accomplish the feat.
Eight of 10 teams in the Mainstreet Newspapers coverage area earned state berths by finishing among the top four in their respective areas, and five of those won their opening-round matchups last weekend.
Area girls teams seem to have the advantage over their male counterparts, as all but one girls' team in the coverage area are still alive.
Jefferson is the lone boys' team to make the second round.
AAA SWEET 16 MATCHUPS

Jackson County's girls will join the Lady Raiders of Madison County Thursday in the Cobb Civic Center for the second round of the Class AAA girls' tournament.
Madison County faces Westminster at 5:30 p.m., and the Lady Panthers follow at 7 p.m., when they take on Region 7 third seed South Forsyth.
Region 8 teams Hart County and Franklin County joined Jackson and Madison in a first-round sweep of teams from Region 6.
Three of four Region 7 teams ­ Gainesville, Pickens County and South Forsyth ­ reached the Sweet 16.
If Jackson County and Franklin County both win Thursday, they would play Saturday at 7 p.m. The Lady Panthers lost to the top-seeded Lady Lions twice during the regular season, by an average margin of only 8.5 points.
Hart and Madison would face off Saturday at 4 p.m. if both win Thursday. Hart County downed Madison twice in the regular season, once after trailing by 10 in the fourth period.
CLASS A GAMES
The Lady Tigers of Commerce will head farther up I-75 along with both teams from Jefferson, for second- and third-round Class A action at Floyd College in Rome.
Jefferson and Commerce could find themselves meeting for the fourth time this season. Jefferson meets Bowdon Friday at 5:30 p.m., at the conclusion of the 4 p.m. matchup between Commerce and Athens Academy. The winners will face one another Saturday at 4 p.m.
The Dragon boys face perhaps the toughest road of any of the area teams. After a close call in the opening round game against Galloway, Jefferson must get past the ranked Southwest Atlanta Christian Warriors Friday at 8:30 p.m., then defeat another highly ranked team in Whitefield Academy Saturday in order to stay alive.
Teams that survive this weekend will move on to Macon next week for the all-classification Final Four.
Boys' Class A action begins Monday in Macon. The girls follow next Wednesday, and Class AAA girls are on tap for next Thursday.
Boys' state championship games will be held next Friday, and girls' title games Saturday.
For tournament brackets and more details on first-round games, see this week's Jackson Herald.

Sweet Sixteen: Lady Tigers Advance, Play Spartans Thursday
They were one of 32 teams. Now they're one of 16, and by the end of the weekend, the Commerce Lady Tigers hope to be one of the four remaining Class A teams left in the state girls' basketball tournament.
That is a tall order.
It begins Friday night, when the Lady Tigers, 52-32 winners last Saturday over Gordon Lee in the opening round, face Athens Academy, a team they beat 52-43 Dec. 21. Should they prevail Friday, odds are that they'd face the Jefferson Lady Dragons Saturday for the right to advance to the final four. The Lady Dragons have won two of three games with Commerce this season.
Tiger fans might expect the Lady Tigers to easily dispose of Athens Academy, since they did it in December, but Coach Don Watkins warns that the Lady Spartans are a different team now.
"They were without their starting point guard, Elizabeth Guest," Watkins pointed out. "She's back, and she's been playing well."
In the last contest, senior forward Cynthia Whitehead scored 28 points against the Tigers. Another player to watch is LeeAnn Boerma, who Watkins says is a threat from three-point range.
"Based on what I've seen, they've gotten a lot better since we played them. They're much better; hopefully, we are too," said Watkins.
The Lady Tigers have played better recently, says Watkins, pointing to the past two Saturdays dating back to the consolation game of the 8-A tournament.
"We've had a lot of good defense and just a lot of hustle. We've played good team basketball and good defense, which has created some offense," he stated.
All four 8-A teams advanced into the second round of the tournament. Jefferson beat Bremen 75-61, Providence, the 8-A fourth seed, destroyed the 6-A top seed, Trion, 67-42, and 8-A top seed Wesleyan rolled over Temple like an SUV over a possum, 79-25.
"I think that speaks well for our region," Watkins commented.
GORDON LEE GAME
The Lady Tigers were just too quick for Gordon Lee. Watkins saw that in the film prior to the matchup with the 6-A second seed.
"You look at the video, but sometimes you can't be sure, but I felt all week long that we had an advantage as far as quickness was concerned."
Indeed, had the Lady Tigers been able to make lay-ups early, they'd have blown Gordon Lee away by the end of the first quarter. A number of steals resulted in layups ­ that the Lady Tigers wound up missing.
Late in the first quarter, the score was tied at nine, but then the Lady Tigers put on a 19-4 run that propelled them to a 28-13 half-time lead, a margin that was not seriously threatened the rest of the way.
Shemika Reed scored 19 points to pace the offense. Charlene Gaither added 10 points and had four assists, Sheka Wheeler scored nine and had seven rebounds, while Monique Diamond scored eight points, most of them off layups after her five steals. Lauren Ladd added six points as seniors accounted for all the scoring.
The win put the Lady Tigers' record at 22-5, its best since a 25-3 record in 1989 that took them to the final four. This group of seniors also made the Sweet 16 in 1999.
"Hopefully, the experience of being there in 1999 will help us," said Watkins. "But it's difficult in the state tournament. You've got to play your best and you've got to have luck ­ have the ball bounce your way. We're just glad we're one of the 16 teams still playing."


Lady Raiders advance to second round of state tourney
March madness is in the air for the girls' basketball squad for the first time in over a decade.
And Madison County looks to be going into the unfamilar territory of the state tournament full speed ahead.
The Lady Raiders put to rest the bitter memories of last week's disappointing region championship loss and advanced to the sweet 16 of the AAA state tournament Saturday night, shellacking Haralson County and their slow-down attack 47-30 in Jackson County.
But while the Lady Raiders administered the knockout blow to their first-round opponent, their second-round state tournament foe promises to be swifter of foot.
Head coach Tim Cook said the team's date with the Westminster Lady Wilcats pits Madison County against a fast-paced attack that is identical to the Lady Raiders'. The two up-tempo teams will square off Thursday night at Cobb (County) Civic Center at 5:30 p.m. with a trip to the elite eight of the AAA state tournament at stake.
"They play the same style of ball we do-pushing the ball up the floor, full court pressure and man-to-man defense," Cook said. "They've got a good athletic post player. She can rebound the ball and then go coast to coast. We have to keep her under control."
Cook pointed out that while the 22-3 Region 5-AAA Lady Wildcats sport solid players in both the front and back court, he feels that his team will be able to match up.
"Their guards are about the same size as ours and have some speed, but I think we probably shoot better," he said. "They've got some tall post players...But I think our post players are more physical."
The head coach said his squad might also be the more conditioned club due to the fact that Madison County has played stiffer competition.
"In talking to people, they've said most of their (Westminster's) games have been over after a quarter, which means their starters have been on the bench most of the second half. They might not be used to going 32 min-
utes .... I know that we can go 32 minutes and even into overtime and be in shape."
The winner of the contest faces the Hart County-Gainesville winner Saturday.
If Madison County were to prevail Thursday night, it could set up some interesting match-ups with both the Lady Bulldogs or Lady Elephants.
"The girls were disappointed that they didn't get to play Hart in the region tournament...they felt they could beat them," he said.
Cook added that playing Gainesville would pit them against what he said was the best player in the state in all classifications, freshman Tasha Humphries.
However, Cook said his concerns are solely on what is at hand now.
"We've got to focus on Westminster," he said.
And focus is something the coach said he believes his team will have heading into their contest in Cobb County.
"I thoujght we had a reall good practice (Monday) and I think our focus now is better than it was before we played Haralson County."
SATURDAY VS. HARALSON COUNTY
"Slow and steady" might win the race in the fables, but it was the Lady Raiders fast-paced tempo that prevailed against the Haralson County lead-footed attack Friday night.
Madison County exploded in the fourth quarter of the opening round contest against the Rebelettes, outscoring them 15-4 over the final eight minutes to claim the 17-point win.
Cook said his squad simply took their opponents out of the game and wore down the slow-paced Haralson County team in the second half.
"We were hoping that if we kept tightening the pressure that they would wear down in the second half and that's just what happened," he said. "In the second half we just extended the pressure."
Brittany Escoe who became the most unlikely of heros in the contest because of a serious ankle injury last week, rose to the occasion in the second half, tallying all 11 of points on the night in the third and fourth quarter.
Cook said the senior sharp shooter simply found her rhythm after halftime.
"She had only practiced a day before the Haralson contest, was out of rhythm in the first half. and I told her in the locker room, 'it's your time to step it up' and she did in the second half and she responded well.....she lit it up."
Cook said that one of the keys to the victory was pushing the Rebelettes into a hole.
"With the style of ball they play, you have to be even with the other team or ahead," he said. "You can't be behind and hold the ball...They did a good job of keeping it close in the first half."
Up 13-4 in the first quarter, Haralson narrowed the gap by going on a 9-1 run to cut the lead to a single point, 14-13.
The Rebelettes then closed the half with an 8-4 spurt, trailing 22-21 at intermission. Haralson then kept things close in the third quarter, trailing by only a basket with 1:45 left in the period, before Madison County took a six-point edge heading into the final period play.
But Haralson ran out of fuel in the fourth quarter and the Lady Raiders took advantage of it.
Escoe nailed a tree pointer to start the quarter, sparking a 9-0 run, leading to a 41-26 lead.
Haralson did little to stop Madison County from turning the close game into a route as the Rebelettes mustered only two baskets in the last four and a half minutes of the game as the Lady Raiders picked up their 23rd win.


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