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April 10, 2002

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Banks taps ‘Ole Rocky Top’
Sain to take over as athletic director, girls’ basketball coach
For the first time ever, Banks County has gone out of state to fill a varsity head coach vacancy.
Thursday, the board of education hired Robert Sain as head girls’ basketball coach and athletic director.
Sain was the girls’ hoops coach at Tullahoma High School in Tullahoma, Tenn.
“I found the job on the internet and did some research and talked to some coaching friends I had in Georgia,” Sain said in a telephone interview this week. “They said Banks County is always competitive and had support in basketball. I wanted to coach where basketball is important to the kids and the community.”
Along with his coaching duties, Sain will take over as athletic director. Current athletic director Greg Moore will step down to devote more time to football.
“It will let me concentrate more on football and not so much on paperwork,” Moore said.
For Sain, the AD position will be his first taste of administrative work, something he hopes to get more of in the future.
“On down the road, I plan to get into administration,” Sain said. “This is a chance to get administrative experience that you can’t get as just a coach.”
Sain has a masters in education and will earn his educational specialist degree in educational leadership in May.
Tullahoma sits about 60 miles northwest of Chattannooga in Coffee County in middle Tennessee. The town itself has a population larger than all of Banks County.
Coffee County, Tenn., has nearly 50,000 residents. That’s more people than in neighboring Jackson County.
Tullahoma High School has close to 1,100 students, almost twice as many as BCHS.
“It will be an adjustment for me,” Sain said. “My first year coaching was at a school about the same size at Banks County.”
Sain’s Lady Wildcats in Tullahoma competed in Tennessee’s largest high school classification against what he called “some of the best competition around.”
Sain, a Coffee County native, has been at Tullahoma High since 1997, compiling a 59-75 record. He was named coach of the year in his team’s district in 1998. He has also won awards coaching girls’ tennis at the school. The Lady Wildcats posted a 3-25 record this season under Sain.
Prior to coaching at Tullahoma, Sain has coached at Cannon County High School, Woodbury, Tenn., and Union University, Jackson, Tenn. He was also a student coach at David Lipscomb University, Nashville.
Sain said he uses no one particular coaching style, but adapts a style to fit his team.
“I want to come down and watch the kids and see them work out,” he said. “I’ll try to find the style that fits the personnel and use that personnel to attack the other team’s weakness.”
He said he looks forward to working with the Lady Leopards’ young talent.
Sain said he plans to visit Banks County over the next two months to meet with players and parents. He said he and his wife and daughter plan to move to the county in June.

Tigers Snap Losing Skid, Looking For More Wins
Commerce Downs Providence 3-2, Set For Three More Region Contests This Week
Winning cures all ills. And a quick-fix remedy is just what Tiger head baseball coach David Cash said his outfit needed.
Commerce got their medicine Monday in a form of a 3-2 win over Providence, snapping a six-game losing streak and giving them a notch in the region win column.
“Morale is greatly improved,” Cash said of his team. “We’ve had adversity on and off the field. Our feelings were low. After getting thumped by Jefferson, this team had every reason to lay down and give up.”
But Cash said he hopes the team’s first win in 8-A play can serve as a shot in the arm as they head into key region games this week with Buford Thursday, Tallulah Falls Friday and Lakeview Monday.
With a 1-1 record and tied for third place in the region right now, the Commerce Tigers’ postseason hopes are still alive according to Cash due to the parity in the region this year. Besides Jefferson, which looks to be the dominant outfit of 8-A with a 3-0 mark right now, the remaining three passes to the state tournament seem to be up for grabs.
“They take four teams from the region,” Cash said. “Jefferson may be the best, but after that, it’s yet to be seen. At 1-1 after two games, we’ve got a shot to sneak in.”
One positive on the diamond Tigers have in their arsenal in the upcoming region play is the impressive play of the Commerce seniors right now.
Craig Henderson has been the top player from the plate and the mound so far, leading the team with a .444 batting average while picking up the only two wins this year for the Tiger pitching staff.
“He’s been holding up really well and has been a really good example,” Cash said.
Cash also added that Scott White “is hitting the ball really well” and Kevin Wilson has been solid defensively.
The Commerce Tigers ridded themselves of a six-game losing streak Monday with an impressive 3-2 road win over Providence Christian Academy for their second victory of the season and first in 8-A play.
Henderson was the standout of the day, shutting down Stars’ bats with impressive mound work, and then turning around and burned them from the plate in the win.
Henderson worked seven solid innings in strongest pitching performance of the year, surrendering six hits, two runs, no earned runs while striking out two to up his record to 2-4 on the season.
From the plate, Henderson helped out his own cause, going two-for-three and accounting for two of the Tigers’ three scores with RBIs in the first and second innings.
Henderson started things off in the first by bringing home Josh Haynes, who reached base via a walk, with a single that scored the sophomore from second base to give Commerce the early 1-0 lead.
Providence then generated two unearned runs in the second inning, putting runners on off a hit and walk and bringing them both home off a Tiger error to pull ahead 2-1.
Henderson then pulled his team even with Providence in the second with an RBI double to score Haynes once again.
Fellow senior White, who went 2-3 on the day took over from there, drilling a double later on in the inning to score Henderson to give Commerce the 3-2 edge.
A one-run lead was all Henderson would need as he took command of the remainder of the contest, shutting Providence out over the last five innings to seal the win.
A fast start quickly went south for Commerce Friday against rival-Jefferson in a 15-3, five-inning drumming on the road in the Tigers’ region opener.
After the Tigers latched on a to a quick 1-0 lead over Jefferson in the first inning, the region-leading Dragons snatched away any upset thoughts, striking for 15 unanswered runs over the final three innings in the 12-run win.
Commerce had the hot bats initially, with senior Craig Henderson rifling a triple to right field to score Sam Cutler, giving the Tigers the early lead.
Pitcher Josh Haynes then complimented the solid hitting with some early, timely pitching, setting down the Dragons in order in the bottom of the first.
However, the turning point of the ball game could be pin-pointed to the top of the second when the Tigers but runners at first and second with back-to-back singles from Kevin Wilson and Hank Tiller with one out but failed to score.
Jefferson followed their defensive stand with an offensive outburst, burying Commerce in the bottom the second with a nine-run explosion.
The Dragons tallied their first four runs of that inning without the help of an RBI hit, getting their scores instead off an error, a sacrifice fly, a bases loaded walk and a bases loaded hit-by-pitch to take a three-run edge.
Jefferson then scored their fifth run of the inning on an infield hit before a costly error off a base hit to right allowed three more runs to score to push the lead to 8-1. The Dragons collected their ninth run off the inning off an RBI single to pad their lead at eight.
With Commerce staggering offensively, Jefferson added to their lead in the bottom of the third with a RBI single followed by a two-run blast to center field by Tyler Murphy to increase the edge to 12-1.
The Tigers then put two runners on in the following inning, but couldn’t bring them home.
Commerce then came close to falling victim to the 15-run deficit mercy rule in the fourth with Jefferson adding two more scores to push their lead out to 15-1.
Down by 14 runs, the offense that Commerce enjoyed in the opening two innings re-emerged in the top of the fifth as Caleb Jordan, who singled to start the inning, scored on an error for Commerce’s second run of the night followed by Chad Jordan who ripped an RBI single for the Tigers’ final score of the contest.
A grand slam and six RBIs from White weren’t enough to tip the scales Wednesday against Athens Academy as the Spartans took a 14-9 win over Commerce in Athens.
The win over Tigers was Athens Academy’s second in six days, previously downing Commerce 14-6 on March 28.
The Tigers trailed 10-2 in the fifth inning, but got back in the ball game on one swinging of White’s bat as the senior went deep to clear the bases to cut the lead to 10-6.
White then tried to rally Commerce in the sixth, doubling home two runs to cut the Spartan lead to 12-9. However, Athens Academy moved back out to a comfortable lead again, tacking on two more runs in the bottom half of the inning.

Panthers hope to get mental with Franklin
It may have been baseball icon and philosopher Yogi Berra who said that 99 percent of baseball is half mental, but it’s the 2002 Jackson County Panthers who’ve proved it.
Head coach Van Samples and his Panthers will welcome the Lions of Franklin County to Panther Field Thursday, and one thing about the game is certain: One team will walk away with its first region win of the 2002 season.
With both Franklin County and Jackson County struggling at 0-7 in region play, something’s got to give. Samples hopes that something is his team’s defensive woes.
“It’s not just that we’ve had errors,” Samples said of the Panthers’ season to date, “it’s that we’ve had errors at crucial moments.”
Crucial indeed. Like two-out boots with men in scoring position, or late-inning dropped fly balls in a tied game.
“Russ [Johnston] and Trey [McConnell] have pitched well, and so have our two younger guys,” Samples continued. “The kids in the field have just got to start believing that they can play with these other guys in our region. I believe it, but they’ve got to believe it, too.”
After Thursday, the Panthers will host Monroe Area Monday and Elbert County next Wednesday.
Region games were rained out Tuesday, and reschedule dates had not been obtained at press time.
Though they continued to struggle in the field, the Panthers showed a side they haven’t very often this season – the ability to rally.
Down 7-1, Jackson County exploded for six runs in the sixth inning to tie Eastside, but yielded two more in the seventh for a 9-7 home loss.
“We hit the ball pretty well,” Samples said of his team’s lack of offense for six of seven innings. “We just hit the ball right at them.”

Dragons to host Jefferson Relays Saturday
Jefferson High School will host the 38th annual Jefferson Relays Saturday at Bryan/Keen track at Memorial Stadium. Field events are set to get underway at 10 a.m., and track events will follow at 1 p.m.
Among the teams expected to participate are four defending state champions and four runners-up.
In Group I, which features teams from the state’s three largest classifications, Stephenson looks to be a heavy favorite, coming off second-place finishes in 2001 in both the girls’ and boys’ Class AAAAA state meets. Jefferson head coach James Pinion indicated that Elbert County would likely also bring strong teams.
It’s Group II, however, that will likely feature the most heated competition, with four returning state championship teams in the group. Crim and Landmark Christian – both of whom swept both the girls’ and boys’ state meets in their respective classifications – are expected to contend for the Group II meet title.
Other teams expected to participate include Jackson County, Banks County, Athens Academy, Oglethorpe County, Habersham Central, Starr’s Mill, Collins Hill, Washington-Wilkes, Apalachee, Troup County, Brookwood, Griffin, North Atlanta, Lovett, St. Pius, Salem, North Gwinnett and Sandy Creek.
Seethis weeks Jackson Herald for schedule of events.

Searching for a power outlet
Home run total sits at zero this year in 7-8 Raider start
Back in its hey day, Atlanta- Fulton County Stadium, the old home of the Braves, was affectionately christened the “Launching Pad” because of the frequency in which baseballs used to fly out of the ball park.
Not too many years ago, the once home run-happy Red Raiders could have easily given their own stadium a similar nickname given the number of balls the team launched into either the now-removed pine trees past left field or on Madison Street just beyond the right field wall.
But Madison County long balls have almost become extinct these days—no matter what ballpark they’re playing in.
Through 15 games this year, the team has yet to go deep, continuing a decrease in home run totals each season that began after the Raiders’ overwhelming power year of their 1998 state runner-up campaign when they drilled 52 homers.
In fact, the homer run trot has become all but a lost art the past two seasons with the team hitting a scant nine last year.
Though the power decline started after the breakout year of ‘98, the team still showed a penchant for power in subsequent seasons. The team hit 37 in 1999, including eight homers in a March 4, 1999 win over Winder-Barrow and then enjoyed a six-homer day later that year, April 9, 1999, against Habersham Central.
The home run total dipped a bit more again in 2000, but stayed respectable with the team hitting 32.
However, the bottom fell out a year ago as the team was held to single figures in long balls in a 14-12 campaign, their lowest win total since the 1991 season when they went 13-10.
And with their homerless season so far this year, Madison County is off to their second consecutive 7-8 start.
In fact, there are only two players on the team who have ever hit a home run in varsity baseball—Adam Nash, who hit four last year, and Stephen Seagraves, who collected three his sophomore year in 2000.
Raider head coach Charlie Griffeth said just having a few power hitters can make a big difference in power numbers.
The coach said that past lineups had a few long ball hitters which provided protection to the rest of the lineup. Since a lot more players went up to the plate swing away, more baseballs made their way out of the ball park.
“They kind of had someone to set the standard,” Griffeth said.
While a few home runs wouldn’t solve all the Raiders’ problems this year, it sure would aid their cause as they compete for the four passes to the state tournament in Region 8-AAA.
“Well it would definitely help us,” Griffeth said. “...To get three runs on one swing rather than having to get six hits to get three runs.”
Sitting in a five-way tie for third place, Madison County faces another big week in region play, taking on two of the teams they share that spot with, Eastside and Hart County.
The Raiders picked up a big win last Wednesday with a 6-3 road win over then 4-1 Winder-Barrow. However, the team then dropped a key region contest Friday, falling 7-4 to Stephens County.
The Raiders will now take on Eastside today (Wednesday) in a makeup of a game that was rained-out Tuesday. Madison County then takes on perennial region power Hart County Friday.
Griffeth said all the region games are big now.
“What it boils down to is that they’re all just as big as Hart,” he said.
That means that the team then can’t afford a perennial Monday when they face Franklin County Monday, who they beat 17-0 earlier this year.
Griffeth also pointed out that its especially important to win the ones your own backyard. All three of Madison County’s region losses have come at home.
“You’ve to win your home games,” Griffeth added.

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