Area Sports...

JANUARY 22, 2003


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Leopards, Lady Leopards headed to Dawson
The cancellation of basketball games due to wintry weather could have a big impact on Banks County come region tournament time.
A storm last week postponed one region game and a forecasted wintry blast later this week could potentially do the same.
And since most of the remaining games are in the subregion, any cancellations must be replayed, forcing Banks to cram games into an already tight regular season slate with the risk of tiring out before tourney time.
But if Banks does get to play Dawson County Friday, they’ll do so coming off a refreshing break.
“I think we’re plenty capable of going on the road and beating them,” Lady Leopards’ coach Robert Sain said. “We’ve played our best games on the road and we’ll definitely be fresh.”
Three of the Lady Leopards’ five wins have come on the road this season—all three were at Commerce. And Banks has seen Dawson once already, falling 49-34 the first time.
“They gave us fits playing in the zone,” Sain said. “I anticipate them doing it again. But we’ll be prepared, whether they do it or not.”
The Lady Leopards are also finally getting senior perimeter threat Ashley Campbell back into a regular rhythm.
“Campbell has just started getting her legs back,” Sain said. “We’re trying to work her back into the offense.”
Sain added that his team looks at its last six games as a new start.
“We’ve got a chance to forget about those first 17 games and now we’re looking at a six game season,” he said. “We’ve got a stretch coming up where we can win some games.”
And those wins couldn’t come at a better time as teams begin seriously jockeying for region seeding.
LEOPARDS
Though the Leopards got a win the last time they faced Dawson, they’re looking to make improvements in their game.
“We really need to control the boards and not turn the ball over,” coach Mike Ruth said. “If we can do those two things, we’ve got a shot at beating them.”
The Leopards will also look to improve on their free throw shooting, hitting only six of 20 in the fourth quarter the last time they faced the Tigers.
“They’re a team just like us,” Ruth said of Dawson. “If you look at their team and our team, we’re very similar with the same type of kids.”


Lady Panthers split pair against Classic City foes
A Jackson County team averaging better than 25 free-throws a game expected a hostile environment when they traveled to Clarke Central (13-4, 4-1) Tuesday night, what they might not have expected was for their team to come out on the short end of the referee’s whistle, at least not as much as was the case.
Although careful not to blame the stripped-shirts for his team’s 55-51 loss to the 8-AAAA North leading Lady Gladiators, there’s no doubt Lady Panther coach Chad Pittman felt like the officiating Tuesday night was questionable at best.
“Take nothing away from Clarke-Central,” Pittman asserted after the loss. “They’re a real solid team and I felt like we didn’t rebound well...but they shot 29 free-throws in the game and we shot two. That’s the story of the game right there.”
Granted the Lady Glads shot nine shots from the charity stripe down the stretch thanks to Lady Panther rallying tactics, however, the discrepancy at the line was still decidedly in favor of the home side.
“The ball just didn’t go in for us tonight,” Pittman added. “But also, we just could not get any calls.”
After falling behind early and trailing 26-18 at the half, Jackson County (12-7, 3-2) stormed back in the final two quarters, actually equaling their first half output in the third-quarter alone.
Nikki Sosebee led Jackson County with 16 points. Tynishia Berry and Tosha Ransom also chipped in with 10 points apiece, but clutch shooting from the free-throw line in the final quarter by Clarke Central, further showed just how important that aspect of the game was.
The loss, combined with a Cedar Shoals upset of Winder-Barrow the same night, means that Jackson County’s next contest at home against Winder-Barrow will have a large impact on subregion play.
“That makes Friday’s game huge,” Pittman said. “We’ve got to really pressure (Winder-Barrow) defensively and rebound well and if we can do those things I think we’ll be in good shape.”
The Lady Bulldoggs won their last meeting (Jan. 10) against Jackson County by 10 points.
Jackson Co. defeats Jaguars
The Lady Panthers upended subregion foe Cedar Shoals 51-38 Friday. The win was a product of a solid defensive effort and rebounding, according to Jackson County coach Chad Pittman. In addition, several bench players performed well, he said.
The Lady Panthers held the Lady Jaguars below 10 points in every quarter but one and jumped ahead early by 11 points.
From there Jackson County never looked back en route to the win. Ransom led the team with 19 points and Ashley Rainwater added 11. Ivy Smith was the lone Lady Jaguar in double-figures (11).


Mat Tigers’ Getting Ready For Area Duals
Though the Commerce grapplers have only been wrestling for a month, they’ll soon be turning their attention to the first phase of area tournament competition.
The team has just three dual meets left—all coming this week—to ready itself for next Saturday’s Area Dual Tournament at North Hall.
Commerce didn’t participate in the event last year.
The team squares off against Banks County on the road Friday before another away match with Washington-Wilkes and Greene County Tuesday.
Commerce moved its dual record to 3-1 this past week with wins over Banks County and East Hall. The team, however, hit a bump in the road as they finished 10th at Social Circle’s Redskin Rumble this weekend.
“Our goal from the first day of practice is to get people qualified for state. We had a little setback Saturday,” Tiger wrestling coach Joe Hames.
REDSKIN RUMBLE
Just three Tiger wrestlers placed Saturday as Commerce managed only 25 points in a next-to-last place finish out of 11 teams at Social Circle’s “Redskin Rumble.”
Hames said only two wrestlers performed well in event, seniors Taylor Massey and Nick Cox.
“Everybody else pretty much had an off-day,” he said.
Jonathan Beasley (130) and Royale Goodwin (135) both went 2-2 in four matches to finish fourth in their weight divisions while Massey (215) took third with three wins and a loss.
The only other Tiger wrestler picking up a win was Cox, who had an 8-7 victory sandwiched between two losses.
LAST TUESDAY VS. BANKS COUNTY AND EAST HALL
As side from foreits in the 103, 112, 135 and 189-lb. weight classes, Commerce enjoyed a clean sweep against Banks County last Tuesday, earning 10 wins, including eight pins, in a 58-12 romp over Banks County.
Those getting wins were Jesse Smith (119) who pinned Saul McCoy, Justin Cotton (125) who pinned Bart Taylor, Beasley (130) who pinned Cory Schmid, Wes Prickett (140) who won by techincal fall over Tim Meeks, Eric Redmon (145) who pinned John Salzman, Cody Cook (152) who won by forfeit, Greg Gamble (160) who pinned Jamie Bowden, Nick Cox (171) who pinned Jeremy Angel, Massey (215) who pinned Kevin Hall and Adam Cochran (275) who pinned John Wray.
Commerce also dusted off East Hall with seven Tiger wrestlers picking up wins in the team’s 39-24 victory.
Those earning victories were Smith (119) who pinned Richard Spillars, Beasley (135) who won by decision over J.D. Harris, Prickett (140) who won by forfeit, Gamble (160) who pinned Adrian Stowers, Cox (171) who pinned Joseph Headdrick, Massey (215) who pinned Travis Stephens and Ben Wilson (275) who pinned Edward Hyde.
Those picking up wins in middle school action last Tuesday were Jarred Howell (two wins) (112), Quantin Vultaggio (two wins) (112), Michael Beck (two wins) (135), Taylor Streetman (145), Cameron Ferguson (103) and Jake Askey (112).
MIDDLE SCHOOL VS. JACKSON COUNTY AND JEFFERSON
Vyltaggio, Josh Beauchamp (two wins), Beck, Streetman and Jacob Lord all picked up wins in the middle school Tiger wrestlers’ dual meet this past Friday with Jackson County and Jefferson.


Dragon win streak at seven and counting
There comes a time in every team’s season where no matter what they do collectively, at some point they’ve just got to jump on the back of their biggest horse and ride him into the sunset.
Tuesday night’s home contest against subregion foe Lakeside might very well have been that game for the Jefferson boys (11-7, 4-0).
Riding the superb offensive play of senior Shaudrick Martin, the Dragons held off a solid Lion effort to win 54-47 and remain unbeaten in 8-A North play.
Martin was deadly from the field, netting 31 points to go along with seven rebounds and at one point he scored 12-straight points for his side. The effort helped his team overcome a 32-25 halftime deficit, and he did all despite playing just 20 minutes due to foul problems. He finished with four 3-pointers in the contest.
“This was one of those games where we just didn’t play our best, but we found a way to win,” Jefferson coach Bolling DuBose said after his team’s seventh-straight victory Tuesday night. “I just think we were a bit tired out there and we told the kids (after falling behind) at halftime that ‘you just have to decide that you want to win.’”
That inspiration became a reality at the beginning of the second half when, after making a defensive adjustment from zone to a man-to-man press, the Dragons were able to seize the momentum by flustering the Lion offensive flow.
From there, Martin took over, draining two NBA-range 3-pointers and then another jumper that capped off a 14-2 Jefferson run to start the second half. During that time Martin connected on five consecutive trips down the floor.
From there Jefferson appeared to be headed for trouble when Martin, their only real offensive weapon on the night, picked up his fourth foul with 4:29 remaining in the third-quarter. But, just like they needed to his Dragon teammates picked up the pace of their respective games.
What was a seven-point Jefferson advantage when Martin went out, turned into a 46-36 Dragon lead by the time their star player returned to the game at the 3:27 mark in the fourth-quarter.
The increased margin was a sign of the youthful Dragons maturing according to their coach.
“I think that’s just a credit to the other guys who were on the floor,” DuBose said. “We found out a couple of weeks ago when we went on the road and beat Athens Christian and Social Circle back-to-back that we can play without him when we need to.”
During those contests, Martin played sparingly because of similar foul trouble. While Jefferson might very well not be just a one-man show, there was no question who the “go-to guy” was Tuesday night, as Martin was the only Jefferson player to reach double-figures in scoring.
Point guard Tierre Shields was the next highest player for Jefferson with eight points.
Lakeview, who drained six-three pointers on the Dragon zone in the first half, was held in check for most of the second half once Jefferson changed to man.
“They missed (several) lay-ups there in the second half, but I just think that when we went to man we threw their rhythm off a little bit offensively,” DuBose explained.
Dustin Wellborn led the Lions with 15 points while J.B Little and Will Crumbley chipped in with 11 apiece.

Dragons beat up on Wolverines
A trio of double figure scorers led the way for Jefferson as the team picked up a 76-63 region win at Prince Avenue on Saturday that DuBose called the team’s “best all-around team effort of the entire season.”
Martin scored a team-high 22 points and Duran Rakestraw netted 17. Montray Riley also added 15 for Jefferson who remained unbeaten in region play.
The win came despite a balanced offensive performance by the Wolverines, who landed five players in double figures. Ben Seagraves and Spencer Holmes each had 14 each to lead the way however Jefferson pulled away to earn the win.


‘Dogg killer!
Unlike Hollywood, no state championship trophy was hoisted high in the air, but the closing seconds of Madison County’s Friday night battle with Winder-Barrow was still a finish befitting of the classic basketball flick “Hoosiers.”
Reliable Raider guard Josh Booker drained a jumper as time expired to lift Madison County past the Bulldoggs 61-60, giving the Raiders their sixth win of the season and most dramatic victory in years.
Raider head coach Steve Crouse said Booker’s and the team’s late-game exploits were a tribute to his team’s poise in adversity after trailing by 10 at the half and by five at the end of three quarters.
“It shows how they battled and how they stuck with it,” he said.
It remains now to be seen if the triumph in the heart-stopper can turn the Raiders’ season around.
The team entered the contest with Winder losers of its previous five ball games and now faces the second leg of 8-AAAA North play which starts Friday night in a rematch with Clarke Central.
Madison County fell 81-55 Tuesday night to Habersham Central.
“I hope this propels us into this last part of our subregion schedule,” Crouse said of the win.
Friday night’s heroics unfolded after the Raiders, down by a point after a Bulldogg free throw with five seconds left, pushed the ball down the floor into the hands of Booker, who ended up being the trigger man for a play that Raider head coach Steve Crouse called during a timeout prior to Winder-Barrow’s final free throws.
The plan called for the Raiders to push the ball down one side of the floor and crash the boards after the shot in case of a miss.
But there was no need for a rebound from Booker’s teammates as the junior’s aim was true and a jubilant mob ensued on the Raiders’ home floor as the win avenged 66-37 and 54-45 losses to Winder-Barrow just a year ago.
Booker’s buzzer-beater, arguably the biggest two points of his Raider career, gave him 12 points for the night, joining him with a trio of Madison County post players who registered in double figures.
Lattimore led the team with 24 points while Russ Drake and Tobias Gantt had 10.
Crouse said it was his team’s strategy to look inside first before kicking the ball outside, a game plan that clearly worked as the Raider front court combined for 44 of the team’s 61 points.
“We felt size-wise, we had the bigger bodies in the paint.”
Crouse said the team’s performance in the win showcased its offensive potential.
“When we execute our half court offense, we’re confident that we’ll get a good shot,” he said.
It was a solid night all-around for Madison County it also out-rebounded Winder-Barrow and had one of its most productive games at the free throw line, hitting 11-of-15 attempts.
“The whole team stepped up to play,” Crouse said.
Winder-Barrow, which led 16-13 after a quarter and 34-24 at the half, rode the stellar shooting night of Decody Bryant who had 23 points, including seven three-pointers.
However, Madison County, who outscored the Bulldoggs 37-26 in the second half, finally caught Winder-Barrow when Orlando Lattimore tied the ball game at 59 with a pair of free throws with just 30 seconds left in the game. At that point, Crouse instructed his team not to give up a free layup at the other end of the floor and Seawright proceded to foul a driving Winder-Barrow player with five seconds left.
After a miss, the second free throw was made and the Raiders got the ball in the hands of Matt Seawright who took the ball down the floor to set up Booker’s final shot.
Madison County will likely need similar clutch performances as it had in the Winder-Barrow game in entering into a stretch this week that features subregion games with Clarke Central (Friday) and Cedar Shoals (Tuesday). The team also plays 8-AAAA South Heritage Saturday.
Clarke Central downed the Raiders 61-44 last weekend but Crouse thinks his team has more going for it this time.
“We’re playing at home and we also have Orlando (Lattimore) back so those are two big things we hope will play in our favor,” he said.
The coach also feels positive about is matchup will Heritage.
“They’re not bad,” he said. “They’ve had some close games with Eastside and Newton. We should matchup fairly well.”
After playing Heritage, Madison County must rematch one of the state’ most talented team’s, Cedar Shoals, Tuesday.
The Jaguars, which were still unbeaten as of this weekend, won the first meeting with the Raiders 78-49.
NOTES
Crouse said that several on team had were sick with the flu which could affect the lineup heading into this weekend.


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