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January 16, 2002

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 Leopards to face Wildcats, Commerce
The Leopards’ next few games could be crucial in determining their postseason standing.
After falling to 0-4 in the subregion, Banks (6-10, 0-4) needs to beat Apalachee Friday night to improve their playoff hopes.
The Wildcats have beaten Banks County both times the two teams have faced this year.
“I know we can beat Apalachee if we can shoot the ball,” head coach Mike Ruth said. “Last time we played them, we just didn’t make our free throw shots. I feel like we should have beat Apalachee and Dawson County and GAC. At least we were close and gave ourselves a chance to win. One of these days we’re all going to get on the same page and somebody’s going to get blistered.”
Unlike the last two times the teams faced, Banks will be hosting Apalachee. With the crowd support the Leopards usually get at home, Ruth said the fans could make an impact on the outcome of the game.
“We’ve got a great little student section over there,” Ruth said. “I appreciate it and I know the players do. It means a lot for your peers to come and cheer you on. We’ve been getting great support from our fans.”
On Saturday, the Leopards will travel to Commerce in what is usually an exciting matchup. The Tigers, who have gained some experience since earlier this year, will be looking to avenge their loss to the Leopards earlier this season.
“Losing should give them an extra incentive,” Commerce head coach Rex Gregg said of his players.
Though the Banks-Commerce rivalry often proves to be a tough one, Ruth said the Tigers aren’t the Leopards’ focus right now.
“We would like to win, but we feel like the Commerce game is taking a back seat to the subregion games,” Ruth said. “But no doubt about it, they’ll be ready for us.”
Next Tuesday, Banks County will travel to GAC for the second subregion game against the Spartans.
East Hall came into town Tuesday with a potent scoring squad and didn’t let up until they hit 100.
The Leopards fell 105-73 in a high-scoring, fast-paced game.
Dustin Bonds was Banks’ top scorer with 13 points. Reggie Smith was also in double digits with 12. Tyler Sims added 10.
Other scorers were: Will Gordon, nine; Corey Sims, seven; Kyle Duncan, six; and Cody Whitlock, Matt Kale, Seth McCoy and Kris Drummond, four.
If Ruth were prone to heart attacks, he probably would have had one Friday night. After battling from behind to send the game into overtime, the Leopards were defeated 67-61 by Dawson County.
Banks was down by 10 points with less than two minutes to go in regulation play.
“Most teams would have thrown in the towel at that point,” Ruth said. “But not this bunch. They’re not quitters.”
The Leopards were able to trim the Tigers’ lead to 49-42 with under a minute to go. C. Sims was then fouled twice from behind the three-point line. He was a perfect six for six on his foul shots, putting Banks one behind Dawson County.
But thanks in part to a technical called on the Leopards for reaching over the boundary line and hitting the ball, Dawson was able to pull ahead 55-52 with six seconds left.
The Tigers got the ball after the foul shots and Sims fouled a Dawson player to stop the clock and send the player to the foul line. The foul was C. Sims fifth, putting him out of the game.
Dawson, a team that shot three for 12 from the foul line in the final minute, missed both free throws. Banks County took the rebound on the second shot and Bonds was fouled, sending him to the free throw line.
Bonds hit the first of his free throws to cut the lead to two with four seconds on the clock. Dawson got the rebound on the second shot but was called for travelling, giving the Leopards the ball back under their own goal with only two seconds to play.
Banks was able to force the ball inside to Roberts, who nailed a shot at the buzzer to tie the game and send it into overtime.
But the Leopards were without three players, including two starters, in the overtime. All three had fouled out in the final quarter. Banks three other starters fouled out in overtime, allowing Dawson to pull ahead for the win.
“Defensively, we played a heck of a ball game,” Ruth said. “But the zone hurt us on offense because we don’t shoot the ball well.
“We were trying to get the fast breaks first and then set up and run some offensive sets and be patient if that didn’t work. When we started being patient, we stopped penetrating and started missing shots.”
C. Sims led the Leopards in scoring against Dawson with 18 points, 12 of which came in the fourth quarter. C. Sims also had four three pointers and was six for six from the foul line.
R. Smith was also in double digits with 10.
Other scorers included: Gordon, nine; Whitlock, eight; Roberts and Bonds, four; Dale and McCoy, three; and Tra Smith, two.
On Saturday night, the Leopards were able to take a 67-45 win over Towns County in Hiawassee.
C. Sims led the team with 15 points. Whitlock added 10.
Also scoring were: Duncan and Gordon, seven; R. Smith, six; Dale, five; Drummond and McCoy, four; Roberts, three; T. Sims, T. Smith and Justin Acker, two.

Tigers Look For Momentum
The Tigers got on a little roll this weekend after falling to the region’s top teams during the past week.
Now they’ll look to shift to the next gear.
“We got a little momentum winning Friday and Saturday night,” said Tiger head coach Rex Gregg, whose team beat Lakeview and Tallulah Falls 58-47 this weekend after lopsided losses to Wesleyan and Jefferson. “It was the first time we had back-to-back wins all year.”
The Tigers (4-5, 2-2)—who took on region foe Buford this past Tuesday night (results weren’t available as of press time)—look to continue their winning ways in a key road region matchup with Providence Christian Academy Friday night followed by a non-region rematch with rival Banks County Saturday.
Gregg said that this week would be a tough, but added that it could be a successful one at the same time.
“I feel the games this week are all winnable,” Gregg said.
Commerce will then have a good chance for another win Tuesday when they hit the road for region matchup with Rabun Gap, who didn’t claim a victory all last year.
The Tigers’ matchup with Providence Academy will pair them against what Gregg described as a solid Wolverine team.
“They’re a small team but they shoot well. They really get after it.”
The coach explained that Providence Academy has gone through some rocky times with the death of a player in an off-season car accident. Gregg added that the Wolverines also lost a player for the season with an ACL injury.
Commerce will then look for redemption and better shooting in their contest with the Leopards who beat Commerce handily in Homer Dec. 16, 56-40.
“I think we’ve improved since the last time we played them,” said Gregg, who pointed out that his team. “We shot the ball bad over their (in the first game). “It’s a big rivalry...losing should give them (the Tigers) extra incentive.”
The coach pointed out that the team has been motivated this year, but needs to be more careful on the court.
“The effort has been there all year, we’ve just got to cut down on mistakes.”
After a solid opening 16 minutes, things things got out of hand the rest of the night for Commerce in a 94-61 loss to Wesleyan.
The Tigers trailed by only three after a period of play and then 42-35 at intermission. But the Wolves turned close game into a rout in the second half, outscoring Commerce 52-26 in the 33-point loss.
“We played with them for a half and could have led at halftime if we didn’t turn the ball over,” Gregg said. “They wore us down in the second half.”
Miscues were the story of the night for the Tigers.
Commerce shot a solid 45.3 percent from the field but were plagued with 34 turnovers in the setback.
Tyson Randolph led Commerce’s offensive effort with 17 points while Adam Bagwell threw in nine, Casha Daniels picked up eight, Rob Brown added seven, Nick Slayton had six, Dustin Martin added six, Chris Kidd finished with four, and Scott White and Brandon Jennings each had two.
Unlike their loss to Wesleyan, turnovers didn’t give Commerce’s headaches in their 85-46 loss to Jefferson—poor shooting did.
The Tigers struggled from the floor all night long, hitting 23.5 percent from the field in the loss.
“We shot the ball terribly against Jefferson,” Gregg said.
The Dragons, conversely were red-hot, hitting 53.4 percent of their shots and running out to 40-8 second quarter lead. Jefferson then held a 56-24 edge at the half, a 69-32 advantage in the third quarter and led by as much as 41 points in the final quarter.
Gregg said that they caught the talented Dragon team on the wrong night.
“Jefferson played the best they have all year against us,” he said.
Randolph led Commerce with 17 points, followed by Slayton who had seven, Brown finished with six, Jennings and Daniels both had five, Bagwell tallied four and White had two.
Commerce snatched victory from defeat Friday night, rallying from 12 points down to claim a 52-46 victory over Lakeview on the road.
Gregg praised Jennings in the win, saying the point guard’s protection of the ball helped spark the turnaround.
Jennings, didn’t tally a point, but was effective by committing only a single turnover in the second half.
And it was turnovers again that hindered the Tigers in the win, giving the ball away 31 times in the contest.
“With that many turnovers, you shouldn’t win,” Gregg said. “That shows that the kids were giving good effort.”
Commerce, however, was hot from the floor despite their loose grip on the ball, hitting 45.5 percent of their field goals.
“We shot the ball well,” Gregg said.
The Tigers were sharp early on in the contest, running out to a 10-4 lead, but trailed 23-22 at half time and 40-36 at the end of three quarters.
However, Commerce poured it on down the stretch, outscoring Lakeview 16-6 in the final quarter to take the win.
Randolph again led the Tigers offensively with his third straight 17-point outing.
Following the freshman in scoring were Slayton, who tallied 12; Brown and Bagwell, who picked up eight; Daniels, who had three; and Vonté Reed and Dustin Martin, who finished with two.
Playing their fourth contest in five nights, Commerce’s legs might have been a little heavy, but they were still light enough to get past a pesky Tallulah Fall outfit, 58-47.
The Tigers, possibly still a bit drained from their comeback against Lakeview the previous night, trailed by a point in the second quarter, but ended the half with an 12-2 run to take an eight-point lead.
The Indians then cut the edge to four in the third quarter, but Randolph and Brown, who both had 15 points on the night, drained consecutive three’s to push the lead out to ten points.
Commerce didn’t look back from that point on in claiming the 11-point win.
Part of the Tigers’ success in the contest was due to the fact that they managed the ball well, committing only 11 turnovers.
“Anytime you turn the ball over less than 15 times in a high school game, you’re doing pretty good,” Gregg said.

Dragons split with Wesleyan after playing four times in five days last week
Goza reaches 1,000-point mark. Jefferson basketball teams will get somewhat of a break this week compared to last week, and boys’ coach Boling DuBose is probably glad to have it.
DuBose’s boys will travel to Gainesville Friday to take on the Lions of Lakeview. Jefferson’s girls will take the night off.
Athens Academy visits Jefferson Saturday at 6 p.m., and Tallulah Falls comes calling Tuesday, also at 6 p.m.
The Dragons split with region leaders Wesleyan Tuesday, the girls dropping a 54-49 decision and the boys recording a 20-point upset in an 83-63 win.
The win came on the heels of a five-day stretch that saw Jefferson play four games and resulted in the boys’ team dropping a 63-56 loss to Buford after leading for most of the game.
“Coming in to Tuesday night, I was really concerned,” DuBose said of the game. “I was hoping Sunday had given our guys a chance to get their legs back. We really played well on defense, because Wesleyan had been scoring a lot of points on everybody.
“We did a great job in the first half on their two big shooters, but we really didn’t play well offensively. At halftime, we already had 13 turnovers, and we talked to the guys about handling the ball well and how they couldn’t use Saturday as an excuse. Then we came out and outscored them 30-15 in the third quarter. They did a few things late that showed they’d lost their composure, and that’s when I felt like we had the game under control.”
Shaudrick Martin played what DuBose said was his best game, particularly on defense, but Martin also added 21 points on the offensive side. Jarvis Hunter led Jefferson scorers with 23, Dantonio Chandler had 18 and James Harrison 10.
DuBose also expressed frustration over Tuesday’s fan support, or rather, lack of support for his boys.
“I know the girls’ game was a rematch of the state championship and all,” DuBose said, “and everybody came out and supported them. But about a third of our folks got up and left after the girls’ game. I’m dissapointed in our fans who didn’t stay for the boys’ game, to help us try to beat the top team in the region.”
Annie Goza scored 17 and Lee DuBose added 12 for Jefferson’s girls, but the Lady Dragons lost by five in the state championship rematch.
Last Wednesday’s makeup games with Commerce left Jefferson with a long week, but the Dragons started it in style, confounding their rivals in both games.
DuBose scored 19 and Goza 18 in an 84-33 girls’ win over Commerce, and Staci Childress added 10 to the effort. Goza scored her 1,000th career point with three minutes left in the first quarter.
Hunter (19), S. Martin (17) and Chandler (17) paced Jefferson’s boys in an 85-46 win.

Panthers brace for subregion storm
Both girls’ teams unbeaten. Monroe Area will be the focal point of Region 8-AAA south basketball Friday night, as the undefeated Lady Hurricanes host the undefeated Lady Panthers at 7 p.m.
Ron Smith’s boys, currently third at 1-1 in subregion play, also hope to improve their record against the 0-3 Hurricanes.
Lady Panther head coach Chad Pittman said earlier this week that the matchup is of major importance in determining the top region tournament seed from the south.
“Monroe is really playing good basketball this year,” Pittman commented. “This week is a big one for us.”
After Friday’s game, the Panthers will host Hart County from the north side of the region Saturday, then return to subregion play Tuesday at Loganville. Start time for both nights is set for 6 p.m.
Both Panther teams soared to come-from-behind wins Tuesday at home against the Lions of Franklin County. Ashley Rainwater led Pittman’s girls with 16 in a 52-45 victory, and Buzz Wehunt scored 15 of his 34 points in the fourth quarter to rally Smith’s boys to a 71-51 win.
Franklin’s boys looked to be on their way to their second win of the season over Jackson County, up 32-23 at the half, but the Panthers roared back with a 25-point effort in the third quarter to take a six-point lead.
Wehunt hit three three-point shots in the third, and brought the home crowd to its feet with a Kodak-moment dunk in the fourth.
Dustin David added 22 points in the win, and Tim Birdette 12.
Krista Bess shook off a scary literal head-on collision during the girls’ game, but it was Rainwater who led the team to victory.
“Ashley gave us some great leadership out there, and even carried up several times,” Pittman recalled. “I was very pleased to see that. She played big for us.”
Also receiving praise from Pittman was Melissa Lerette’s rebounding, and the entire team’s effort in the fourth period.
The game was tight from the beginning, with Franklin County holding a 38-34 lead after three. That’s when the Lady Panther defense took over, holding Franklin County without a field goal in the fourth quarter and outscoring the Lady Lions 18-7
Continued on Page 3B to claim the win.
Rainwater hit a three-pointer to kick the Lady Panther offense into high gear and stake a 42-40 lead. The team would not look back from there, and hit 10 of 12 foul shots to preserve the win
“Our defense really stepped up,” Pittman remarked. “We just made up our minds at the start of the fourth quarter that we were not going to lose.”
Tosha Ransom scored 14 points and Nikki Sosebee 10 for the game.
Jackson County began last weekend with a split at Winder-Barrow.
Sosebee led the Lady Panthers to a hard-fought 71-56 victory, scoring 23 points, while Ransom’s 17 and Rainwater’s 12 added some comfort to the margin.
“That might have been the best game we’ve played all year,” Pittman recalled. “It was a really solid effort; everybody contributed.”
The Panther boys stayed close with the highly-touted Winder-Barrow boys, but came up on the short end of a 71-59 decision.
Winder had a tough time in transition against an effective zone by the Panthers, but warmed in the second quarter. Jackson County stayed in the game by keeping the pace slow and Winder’s shooters outside, but those same shooters made the difference when they warmed up, hitting 10 three-pointers in the game.
David led Jackson County with 22 points, 18 in the second half, and Wehunt added 18.
Jackson County also split with Stephens County Saturday, the girls winning 56-47 and the boys dropping a 64-55 decision.
Ransom led the Panther ladies with 12, followed by Sosebee and Carla Cato, each with 11. Bess helped seal the win late, nailing five of the team’s 12 fourth-quarter free throws.
Wehunt again led the boys, this time with 23 points. Birdette added 13 and David 11.

Raiders making progress according to coach
Boys’ squad faces tough tests in Franklin, Oconee and Hart this week. Despite a tough subregion setback to Elbert County, Raider coach Steve Crouse said his team might be playing its sharpest ball of the year.
“I’m pleased with the progress and improvement we’re making,” said Crouse. “The guys are working hard and we’re starting to play our best ball at the right time....We’ve got to focus now on our sub-region. Those games are critical.”
The critical game for Madison County this weekend will be a subregion road trip against Franklin County Friday night followed by a home match up against non-region foe Oconee Saturday.
In those games, Crouse said the team would have to contend with a “tough” Lion team armed with “two great players” in addition to an all-round standout in Oconee’s Tony Taylor, a Georgia football signee.
Taylor recently registered a quadruple-double.
The team with then take on Hart County at home Tuesday night.
The Raiders will ride the shooting touch of Ben Baker into the tough contests though.
The senior has been been lighting up the gym recently, combing for 50 points last in two contests last week.
Baker is currently averaging 17 points a game and leads Madison County at the charity stripe, hitting 71 percent.
Picking up the bulk of the rebounding, however, is Orlando Lattimore, who is averaging 9.5 rebounds. Paired with his 12.0 points per game scoring average, the junior is averaging nearly a double-double a contest.
Chris Faust has been a solid contributor as well, averaging eight points a game.
The trio of Baker, Lattimore and Faust accounts for 72.5 percent of the offense.
This past week, the three accounted for 59 points against Elbert County Friday, but it wasn’t enough to earn Madison County a subregion win as the team squandered a halftime lead in an eight-point loss.
The team however, picked up a 10-point win earlier in the week, downing Athens Christian 57-47 last Tuesday.
NOTE: The Raiders played Tuesday night against Stephens County, but results weren’t available as of press time.
A shaky third quarter Friday foiled any Raider victory thoughts in a 74-66 point loss to Elbert County.
Heading into halftime, Madison County—who led 17-13 after a quarter—had the Blue Devils reeling going on a 19-8 run to grab a five-point lead.
But Elbert County changed the complexion of the game after intermission, outscoring the Raiders 23-10 in the third period, claiming an eight point lead which they held onto the rest of the way.
Crouse praised the team’s effort in the loss, but added that to successful they’d have to play four solid quarters.
“It was our game,” he said. “We had them by 5 at the half, but Ben got in foul trouble and we fell behind...I was really pleased with our effort and the way played, but we can’t give up 23 points in a quarter and expect to win.”
Madison County had two stellar performances in the setback however.
Baker had a career night, lighting the Blue Devils up for 30 points—17 of them coming in the second quarter—and snagging five boards.
Lattimore muscled in 21 points and dominated the boards with 13 rebounds.
Christ Faust also chipped in an all-round effort, scoring seven points, grabbing nine rebounds and tallying three blocks.
Other players adding scores in the loss were Stephon White, who had five; Reshould Collins, who finished with two; and McCay, who had one.
Good free throw shooting, solid rebounding and a strong second half carried Madison County to a 57-47 win over Athens Christian last Tuesday.
“We played well,” said Crouse. “It was a two-point game at the half and we came out in the second half and started to take care of business.”
In the win, the Raiders hit 82 percent from the charity stripe (14-17) and picked up 12 more rebounds than the Eagles in pulling away from Athens Christian.
Baker had the hot hand on the floor, tallying 20 points while picking up eight rebounds. Faust also had a impressive night, registering 12 points and eight rebounds.
Lattimore turned out a strong night under the boards with 13 rebounds.
NOTES: The Raiders average 28.2 rebounds per game to 29.7 for opponents, 37.5 percent from the field compared to 42 percent for opponents and 51 points per game, compared to 59 for the opposition.

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