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FEBRUARY 5, 2003

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Region tournament starts early next week for Banks teams
All eyes will likely be on Dawson County this weekend.
The Leopards (10-12, 3-5) need a Dawson loss in one of two games in order to secure a third place finish in the north subregion going into next week’s region tourney. The Tigers are playing Union and Lumpkin.
A third place seed will give the Leopards a shot most likely at Wesleyan, a team that’ll take the second place slot in the Region 8-AA south subregion.
If Dawson ends up winning twice this weekend, the Leopards will finish in fourth place and be forced into a play-in game with Rabun on Monday, something Banks wants to avoid.
The Wildcats have been a nemesis for Banks in 2003, sweeping the Leopards in two games so far this season.
Banks had a chance to take second in the north and possibly face Apalachee in the region tourney. Dawson lost to Union Tuesday night. But the Leopards also fell to Lumpkin, pushing them out of second.
“Second or third, we really don’t care,” coach Mike Ruth said. “Either way, we’re going to get a good basketball team on the other side.”
Ruth said he felt like his team could better match up with Wesleyan, since Apalachee has lots of speed.
“I’d rather play Buford or Wesleyan than Apalachee,” he said. “I feel like we can match-up better with Wesleyan than anyone else over there.
“Buford and Apalachee have got a lot of quickness. And they have too many weapons and present too many problems for us.”
If the Leopards get the third place spot, they’ll play on Tuesday at Buford.
“Unless you finish first over here, you’re going to have a hard time on the other side,” Ruth said.
But before any talks of tournament time can turn serious, the Leopards still have one regular season game remaining. Banks must take on Apalachee at home Friday on senior night.
Senior night festivities will take place between the girls’ and boys’ games, probably close to 8:30 p.m.
Apalachee has put itself as the number three team in the south subregion behind two good number one and two teams.
The Wildcats are quick, shoot well and will offer a challenge to the Leopards.
“They’ve got a good ball team,” Ruth said. “They are pretty impressive. They have a couple of nice, big guys inside and quickness on the perimeter. They are a strong team.”
The game closes out the regular season. At best, a win will give the Leopards an 11-12 season mark. A loss translates into a 10-13 finish.

With under five seconds to play, the Lady Leopards had an inbound situation underneath. But on the inbound play, Union stole the ball and kept Banks from scoring, sending the game in overtime.
In overtime, the Lady Leopards were without A. Freeman, who fouled out in the final seconds of the game. Union jumped out to a three point lead early.
Ashley Campbell responded with a long ball to tie the game. But the Lady Panthers pulled out to a 48-43 lead before Banks scored again in the final seconds.
The Lady Leopards never could get the ball back and fell in overtime.
K. Duncan led the team offensively with 12 points. A. Freeman and Dana Garrish added 10 each.
The Leopards (10-12, 3-5) lost any hope of finishing the season at .500 Tuesday night with an 85-66 loss to Lumpkin County in their final region game.
Just three days earlier, Banks edged out a 47-42 win against the same team. But head coach Mike Ruth said he thought Lumpkin would play the Leopards differently Tuesday than the team did on Saturday.
Lumpkin set up a defense to slow the Leopards’ offense and force them to be patient, a move that worked well for a Banks County team tired from an evening of basketball the night before.
“It played into our hands well because we could put all our energy on the defensive end,” Ruth said of Saturday’s game. “We were leg tired from Friday night. It was good for us because we could pass the ball around and rest on offense.”
Ruth said he felt like the Tuesday night game was going to include a lot more pressure from Lumpkin, especially since the team began pressing and trapping more in the second half Saturday.
Though the Leopards got a win in the first Lumpkin County game, they do so in a low-scoring contest. In fact, it was the team’s lowest point total in a win so far this season.
But Banks was tired after an emotionally- and physically-draining loss Friday. And Lumpkin also shut down the Leopards’ inside game, a huge source of their scoring all year.
Banks’ two inside guys, Reggie Smith and Kyle Roberts, combined for only 17 points in the event. R. Smith averages 14 points per game on his own.
Instead, the Leopards had to rely on their outside game, where Seth McCoy, Matt Dale and Dustin Bonds combined for 24 points, nearly half the team’s scoring.
“They packed it in on us,” Ruth said. “But we showed good patience. We didn’t force anything. We just sat back patiently.”
S. McCoy led the team offensively with 10 points in the event. (See box scores for additional scorers.)
Friday night, Banks fell 51-45 to Union County in a game decided during the fourth quarter.
“We played hard at Union County,” Ruth said. “We deserved to win that ball game.”
The Leopards nursed a small lead throughout most of the contest, going into the fourth up by four points.
Union, thanks in part to several foul shots, chipped away at the scoring margin and eventually took a small lead.
Then about half-way through the quarter, Banks drew a technical foul that shifted momentum fully to the Panthers.
S. McCoy drew a charge on Union’s side of the court. But an official then called a technical on S. McCoy, charging him with elbowing a Panther player.
The call upset the crowd and several players. But Union made both foul shots and went on to further its lead and take the win.
“That was a big turn around,” Ruth said.
R. Smith was the team’s leading scorer in the game with 11 points.
Late in the contest, Banks lost big man K. Roberts to a minor back injury. The loss hurt what had been an effective inside game for the Leopards.
“If we could’ve kept big Kyle in there, I would’ve liked our chances a lot better,” Ruth said. “They were not doing much against us inside.”

Lady Panther subregion title still possible
Although they certainly need some help to do it, it’s still not out of the realm of possibility for the Jackson County girls to end up with the No. 1 seed from Region 8-AAAA North heading into next week’s region tournament.
For that to happen though, the Lady Panthers (15-9, 6-3) will have to take care of business at home against first-place Clarke Central on Friday night, and then get some help from Habersham Central the following evening when they take on the Lady Gladiators in a make-up affair.
Clarke Central is first however, among the Jackson County contingent, and that means avenging what many in attendance Jan. 21 saw as an outright disgracefully officiated game in Athens that ended up with Clarke Central earning a 55-51 win.
One thing makes Friday’s matchup different in the eyes of Jackson County coach Chad Pittman, namely that his team will have the home-court advantage this time around. Whether or not that translates into a more evenly officiated game or not remains to be seen, however expect the Lady Panthers to be aggressive on offense and get in the lane against the Lady Gladiators.
During the Jan. 21 meeting, Jackson County — a team averaging roughly 25 foul shots at the time — got to the line a meager two times compared to their opponent’s 29, an aspect that undoubtedly cost them a chance to takeover first-place.
“It’s still a big game for us,” Lady Panther coach Chad Pittman said. “But we need some help even if we win, to get the top seed.”
Regardless of how they finish the regular season on Friday, Jackson County will earn a first-round bye in the region tournament, by virtue of their place in the top two of the North subregion.
Lady Panthers pull away from Madison County Despite suffering through a lackluster second quarter during which they managed just four point, Jackson County turned things up a notch in the second half Tuesday night en route to a 45-28 win that was closer than the score indicated.
A 16-5 fourth-quarter run secured the team’s sixth subregion win in nine contests and allowed the team to look forward to Friday’s highly anticipated rematch with first-place Clarke Central.
A dominant defensive effort in the third and fourth quarters limited the Lady Raiders to just two field goals while outscoring them 29-10 during that span.
In addition, Jackson County spent an eternity at the free-throw line and although they only connected on 58.8 percent (20-34 ft’s) of their shots from the charity stripe, the Lady Raiders only managed seven attempts all game, sinking two.
Nikki Sosebee was the game’s lone player in double-figures, as she netted 10 points for the Lady Panthers. Cecilia Hill added seven and Tosha Ransom scored six in the low scoring affair.
Of particular importance to Jackson County surge late in the game was the stellar play of Candice Cronic off the bench. The sophomore provided a much-need spark on both ends of the floor and made several crucial plays to ignite her team’s play. Cronic finished with five points (5-8 ft’s) in the game.
“I felt like Candice really stepped up big for us tonight,” Pittman said. “She came in and made several key plays, smart plays...she does a great job. She’s probably our smartest player and when she came in she gave us a big boost.’
Jackson County survives at Cedar Shoals
Last Friday the Lady Panthers edged out Cedar Shoals in a tightly contested subregion game, winning 52-48 in Athens. Sosebee’s 19 points (9-10 ft’s) helped her team escape with a key win. Ransom added nine and Tynishia Berry chipped in wit eight points.
“Overall I felt like we played smart,” Pittman said of the win. “We did the things we needed to do to get the win.”
Jackson County rallied from an early eight-point deficit by responding with a 17-8 second-quarter run to tighten things up. From there they were clutch from the free-throw line, nailing ninety percent of their shots (18-20 ft’s).

Tigers Headed To State Dual Meet
The Tiger matmen have some more dualing to do.
Commerce will head make its first ever state-dual appearance this Saturday at Bremen after qualifying this past weekend with a fourth-place finish at the area duals in Social Circle.
Only six area schools competed in the event. The top four teams advance to state.
This is the second year the state duals have been held.
Commerce finished in the top four despite being short-handed with only seven wrestlers.
“The boys that did wrestle did really good,” Hames said. “They found a way to win for us to advance. But only six of 13 teams wrestled, so it was a fairly weak tournament.”
Commerce is set to square off with Pelham in the first round who boasts a defending state champion in Terrence Almond who won the 140-lb. division in Class A last year.
“Other than him, I don’t know much about them,” Hames said.
The team will tune up for the event with a Thursday match at North Hall.
The Tiger matmen earned the pass by splitting four dual meets, topping Mt. Zion 33-30 in the first round and Social Circle 36-23 in the third round while losing to Jefferson 75-3 in the second round and Landmark Christian 51-21 in the final round.
The solid showing moved Commerce back in the state’s top 10 at ninth this week according to
Commerce went into the area duals on the heels of a 43-28 win over Washington-Wilkes which moved its dual record to 7-2.
Picking up wins against Mt. Zion were Jesse Smith (125), who won 8-5 over Lee Albright; Jonathan Beasley (135), who pinned D.J. Cook; Eric Redmon (145) and Cody Cook (152), who won by forfeit; Taylor Massey (215), who pinned Jesse Butler; and Adam Cochran (275), who pinned Robert Cornelius.
Smith, wrestling in the 119-lb. division, was the only wrestler to record a win against Jefferson, winning 9-4 over Enririque Zaviletti.
Smith (119), Beasley (135) and Massey (215) all won by pin against Social Circle while Redmon (145) and Cook (152) won via forfeit.
In a 30-point loss to the War Eagles, four Tigers picked up wins with Smith (119) winning by forfeit, Redmon (145) won by default over Jacob Vineyard, Massey (215) picked up a 9-5 decision over John Houston and Ben Wilson (275) won by pin.
Eight Tiger wrestlers notched wins last Tuesday in a 15-point win over Washington-Wilkes, six of those coming via a pin.
Beasley (135) pinned Davey Fisher, Royale Goodwin (140) won by major decision (15-3) over Mathew Young, Redmon (145) won by decision (19-18) over Anthony Wright, Cook (152) pinned Levi Harris, Greg Gamble (171) pinned Nicholas Clemons, Nick Cox (189) pinned Jerbar Moss, Massey (215) pinned Jason Chapman and Cochran (275) pinned Tucker Hardy.
In Commerce middle school wrestling against Washington-Wilkes, Cameron Ferguson won by decision (103) over Hunter Yancy, Jarod Howell (119) pinned Dewayne Hampton and Taylor Echols, Josh Beauchamp (125) wn by decision (4-0) over Nick Gorsych and by pin over Olajuwan Davis, Michael Back (135) pinned Kelly Roberts, Taylor Streetman (145) pinned Josh Nesmith,

Lady Dragons secure top seed
Any doubts about who the premier team in Region 8-A was heading into last week were put to rest following an impressive string of results by the Jefferson girls recently. The team has reeled off eight-straight region wins, the latest of which — a Tuesday night victory over Lakeview — clinched the No. 1 seed in the subregion, as well as first-place.
The Lady Dragons (17-7, 5-0) propelled themselves past a strong Towns Co. team that was tied with them for first eight days ago, then proceeded to whip rival Commerce last Saturday before Tuesday night’s 55-37 clincher at Lakeview.
Only a close overtime loss at Buford sandwiched in between the Towns and Commerce games prevented Jefferson from sweeping their last four. The victories were part of a streak that has put the Lady Dragons in the highly-desirable position as the No. 1 seed from 8-A North heading into next week’s region tournament. One win there means a state berth.
That said, the question now seems to be can the squad continue to play at the same level heading into the postseason, despite a relative lack of playoff experience in single-elimination situations. It’s a question that will likely be answered next Tuesday as the region tournament begins.
The last two years the Lady Dragons have advanced to the Class A state title game, winning the championship just two seasons ago.
Following Tuesday night’s win the team has won 11 of 13 games played against 8-A opponents, however, according to head coach Brandy Corbett all of that can be thrown out the window. The current Jefferson team should not be confused with the dynamic team’s of the past, she says — at least not until they have earned it.
“I think a lot of people are misinformed and they think that we have a team that has been in a (single-elimination) situation before and for the most part we haven’t,” Corbett explained.
“We really only have two players who saw signifigant minutes last season and know what its like to play in a ‘one-loss-and-you’re-out’ situation.’
“I’m interested to see how we respond,” she said.
Regardless of how they respond in their final regular-season matchup against Towns County on Friday, the Lady Dragons will head into next Tuesday’s Region 8-A tournament as the top-seeded team from the North, meaning they will play the fourth-seeded squad from the South in the first-round.
A win in that contest and they are assured of a state birth.
“Next week is big...but it dosen’t matter what our record is from here on out,” Corbett added.
Jefferson knocks off Lakeview to win subregion
Following a 17-3 first quarter run Jefferson defeated Lakeview in Gainesville Tuesday night, thus clinching the South half of Region 8-A. The Lady Dragons led 26-16 at the half, and increased the margin to 23 heading into the fourth quarter. From there the Lady Lions made a run of their own, however Jefferson held on for the 18-point win. Annie Goza scored a team-high 15, Sunny Bush had 12 and point guard Shenita Moon chipped in with 11.
Lady Dragons too strong for Commerce
Saturday the Jefferson girls held rival Commerce to just four first quarter points and opened up an early 24-4 lead with 4:48 left in the first half and held on late for a 57-44 home win.
The Lady Tigers were held without a basket for some seven minutes in the first half, however they mounted a comeback that test Jefferson in the fourth quarter. With what was once an 18-point lead cut to seven with 6:54 remaining in the contest following a Stephanie Rainwater 3-pointer for Commerce, the Lady Dragons closed the game out with a flurry.
Jefferson went on a 12-6 run to finish the game, highlighted by two 3-pointers by Sunny Bush, who finished with 13 points. Annie Goza led the Lady Dragons with 16 points, while Commerce’s Mashenta Hester paced the Lady Tigers with 18 points in the loss.

Buford outlasts Jefferson in overtime
In a rare girls-only matchup last Friday night Jefferson traveled to Buford and nearly came home with a road win, however the Wolves prevailed 76-73 in overtime. Corbett attributed the loss as much to her team’s mental miscues than to the Lady Dragon opponents play, as Jefferson turned the ball over 26 times and connected on just 50 percent of their foul shots in the game.
The defeat came despite a stellar performance from Goza who netted a career-high 33 points and tied the school’s single-game rebounding record (22).
Following the loss Corbett expressed her frustration with the team’s lack of concentration at times. “We have got to start playing with more consistency...the game came down to us having a high ratio of turnovers and not hitting our free throws. We just have to learn to play a complete game,” she explained.

Jefferson outlasts Towns County for
first-place in subregion
A delayed showdown between the two top teams in 8-A North was everything it was hyped up to be prior to the contest last Wednesday, and the Jefferson girls came out knowing a win would do wonders for their chances of a top seed in the region tournament.
That focus allowed the Lady Dragons to put forth an effort that Corbett described as “the best they’ve looked all season,” as Jefferson prevailed 60-50.
A firey Goza led her team with a strong double-double (19 points, 16 rebounds) and Bush added 14. Jefferson closes out the regular season with a rematch at Towns Co. on Friday.

State bound
Banged up, yes. But still going.
All the way to Ringgold.
A scrappy Raider wrestling team earned its way into the sweet 16 of Class AAAA this past weekend. They’ll travel to the Tennessee line this Saturday in hopes of grappling the state trophy out of the hands of the Class AAAA tournament favorites.
Madison County will open the state dual tournament at Ringgold High School against Thomas County Central at 10 a.m. The winner of that match will face the winner of the Alexander/Shaw showdown.
“I think we can beat Thomas County Central,” said Raider head coach Steve Mason, who says Alexander would be a likely second round opponent if the Raiders do advance. “Alexander is good. But I think if we wrestle to our potential, we can beat them...Hopefully we can advance and get to the semifinals of the state tournament.”
Others on Madison County’s side of the bracket include Woodland, South Forsyth, Lakeside-Evans and McNair.
The winner from this eight-team set will face the top team from the other side of the bracket, which includes North Forsyth, Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe, Columbia, Greenbrier, Troup, Woodward Academy, Loganville and Crisp County.
The fact that Madison County is in such lofty company is impressive to those aware of the hacking coughs and nagging injuries that have plagued the Raiders in recent weeks.
Madison County earned a state berth despite the ailments, traveling to Salem this past weekend and knocking off both Winder and Habersham Central, before losing to Loganville in the finals of the area tournament.
“We had four kids out of school most of the week, one with pneumonia,” said Mason. “We were wrestling pretty banged up....I hate accepting second place, but under the circumstances, we did pretty well. The boys showed a lot of heart.”
Five Raider wrestlers went 3-0 in the tournament: David Giles, Walker Overstreet, J.J. Brueshaber, Kevin Cash and Matt Kittle. Mark Arnold won both of his matches as well.
“Basically, all week long we knew it was going to be tough,” said Mason of preparing for last week’s area tournament. “But we talked about how great teams rise through adversity. I felt they did what they had to do to get to the state dual meet.”
While Madison County will surely face some tough tests Saturday, the squad has prepared by facing some formidable foes this year, including a Gwinnett tournament just after Christmas that featured some of the top teams in any Georgia classification.
Mason said he’s been pleased with how his team has handled a grueling 2003 wrestling schedule.
“Overall, it’s been a great season,” said Mason. “We placed high in some big-time tournaments.”
Despite their second place area finish, the Raiders fell out of’s top 10 Class AAAA teams this past week. The Raiders had been ranked number seven. This week’s top 10 includes: 1. Woodland, 2. Ringgold, 3. East Paulding, 4. Columbia, 5. Troup, 6. Columbia (so good they’re listed twice), 7. Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe, 8. Loganville, 9. Woodward Academy, and 10. Rome.

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