Area Sports...

DECEMBER 18, 2002

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Banks to get Towns County before Christmas break
Coaches Robert Sain and Mike Ruth are hoping Christmas comes a little early in Banks County this year.
Both will take their teams up against Towns County for a pre-holiday game before ending action until after Christmas.
Banks hosts Towns Thursday beginning at 7 p.m.
The Lady Leopards (1-7) go into the contest coming off their first win of the season—a win that should give the team a bit of extra confidence this week.
“It certainly can’t hurt us,” Sain said. “I’m sure they themselves and everybody around us has doubted the way we are doing things. I hope our better games are ahead of us.”
Banks will play an athletic Towns County team Thursday, a team that played a closer game with Chestatee and Flowery Branch than the Lady Leopards did.
“They play very fast,” Sain said. “We’ll have to be on top of our game to have a chance.”
The Leopards (2-6) are also riding high after a victory over Commerce Saturday.
“Maybe it will keep us rolling in the right direction,” Ruth said. “I hope we can put out the same kind of effort Thursday.
“The kids have gotten excited again and have gotten some confidence that we had lost.”
Ruth said Towns County is a big team with lots of size. The Indians will likely show a zone similar to Commerce’s style of play last weekend.
“We’ve got to be patient and swing the ball around like we did in Commerce,” Ruth said. “If people sit back in a zone, the only way we can beat them is to take some shots from the perimeter and open up the inside.”

Tigers To Get Back In Basketball Mode Over The Holidays
After a five-day crash course last week to prepare for this past Saturday’s opener with Banks County, the Commerce basketball team will now have a bit more breathing room in its preparations for the Dec. 28 and 30 WJJC Holiday Classic.
The team will hit the practice court this week and then get a needed five-day hiatus from action before the tournament in what will be the first break in athletics since the summer for those who also participated in football this past season.
The team didn’t begin practice until this past Monday since nearly all its members were participating in football until last Friday.
Despite falling 71-62 to the rival Leopards to kick off the basketball season this past Saturday night, 23-year Tiger head coach Rex Gregg said the team’s opener was encouraging given the squad’s quick transition to the basketball court.
“I was pretty well pleased with how we played with having as much practice as we had and our inexperience,” he said. “I thought we did a good job of handling their pressure to be not in any kind of basketball shape.”
Along with a cold night from the floor, Gregg said the fatigue factor played a roll in the loss as the team has yet to become acclimated to four quarters of basketball given its late start on the season.
The Tigers trailed by just four heading into the fourth quarter but saw the game slip away in the final quarter, turning the ball over nine times en route to losing by nine to the Leopards.
“We were not in any kind of shape that we needed to be in,” Gregg said.
Thirty points and 12 rebounds from Tiger sophomore Tyson Randolph weren’t enough to give a rusty Commerce team a win in its opener in falling 71-62 to Banks County.
The Tigers trailed by just four at the end of three quarters but fatigue paired with a loose handle on the ball unraveled Commerce as the Tigers were outscored 12-2 over the first 4:11 of the final period which sealed the win for the Leopards.
Commerce didn’t show many signs of rust early on, taking a 19-18 lead after a quarter off the strength three three-pointers during the period.
After falling behind by six with 4:34 in the second quarter, Randolph then caught fire, scoring nine points over the next three minutes to give Commerce a 31-30 edge.
“He had a great offensive night and played really well for a sophomore,” Gregg said. “I still think he could have shot the ball a little better.”
However, that would be the last time the Tigers would lead all night as the Leopards finished the first half with a flury, draining a three-pointer and then picking up a steal and fast-break lay-up at the halftime buzzer to take a 35-31 lead into the locker room.
Banks County then built a 10-point third quarter lead but Josh Jordan and Casha Daniels kept the Tigers a float with back-to-back three pointers to end the period. The Tigers hit on 8-of-26 attempts beyond the arc on the night.
However, Commerce couldn’t capitalize on that momentum as the Tigers were held scoreless for the first 3:33 of the fourth quarter and never able to sustain a run the rest of the way.
Following Randolph in the score book were Brandon Jennings who had nine and Caleb Jordan who added eight points and seven rebounds off the bench in his first varsity action.
“I thought that Caleb did a good job for his first varsity game,” Gregg said.
While he didn’t step up big in the scoring department, Casha Daniels had a solid night, grabbing 10 boards and handing out six assists.
“He had a good floor game, but we need more point production,” Gregg said.
While the coach was pleased with his team’s effort across the board, he added that the team can’t lean solely on Randolph for scoring.
“I thought they all did a pretty good job,” he said. We just need a few people to step up and score.”

Catfight set for Friday at Apalachee
WHEN JACKSON COUNTY travels to Apalachee this Friday, the Panthers are hoping that facing off against an opponent not in their region will mean that victory is finally headed their way.
After losing four straight games to 8-AAAA opponents (eight straight overall) Jackson County’s squad is as eager as ever to earn their first win of the season, however don’t expect the second-year Wildcats to be in the mood to help.
Apalachee heads into the contest after handing an athletic Jefferson squad a tough one-point loss on Tuesday.
Mike Odie led the Wildcats in that contest with 14 points and helped them erase a 17-point second half deficit.
Jackson County (0-8, 0-4 in 8-AAAA) should matchup favorably with the Wildcats overall, as the makeup of their team is vastly different from Jefferson’s. While the Dragons pushed the ball repeatedly Tuesday, and had but one real low-post threat, the Panthers are a team full of height and anxious to slow the game down to a half-court style.
“They’re a team that we can probably play with, but the main thing is we’re just looking forward to playing someone (other than a AAAA team),” Panther coach Ron Smith said.
So far this season, the Panthers have struggled without the likes of since departed Dustin David and Buzz Wehunt.
The duo accounted for some 46 points per game last season.
In their last game, last Friday against Eastside, Jackson County lost 81-56 to a team that Smith called an extremely athletic bunch.
“We played hard and we had the desire, but we were just outmanned,” Smith said. ‘They were big and athletic—probably the most athletic team we’ve faced other than East Hall.”
Despite the strong play of late from Kennard Mattox at the point guard position, Smith noted that the low post game has not been as productive as he would like.
Mattox, who was coming off a solid 17-point effort in the prior game against Rockdale County, reached that number again Friday albeit in a losing cause once again. Leading the way for the Panthers was John Richardson with 24 points.
Rebounding on both ends of the floor has been a sore spot for Jackson County so far this season and its an area that Smith hopes his team can begin to work on as things play out.
“We’ve got to work on getting off the floor and being more aggressive on the glass,” Smith said. “We’re getting some points out of our point-guard Kennard Mattox and John Richardson is starting to come on, so we’ve just got to get Clay Scott going on the inside.”
Scott, a 6-foot-8-inch junior has played well at times this season from the center position.
Fortunately for the Panthers none of the four region games the team has played thus far were against teams in their sub-region, which means they are still in good shape in that regard despite their record.

Late Wildcat spurt dooms Dragons
THE JEFFERSON BOYS were involved in their most exciting game of the season thus far Tuesday night, but infortunately for them, they came out on the wrong end of the result.
Despite leading by 17 points at the half, and 14 points at the end of the third quarter, the Dragons were outplayed in the game’s final eight minutes and fell 56-55 following a thrilling series of events.
With Jefferson up nine points and 3:46 remaining on the clock, things began to unravel for the Dragons following a inbound violation by Jefferson star pivot man Shaudrick Martin.
From that point onward, the Wildcats forced Jefferson into three successive turnovers and went on a 10-0 run over the next 2:18 to take the lead by one.
Jefferson then went down low to Martin who netted his final shot of the game on a post up move in the paint to give the Dragons a 54-53 advantage with just under a minute to play in the contest. Later, with 45.6 seconds to go Tierre Shields hit the front end of a one-and-one to increase the lead to two points and things were looking good. But, Apalachee ran the clock down on the next possession and got a tough look despite a fierce zone defense by the Dragons.
The resulting shot went down and the Wildcats went home with their second win of the season over the Dragons.
Shields had a lay-in rim just out with under 10 seconds to play and a desperation 3-pointer by Martin was off target to end the game.
Apalachee earned the win despite only having one player reach double figures in scoring, Scott Hopkins (14), while Martin led all players with 23 points.
Duran Rakestraw added 13 points and Montray Riley chipped in with 10 to round things out for the Dragons.
The loss put a damper on what had been an extremely successful pair of games last weekend during which Jefferson went on the road and picked up two big region victories.
Friday the Dragons upended Athens Christian in impressive followed by another stellar outing at Social Circle on Saturday.
The Dragons played arguably their best basketball of the season during an 87-60 demolishing of the Redskins, led by a superstar effort from their freshman guard Duran Rakestraw.
Rakestraw was unstoppable on the evening, scoring a career-high 37 points in the game.
Martin added 24 points of his own in the contest, as the duo combined to total more together than the entire Redskin lineup did in the game.
Riley added 11 points also and helped the Dragons brake things open in the third quarter by going on an impressive 28-8 spurt to take control.
Patrick Parker had 17 points for the Redskins, and Cagney Crawford chipped in with 14 in the losing effort.
Jefferson is now off until they travel to Habersham Central to take part in the annual Raider Rumble holiday tournament from Dec. 26-30.

A Raider rout in Apalachee
They won.
Not just that.
They dominated.
Madison County took first in a 12-team tournament at Apalachee this past weekend, compiling a 320.5 team total, with the next closest team, Class AA’s second ranked Oglethorpe County, tallying 230.
“It meant a lot (to win the tournament),” said Madison County coach Steve Mason, who pointed out that his team earned a top 10 Class AAAA ranking this week. “Hopefully we’ll keep improving each week and by the area tournament, if everyone wrestles well at the same time, I think we’ll have a shot.”
Madison County topped Grayson, which is ranked in AAA; Apalachee, Winder, Duluth, West Hall, South Forsyth, Chestatee, East Hall, Tucker and Gainesville.
Three Raiders grappled their way to the gold by winning their respective weight classes. Walker Overstreet took first in the 103 lb. division. David Giles won the 119 lb. weight class and Matt Kittle took the top prize in the heavyweight division for the second straight week. He won first at the Panther Invitational two weeks ago.
A trio of Raiders also grabbed second place: Joseph McDivitt, 125; Mark Arnold, 189; and Robert Geiger, 215. The J.J.’s on the team — Brueshaber and Gunnells — both placed as well, taking third in the 145 lb. division and fourth in the 112 lb. class.
“Everybody wrestled farely well,” said Mason.
Mason’s squad also handily defeated Newton and Oglethorpe County in a tri-meet last Tuesday. The coach noted that Tyler Johnson performed well, beating a wrestler who finished fourth in his weight class in Class AAAA last year. He also pointed out that the junior varsity wrestlers had good showing.
Mason’s squad will travel to Morgan County this Saturday for the Avado Branch Tournament. After that, the squad won’t compete again in 2002.
But the team won’t get to relax too much over the holidays. Instead, they’ll be preparing for one of their toughest challenges of the year, the Jan. 3-4, 32-team Gwinnett County Invititional, which will include powerhouses such as Parkview, Collins Hill and McEachern.
“That’s probably the toughest tournament in the state,” said Mason.
While the coach seemed pleased with his team’s recent performances, he said his squad has been “pretty banged up” and he noted that there are still plenty of improvements to make.
“We’ve just got to develop consistency,” he said.

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  Banks County
Date Opponent Score
8/30 at Oglethorpe Co 18-21
9/13 Commerce
9/20 Wesleyan
9/27 at Buford
10/04 Apalachee
10/11 at Dawson Co.
10/18 Rabun Co. 20-48
11/1 at GAC
11/8 Lumpkin Co.
11/15 at Union Co.

Date Opponent Score
9/6 Franklin Co.
9/13 at Banks Co.
9/20 at Morgan Co.
10/04 Lincoln Co.
10/11 Madison Co.
10/18 at Athens Acad.
10/25 Athens Christ.
11/1 at Towns Co.
11/8 Jefferson
11/15 at Social Circle

  Jackson County
Date Opponent Score
8/30 Winder-Barrow
9/13 at Clarke-Centl. 12-41
9/20 Eastside
9/27 at Salem
10/11 at Newton Co.
10/18 Heritage
10/25 Rockdale Co.
11/1 at Habersham Cen.
11/8 Loganville
11/15 at Cedar Shoals

Date Opponent Score
8/30 Apalachee
9/6 Union County
9/13 at Lumpkin Co.
9/20 at Landmark Christian
9/27 Monticello 42-26
10/11 Athens Christ.
10/18 Towns Co.
10/25 at Social Circle
11/8 at Commerce
11/15 at Athens Acadm.

  Madison County
Date Opponent Score
8/30 Franklin Co.
9/6 at Hancock Cent.
9/13 at Athens Acad.
9/20 Monroe Area
9/27 Jefferson Co.
10/4 Grayson
10/11 at Commerce
10/18 Northview
11/1 Buford
11/8 Cross Keys
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