Area Sports...

DECEMBER 25, 2002

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Two in a row
Leopards gets second straight win with low-scoring victory over Towns
It wasn’t pretty, but the Leopards will probably take it anyway.
In one of the lowest scoring games in the teams’ recent history, Banks pulled out a 43-33 victory over Towns County.
“The main thing I was pleased in was that our kids were very patient against the zone,” coach Mike Ruth said. “A few times we tried to force the action and turned it over.”
Against Towns, the two teams combined for less than 30 points in the first half. In fact, Banks scored more points in the fourth quarter (17) than it did in the entire first half (16).
The Indians matched-up as a big team, especially inside.
However, Kyle Roberts still managed to somewhat control Towns’ big guy, Robert Elliott. Roberts continued his defensive dominance, getting several key blocked shots against Elliott and other Towns County players.
“Kyle did another great job,” Ruth said.
Elliott was able to put together 19 points in the loss, though most of those came during periods when Roberts was on the bench.
Banks had two scorers in double digits against the Indians.
Matt Dale led the team with 13 points. He was also perfect in four tries from the charity stripe. He had one long ball as well, the teams’ only.
Reggie Smith added 10 points in the effort.
Also scoring were: Seth McCoy and K. Roberts, seven; Dustin Bonds, four; and Kyle Duncan, two.

Still Scorching
Lady Panthers ready for holiday tourney following sixth-straight win
A month ago anyone taking a glance at the record of the Jackson County girls might very well have suspected that the team was headed for a particularly rough ride this season. But, following a month long surge fueled by dynamic full court pressure with a myriad of fast-break opportunities created, the team is now sitting at the top of the 8-AAAA North sub-region. With an undefeated region mark through four games and an impressive 6-3 overall record with the season’s unofficial breakpoint now nearly over, the team head’s back onto the floor this Friday to take on Franklin County after a week’s absence for the holidays.
The game is the first in of a series of contests for the Lady Panthers in the Hart County Christmas Tournament on Dec.27-28 and Dec. 30.
At the round-robin event, Jackson County will face off against three familiar foes, all of which were in the their region last season—prior to the team’s move up to the ranks of Class AAAA.
The Lady Panthers will play Hart County and Elbert County respectively following Friday’s game, which is a chance for the team to record their seventh win in the month of December.
Last week, Jackson County held off Apalachee 65-50 following an extremely balanced effort that included four Lady Panthers reaching double-figures en route to the win.
Leading the way was point guard Ashley Rainwater, whose 16 points helped her team build an insurmountable lead the the Wildcats could never quite close the gap on.
Nikki Sosebee and Tosha Ransom each netted 12 points in the win, with the team’s constant inside-outside philosophy working to perfection in the contest.
Ransom’s post up game caused fits for Apalachee defenders who were eventually forced to double-team her in the paint. From there, the Lady Panther shooters took over, with Rainwater, as well as the versatility of Sosbee, causing Apalachee problems. In addition, Cecilia Hill also added 10 points from her position down low as the tandem of her and Ransom continued to cause problems for opposing defenses in the paint. Although Friday’s win saw the duo’s two-game streak of a combined 30 points or more per contest end, Rainwater’s hot shooting complimented them nicely and help spur the team to the victory.

Tiger Grapplers To Open Season In Keen Classic Friday
The Commerce matmen surely won’t ease their way into the 2002-2003 season.
The Tiger wrestlers are set to face defending state champion Jefferson and a host of other solid wrestling outfits in the Keen Classic Friday.
The team finished fifth in the event last year.
The Commerce wrestlers, which finished fifth in the state last year in Class A, will take just two weeks of practice time with them into the tournament as the Tiger grapplers didn’t start practice until the conclusion of the Commerce football season which ended Dec. 6.
After the Keen Classic, the Tigers will hit the mat again Friday, Jan. 3 at home in a tri-meet against Green County and Johnson. Varsity, junior varsity and middle school squads will all participate.

Dragons decimate field at Starr’s Mill tourney
Jefferson prepares to host Keen Classic on Friday
WRESTLERS FROM 12 different schools will hit the mat this weekend for the annual Keen Classic at Jefferson High School beginning at 9 a.m. on Friday.
The event has been expanded some from last year, with an additional four schools coming into this year’s Classic with a field including many top programs in the state.
“We’ve got some real tough, stiff competition coming up and we’ll be tested,” Dragon coach Doug Thurmond said.
A talented pool of Class A teams starts with the top-ranked Dragons, followed by No. 3 Landmark Christian, No. 8 Brookstone, and No. 10 Social Circle.
Also, Class AA powerhouses from Dawson County (No. 2), Decatur (No. 7), Lumpkin County (No. 8) and Oglethorpe (No. 10) will be at JHS this weekend as well as others.
Last weekend, Dragon grapplers proved once again that they are one of the best wrestling programs in the state, as they traveled to Starr’s Mill to take part in a predominantly Class AAAAA event.
Of the 21 schools competing in Fayetteville last weekend, all but two were from the state’s largest classification. And, despite the relative size differences in enrollment, there was no mistaking who was the top school last Saturday.
After picking up the tournament just a week in advance to fill in for a planned trip to Tampa, Fla. that was canceled, all the Dragons did was head into a meet with some of Georgia’s most recognized schools and come away with their ninth win of the season.
Jefferson (4-0 tournaments, 5-0 duals) distanced themselves from the rest of the field, bringing in 261 points on the day.
The total was some 189 points better than the second-place host team from Starr’s Mill. Kennesaw Mountain rounded out the top three with a 136 point total followed by Lithia Springs (126), and LaGrange (122).
“We were thrilled with the way things came out,” said Thurmond. “We had people who couldn’t believe we were a single A school... they were wondering where Jefferson was,” he said.
Following the tournament there were sure to many more onlookers who have since become acquainted with the location of JHS.
Leading the way for the Dragons were the same top six grapplers who have finished first in every tournament they have wrestled in this season.
Nathaniel Wilson (125), Jeremiah Wilson (130), Forrest Garner (152), Hunter Garner (160), Daniel Love (171) and Jeremy Smith (189) each brought home gold medals in their respective divisions.
Adding to the team’s first-place total were the second-place performances of Seth Potts (140), Jeremy Fields (145) and Hunter Glenn (HWT).
Others competing and winning matches included: Jake Gurley (fourth-place, 215), Corey Mack (112), Jose Zavaleta (119), Scott Nix (135) and Caleb Beckwith.
“The most impressive thing that I heard about our guys was that they wrestled hard and they were good sports,”Thurmond explained. “I’ve got some really good kids.”

Holiday hoopfest
Boys’ and girls’ basketball teams to open with Commerce in Tigers’ “Holiday Classic” tourney
After already hosting one pre-January tournament, Madison County’s basketball teams will look to hone their skills in another.
The girls’ and boys’ squads, which opened the season Nov. 23-26 in the North Georgia Invitational Tournament held in Danielsville, will travel up Hwy. 98 Saturday and Monday for the four-team “WJJC Holiday Classic” hosted by Commerce High School .
Both squads are slated to play Commerce Saturday night in the first round of action.
Banks County and Athens Christian will square off earlier in the other games.
In drawing Commerce, Madison County’s squads will face a pair of teams which are still getting their feet wet on the court this year.
Due to a lengthy run in the state football playoffs, Commerce’s boys’ squad (0-1), coached by 23-year head coach Rex Gregg, played its first and only contest thus far last Saturday, falling to Banks County 71-62.
The Tigers couldn’t field a team before then because almost their entire roster is made up of football players.
Madison County’s defense will have to keep an eye on the Tigers’ versatile sophomore Tyson Randolph who led the team in scoring and rebounding last year as a freshman. Early indications show that Randolph looks even better this year, ripping Banks County for 30 points and 12 rebounds last weekend.
The Raiders will also have to look out for Casha Daniels, the team’s top defensive player, who grabbed 10 rebounds against the Leopards and handed out six assists on the offensive side of the ball.
Commerce will, however, be without Nick Slayton, the team’s third-leading scorer and second-leading rebounder last year. Slayton has an injured knee.
The Raiders and Tigers haven’t met on the basketball court in at least a decade.
Led by 18th-year head coach Don Watkins, Commerce’s girls (1-3) started their season Dec. 3 with a 49-44 loss to Oglethorpe County, a team which Madison County beat 60-51.
Since then, the Lady Tigers have also fallen to Banks County and Towns County.
Commerce’s lone victory came Dec. 10 over Lakeview Academy.
Through four games, the Lady Tigers have been led by the veteran tandem of Stephanie Rainwater and Mashenta Hester, both of which have scored in double figures in three of Commerce’s four games. Rainwater is averaging 14 points a game while Hester is averaging 10.5 points a contest.
Madison County throttled Commerce 62-25 in a rare meeting in last years to take the Athens Academy Christmas Tournament championship.
Lady Raider coach Latana Coile thinks her team has shot at taking another holiday title this year.
“I feel if you look at the bracket now, we’d probably be the favorite to win that tournament. That’s a little bit different for our team,” Coile said. “We’ll see how our kids respond,” she said.
The boys’ and girls’ teams will play again Monday in either the championship or consolation round, taking on either Banks County or Athens Christian.
Madison County played Banks in last years’ Northeast Georgia Invitational tournament with the boys winning 62-56 while the girls lost 53-40.
Both teams picked up wins over Athens Christian last year with the girls romping 66-18 while the boys won 57-47.

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