Area Sports...

January 23, 2002

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Panthers upend top-ranked Bulldoggs; ladies can clinch subregion Friday against Monroe
Jackson County will host Monroe Area Friday in what will be a crucial game for both Panther basketball teams. Chad Pittmanıs Lady Panthers can clinch the 8-AAA south subregion title with a win, while Ron Smithıs boys can tie for the top subregion spot if they win out.
The Panthers will travel to Eastside Saturday to make up a prevously postponed game, and host the Eagles Tuesday to close the subregion slate. Madison County will welcome the Panthers next Friday in the regular-season finale.
The Winder-Barrow Bulldoggs brought the stateıs top ranking in Class AAA to the Panther Pit Friday, but went home with their tails tucked between their legs. Jackson County handed the Doggs a 78-70 loss in an in-your-face, bump-and-run matchup that looked as though it might boil over at any moment.
Jackson County led by one at the half, but took control in the second half, leading by seven late in the third period.
Winderıs coach called his last timeout with more than half of the fourth quarter remaining, and the Bulldoggs lost their starting low post with six minutes left. Dustin David fouled out with two minutes remaining and the score tightened, but the Panthers held on for a thrilling win.
Buzz Wehunt led the Panthers with 32 points, and Tim Birdette added 24. David scored 19.
The Lady Panthers overcame a 20-point halftime deficit against Winder to remain undefeated in subregion play with a 59-51 win. Jackson Countyıs 31-point third quarter effort made the difference in the game.
³It doesnıt get much better than that third quarter,² head coach Chad Pittman said. ³Thatıs as solid as we can play. We told the girls at the half that we werenıt going to go home with a loss; for us to come out and score 31 and take the lead in the third quarter, thatıs just incredible.²

Dragons dominate area duals; at Social Circle Saturday
Jeffersonıs varsity wrestling team took another step toward making history this week, pounding Social Circle and Wesleyan in Saturdayıs Area 4-A duals to qualify for the state duals Feb. 16 at Adairsville. Wesleyan finished second and also qualified.
The Dragons started the morning by drilling Social Circle 78-6. Jefferson won 13 of 14 weight classes, and won by first-period pin in nine. Winners were Will Roper, Corey Mack, Jeremiah Wilson, Nathaniel Wilson, Scott Nix, Jason Fields, Blake Gooch, Forrest Garner, Hunter Garner, Daniel Love, Jeremy Smith, Todd Freeman and Hunter Glenn.
Wesleyan started off with momentum against Jefferson, winning two of the first four matches to stay close at 12-9, but the Dragon machine began to roll from there, capping the meet with 10 straight wins for a 67-9 final margin. Roper, J. Wilson, Nix, Fields, Gooch, F. Garner, H. Garner, Love, Smith, Glenn and Chris Seibert all won, but it was Jake Gurley who stole the show with a first-period pin at 189 that brought Dragon fans to their feet.
The Dragons will travel to Social Circle Saturday for the Area 4-A individual tournament. Head coach Doug Thurmond emphasized the importance of each individual doing well at area in order for the team to make a strong showing next week at the state level at Adairsville.
³Each of our guys knows that the higher they place this weekend, the better theyıll be in the first round at state,² Thurmond said. ³Iım real pleased with the job they did Saturday, and I hope they keep improving. Weıve got to work on staying in shape and staying healthy, and weıll have a good possibility of pretty good if we can do that.²
Matches will begin Saturday at 9 a.m.

Raiders look for redemption in rematches this week
If redemption is on the minds of the Red Raiders, this would be the week to settle some scores.
After all, Madison County will match up with three squads—Franklin, Oconee and Hart—that downed them earlier this month in games where the Raiders were victims of their own second-half lapses.
Madison County was in striking distance in their Jan. 18 meeting with the Lions before they melted down in the third quarter in a 65-54 loss.
A night later against the Warriors, Madison County squandered a fourth quarter lead in a 65-61 defeat.
And against Hart County Jan. 22, the squad trailed by only five at the half, but faltered again in the third quarter in a 82-63 loss.
In order to exact some revenge this time around, head coach Steve Crouse said his team will have learn to adjust when they start to go cold.
He added that the lapses can usually be pinpointed to a single quarter.
³We always talk about that one quarter and itıs never usually the same one,² Crouse said.
If Madison County is to avoid those shaky stretches this week, solid defense might be the key.
³Weıve got to play well defensively night in and night out,² Crouse said.
The defense will have to be ready this weekend because both Franklin and Oconee will throw potent offensive duos at them.
The Lions will feature standouts Amanzo Gantt and Matt Shoemaker and Oconee will sport the tandem of Tony Taylor and Mitchell Jones.
Crouse said theyıve had success containing Shoemaker this season, but have ended up getting burned by Gantt, whoıs torched the Raiders for 57 points in two meeting this year.
As for Taylor and Jones, the two left a sizable dent in the Madison County defense the last time out.
Taylor racked up 21 points and 11 assists while Jones tallied 17 points and 15 rebounds.
The defense wonıt get the night off in their rematch with Hart County either, who put up the highest point total of any Madison County foe this year in the first meeting.
The Raiders will kick off this weekıs stretch of games with Franklin County Friday at home and will hit the road against Oconee Saturday and Hart Tuesday.
Crouse added that the teamıs home matchup with the Lions could bring some excitement to the Raider gym.
³We seem to shot better at home than we do on the road,² the coach said. ³...Theyıll (Franklin) will bring a big crowd, so itıs going to be a good atmosphere. Iım excited.²
Madison County comes into the contests with the baggage of a six game losing streak with their most recent setback coming Saturday night in a 74-42 loss to Elbert.
Crouse said one quarter in a game usually seemed to throw things off for his squad.
Against Elbert County that quarter came right away.
The Blue Devils buried Madison County under a 22-7 barrage and Madison County never recovered the 32-point defeat.
³We usually have a tough quarter, but itıs not usually the first,² Crouse said.

Tigers Look To Regain Shooting Touch
After shooting blanks this weekend, the Commerce Tiger basketball team wants to come out firing bullets during this weekıs crucial region stretch.
Commerce, which hit a scant 31.3 percent (31-99) of their attempts from the floor in contests against Wesleyan and Buford, will look to regain their shooting touch heading into key 8-A contests against Tallulah Falls Friday, Rabun Gap Saturday and Providence Academy Tuesday.
The team also took on Lakeview Academy this past Tuesday, but results werenıt available as of press time.
Tiger head basketball coach Rex Gregg said the team canıt afford to have a similar shooting performance to what they experienced in the losses to Buford and Wesleyan.
³Offensively, we had a horrible weekend,² he said. ³...Weıre not good enough to overcome that...When youıre not shooting good, everything looks bad. Weıve just got to put the ball in the basket. Thatıs the name of the game.²
Sharp shooting will be especially important this week with postseason play just around the corner.
³This week is a big week,² he said. ³Weıve got to play well in these last two weeks. The region tournament is going to be extremely hard.²
According to Gregg, the 8-A tournament will feature three ³really good² teams in Wesleyan, Jefferson and Buford, in addition to Providence which Gregg said was emerging as a dark horse, pointing to the Starsı 53-51 win over Buford.
The coach said it was important for his team to grab the fifth seed in the tournament—a position that could be secured with a win over Lakeview this past Tuesday night (results not available) and one more region victory.
And the team will have a good shot at padding their region win column this week, taking on two teams that theyıve already topped—Tallulah Falls and Rabun Gap.
Commerce downed the Indians 58-47 Jan. 6 while beating Rabun Gap this past Tuesday 75-53.
Providence Christian, the regionıs fourth-place team, topped Commerce by 18 Jan. 18, however.
Commerce dropped to 3-6 in the region this past week with their losses to Wesleyan (79-40) and Buford (69-36)—two teams that were red-hot from the floor.
Both shot over 50 percent from the field and better than 43 percent from beyond the arc.
³They shot the lights out from the three-point line,² Greg said.
Despite the shooting barrage, Gregg said his team gave a solid effort this weekend.
³I thought we played hard,² the coach said. ³Itıs hard to do that when youıre not making any shots.²
The two losses followed Commerce 22-point win over Rabun Gap which Gregg called ³the best ball weıve played all year.²
Commerce ran into a Buford team that clicked on all cylinders all night long in a 33-point loss Saturday.
³Buford was really quick and athletic,² Gregg said.
The Wolves could execute too.
Buford hit 58 percent from the field and 43.8 percent from beyond the arc while turning the ball over only seven times.
Conversely, the Tigers struggled to find the basket, hitting only 28.6 from the floor.
Buford was hot from the floor early on, outscoring Commerce 10-2 over the last 3:48 to take a commanding 20-9 edge after a quarter of play.
Buford then hit another spurt in the last five minutes of the second quarter, outscoring the Tigers 11-1 to give them a 34-15 lead after intermission.
The Wolves then extended their lead in the third quarter taking a 53-26 lead after three quarters of play before leading by as much as 36 points in the fourth quarter.
Adam Bagwell led all Tiger scorers with nine points and also snagged five boards.
Commerceıs top two scorers on the year were both held below double digits for the second straight night with Rob Brown scoring six points and Tyson Randolph adding five.
Others chipping in offensively were Nick Slayton, who had eight; Brandon Jennings and Chris Kidd, who both finished with three; and Dustin Martin and Scott White, who both added one.
The Friday matchup with Wesleyan mirrored the Tigersı contest with Buford.
Commerce shot only 34.1 percent from the floor, hit half of their free throws and was just three of 17 from beyond the arc in the 39-point loss.
However, region front-runner Wesleyan was red hot offensively, nailing 10 and hit over half their shot from the floor while turning the ball over only eight times to pick up their 10th? region win of the year.
³Wesleyan just had a bunch of kids that could shoot the ball,² Gregg said.
The Wolves jumped out to a 22-9 edge after a quarter of play and led by 20 at the half. Wesleyan then outscored Commerce 38-19 in the second half to coast to the win.
Nick Slayton registered in double figures in the loss, leading Commerce with 12 points while grabbing six rebounds.
Others getting in the scorebook were Brown, who had eight points; Randolph, who finished with six; Martin, who had four; White and Casha Daniels, who tallied three; and Vonté Reed, who finished with two.
Commerce heated up in second half last Tuesday night in their stomping of Rabun Gap, outscoring the Lions 42-26 over the last two quarters to take the 22-point win.
The Tigers had a field day offensively, enjoying their highest offensive output of the year while also getting four players in double figures.
Brown led the team with 23 points while Slayton added a career-high 18 and Randolph threw in 14.
Bagwell also had a career night, earning a double-double with 12 points and 17 rebounds.
As a team, the Tigers were solid from the floor, hitting 41 percent of their shots.
Commerce also dominated the boards, out-rebounding Rabun Gap 64-35.
Commerce ran out to a 19-12 edge after a quarter of play but were outscored 15-14 by the Lions in the second quarter to take a slim 33-27 edge into the locker room.
However, Commerce started to pull away in the third quarter, outscoring Rabun Gap 23-17 to grab a 12-point edge.
The Tigers then finished off the Lions with a 19-9 run in the final quarter.
Others adding points in the win were Daniels with four, and White and Kidd, with two apiece.

Leopards end losing skid with Rabun win
Banks to face East Hall, Union. The season is quickly coming to a close for the Leopards. And if they want to get any wins, theyıll have to do it on the road.
Banks has only three regular season games remaining. Friday, the Leopards are scheduled to travel to Dawson County. Banks fell 67-61 in overtime the last two time the teams faced.
The Leopards will then head to Union County Tuesday. Banks lost 75-68 in their first game with Union in December.
Itıs not too often that football is compared with basketball. But last Friday night, the fans at the Leopardsı basketball game saw some similarities.
Banks Countyıs football team downed Rabun County in November to end a losing streak. Friday, the basketball team took a 67-35 win over the Wildcats to end a four-game losing skid.
The Leopards pretty much controlled the game from the get-go. Banks fell behind 5-4 in the early minutes of the opening quarter, but quickly took off on an 11-3 scoring run to close the quarter up 18-8.
Rabun was able to cut the gap to only four going into the half. But Banks bounced back in the third quarter. The Leopards outscored Rabun 28-9 to take a commanding 54-31 lead.
They followed in the fourth, holding the Wildcats to only four points, all of which came with less than two minutes to play. Banks County had already substituted its starters by then.
Matt Dale led the scoring attack, pouring on 24 points. He was also a perfect four for four from the free throw line and hit four three-pointers.
Cody Whitlock was also in double digits, adding 10.
Others scoring were: Corey Sims, six; Seth McCoy, five; Kyle Duncan and Kyle Roberts, four; Dustin Bonds and Tyler Sims, three; and Will Gordon and Alex Cruce, two.
Rabun County didnıt have a single scorer in double digits.
Banks County was edged out 62-52 by GAC last week.
C. Sims led the scoring with 15 points, coming off five three-pointers. Reggie Smith added 12.
Also scoring were: Whitlock, seven; T. Sims, six; Kris Drummond, three; and Gordon, Dale and McCoy, two.
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