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JANUARY 1, 2003

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Lady Leopards in final
The Commerce gym has been kind to Lady Leopards coach Robert Sain.
Both his wins so far this year have come there, and he has a chance for his third one Monday night (see editor’s note above).
Banks is slated to take on Madison County in the championship game of the Commerce Christmas Tournament Monday night. The Lady Leopards got there with a 62-25 win over Athens Christian Saturday.
Banks jumped on the Lady Eagles early and were able to force several turnovers off the press. The Lady Leopards also gave Athens fits trying to get the ball down court.
“I thought we did a good job being aggressive early in the game,” Sain said. “We took it right to them. That’s not what we’ve done in a lot of games. We’ve had to try to come from behind in other ones.”
Offensively, the Lady Leopards also set the game’s pace early on, jumping on Athens Christian 20-8 after the first quarter.
Scoring for Banks stayed fairly consistent the remainder of the game, bagging double digits in both of the last two quarters. The Lady Leopards, however, scored only nine in the second.
Sophomore Kayla Duncan led the field with 24 points. She also hit six of eight from the charity stripe.
Senior Ashley Freeman was also in double digits, scoring 17.
Others scoring included: Jennifer Webb and Dana Garrish, five; Chastico Beasley, four; Erin Westmoreland, three; and Ashley Dumas and Nicole Powell, two.
For the Lady Eagles, Tiffany Greason led scoring with eight points. Athens Christian was 11-29 overall from the free throw line.

Jackson Co. to host West Hall on Sat.
Perhaps the dawn of a new calendar year will provide a much needed spark to the Jackson County boys’ basketball team, whose season thus far has not been what the squad had hoped for at the season’s beginning. In fact, Jackson County could be helped tremendously by a New Year’s resolution to improve their defense and hit the glass harder—two things that coach Ron Smith has been harping on all season to his team.
Fortunately for the Panthers, the season is still young, especially the region, which has yet to hit full swing this year. Saturday, Jackson County hosts West Hall at 6 p.m. in the last non-region game of the season.
After struggling out of the gate this season through the first several weeks, the Panthers continued to struggle last week, as they traveled to Hart County to take part in the annual holiday tournament in Hartwell.
The team’s meeting with Franklin County last Friday was a frustrating one, as the Lions handed Jackson County a 73-54 loss.
The following night against one of the top teams in the state, Class AAA’s No. 5 Bulldogs from Hart County, the Panthers fared no better.
Led by Kendron Curry’s 14 points and Shavlaye Brown’s 12 points, the Bulldogs ran all over Jackson County, coming away with a 71-49 win.
In girls action last week the Lady Panthers continued to play well of late, as they headed into the Hart tournament on a six-game winning streak.
Friday, the squad knocked off a solid Franklin County team 53-41, but later fell to Elbert Co. in their final game of the tournament.
The Lady Panthers have continued to see balanced scoring in all of their wins this season, with the inside threat of Cecilia Hill and Tosha Ransom causing havoc for many of their opponents.
In addition, the steady play of point guard Ashley Rainwater along with the versatile Nikki Sosbee have allowed the squad to push the ball whenever possible and convert turnovers into transition baskets.
Following Saturday’s out-of-region contests, Jackson County heads back into 8-AAAA play on Tuesday when they meet Habersham Central at the Panther Pit beginning at 6 p.m.

Lady Tigers To Face Tough Test In Banks, Jefferson
Note: Due to early Monday holiday deadlines, results from the champion and consolation rounds of the Commerce “Holiday Classic” were not available.
It’s safe to say that Commerce’s girls will have a pair of hurdles its trying to clear this weekend.
The Lady Tigers will rematch Banks County Friday night who they lost to 45-37 on Dec. 14 followed by a gigantic obstacle in last year’s Class A runners-up Jefferson Saturday in Commerce’s Region 8-A opener.
The Lady Tigers will then open their sub-region schedule Tuesday against Athens Christian which it played Monday night in the consolation round of their “Holiday Classic” tournament. Results of that contest weren’t available due to early New Year’s holiday deadlines.
The team lost its opener of tournament, falling to Madison County 64-53 Saturday night.
A 22-point night from Mashenta Hester wasn’t enough to push Commerce past 7-3 AAAA foe Madison County as the Raiders sent the Lady Tigers to the consolation bracket in a 64-53 win.
Commerce fell to Madison County by 37 points in last year’s Athens Academy Christmas tournament but went down a bit more stubbornly this time on its home floor.
After playing to a 6-6 first quarter tie, the Lady Tigers grabbed a second quarter 9-6 lead thanks to a three-pointer from Lauren Lance.
Stephanie Rainwater, who had 10 points on the night, added another tray three minutes later to give Commerce a 16-13 edge.
However, the Lady Raiders regrouped in the last 2:30 of the first half, scoring the final eight points to give them a 26-19 lead going into the locker room.
Madison County was then able to keep Commerce at arms length in the second half, leading by as much as 16 points in giving the Lady Tigers their fourth loss of the year.

Dragons win Keen Classic, to travel to Cen. Gwinnett on Friday
When Jefferson grapplers travel to Central Gwinnett for the Gwinnett Invitational this Friday, expect many at the Class AAAAA school to have their eyes on the Class A No. 1 Dragons.
A week removed from an impressive win at another AAAAA school, Starr’s Mill, Jefferson was again back on the mat, this time at home last Friday as they took on a talented field as hosts of the Keen Classic.
Considering the event at Jefferson High School was aptly named for the legendary former Dragon coach, Jack Keen, it was only fitting that the Dragons continued their tradition, started by Keen, of excelling on the mat.
Using a total team effort to amass some 266 points and take first-place, Jefferson performed as Keen likely would have wanted them to and won the event going away.
Not a bad present for the recent Georgia Athletic Coaches Association’s Hall of Fame inductee, whose career as a track, wrestling and cross country coach has received much attention over the years. Jefferson (10-0 overall—5-0 in tournaments and 5-0 in duals) has been dominating on the mat thus far this season, with no signs of slowing down in sight. Of the 12 teams competing at the Classic, eight, including the Class A No. 1 Dragons, garnered Top-Ten rankings, but none could beat the hosts. However, coming tests in the new year will prove extremely challenging, according to Dragon head coach Doug Thurmond, who noted the importance of concentration as the team heads into the bulk of their schedule. Upcoming meets at Parkview and Oglethorpe County next week will provide plenty of obstacles for the Dragons, however if the beginning of this season is any indicator the team is well on their way to three-peating as the Class A state champs. That said, Thurmond stated recently that he expects Bremen and Landmark Christian to provide the toughest opposition as the season wears on, with a tough Commerce squad also providing firm competition this year.

Boys hoopsters cruise to win over Commerce, set to face Elbert Co., Cedar Shoals this week
It will be seen if the Raiders’ holiday preparations will result in a more productive New Year as the team will hit floor for the first time in 2003 against Elbert County Saturday and followed by the Raiders sub-region opener with Cedar Shoals which looms Tuesday.
Madison County got two games under its belt over the Christmas break in the Commerce “Holiday Classic” trouncing the host Tigers by a count of 67-37 Saturday night to advance to the championship against Athens Christian.
However, due to early holiday deadlines, details of that contest were not available.
Madison County’s upcoming Saturday contest with old 8-AAA foe Elbert County will be a rematch of the two squad’s Nov. 23 meeting which the Raiders won 60-52.
The Raiders will then have to take on one of the most talented and athletic squads in the region when it meet Class AAAA’s fourth-ranked team, Cedar Shoals, three days later. The Jaguars are coming off a 83-77 win over Clarke Central.
The Raiders picked up their most lopsided victory of the year so far with a 30-point thrashing of host Commerce Saturday night in the first round of the Tigers’ holiday tournament.
Madison County was paced by a stellar showing by standout Orlando Lattimore, who ripped the Tigers for 18 first half points en route to a 21-point night.
Lattimore made his presence felt early, scoring three consecutive baskets late in the first quarter to spark a 13-0 Raider run which gave them a commanding 19-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The junior post player then poured in eight more points in the second quarter while Bryan Bird drained a three-point as the first half buzzer sounded to lift Madison County to a 41-18 lead at intermission.
With a sizeable second half lead, the Raiders emptied their bench, outscoring Commerce 26-19 over the final two quarters.
In all, 11 Madison County players got in the scorebook in the win.

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