Area Sports...

April 25, 2001

Jefferson's Kevin Jacobs bound for Buford
Just six weeks after his Lady Dragons won the state Class A basketball championship, head coach Kevin Jacobs is headed down Interstate 85 and across Region 8-A to assume the head coaching post at Buford. The Buford school board voted to hire Jacobs Monday evening, but the coach said he didnít make up his mind about the job until late Monday night.
"I really hadn't decided until late Monday that this was the thing to do. It was tough telling the girls [Tuesday] morning. If there was any way I could have gotten out of that, I would. I'm really going to miss them."
In seven seasons at Jefferson, Jacobs' teams posted a 113-77 mark, and reached the state playoffs three times.
"I think Coach Potts and I have built a pretty good program here," Jacobs said. "We took a program that was struggling and won a state championship. Whatever they decide to do from here on, the pressure is definitely going to be there. They're going to be expected to perform at that same level. It's going to be an interesting situation. They've got a bunch of young kids here who are very good athletes. It ain't going to be fun coming back here next January 13 and playing them, but we'll show up, and we'll be playing one of the best teams in the state, if not the best."
Buford superintendent Sue Morris spoke with enthusiasm about the board's hiring of Jacobs.
"We're excited about having him on board. We feel like it's going to be a great move for our girls' program. We enjoyed watching what he did at Jefferson."
Jacobs acknowledged he was stepping into a challenging situation.
"I'm going from a program with a state championship and everybody coming back to a place where they've traditionally been good in basketball, even though they weren't last year. I know there's going to be a lot of pressure on me to perform, and that's fine. I'm going to do the same things I've always done, and hopefully the kids will be enthusiastic about it."
Jacobs stressed that his decision had not come about as a result of any ill will or hard feelings toward players, parents or Jefferson administrators.
"I told the kids that this was simply a family decision, and it had nothing to do with them. I'
ve got no hard feelings here. This was just a good opportunity financially . . . and for my family."


Mighty Leopards sit at the top
Win over GAC puts Leopards first in region. The Banks County Leopards have perfected the recipe for success.
A pinch of smart coaching. Two cups of power. A dash of solid pitching. A little melted defense on the side. And a few cloves of experience marinated in good old-fashioned in-your-face baseball.
They combined it all for a 7-4 win over Greater Atlanta Christian Friday night-a win that put the Leopards on top in Region 8-AA.
"I told the guys all year long that we have a lot of potential," Leopard head coach Mike Williams said. "But potential is not any good unless you put it into action. We've been playing up to our potential. The kids are excited. I'm excited. The fans are excited. And the parents are excited."
Banks County carried their excitement over into Monday afternoon, as they put White County down 11-4 in Cleveland.
"We played pretty good defense," Williams said. "We made a couple of mistakes, but the defense has gotten a little better."
Banks gave up four runs on eight hits against White County.
Leopard senior Casey Murray took the start, going four innings and giving up four runs, one of which was unearned. Murray also bagged four strikeouts.
Clint Angel came in to relieve Murray and pitched three scoreless innings.
Offensively, Duran Bellotte led the Leopards, going three for four from the plate.
"Duran has come on hitting it pretty good," Williams said.
Eli Cooper and Joseph Whitlock both went two for three against White. Hank Jones and Ross Oliver were two for four. Jones and Whitlock also each had doubles.
BANKS 7, GAC 4
GAC was able to jump ahead 1-0 on an error in the top of the first inning. But after that, the Spartans had a hill to climb.
The Leopards came out in the bottom of the inning with winning on their minds. Leadoff man Joe Krause set the tone with a solo shot to left field, his second in as many games.
"He hit it a mile," Williams said. "It got everybody riled up."
Cooper followed Krause, reaching on a grounder that went off the shortstop's glove. Bray Maxwell came in to run for the catcher and scored on a Whitlock shot to right field that rolled under a Spartan's glove all the way to the fence. Whitlock was able to settle into third.
A batter later, Oliver squeezed out a perfect bunt to score Whitlock, putting Banks ahead 3-1. Drew Gowder singled and moved to second on a Bellotte single to centerfield.
Murray sent Gowder home as he put a grounder through the gap into center field. The Leopards went up 4-1.
In the top of third, GAC knocked a three-run homer to left field, tying the game. But pitcher Corey Sims settled in and would finish the game, shutting out the Spartans in the final four innings to finish the game.
"Corey threw over 100 pitches," Williams said. "He pitched outstanding."
The Leopards would come back in the bottom half of the third to take the lead again. Oliver beat out a grounder to reach first and moved to second on a passed ball. He moved to third on a ground out and tagged up on a fly ball to centerfield to score.
Banks picked up another run in the fourth inning. Krause was walked to put a runner on first. Cooper followed with a pop fly to shallow rightfield on a hit and run. The ball fell in front of the rightfielder and rolled toward the fence, allowing Krause to score.
The Leopards picked up their final run in the fifth inning. Oliver led off the inning with a walk and stole second. Gowder lay down a perfect bunt to squeeze Oliver around to third. Oliver tagged on another fly ball to score another run and put the Leopards up 7-4.
"Sitting in the dugout, Tyson (Baxter) said, 'This is why we play baseball,'" Williams said. "Well, this is why I coach. We did all the little things. We scored on the fly and bunted people over. Overall, it was a good game for us-the kind you like."
BANKS 11, DAWSON 1
The Leopards were able to put the Tigers out of playoff contention last Wednesday.
"It was a big game for us," Williams said. "We went up and there and took it to 'em. It was a big feeling. We're excited about it."
Krause had a solo shot to rightfield against Dawson.
"It shot out of there like a rocket," Williams said.
Wednesday was also the return of starting catcher Eli Cooper, who had missed two games due to an ankle injury.
"He stepped back in like he hadn't missed a beat," Williams said. "He threw one guy out against GAC and threw two out tonight (against White) on a steal. When you've got somebody back there that can do that, it helps."





Tigers Defeat Wesleyan On Diamond
The Tigers' baseball team continues its fight through the top of the division this week. The team will face Providence Wednesday, April 25 and Buford Thursday, April 26. These two teams are third and second in Region 8A respectively.
Commerce just came off losing to Jefferson, the first place team in the region.
When Commerce comes off this stretch it get a break when they face Tallulah Falls Monday, April 30.
Commerce at Wesleyan:The Tigers opened last week's competition with a pivotal game against Wesleyan. The Tigers are fighting Wesleyan in the middle of region 8A for the fourth playoff position.
Wednesday, April 18, Commerce played their best defensive game of the season in Wesleyan, beating the Wolves behind a tremendous pitching performance by Freshman Casha Daniels.
Commerce scored first when Charlie Epps singled and stole second. Adam Stephenson, who is second on the team with 11 RBIs, hit a single bringing Epps home from second, and Commerce led 1-0 after one inning.
Daniels sat down the first three batters in the Wesleyan half of the first by recording a strikeout against the lead off batter and then getting the next two batters to pop-up.
Commerce struck again in the third with the same play as in the first but with different actors.
Chad Jordan led off the inning with a single. Jordan, the catcher, then stole second to put himself in scoring position with no outs. The next two batters struck out, and with two outs and a runner waiting on second Dane Cotrell stepped up and singled, driving in the run.
The Tigers are averaging over seven runs a game but two is all they would need on this evening, and that is all they would get. That is the fewest the Tigers have scored in a victory this season.
Commerce played solid defense at every position, committing only one error on the day . The game ended with Kevin Wilson making a spectacular diving catch in right field. "There were two excellent catches in left field," Coach David Cash said.
Despite Commerce having played shaky defense at times during the season, the surprise of the day came from Daniels. "Brody's (Bearden) arm was hurt, we were without him. (Craig) Henderson had pitched at Lakeview (Monday, April 16). We went with Casha. It was an unknown how he would react in an important game. We are fighting them for a playoff spot. He pitched beyond our expectations. He convinced us he deserves another start," commented Cash.
Daniels is the probable starter against Providence Wednesday, April 25.
For the rest of the story, see this weeks Commerce News.




Panthers Kubiak, Birdette qualify for state meet
Jackson County qualified two members of its track and field team for next week's Georgia Olympics during this week's Region 8-AAA meet at home.
Chuck Kubiak's throw of 141 feet, 9 inches was good for second place in the discus. Kubiak's toss was just five inches past that of Monroe Area's Anthony Jackson, and nine inches beyond Loganville's Dustin Ferguson. Kubiak also finished eighth in the shot put with a throw of 42 feet, 2 inches.
Tim Birdette won the region crown with a long jump of 20 feet, 9.5 inches, just one inch ahead of second-place Kevin McFarland of Franklin County and 2.5 inches better than third-place Frank Brooks, also of Franklin County. The top seven participants were within one foot of first place.
Birdette also ran sixth in the 100-meter dash and third in the 200 meters, just hundredths of a second shy of a second-place state qualifying run.
Other placers in the region meet were: Kelly Parr (3rd, 3200 meters and 6th, 1600 meters), Chris Kubiak (5th, 300-meter hurdles) and John Hardie (3rd, pole vault). Hardie's vault of 12 feet even tied for second, but he needed an extra attempt and finished third, just short of qualifying for the state meet.
GIRLS' MEET
The Panther girls will travel to Winder-Barrow High School Saturday and Monday for the Region 8-AAA girls' meet. Saturday events begin at 9 a.m., and Monday's finals are set for a 5 p.m. start.


Diamond Raiders ride six-game winning streak into this week's curcial region contests
Just a few weeks ago, the diamond Raiders postseason hopes were as solid as the team's hitting.
Thoughts of the state tournament were in serious doubt as the team stood at 3-4 in the region 7-8 overall and their offense was in serious need of a trip to the mechanic.
But nothing cures ills like a six-game win streak which the Raiders will ride into a crucial week of region play as their post season aspirations lay in the balance.
The team followed up wins last week over Eastiside, Hart and Franklin with victories over Monroe Area, Elbert and Jackson County, moving their record to 13-8 overall while improving their mark to 9-4 in the region moving them into third place in Region 8-AAA, bringing hopes of a state tournament apperance in May closer to reality.
"They (the players) could probably explain it better than me," Griffeth said of the streak. It's like a couple of years ago in 1998 (the Raider turnaround after a 4-8 start). I really didn't have an answer then."
Griffeth said the fact that four teams, and not two, from each region will qualify for the playoffs gave the Raiders hope when times were tough this season.
"If it was just two teams (going from each region), I don't know if we would be where we are....Even though we were struggling, we were still in fourth or fifth place. So there was still hope for a playoff spot."
And this could be a make-or-break week for the squad.
If the team wants to make nab one of the top four spots in the region and make it's first state tournament apperance since 1998, it will have to overcome some foes who have already chalked up wins this year against the Raiders.
The team is set to take on first place Loganville, who downed Madison County 8-2 on April 2, Winder-Barrow, who beat the Raiders 5-4 on April 4, and Stephens, who handed Madison County their last loss on the diamond, 2-0on April 6.
"This is a tough stretch," head coach Charlie Griffeth said. "Loganville is the best team in the region. They have three quality pitchers. But they have two losses. They can be gotten. Winder is capable of beating you. They're kind of a sleeper-type team."
The Raiders will look to carry their recent hot streak with the bats into these key region contests. Madison County has been potent at the plate as of late averaging 8.6 runs over the course of their six-game spurt, reviving their offense from an early-season lapse.
The club, who was injury-ridden early in their year continues to get healthy. After getting Tony Tittle, Brent Burkhalter and power-hitter Andy Coile back from the disabled list recently, Kurt Cooper rejoined the team this past week after a lenghty absence due to a broken wrist in the third game of the season.
For the rest of this story, see this weeks Madison County Journal.

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