Area Sports...

March 28, 2001

Diamond Dragons hope to rebound during road trip
Jefferson's Diamond Dragons will try to rebound from a rough few days next week during a Spring Break road trip.
After a frustrating loss to Prince Avenue Saturday and head coach Chuck Cook dealing with the passing of a family member early last week, the break will surely be welcome.
"I'm glad to get all this out of the way before the region schedule," Cook said of his team's subpar performance Saturday. "I really hope that this trip will be a time we can jell and get to that peaking point going into the region."
The trip won't be all play and no work, though, as the Dragons will face Berrien County Saturday in a doubleheader and Charlton County Monday. After that, it's back home against region opponent Lakeview (5 p.m. next Thursday) and a short jaunt across the river to see Commerce next Friday at 4:30 p.m.
Prince Avenue avenged an earlier 17-6 loss to Jefferson by upending the Dragons 4-3 Saturday. Jefferson committed five errors and left nine men stranded on base. With a large number of hits, that number might not mean much, but Jefferson hitters banged out only seven.
"We played well below our potential," Cook recalled. "I hope we used it as a learning experience.
All four Prince Avenue runs were unearned. The visitors picked up two in the first inning off two hits and two errors, one in the third without a hit, and one in the fourth off two hits and a passed ball.
Jeremy Smith (2-4, 3RBI) did what he could to propel the Dragons back into the game, tying it at three with a three-run blast in the third inning.
Josh Nabors, Ryan Gurley, Corey Hill, Joseph Laird and Ben Songer were responsible for the remainder of Jefferson's hits, most of which came with two outs.
"We'd get people on base, but it would be when we already had two outs. Some of those games are going to happen, but you just can't have five errors in those and win." Prince Avenue mustered just four hits in the win.
Even with the difficult loss, Cook remains optimistic.
"I told the guys the other day, we're five runs away from being undefeated, but that doesn't do us any good. We've got to play every game. Nobody's going to give us one. We've got the potential to play with and beat anybody; our guys have just got to step out there and play a little bit."


Lady Leopards shut out East Hall
The Banks County soccer season will come to a close this Friday night. Hopefully, for the teams, the Leopards and Lady Leopards will leave the field with a smile.
Banks will be hosting Rabun County Friday at 5 p.m. in its final match of the season.
The Lady Leopards will be facing a Rabun County team likely looking for revenge. Banks downed Rabun 2-1 two weeks ago in the Lady Leopards' first-ever win.
"Rabun will be after us," head coach Mike Brownlee said. "We will be evenly matched. It will be a dogfight."
Brownlee said the team will take Wednesday off before getting in a long practice and team talk Thursday.
"I couldn't ask for a better team," Brownlee said. "They listen and do exactly what I tell them to do."
The Lady Leopards will go into Friday's match coming off a disappointing 4-3 double overtime loss to Rabun Gap in the dark Tuesday evening.
"We started out flat in the first half and they went up 2-0 on us," Brownlee said. "In the second half, we played very aggressive ball. We took the ball away from them and we had some kids who were hurt and they just sucked it up."
The Lady Leopards scored three unanswered second-half goals to give them a 3-2 lead. But near the close of the game, Rabun Gap was able to capitalize on a weakness near Banks' goal to hit the tying score.
The game went into two 10- minute overtime periods. Neither team scored in the first period, sending it into the second overtime in the dark on a lightless Rabun Gap field.
Rabun Gap was able to hit a goal in the final overtime period to take a close 4-3 win.
Kristi Landrum scored two of Banks' goals. Freshman Ashley Dumas scored the other goal for the Lady Leopards.
"I was proud of them in the second half," Brownlee said. "We played a heck of a second half."
The Lady Leopards picked up their second win of the season and their first ever shutout, downing East Hall 5-0 Friday night.
Landrum, Banks' striker, earned a hat trick with three goals on the Lady Vikings. Ryan Varner and Megan Williams also had one goal each.
For the rest of this story, see this weeks Banks County News.




Casey Gary Sets A New Meet Record
The Commerce Tigers track team is traveling to Lexington to face Oglethorpe and then back to Athens to face Cedar Shoals this week
Saturday, March 24, the Tigers traveled to Athens to compete against 15 other schools in the Cedar Shoals Loch Johnson Invitational.
The big story of the day for Commerce was senior Casey Gary. Gary threw the shot 53' 1". For Gary this was a personal best. Gary's previous personal best was 49', which he shattered by more than four feet. Gary also captured the school record and the meet record while taking first place in the shot put competition.
"Gary has a great work ethic. He practices every day and he has been working at it," said coach Terry Canup. The past two seasons Gary has finished in the top three in the state in class A.
Gary was also named prep athlete of the week by the Athens Daily News.
Elizabeth Roller garnered a second-place finish for the Tigers in the high jump with a jump over a 4'10" bar. Roller is a senior at Commerce high school.
The Tiger girl's track team finished fifteenth in the field of 16 girls teams that competed in the meet.
The Commerce boys finished thirteenth of 16 teams in the Loch Johnson Invitational.




Jackson County starts 2-0 in region
Facing an 18-game region slate against difficult opposition, the Jackson County Panthers could easily have gotten downhearted.
Instead, they cruised to a pair of wins last week as they opened in Region 8AAA action.
Monroe Area was first to fall prey to Jackson County, and Panther pitcher Michael Hill was the one to make the kill. Hill went the distance on the mound, facing 26 batters in seven innings and giving up only two hits and one walk while striking out seven in the 7-1 win.
"We got some solid pitching from Michael," head coach Rusty Hendricks said of his starter. "We played a good, solid game. We got after it, and we played ball for seven innings."
The Panthers pounced early, scoring six runs in the first inning. Leadoff man Cody Fortson had two hits and scored twice, and Hill helped himself at the plate, driving in two on two hits. Blake Wilson added two hits, a run scored, and another batted in.
Elbert County bit the dust on their own field Monday, as the Panthers blasted the ball for 14 runs. Elbert stayed close in the slugfest, with 11 of their own.
"Some of our guys forgot their gloves," Hendricks said of his team's defensive play. "We let them crawl back in it several times, but we shut the door in the last inning. It was definitely a defensive letdown, but we stepped up with the bats, and that made up for it."
Among those stepping up were Fortson, who had a career day with a single, a double, a home run, a sacrifice, two walks and three runs scored, and Trey McConnell, who went 3-for-3 and added a sacrifice. McConnell was also hit by a pitch.
Also contributing to the Panthers' 20-hit total were Whisnant (S), Michael Savadge (S, 2D), Hill (2S), Wilson (S), and Lee Reece, who belted a pair of bullet doubles off Elbert's ace pitcher.
"We hit the ball all over the place," Hendricks said of his team's prowess at the plate. "Their pitcher was throwing gas, and we teed off."
Tim Whisnant faced all but one Blue Devil hitter, and Hill capped the win with a strikeout. Whisnant picked up the win to stay perfect at 3-0 on the season.
"We really enjoyed [the Elbert win]," Hendricks said, "but we've got to put that behind us and focus on Loganville. We're supposed to see their number-one pitcher [today], and they say he throws around 92 or 93 miles per hour."
Today's game at Panther Field was set for a 5:30 p.m. start. The Panthers will meet Madison County Friday in Danielsville at 5:55 p.m.
Jackson County won't take time off for Spring Break, as the team will go to Winder-Barrow Monday at 5:30 p.m., host Stephens County next Wednesday at 5:30 p.m., and travel to Eastside two days later to meet the Eastside Eagles for a 5:55 p.m. start


Tennis teams capture Gainesville tourney
Madison County tennis teams proved they are among the elite programs in the area this past week as both boys' and girls' squads took first place in the 17-team P.J. Holcomb Tennis Tournament in Gainesville.
The boys' team shared the first-place crown with Gainesville and Central Gwinnett, while the girls' squad edged out Gainesville and West Hall for the title.
"We basically went up there and kicked some folks around," said Madison County head coach Cliff Craig. "It was a great tournament for us. We showed folks we can play really competitive tennis."
Several Raider netters turned in noteworthy performances. In the number one seed doubles championship, Christy Thomas and Elizabeth Turner defeated a Johnson High School team 6-1, 6-7 (8-10), 6-3.
In the boys' number one doubles championship, Nathan and Brandon Myers defeated a Franklin, N.C., team 6-4, 6-4.
"Nathan hit the hardest serve I've ever seen in a high school tennis match," said eighth-year coach Craig of a Myers shot in the championship match. "The other team just looked at each other like 'what was that?'"
In the girls' number three singles championship, Tegan Tonge defeated Lakeview High School's Cassie Martin 6-4, 6-2.
Cole Tonge downed Gainesville's Mark Easley 6-2, 6-0 in the boys' number three singles championship.
Rochelle Comer was playing West Hall's Lindsay Clark in the girls' number two tennis championship, but the match was interrupted by rain with Comer leading, having won the first set 7-5 and up in the second set tiebreaker. This was scheduled for completion Tuesday, when Madison County visited West Hall - results were not available as of press time.
Paul Wildes and Drew Perry made it to the semifinals of the boys' number two doubles competition. Chad Coulter and Kenny Powers also made the semifinals in singles competition. Stacie Beard won her first round match against Jefferson's Vanessa Greenwood but fell in the second round to Gainesville's Lauren Weiss.
Teams in the tournament included Winder-Barrow, Johnson High, Franklin, N.C., Central Gwinnett, Lumpkin County, Habersham Central, Rabun County, West Hall, Brenau Academy, Lakeview Academy, Riverside Academy, North Hall, Jefferson, Monroe Area, Gainesville and East Hall.
To determine team winners, a win in singles or doubles competition equaled one point toward each team's total. The squad with the highest point total was declared the victor.
This past week marked the first time in Craig's eight years as Madison County coach that either of his squads has won the P.J. Holcomb tournament. The girls finished second to Gainesville two years ago, while the both boys' and girls' doubles teams have finished second in recent years. His excitement over his teams' stellar performance this past week was evident in glowing praise for his players.
He said Cole and Tegan Tonge played remarkably well.
"They went out on the courts and took care of business," said Craig. "They show potential for some superior tennis...They methodically beat some good players."
Craig said Coulter "did a good job at number two singles."
"He made it to the semifinals and learned about the higher levels of tennis," the coach said.
Craig said Brandon and Nathan Myers were "real dominating." He said Turner and Thomas played remarkable tennis despite Turner's illness during the tournament.
"She (Turner) hung in there three sets and wouldn't give up," said Craig.
The coach said Comer "probably played some of the hardest players of the tournament."
"She has been playing a high caliber of tennis," said the coach of Comer.
Madison County will hit the courts again at 4 p.m. Thursday, March 29, at home versus Central Gwinnett. The netters will travel to Franklin County Tuesday at 4 p.m.


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