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December 5, 2001

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Dragons, Panthers blast opposition
Claim gold in seven of 14 weight classes. The question folks in high school wrestling circles had been asking all year wasn’t whether teams at Jefferson and Jackson County were going to be good, but just how good.
With a performance that almost defies description last weekend, the Dragons and Panthers have answered that question with a resounding “Very good.”
Despite a strong field – 10 of the 20 teams participating are currently ranked among the top 10 in the state in their respective classifications – in the eighth annual Panther Invitational, Jefferson and Jackson County crushed the competition. The cross-town rivals combined to score more than 400 points in the event, more than one-fourth of the total points scored. The Dragons’ 222 and Panthers’ 191.5 dwarfed third-place North Forsyth’s 124.
Loganville finished fourth at 122, with Lumpkin County and North Hall tied at 104 for fifth.
The impressive performance was recognized by pollsters in this week’s rankings, which have both teams in the top spots in their classes.
“We didn’t expect this,” Jefferson head coach Doug Thurmond said. “Most of our kids play football, so we haven’t had a lot of time to practice. We’re real proud of how they stepped up and wrestled tired. They were definitely out of shape. It’s going to take several weeks to get them in shape like they need to be, and I’m not talking just two or three weeks.”
Four Dragons and three Panthers finished at the top of their weight divisions.
Brothers Hunter (152) and Forrest (145) Garner of Jefferson were joined by Jeremiah Wilson (119) and Jeremy Smith (171) on the victor’s stand.
Jackson County grapplers Jason Powers (103), Rusty Colley (130) and Brian Gower (275) claimed gold for the Panthers.
Other Jefferson place-winners included Will Roper (4th-103), Nate Wilson (2nd-125), Scott Nix (4th-130), Blake Gooch (3rd-140), Daniel Love (3rd-160) and Hunter Glenn (3rd-275).
For the Panthers, Matt Potts (2nd-135), Jared Herrington (2nd-140), Chris Kubiak (3rd-145), Lee Reece (4th-160) and Casey Berryman (2nd-215) all placed in the event, which seemed to come off without a hitch.
“We’ve got a good group of parents,” Phil Thurmond said. “They make it a lot easier to run. I’m very proud of all the parents and volunteers who gave of their time to pull it off. If it weren’t for people like them, our program would be in trouble. It helps me, because then I don’t have to worry about dotting all the I’s.”

Banks sweeps Lumpkin
Leopards win third in a row
High school basketball doesn’t get much more exciting than it was Tuesday night.
The Leopards, who were behind most of the first half, came back in a big way to take their third straight win.
Banks County fell behind before the half and was looking at a deficit before the start of the second half. But head coach Mike Ruth’s halftime talk must have worked.
The Leopards came out in the third quarter and made a run at the lead. Banks County got more aggressive on defense and it paid off. The Leopards stole the ball from Lumpkin several times in a row to outscore the Indians 15-4.
The run gave Banks a 37-32 lead going into the final quarter. But near the end of the game, Lumpkin began to edge closer to the Leopards, cutting the lead to four.
With less than three minutes to play, Leopard head coach Mike Ruth called a time out.
“They are going to start fouling us,” Ruth told the team. “When they do, we’ve got to make the shots.”
The Leopards listened. Banks hit nine of 12 from the line down the stretch to hold on and take the 57-51 win.
Reggie Smith topped the scoring attack with 18 points. He was also 6-9 from the free throw line. Will Gordon was in double digits as well with 14.
Cody Whitlock added eight and Dustin Bonds had seven.
Also scoring were: Dustin Bonds, seven; Seth McCoy, four; and Tyler Sims, Cory Morris and Kyle Duncan, two.
The Leopards’ win gave Banks a sweep over Lumpkin County after the junior varsity girls and the Lady Leopards won.
Banks County also picked up a 62-34 win over Riverside Saturday.
Gordon led the team with 15 points. He was followed by R. Smith with 11. Whitlock added nine.
Other scorers were: Tyler Sims, eight; Corey Sims, six; Bonds, four; and Duncan, Matt Dale, Kyle Roberts and Kris Drummond, two.
The Leopards (3-3) will look to carry the momentum from their past several wins with them as they travel to White County Friday for an 8:30 p.m. game.
After that, Banks will return home to host Union County Tuesday.
The Lady Leopards bounced back from last week’s loss to Towns County with a 52-42 win over Lumpkin.
Banks was tied with the Lady Indians at halftime but pulled ahead in the second half to take the victory.
Kayla Duncan topped the list of scorers with 14 points. Ashley Freeman and Ashley Campbell both scored 11. Campbell also jacked two threes.
Other scorers included: Megan Williams, five; Maggie Elrod, four; Joni Martin, three; and Ryan Varner, one. The Lady Leopards were 19-32, 59 percent, from the line.
Banks County’s next game is on the road Friday at White County. The Lady Leopards are slated for a 7 p.m. tipoff.
“White County has got a good team,” head coach Mike Gordon said. “But we seem to play better on the road.”
Banks will be back home Tuesday hosting Union County.

Playoff Hopes Dashed With Tough Loss To Adairsville
This wasn’t the way it was supposed to end for Commerce.
Even in the midst of a rebuilding year, the Tigers’ 19-13 second-round loss to Adairsville Friday night was a hard dose of reality to stomach for a program carrying the legacy of 49 wins the past four years and a state crown.
So it was with a heavy heart that senior quarterback Rob Brown had to address a teary-eyed Tiger post game huddle for the last time.
“It just wasn’t meant to be,” Brown told his teammates. “We came out this year and played with a lot of heart...And that’s just Commerce football for you.”
And while a win-filled four-year run of Commerce football will be what Brown and his fellow seniors take with them, their hard-fought, but unsuccessful finale might might have them asking “what if?” as they watch the Tigers next fall.
What if two of three drives inside the 10 resulted in touchdowns, not field goals? What if they hadn’t dropped an early third-quarter punt inside the 20 with a three-point lead? What if they’d stopped fourth-and-six conversion on Adairsville’s go-ahead touchdown drive? What if they’d won and went on to face an 8-4 Metter team at home in the third round of the playoffs?
A third consecutive trip to the state quaterfinals seemed well within the Tigers’ grasp for most of Friday night’s contest.
The team carried a 10-7 lead into halftime with top-seeded Adairsville foes and tied the game 13-13 with an entire quarter left to play.
But it came down to who would make the big play in the end. Adairsville’s talented offense marched for a fourth quarter score and Commerce, who’d found a way to win the close game all year long, didn’t.
Though his team came up short, Commerce head coach Steve Savage said his squad showed him a lot in the loss.
“I really thought that we played hard Friday night," he said. "We played more like a football team than we have in a number of weeks.”
The Tigers stopped Adairsville’s offense for much of the first half, creating three turnovers.
The first came in the opening quarter when Adam Bagwell drilled an Adairsville receiver and forced a fumble. The Tigers capitalized, taking the ensuing drive 53 yards for a three-yard score from Brown to put Commerce up 7-0.
With early momentum, Commerce’s defense then seemingly halted Adairsville’s on the subsequent drive, but the green Tigers struck 26 yards for a huge third-and-six conversion to the Commerce 16. Adairsville capped the drive four plays later with a seven-yard touchdown toss to Ashley McConnell early in the second quarter.
Despite having a stable of talented backs, Adairsville continued to put the ball in the air in the second quarter and it came back to haunt them.
With Adairsville on the move on their next drive, Josh Haynes intervened with his first pick of the season, returning the ball to the Adairsville 24.
Commerce moved the ball inside the Adairsville five, but the drive stalled and settled for a 22-yard field goal.
Adairsville, trying to salvage the half, then drove to the Commerce 45, but again failed to protect the football with Lamar Daniels picking off a pass on the Tigers’ own 15.
Commerce continued to have the momentum in their back pocket at the start of the second half, receiving their fourth turnover of the game when Brandon Jennings snagged his fifth pick of the year.
But the turnover bug quickly changed hands.
A first down reception at the Adairsville 25 on the subsequent drive bounced off Moore’s hands an into Adairsville’s.
It look as if Commerce had managed to save-face, however, by forcing an Adairsville punt.
But the tide then drastically turned by fumbling the kick on their own 18.
Adairsville then seized the momment, picking up an eight-yard touchdown score by Greg Ledbetter three plays later to take a 13-10 lead.
Behind the hard running of L. Daniels, Commerce tried to answer and almost did with the senior back guiding the Tigers to their opponent’s nine. But Adairsville’s run defense closed the door on the ground game and on Commerce’s drive, holding them to a 26-yard field goal to knott the contest at 13 heading into the fourth quarter.
Adairsville’s ground game then took over in the final period.
After the teams traded punts to start the quarter, Adairsville called on their backs to carry the ball all nine times on a 71-yard scoring drive. The extra point was missed keeping the score at 19-13.
Though Ledbetter led the charge on the drive, it was quarterback Cody Reese that picked up the key run, keeping the drive alive with a fourth-and-six at the Commerce 27 with a back-breaking 15-yard keeper.
Down by six, the Tigers still had 3:23 to answer but their drive stalled quickly, facing a fourth-and-eight from their own 35.
But seniors Brown and Moore, hooked up on a huge 17-yard completion to keep Commerce’s fading hope alive.
That hope failed four plays later as a short, sideline pass from Brown fell incomplete.
The Tigers got one last flicker of hope, forcing Adairsville to punt in the closing seconds. But Commerce opted to forego a hail marry pass and ran the ball on the last play, only to be stuffed for no gain.

Wrestlers down Cedar, Monroe
Raider wrestlers overpowered Cedar Shoals and Monroe in a home match last Tuesday, 75-6 and 62-18.
Madison County wrestlers winning both of their matches included Walker Overstreet, 103 lbs.; J.J. Gunnells, 112 lbs.; David Giles, 119 lbs; Steve Austin, 135 lbs.; John Poole, 140 lbs.; J.J. Brueshaber, 145 lbs.; Kevin Cash, 160 lbs.; Mark Arnold, 189 lbs.; Matt Kittle, 215 lbs.; and Josh Moyer, heavyweight.
James Smith, Tyler Johnson, Ray Barnett and Richard Stowers each won one match.
³We looked really good,² said first-year Raider coach Steve Mason. ³The matches we did lose were just off of some mistakes and inexperience.²
Madison County will travel to Lexington Thursday afternoon to face Oglethorpe County and Banks County.
The Raiders will hit the mat again Saturday at the Red Devil Classic in Loganville.

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Local Playoff Results
(first round)

Jefferson 14
Lincoln Co. 26

Commerce 3
Ga. Military 0

  Banks County
Date Opponent Score
8/31 at JCCHS 12-7
9/7 Jefferson 7-35
9/21 Dawson Co. 0-28
9/28 at East Hall 0-28
10/5 GAC 0-48
10/12 at Apalachee 0-30
10/19 Lumpkin Co. 0-20
10/26 at Union Co. 0-35
11/2 Rabun Co. 21-18
11/9 at White Co. 10-33

Date Opponent Score
8/31 Franklin Co 29-13
9/7 at Forsyth Ctrl 14-35
9/14 Morgan Co ppd.
9/21 at Walhalla, SC 35-24
9/28 at Lincoln Co 13-12
10/5 at Ath Acad 7-34
10/12 Wash-Wilkes 26-49
10/26 Wesleyan 24-15
11/2 at Jefferson 14-0
11/9 Buford 0-41
11/16  Morgan Co. 27-10
 11/23  Ga. Military


  Jackson County
Date Opponent Score
8/31 Banks Co 7-12
9/7 at Madison Co 7-35
9/14 at Elbert Co ppd.
9/28 Hart 3-51
10/5 at Eastside 7-47
10/12 Loganville 0-47
10/19 at Franklin 21-14
10/26 Winder-Barrow 0-35
11/2 Stephens Co 3-34
11/9 at Monroe Area 0-27
 11/16 at Elbert Co. 7-14

Date Opponent Score
8/31 Athens Christian 40-6
9/7 at Banks Co 35-7
9/14 at Johns-G'ville ppd.
9/21 Madison Co 11-14
9/28 at Social Circle 21-28
10/5 Oglethorpe Co 21-6
10/12 Lndmrk Christ 23-14
10/26 at Buford 0-41
11/2 Commerce 0-14
11/9 at Wesleyan 31-14
 11/16  at Johns-G'ville 7-23
 11/23 @ Lincoln Co.  14-26

  Madison County
Date Opponent Score
8/24 South Forsyth 0-17
9/1 Apalachee 36-3
9/7 Jackson Co 35-7
9/14 at North Hall ppd.
9/21 at Jefferson 14-11
9/28 Warren Co 14-7
10/5 Union Grove 35-6
10/19 at Wesleyan 14-0
10/26 at Union Grove 14-10
11/2 Athens Christian 49-6
11/16 at N. Hall 12-35
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