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JANUARY 15, 2003

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Banks to face Lumpkin in key subregion showdown
The upcoming games this weekend will be big for both Banks County teams for more than one reason.
The Lady Leopards (5-12, 0-3) desperately need a subregion win over Lumpkin County in Dahlonega Friday night.
“That is a game that we need to win,” coach Robert Sain said. “We have the attitude that we’ve got to win.”
Banks has dropped its first three subregion contests already and needs to pick up several wins to avoid a play-in game come region tourney time.
But should the Lady Leopards be forced into the play-in situation, they’ll have to play back-to-back games on the road to stay alive in the tourney.
This weekend could be a test to see how the team can handle such grueling scheduling.
“In the region tournament, we may have to play on Monday and turn around and play on Tuesday on the road,” Sain said. “We need to see if we can do it mentally.”
After going up to Lumpkin Friday, the Lady Leopards will get back on the bus Saturday and make the trek deep into the north Georgia mountains to Towns County for a non-region game. Banks lost to Towns before Christmas.
“It’ll be a game to see if we’ve improved,” Sain said.
For the Leopards (8-9, 1-2), the Friday contest is also a subregion win the team needs.
With Union County poised to move into the number one spot in the north, Banks needs to pick up as many wins as possible to jockey among the other four spots in subregion seeding.
A good seed will no doubt benefit the Leopards when they face a stacked south side in the region tournament.
“Us, Rabun, Dawson and Lumpkin are all right there together,” coach Mike Ruth said. “Any one of the four could finish second.”
After Friday’s game, Banks will travel up the mountain to Towns County.
“Towns has got all those big animals up there,” Ruth said.
Banks was able to match up with Towns County’s size the first time around. In fact, the Leopards got a low-scoring 43-33 win when the two teams faced before Christmas.
The Leopards will look to use their size to try and contain Towns’. But they’ll have to do it on a bigger court.

Jackson Co. boys get monkey off their backs
Beaten. Squashed.
Whatever your verb preference, the Jackson County faithful can sleep a little bit softer now, because the goose egg in the win column is now gone.
Following an energized first quarter performance and a home crowd that spurred their team on until the buzzer sounded , the Jackson boys rid themselves of a rather unwanted streak Tuesday night, as they held on to defeat Madison County 53-46 at The Panther Pit.
The victory snapped a seventeen-game loosing streak that dated back to Feb. 23, 2002 when the team fell to Haralson in the first-round of the state tournament.
Prior to Tuesday the team’s last win was a 78-75 win over Hart County on Feb. 15, 2002.
“You just have to give credit to our kids,” Jackson County coach Ron Smith said after the game. “We changed the lineup a little bit and threw a few new defenses in there and the guys just came out and decided they wanted to win.”
And just like that the Panthers are now on their way to beginning another streak, of the winning variety, they hope. But that won’t be easy, as they host Class AAAA No. 3 Cedar Shoals on Friday night. But for Jackson County, the talk after Tuesday’s game was more of what they had finally done—gotten the proverbial monkey off their back.
The Panthers came out with plenty of enthusiasm in the first quarter, Tuesday and outscored the Raiders 20-5 in the first, led by a 14-3 run in the first few minutes.
Panther leading-scorer Kennard Mattox led the charge, posting six of his 14 points during the run and sparking the team on defense as well.
A rare four-point play by Bradley Wilson—who was fouled in the corner after releasing a 3-pointer that found nylon and then sank the ensuing free-throw—increased the lead to 29-12. Jackson County then went to the locker room up 31-14.
As they were bound to do, the Raiders made a run in the second half, responding with the deadliest weapon they had—the inside play of pivotman Orlando Lattimore.
Lattimore brought his team to within 38-25 late in the third as he erupted for nine points in the quarter, 15 in the second-half. He would finish with a game-high 23.
Things almost got interesting in the fourth-quarter as the Raiders pulled to within 49-44 thanks to the Raiders’ ability to control the offensive boards late, with Lattimore’s put-back with 55 seconds remaining narrowing the gap to five.
Despite two starters fouling out in the final period however, the Panthers held on, with Mattox releasing long down the length of the floor on the final play of the game and converting a runner in the lane to seal the win.
Jackson County finished the game with three players reaching double-figure scoring marks, with sophomore Chris Garrett adding 12 points and Gilbert chipping in with 10 off the bench.
“Chris Garrett, stepped up big and gave us some scoring and our defense did some nice things there in the first half to help us get the win,” Smith explained.
Bryan Bird rounded out the scoring for the Raiders, as his 10-point effort was the only other Madison County double-digit performance.
Jackson County hosts Cedar Shoals Friday followed by a trip to Clarke Central the following Tuesday.

Commerce Breaks Drought, To Face More Tough Subregion Play This Week
If there’s a silver lining for the Tigers to look for heading into this week, it’s this—they won’t enter it winless.
Thanks to a narrow 39-36 win over struggling Tallulah Falls Saturday, Commerce snapped a season-opening seven game losing streak, finally giving it a positive note to move forward from as the region slate continues this week.
Gregg said his team simply needed a win of any kind.
“That ought to make the players feel a little better,” he said. “At least you have a win under your belt. It gets to where you begin to wonder if you’re ever going to get one.”
The team broke its victory drought despite not having leading scorer and rebounder Tyson Randolph who quit the team after six games in yet another blow to the squad in an already shaky year.
Gregg explained that Randolph, who was averaging 13.7 points per game and seven boards, lacked a certain degree of commitment to the program and that the post player decided it was best for him to leave the team. However, the coach said he hoped something could be worked out in the future.
“He didn’t want to do what he had to do to make us better. I’m hoping he can mature and come back next year,” he said.
That won’t make life easier for Commerce this year, however, as the Tigers are now minus their two top players. Nick Slayton, the squad’s second returning scorer and rebounder from last year, continues to be sidelined with a knee injury and his return is still indefinite
“We’ve lost our two best players,” Gregg said. “That makes you have to play that much harder. You’ve got to keep going out there and laying in the line.”
The team will have to put it all on the line this week as they’ll see some varied styles of play in games against Social Circle, Lakeview and Town County.
Social Circle, who Commerce plays Friday, will sport an up tempo brand of basketball as it features a wealth of athletes.
However, Lakeview (Thursday), like Athens Academy and Prince Avenue, will slow the tempo down which suits Gregg fine right now.
“I think the slower the game, the better off we are.”
Tuesday’s Tiger contest with Towns County will then pit Commerce against a big and slow Indian squad, featuring players standing 6’8” and 6’6”, meaning the Tigers will this time try to speed the game up to counter the Indians’ size advantage.
Thanks to a solid defensive effort and a little late-game fortune, Commerce snapped its season-opening losing streak at seven with a 39-36 win over Tallulah Falls in a low-scoring affair.
“We played pretty well defensively,” said Gregg, whose team was able to draw five charges in the win. “They had two excellent players. They were a little better than we anticipated. They had a good point guard.”
The Tigers picked up the win despite being outshot by 12 points from the field (45 percent to 33 percent).
With a 37-36 lead late, Commerce received two technical free throw shots after an exuberant Tallulah Falls who player came on to the court after an Indian player was fouled.
Caleb Jordan, who drained a jumper with 34 seconds left to give the Tigers their one-point edge, then hit two free throws down the stretch to seal the win.
Commerce, who led 21-13 at the half, built a nine-point lead heading into the fourth quarter but saw that evaporate after a late lapse at the free throw line. The team only hit 9-of-22 attempts for the game.
Jordan led the team with 15 points while Casha Daniels added eight and Brandon Jennings added seven.
Due to a relentless first half press from Prince Avenue, Commerce was buried under a mountain of turnovers and then fouls in falling to Prince Avenue 78-41 Friday.
The team committed18 first half turnovers and fouled 28 times, putting the veteran-laden Wolverines in the double bonus just a minute into the second quarter.
By that time Prince Avenue had staked claim to a 28-10 lead in building what would be a 25-point halftime edge in the 37-point win.
The stats told the story of the final score as the Tigers, in addition to their turnover problems, shot just 37 percent from the field. The Wolverines, on the other hand, hit 50 percent of their shots from the floor and gave the ball away only 10 times.
Prince Avenue also hit 23 of 31 free throws while Commerce was only awarded 10 free throw attempts, hitting six.
“We just had too many turnovers and too many fouls,” Gregg said.
Caleb Jordan led the team with 12 points while Brandon Smallwood chipped in a career-high 10 points.
Gregg said his team simply “ran out of gas” in last Tuesday’s 60-46 loss at Athens Christian.
After the team took a 21-19 lead after the opening period—which the coach called “probably our best quarter of the year”— Commerce was derailed in the second and third quarters, getting outscored 35-14 in falling for the sixth consecutive time.
A loose grip with the basketball again haunted the Tigers in their middle quarters meltdown as they turned the ball over a combined17 times in the second and third quarters.
Gregg also said that another poor shooting effort didn’t help matters either.
Commerce hit 30.9 percent of its shots while the Eagles shot 57 percent.
“You should get blown out,” he explained. “I guess if there’s a little positive, its that we’re not getting bad as we could be.”

Dragon dominance to be tested
Thus far this season the Jefferson wrestling team has shown great resilience no matter who they have faced off against on the mat, however recent injuries, along with two important expected absences may have set the stage for the squad’s toughest challenge to date.
The Dragons—who have finished first as a team in every meet but one this season—will have to wrestle this weekend against some of the top teams in the state minus two very important team members.
Both Forrest Garner and Jeremy Smith will be absent from the squad when it travels to take part in the Chattahoochee Invitational this Friday and Saturday in Alpharetta, Ga.
Smith, a standout on the Dragon football team, will be making an official visit to Tennessee-Martin this weekend and will thus miss the tournament. Likewise, Garner, who was also absent from the team’s last meet in Oglethorpe County due to injury, is expected to be out of the lineup this weekend.
The pair are two of the team’s, and state’s, top wrestlers in their respective weight classes (Smith, 189 pounds; Garner 152 pounds) and each is a defending state champion from last season.
All of which means one thing in the eyes of Dragon head coach Doug Thurmond, some other members of the two-time defending Class A state championship squad will need to fill the void. However, don’t expect that task to be easy.
“It’s hard to go out there when you’ve got two of your top guns out. Those two, because they usually make it to the finals of tournaments, each average between 25-30 points a meet,” Thurmond explained. “So, when you take out about 60 points from our team it’s going to make it tough on our guys.”
Nonetheless, Jefferson will take part in the weekend tournament and, reasonably speaking, will hope to at least finish in the top-three of the event which features an extremely talented group of participating teams.
The only team to finish ahead of Jefferson this season, Class AAAAA’s Collins Hill, will be part of that talented field this weekend, as will teams from Wheeler, Woodland, Sprayberry, Etowah and East Paulding.
“We’ve definitely got a challenge ahead of us,” Thurmond added.
Perhaps providing some solace to the team will be the fact that it is not the first time they’ve had to compete with less than a “full deck.”
In fact, the Dragons’ last meet, the Patriot Classic hosted by Oglethorpe County, was a prime example of the team overcoming adversity and coming out on top.
In the meet last Saturday, Jefferson was without Garner, as well as 135-pounder Scott Nix, but still came out on top with 193 1/2 team points. The mark was ahead of second-place Loganville’s 167 on the day.
“We had to do without them and that’s a lot of points going was tough on us, but we came through.”
Racking up wins in the Classic were: Cory Mack (4th, 112 pounds), Nathaniel Wilson (1st, 125), Jeremiah Wilson (1st, 130), Seth Potts (1st, 140), Jason Fields (2nd, 145), Hunter Garner (1st, 160), Daniel Love (1st, 171), Smith (1st, 189), Jake Gurley (3rd, 215), and Hunter Glenn (3rd, HWT).
Madison County took third in the sixteen-team event with 132 points, while Dawsonville rounded out the top-four with 129 points.

Dragons defeat No. 3 Parkview, Stockbridge in duals
Last Wednesday Class AAAAA’s Parkview and Stockbridge entered Dragon country and fell in dual competition before a sizable home crowd at the JHS gymnasium.
Jefferson knocked off Parkview 40-21, and were dominant against Stockbridge, winning 74-3.
The Parkview meet was as close as many had expected it to be, including Thurmond, who credited several grapplers for raising their level to accumulate points against returning state-champion Panther wrestlers.
“They’re pretty awesome,” Thurmond said of Parkview. “We had some kids wrestle very, very well and guys like Cory Mack (112), Jake Gurley (215) and Scott Nix (135) all wrestled real high and helped keep us in it,” Thurmond explained.
Those winning their matches included Caleb Beckwith (103), Nathaniel Wilson (125), Jeremiah Wilson (130), Seth Potts (140), Jason Fields (143), Forrest Garner (152), Hunter Garner (160), Jeremy Smith (189) and Hunter Glenn (HWT).

Looking for a fast start
A bad start off the line in a foot race will inevitably cost you at the finish and the same mentality holds true on the basketball court.
With her team plagued with recent cases of early-game lethargy, the Madison County girls’ head coach Latana Coile said her squad can no longer afford to wait until the second quarter before it shifts out of neutral.
“With the exception of Athens Christian, every game we’ve had since Christmas, we’ve had a horrible first quarter,” Coile said Tuesday afternoon before the Lady Raiders’ loss to Jackson County.
The stats back Coile’s frustrations as Madison County, losers of three of its last five games, was outscored by a combined 54-19 during the first quarters of recent contests against Elbert County, Cedar Shoals and Clarke Central.
“Right now, one of the biggest things we’re focusing on is coming out and setting the tone,” Coile said. “Putting yourself in a 10- to 15-point hole makes it hard. We’ve just got to do a better job of starting out.”
Coile has tried several tactics to jump start her team, even changing the team’s warmup routine to incorporate fast break and give-and-go drills to keep her players more active before games.
“I don’t know how much the warmups really matter but maybe mentally it’s a difference.”
The team did have a good start Saturday, albeit against a lowly Athens Christian club as it ran out to a 32-4 lead after the first quarter and a 53-4 lead at the half.
Coile said that start could still be a positive.
“Maybe ACS was a good turnaround for us,” she said.
The competition will be much tougher this week though with subregion foes Winder-Barrow and Habersham Central on the slate.
Coile said the big and physical Lady Bulldogg’s half court game is “as good as anyone’s” and that her team must step up the tempo of the contest if its to take the Lady Bulldoggs out of their game plan.
The coach said Winder-Barrow lost its standout point guard to graduation but added that the team is still armed with the
Armstrong sisters, one of which is a big, inside the threat, the other a versatile player that can play either inside or outside.
Habersham Central, which the team plays Tuesday, will, however, be less familiar to Coile since the teams haven’t met on the court in several years.
Despite some recent struggles, Coile said her team must continue to focus on its goals.
“We want to go to state, that’s our goal,” she said. “Some people might think that’s a lofty goal and maybe it is. But If you don’t set those types of goals, you’ll never achieve them.”
Madison County’s tendency for slow starts certainly didn’t surface in in a 82-16 win over Athens Christian Saturday.
The Lady Raiders buried the hapless Lady Eagles 53-4 in the first two quarters as the eventual 66-point margin of victory gave Madison County ample time to get its bench a wealth of experience.
In all,10 Lady Raiders getting in the scorebook in the romp.
“It’s good to have a chance to get some people into the game,” Coile said. “I thought we played pretty well.”
Jessica Bentle had the most eye-catching night of the scoring fest, racking up 20 points in just a quarter and three minutes, hitting four consecutive three’s to start the game and six in all in the first half.
Loryn Griffeth added 11 points.
“Flat” might not be the best adjective to describe Madison County’s start against Clarke Central Friday night.
The Lady Raiders mustered only four points by the time the first quarter horn sounded and wasn’t even in double figures by halftime in trailing 36-9 to the Lady Gladiators in an 18-point loss.
Clarke Central put a clamp on Madison County’s scorers as Bridget Browner led the team with just six points.
Most of the Lady Raiders’ points came during catch-up time in the second half in outscoring the Lady Gladiators 25-16

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