Area Sports...

May 9, 2001

Jacobs does an about-face; to stay at JHS
Just over two weeks after being approved by the Buford City School Board as that school's new head girls' basketball coach, Jefferson's Kevin Jacobs has reversed course and decided to stay with the Lady Dragons for the coming school year.
Details of the decision were not available at press time, but a call early Wednesday morning from Jefferson High School principal Pat Blenke confirmed the decision.
"He has signed a contract to stay at Jefferson," Blenke said. "I think he was having some second thoughts about the girls here, and he wants to finish what he started."
The Jefferson High School front office was flooded with calls concerning the move Wednesday, making it difficult to contact Jacobs about his decision, but he was finally available for a brief telephone interview late Wednesday afternoon.
"It was a situation where I didn't feel like they were going to have a girls' basketball coach here," Jacobs said, "and as much as I care about these kids, I couldn't let that happen. There were also some reservations there that I just couldn't pinpoint. I don't know what it was, but something just didn't feel right about it."
A number of applicants had put in for the post after Jacobs' hiring by Buford, but most had little or no head coaching experience.
In seven seasons at Jefferson, Jacobs' teams posted a 113-77 mark, and reached the state playoffs three times. The Lady Dragons won the Class A state championship earlier this year, only the second girls' state title in Jefferson history. The first was last fall's softball championsip. Jacobs was an assistant with that team.
According to Jacobs, the decision came about as a result of conversations he initiated with boys' coach Bolling DuBose and Lady Dragon star Lee DuBose. Those talks Monday eventually led to meetings with Blenke and superintendent John Jackson, and culminated with Jacobs' signing a contract Wednesday morning.
"It was a tough decision," Jacobs continued. "When people throw money at you, it makes you stop and think, but money is not always everything. This is where I need to be. I told the girls this morning, and they were all jumping up and down and were very excited. It's been a pretty different mood around here today."



The tourney is coming
Friday will mark a milestone in recent Banks County baseball history.
For the first time in at least 20 years, the school will host a state playoff baseball game.
"We are excited about hosting it," head baseball coach Mike Williams said. "It's nice to be in the playoffs. It feels good."
The Leopards, number two in Region 8AA, will host the Monticello Hurricanes in a doubleheader Friday beginning at 3 p.m.
If the two teams split the double-header, a third game will be played Saturday at 2 p.m. to determine which team will advance to round two.
"If we can play with a solid defense and our pitchers throw like they're capable of throwing, we'll be tough," Williams said.
Banks will go into the weekend with a relatively solid pitching staff.
Offensively, the Leopards enter the playoffs batting close to .350.
"Eli (Cooper) has had some big hits and some clutch hits," Williams said. "Duran (Bellotte) has come on hitting it too."
Should Banks get past Region 7AA three seed Monticello, the Leopards will likely face top-ranked Calhoun in the second round Tuesday.
Calhoun has topped the Class AA state rankings for most of the season.
"I think we can make some noise in the state playoffs," Williams said. "There's no telling how far we can go."
See this week's Banks County News for more information about the tournament.




Tiger Girls' Golf Wins Region Tournament
The Commerce girls' golf team surprised the region, taking first place in the region tournament and having the low medalist, Heather Tiller, on the team. The tournament was played at Hamilton Mill May 1.
Commerce's team score was 226. Wesleyan came in second with a 240.
Tiller, a sophomore, led the field with a score of 112. Junior Erin Redmon shot a 114 and Ashley Housworth, a sophomore, scored a 121.
The lady Tigers will travel to Goshen Plantation in Augusta, May 14, to compete in the state competition.
"They shot their best," said Coach David Stephenson.
Tiller said, "I played pretty good but I had a couple of pretty big mess up holes."
Tiller has only been playing two years and the region tournament was only the third time she played 18 holes. She said she got golf clubs for Christmas a couple of years ago and started playing. Now she works at Sandy Creek and has "been playing a lot lately.'
She said she wanted to thank, "the Lord, Coach Stephenson and Steve Savage," who coached the team last year. "I wasn't playing as good before they helped me," Tiller said.
The state competition is going to be difficult. The team will go to Augusta Sunday before the competition to play a practice round.




Jackson County wins season finale, 9-8
The Jackson County baseball team finished its season on a high note Friday, winning the final game of the year 9-8 over Franklin County. The victory was particularly sweet for the team because an earlier loss to the Lions was the catalyst for what became a rocky Region 8-AAA road for the Panthers.
In a season that was marked by seemingly endless bad luck and a lack of offense, Jackson County rebounded from a 4-0 deficit with a number of late-inning hits and capped off the win with a bases-loaded walk.
"We just kept picking back little by little each inning," Panther head coach Rusty Hendricks said of his team's win. "We didn't play bad defense, and we kept working at it and started swinging the bats."
The Lions scored four unearned runs off starter Michael Hill in the first inning, but Hill shut Franklin County down in the second, giving his team a chance to rally. Two Panther runs in the second inning started the ball rolling. Trey McConnell came on in relief in the fourth, and "pretty much shut them down after that," according to Hendricks.
Brothers Jason and Brad Pittman stepped up early in the game and contributed back-to-back hits with two outs to spark the rally. Senior second baseman Blake Wilson also had two crucial hits and drove in three runs.
"Everybody pitched in," Hendricks said. "It was a total team win."
When asked about the huge number of odd and bad-luck plays his team endured this season, Hendricks was optimistic.
"A lot of it we caused ourselves, but it seemed the times when we could have used a little luck, there was none there. We improved our record from last year, so it's another big step in the right direction."
The Panthers will hold their annual team banquet Thursday in the high school cafeteria.
HENDRICKS HEADED FOR MONROE AREA
Hendricks informed his players earlier this week that he plans to work at Monroe Area next year. That school's board of education was expected to approve Hendricks' hiring Tuesday night.
"I'm taking a job closer to home due to my medical situation. It was a hard, tough decision, and not one I wanted to make. I truly love it up here [at Jackson County]. The kids, the board, Mr. Byers all treat me great. It's one of those dream jobs; I didn't want to give it up at all, but I'm not supposed to be driving. Monroe Area is only six minutes away from my home, so it will be a good situation for me."


Boys end season in Elite 8
The Madison County boys' tennis teams advanced to the state's Elite 8 for the first time in school history last week, before falling to Westminster Monday.
The Raiders defeated Gainesville 3-2 last Tuesday to set up the showdown with Westminster. But the guys were outmatched by Westminster in a 5-0 loss in Atlanta Monday afternoon. The Raiders finished the season with a 12-4 record.
"These guys have gone farther than any other boys' team in the school's history by making the 'Elite Eight,'" said head coach Cliff Craig. "The proved that they are special players and deserving of being ranked in the top eight AAA teams in the state."
Craig said his players stayed focused on improving their game throughout the season.
"Overall we've had a really good year and I think the players were improving even in the last match (against Westminster)," said Craig.
While Madison County sports some good players, Westminster proved a notch above the Raiders.
"Westminster's number one (player) is ranked in the top 150 players in the nation as well as number five in the state," said Craig. "Their number two player is ranked number four in the state and their number three is the coach's son and extremely good."
In number one singles action Monday, Madison County's Kenny Powers lost to Harding Brumby 1-6, 0-6. Number two singles player Chad Coulter was defeated by Aaron Glenn 1-6, 3-6. At number three singles, Cole Tonge lost to Hamilton Boggs 4-6, 1-6. In number one doubles play, Nathan and Brandon Myers fell to Ricky Dimon and Eric Simon 6-4, 3-6 and lost the tiebreaker (played instead of a third set) 3-7. The number two doubles team of Drew Perry and Paul Wildes lost to Grant Johnson and John McCullough 2-6, 1-6.
VERSUS GAINESVILLE
Against Gainesville, Chad Coulter showed resilience under pressure, clinching the win at number two singles by defeating Sean Van 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-5). Coulter was down 4-5 in the final set and facing match point at 0-40 before tying up the score at five games apiece.
Others with wins were Kenny Powers, who defeated Matt Fowler 6-3, 6-4 and Paul Wildes and Drew Perry, who defeated Jim Simons and Mark Easley 6-4, 6-4. Raider Cole Tonge lost to Ben Stewart 5-7, 4-6. And Brandon and Nathan Myers lost to Zach Greene and John Greene 2-6, 2-6.
Craig said one his team's problems this year was finding consistency.
"One of our biggest problems was inconsistent play," said Craig. "We would play great in spurts and then have problems with minor things. We need more players playing tournament competition in order to develop that consistency. Our goals next year are to develop that consistency which you need to win at the state tournament level."
Madison County loses three seniors from this year's squad: Nathan and Brandon Myers and Drew Perry.


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