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MARCH 19, 2003

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Soccer teams to face Union at home Friday
Soccer comes back to Banks County this week.
The boys and girls soccer team hosts only their second home match of the season Friday, this time with Union County.
The teams saw good fan support at their last home match in February, and they hope for the same this week.
“We need the fans to keep coming out,” boys coach Mike Townson said.
Townson said he felt good about Friday’s game and that his team would match up well.
“We’ve got a chance to match up our athletes with them,” he said.
Townson’s boys go into Friday’s game coming off a 3-1 win at Jackson County Tuesday night. Townson said he has been impressed with the way his team has tried to get better in the last few weeks.
“They want to be better and they want to win,” he said. “The kids are becoming more dedicated.”
After Friday’s night 9-0 shutout at Lumpkin County, Townson said the team got off the bus in Homer and stayed at the field practicing late to try and get better.
In the game against Lumpkin, Banks had a chance early on to pick up some momentum. Down only 2-0, the Leopards put a kick in the goal. But after a Lumpkin protest, the officials called the play back on an offsides call.
“It would’ve been a different ball game,” Townson said.
Lumpkin County went on from there to a 4-0 halftime lead and scored five more goals in the second half off the Leopards’ younger players.
“We played well the other night,” Townson said of the Lumpkin game. “The kids responded and played hard.”
The Lady Leopards are expecting to see a tough Union County opponent Friday.
The Lady Panthers are one of the top teams in the region. Coach Mike Brownlee said he hopes to finally get to play a match in dry weather, though weather reports now show that to be unlikely.
“The field right now is like a sponge,” he said. “But it might be to our advantage by slowing them down.”
Banks will go into the match with several injured players.
Dana Littman is still nursing a hyper-extended knee. Wynonna Parson may have broken her foot in the Jackson County win Tuesday.
Kelly Paulk is out with an ankle injury and key striker Danielle Lewallen is playing through pain with a deep shin bruise.
“We’re injured and beat up right now,” Brownlee said.
In a messy game Tuesday night, the Lady Leopards pulled out a 4-0 shutout over Jackson County.
“We should’ve beat them 6-0,” Brownlee said. “We dominated them well enough to.”
Brownlee said several shots at the goal barely missed, a product of a wet ball and sloppy playing field.
Ashley Dumas and Lauren Reiselt both had two goals in the win.
Brownlee said A. Dumas did well handling the ball for the Lady Leopards in the game.
“She can make a young player look bad when she’s handling the ball well,” he said.
He also said Jessica Rogers picked up the slack in the midfield left when key midfielder April Smith walked off the team.
“She played like a wild woman,” Brownlee said of J. Rogers. “She was everywhere and the held the middle up by herself well tonight.”
Brownlee added that the team played a much better second half than first half, which he attributes to the team’s youthfullness.
“That’s just maturity level,” Brownlee said. “I don’t think they’re quite ready when they step on the field.”
Last week, the Lady Leopards fell 5-0 to Lumpkin County.
Banks had trouble in the contest getting the ball across midfield.
“That’s the first time this year that’s happened to us,” Brownlee said.
The Lady Leopards were down 1-0 at the half, though Lumpkin took about 20 shots at the goal that were either saved by keeper Jessica Kirby or knocked out by the defense.
Brownlee said the second half was much better for the team, as they kept Lumpkin from taking as many shots.
The Lady Leopards also matched up against the Lumpkin County team full of only juniors and seniors. Banks has only two juniors on its team.
“They are not losing heart,” Brownlee said. “As long as we can continue to make improvements, I feel like we are moving in the right direction.”

Jackson County tennis programs in full swing
The Jackson County tennis squad hosted their first home match of the season last Thursday and came away with a loss against Madison County. On the girls’ side, the Lady Panthers were nipped by the Lady Raiders 3-2, while the boys fell 5-0.
Jackson County’s top two singles players led the way for the Lady Panthers, however doubles play was not as successful.
Katie Huston led the way in singles action for the Lady Panthers against Madison County, as the No. 1 player for JCCHS was able to knock off Kimberly Edins 6-4, 6-2. Likewise, No. 2 singles action saw Lady Panther Cari Dethlefs prevail over Laura Baird in a three set affair, 6-2, 1-6, 6-0.
Also, in No. 3 singles, Sarah Tippins held off JCCHS’ Stephanie Stancel 6-2. 6-4.
Madison County swept the girls doubles action, as the tandem of Audrey Rogers and Stephanie Jernigan fell to Lady Raiders Tiffany Ledford and Kerri Martin, 6-1, 6-2, and Abbi Osley and Sallie Fitzpatrick were too strong for the JCCHS team of Stephanie Greenwood and Michelle Cotton, 6-1, 6-3.
The team plays at Franklin County today (Wednesday) before traveling to Clarke-Central on Thursday in another region matchup.
On the boys side it was a tough day for the Panthers as they failed to win a match in their 5-0 loss, however two matches were near victories. In No 2. singles Jackson County’s Dustin Clarke fought hard but was defeated in three sets by Madison County’s Paul Wildes After opening up an early one set lead, Clarke was narrowly beaten in the following two sets, losing 3-6, 7-5, 7-6.
Michael Tolbert’s No. 3 singles match went similiarly, as he opened up a one set advantage on Jake Alford before succumbing in three sets. 2-6, 7-5, 6-1.
In doubles play Madison County’s Colby Phillips and Forrest Vereen were too strong for the tandem of Stephen Bennett and Aubrey Shirley, 6-2, 6-3, and Ethan Dean and Justin Powers knocked off the Panther team of Derek Clark and Matthew Hantas, 6-0, 6-1.

So Far, So Good
With a solid 2-2 start on the diamond this season, Commerce is proving that it might be a different breed of Tigers than the ones that struggled through a four-win campaign in 2002.
Though the team is at .500 right now, the Tigers are a hair away from a 4-0 record as its two losses have come by a combined three runs.
Commerce’s elevated play started with a 13-6 drumming of Banks County 13-6 March 5 and carried over to its 6-1 win over Towns County last Tuesday in its region opener. The team then nearly toppled one of the region’s best clubs, losing a marathon, 9-8, 11-inning affair to 2002 Region 7-A champion Athens Academy Friday.
Tiger head coach David Cash said he’s been satisfied with what his team has showed him through four games.
“We’re feeling pretty good about where we’re standing right now,” Cash said. “We’ve had some close games and we’re seeing who’s stepping up. I’ve been well-pleased with how we’ve responded.”
Given a number of question marks in the Commerce lineup in the preseason which extended into the regular season, Cash said the group might even be exceeding expectations with its start.
“We had some uncertainties with our lineup and we didn’t know how Casha (Daniels) would play after not playing last year,” Cash explained. “So in some respects, we’re a little ahead of where I thought we’d be. But there’s still a long way to go.”
Cash credits the pitching staff for keeping the team afloat so far, pointing to the play of Casha Daniels, Jordan and Josh Haynes.
In fact, Jordan pitched 10 scoreless innings this past week.
“Pitching has been a pleasant surprise,” Cash said.
The bats however, need a bit more refining the coach said.
While the offense has had its moments, scoring 27 runs the past three games and drilling four homers in its win over Towns County, Cash said that the team is hitting in spurts, pointing out that 21 of 33 outs against Athens Academy were strikeouts.
“That’s very uncharacteristic of some of our hitters,” he said. “We’re leaving a lot of runners left on base.
Friday’s matchup with second-ranked Prince Avenue will be a good litmus test to see just how much Commerce has improved this year.
The Wolverines boast two of the area’s premiere players regardless of classification—Josh Fields and Campbell.
The duo recently no-hit a solid Lakeview club.
“We’ll see where we stand,” Cash said of the game with Prince Avenue. “We’re looking forward to it.”
Commerce will move on to play Rabun Gap Tuesday. The Wildcats didn’t play a region schedule last year and is 0-2 in 8-A play this season.
An 11th-inning RBI single from Athens Academy’s Minesh Mehta denied Commerce’s upset bid of the Spartans Friday night, falling 9-8 in 11 innings.
Cash praised the team’s resilience in the loss.
“We were down 6-3 to a team that’s beaten us over the past few years and was projected to be better than us this year and it was rainy and cold,” he said. “We had every opportunity to fold the tent but they fought back. It just wasn’t meant to be.”
Commerce built a 3-0 early with an RBI single from Adam Weddington and a score by Weddington off an error in the second inning, and then a score from Chad Jordan off another error in the third.
However, Athens Academy pulled ahead with four scores in the fourth off starter Casha Daniels and then two more in the fifth off Jordan.
Jordan settled down though, holding Athens Academy off the board over the next two innings as Commerce forced extra innings with three scores in the top of the sixth. Weddington cut the lead to 6-4 with a sacrifice fly to bring home Smallwood while the Tigers got two more scores off errors to even the contest up.
After three scoreless innings, Commerce grabbed a 8-6 lead in the top of the 10th with an RBI double from Hank Tiller and an RBI single from Jesse Smith but the Spartans answered with two scores in the bottom of the 10th.
With the contest knotted at eight in the bottom of the 11th, Athens Academy’s Adam Cronk reached base via an error and was singled to second before being driven home by Mehta for the game-winning run.
Jordan beat Towns County from both the plate and the mound last Tuesday as the senior went three-for-four with two solo homers while pitching a complete game, surrendering two hits, an earned run, a walk and striking out seven.
Commerce grabbed a 3-1 lead after three innings and tacked on a run in the fifth and three more in the seventh.
Haynes also added a two-run homer and Smallwood hit a solo shot.
Also collecting hits were Mitch Redmon and Sam Cutler, who both had two singles; Casha Daniels, who had two doubles; and Smith, who had a hit.

Lady Dragons start home season off on right foot with first-place showing
Tuesday’s rain-soaked meet with Athens Christian and Apalachee at Memorial Stadium opened up the 2003 home season for the Jefferson girls track and field squad, and if the final results are any indication, this year’s squad has the potential to do very well in the ranks of Class A.
Impressive in the eyes of their coach Tim Corbett is not necessarily the times and distances recorded, but rather the attitude the Lady Dragons have shown thus far in the young season.
Overall as a team, the amount of desire that has been displayed, despite only three weeks of limited training due to wet weather conditions, was a positive sign the coach said.
“The biggest thing so far is that they’re doing some things right now that you just can’t coach...the effort is there and that’s a good sign,” Corbett explained. “I think we’re on the right track, we’ve just got to keep working and trying to improve.”
The Lady Dragons were too strong for both of their opponents Tuesday, amassing a first-place point total of 83 points. The Lady Eagles took second with 49 while Apalachee finished with 34.
Perhaps the most impressive outcome of the afternoon came in the 1,600 meters where Vanessa Guzman broke the JHS school record with a time of 5:55.98. The mark was a few tenths of a second faster than the previous mark set by Erica Jones more than a decade ago.
Considering it is only March, Corbett stated he was impressed with the time.
“To break it this early in the season...(her time) is only going to go down (as the year progresses),” he said.
Other solid performances Tuesday included first-place and season-best showings by Erin Walker (400 meters; high jump), Annie Goza (shot put), Brittany Caudell (100 meters), Sarah Holden (100-meter hurdles), and Molly Cleveland (300 meters).
Lady Dragons open season at Panther Relays
Saturday, the Lady Dragons were definitely in the minority at the Panther Relays hosted by Starr’s Mill in Fayetteville. With the majority of the teams competing in the event coming from the state’s larger classifications of the GHSA, Jefferson held their own and competed admirably according to Corbett.
As one of only two Class A schools taking part in the meet, the Lady Dragons came in 12th-place out of 17 schools. Highlighting the event were several solid early-season performances by Goza (second-place discus, 94-11), and a ninth place showing by the 400 meter relay team (4:28.1). Michelle Boring was also solid in the field events, taking fourth-place in the discus (92-4) and competing well in the shot put.
Goza also fared well in the shot put, taking eighth overall with a throw of 28-8. In addition, the team of Caudell, Walker, Boring and Guzman took sixth in the sprint medley with a time of 4:48.25.
“It was a good meet to go and compete in,” Corbett explained. “And, at this point in the season we’re on the right track.”

Battling back
Diamond Raider head coach Charlie Griffeth stressed last week that the greatest remedy for his 0-3 team’s struggles would be to break into the win column.
Wish granted, in dramatic fashion.
Thanks to a game-winning, seventh-inning solo homer from Trey McCay against AAAAA Oconee County, Madison County (1-3) has halted a three-game season-opening losing streak as it enters region play.
The win over the Warriors was especially sweet for the Raiders since it was Oconee County who dismantled them 11-0 in only five innings just a week earlier.
“It can’t do anything but positive things,” Griffeth said of his team’s 2-1 victory. “It goes to show that the old saying is true, that the game isn’t over until 21 outs are recorded, like Yogi Berra said, ‘it ain’t over ‘til it’s over.”
However, Griffeth said his team has to take its big win over the 2002 Region 8-AAAA champions in stride as they enter into the region slate.
“It’s a good note to go in on,” Griffeth said. “At the same time, momentum in baseball is vastly overrated. I think it was Earl Weaver who said 21-game winning steak isn’t a 21-game winning streak, it’s 21, one- game game winning streaks. So you can’t to high over one game. You have to take them one game at a time.”
Team could play up to four region contests before this week depending on if Madison County’s and opponents fields dry up and rains hold off.
The diamond Raiders were slated to face Cedar Shoals today, Habersham Central Thursday, Jackson County Friday and Winder-Barrow Tuesday.
Madison County was set to open 8-AAAA play with Habersham this past Tuesday but the game was rained out which now gives the team three games to play in three days.
“Like I told the guys, it’s going to be a crazy season with all the double headers plus rainouts put on top of that,” Griffeth said.
As for this week, Griffeth said Cedar Shoals returns at least three quality players while Habersham is loaded with younger talent.
Jackson County, on the other hand, will likely be the weakest team on the slate this week as it failed to win a region game last year when both the Panthers and Madison County in 8-AAA.
However, another former 8-AAA foe, Winder-Barrow should be a much tougher foe, making the AAA state playoff last year with a late regular season run.
Griffeth said the Bulldoggs seem to have a program on the rise.
“They’ve showed that with the way they came on last year,” he said. “They’ll be solid.”
On May 10 of last year, McCay rounded the bases in triumph after swatting a game-winning homer to down Central Carroll in the first round of the AAA state playoffs.
Fast forward 10 months and you had nearly the same scenario.
McCay stepped into the batters box and ripped a walk-off, game-winning solo homer in the bottom of the seventh inning to push Madison County past Oconee 2-1 this past Friday.
“It was kind of like de ja vous of the Central Carroll game,” Griffeth said.
Michael Young put McCay in position to win the game with a solo blast an inning earlier, tying the contest at 1-1.
McCay and Young’s longball were two of only four Madison County hit on the evening.
While McCay and Young came up with the late-game heroics, starting pitcher Thad Pruett shutdown Oconee’s bats for six innings, allowing just three hits while striking out 10.
“That’s big,” Griffeth said of Pruett’s outing. “For us to be successful he’s going to have to come through for us.”
Pruett gave up the Warriors only run of the night in the second inning when he walked two batters, surrendered an infield single and then hit a batter to force the run home.
Sophomore Ben Jeffers came in and held Oconee off the scoreboard, working a perfect seventh inning.
Also getting hits for the Raiders were Corey Boswell and Conrad Carey.

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