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APRIL 16, 2003

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Record Breakers
Though the Leopards’ season hasn’t gone exactly as they hoped, they still have reason to celebrate.
Banks (6-10) broke the school’s season win record with their sixth victory of the season last week, a 2-1 win over AAAA Madison County.
“It felt good,” coach Mike Townson said. “It’s good to be a part of something like this.”
The Leopards have only one game left this season with a chance to set the season win mark even higher.
Banks will host Apalachee in a junior varsity and a varsity match on senior night Thursday.
“We really need people to come out and watch,” Townson said.
The Leopards will have a chance to hit 50 goals for the season between the two games Thursday. The team needs only seven more.
Leading scorer Ben Vang will also have the opportunity to hit 30 goals on the year. He already has 21, a team record for one year.
Townson said he attributes much of the success this season not to himself, but to former coach Donnie Bennett and lay coach Kelby Cronic.
“Donnie started this last year,” Townson said. “He got these guys and he built this.”
Townson added that Cronic, who has worked for free coaching soccer and other sports, had been a great motivator for the team.
“He is a great coach and a great role model,” Townson said. “He’s the one who got us the sixth win.”
Last week’s record win was the first over a quality team like Madison County. The Red Raiders have beaten some of the teams that have overwhelmed Banks this season, including Buford.
“It was good for the program, good for the seniors and good for the kids,” Townson said. “We just went in relaxed and ready to play. We finally played good enough to beat a good opponent.”
Both teams stayed scoreless in the first half of play, though Madison controlled the ball for the much of the half. Townson credited his keeper with allowed Banks to hold the Red Raiders scoreless.
About six minutes into the second half, Banks fed off a Madison County mistake and Angel Hernandez crossed to Arturo Ramirez who scored.
Five minutes later, A. Hernandez fed Ben Vang to put the Leopards up 2-0.
“Madison County knew they were in trouble,” Townson said. “But there was a lot of time left.”
With six minutes to go in the game, the Red Raiders got their first score to cut the lead to 2-1.
“It was a great shot,” Townson said. “There was nothing the keeper could do.”
Banks was able to keep the ball away from Madison the remainder of the game to take the win.
In a rematch of the first game of the season, Banks was narrowly edged out 4-3 by Oglethorpe in overtime Friday.
“It was a good game and we played hard,” Townson said. “We were a little flat after Thursday night’s big game.”
The Patriots jumped out ahead 2-0 on the Leopards quickly, one of the goals coming off a miscommunication between the keep and the official.
Just before the half, Banks cut the lead. B. Vang scored off an assist from Penjgee Yang to make the score 2-1.
In the second half, Banks was able to tie the game at 2-2. A. Ramirez hit a shot that would have probably gone in but German Alvarez came in and headed the ball in.
A penalty resulting in a direct kick for the Patriots gave Oglethorpe a 3-2 lead. But with 2:30 left in the game, Banks tied it back up.
B. Vang put a penalty kick in for the goal and the tie. Regulation play ended in a tie and sent the game into overtime.
Neither team scored in the first period. But seconds in the next overtime period, Oglethorpe hit a shot that deflected off one crossbar, hit another crossbar and fell in for the score.
“We hit the crossbar several times after that but it wouldn’t go in,” Townson said.
The Leopards fell 5-1 to Dawson County Tuesday in their last shot at a remote possiblity for a postseason berth.
Banks scored first, with B. Vang taking the ball on his own and putting it in for the goal.
Dawson tied up the game before the half. But in the second half, four yellow cards were thrown against the Tigers, motivating two more quick goals to take the lead.
Townson said he decided to take some of his starters out of the game as a matter of respect for Dawson County’s players, who will be making a trip to state.
The Tigers went on to score two more goals off some of Banks’ younger players.
The junior varsity Leopards fell 4-3 in a match with Dawson County before the varsity match Tuesday.
Phee Yang scored the first every JV goal, his first on the high school level. Shesta Hue had an assist on the play.
S. Hue also assisted two more goals, both coming off the foot of B. Vang.
Townson said he had good play out of eighth graders P. Yang, S. Hue and Osman Corona.
“They played hard,” he said.

Jackson Co. track teams to wrap up regualr season this week
With less than a week to go before the region meet, the Jackson County girls track and field squad is hoping to hit their stride in their final two competitions of the season.
Thursday’s home meet finale will allow the Lady Panthers to get a look at region foe Madison County, as well as Johnson, before the 8-AAAA meet at Clarke-Central which begins Tuesday.
“Right now we’re just trying to solidify and iron out a few things heading into the region meet next Tuesday,” Collins said.
Following that, the Lady Panthers make the short trip to Memorial Stadium to take part in the 24-team Jefferson Relays, a meet that should be a good indicator of how competitive the team can be in a large competition format such as the region or state tournament.
“We have gone to the Relays in the past and done well,” Collins said, citing the team’s second-place Group 1 finish there last year. “But the main thing (Saturday) is to go compete and get excited about competing in a big meet atmosphere.”
On the boys’ side the youth-laden Panthers have struggled mightily this season however as has been the case throughout the year, the main goal of steadily improving continues to guide the team.
“We’re just brutally young on the boys side of things,” Collins said. “But we just go out there and continue to work and try and improve.
“The main thing is we want to get better and be competitive, if not in the team points then, compared to where we have been (earlier in the season),” Collins explained.
JCCHS tracksters deal with low turnout at Winder-Barrow
Nursing less than normal numbers last weekend at Winder-Barrow, both the girls and boys squads struggled in the team standings but appear to be making strides overall according to coach Steve Collins.
“We really had a skeleton crew out there Saturday,” Collins said of his team’s turnout. “But we did have a few people that did well.”
Several standouts either placed in their events or recorded season-best times at the meet, a sign that is encouraging as the teams head into the final weeks of the season.
Crystal Yonce took second in the high jump with a leap of five feet, a height she has apparently now become accustomed to clearing.
“She’s done well lately,” Collins said. “That was the second or third time she has reached five feet, so she’s getting it fairly consistently,” he explained.
In the 100 meters, Jameca Cooper reached the finish line in 12.9 seconds a mark that was the best she has run in that event all season, however it was not quite good enough to place in the top three.
On the boys side, an extremely young team to begin with was further hampered by the low turnout of competitors. Their lone bright spot was the 17.8 second time turned in by Steven Ogletree in the 110-meter hurdles. Like Cooper, his time was a season-best, but yet still not good enough to medal.

Tigers Looking To Keep Playoff Hopes Alive
With his team’s late-March, three-game winning streak still in recent memory, Tiger head coach David Cash knows his team is capable of playing good baseball.
But with only five region games remaining and his team dropping four of its last five contests (the team was awarded a forfeit win over Tallulah Falls Monday), the coach knows that time is running out for the squad to create a turn around.
At 5-6 and seventh in the region, Commerce still has a legitimate shot at grabbing one of the top four spots out of 8-A for the state playoffs. But Cash said his team must step up and play like a playoff contender if it wants to extend its season.
“It’s still mathematically possible but the window is closing,” Cash said of the team’s postseason prospects. “We’re going to have to turn it around soon ... I still don’t think we have a bad team. I still think we’re all pretty even after Prince Avenue. You’ve just got to go out there and keep it up.”
Commerce would be hard-pressed to endure a more unconventional week of baseball than the one it experienced last week.
Friday, the team seemed to have put to rest a two-game losing streak, leading Towns County 10-1 after three innings but were trumped with 15 unanswered scores in a bewildering 16-10 loss.
Monday, Commerce was the one posting the rally, surging from four runs down to take an 8-7 lead into the bottom of the seventh but ended up losing on a two-run, walk-off homer.
The same day the diamond Tigers were clipped in the final inning by the Eagles, they were also credited with a 7-0 win over Tallulah Falls which is forfeiting the rest of its games this year because it only has eight players.
Commerce, who played Athens Academy Tuesday (results weren’t available as of press time) will now have a week to ponder the future of its season as it won’t play again for a week.
Cash said that a week away from the playing field is just what the team needs right now.
“We didn’t get a lot of time to practice with all the rain last week so it gives us some time to work on fundamentals and some situations we didn’t handle well...I think it will be a well-deserved break,” he said.
The Tigers certainly won’t get a break when they return to action Tuesday as they’re slated to face region-leader Prince Avenue which is a perfect 10-0 in 8-A this year.
Trailing 6-2, Commerce rallied for six scores in the sixth inning take a 8-6 lead, but it was the Eagles’ David Tripplet who would deliver the final heroics of the night, hitting a two-run, walk-off homer in the bottom of the seventh to hand the Tigers a one-run loss.
“That’s the second time we’ve lost a lead,” Cash said referring to both the loss to Athens Christian and the loss to Towns County three days earlier. “With the way we’re hitting, any lead is precious.”
The Eagles built their lead with a run in the second, four in the third and one in the fifth.
Commerce lead initially, taking a 2-0 lead with a pair of scores in the first.
Leading the Tigers offensively were Sam Cutler and Adam Weddington who had a two-run singles; Caleb Jordan, who had a two-run triple; and Hank Tiller, who had an RBI double.
From the mound, Casha Daniels worked a complete game, surrendering six hits and five walks while striking out three.
The first three innings of Friday night’s contest against Towns County were the antidote the slumping Commerce baseball team desperately needed.
However, that remedy wore off after the fourth.
Just when it looked like the Tigers had steared the ship out of its recent rocky waters, Commerce served up 15 unanswered runs in squandering a 10-1 lead in a 16-10 loss to Towns County.
The Indians’ furious rally started quietly with two scores in the fourth but became serious quickly with six runs in the fifth to trim Commerce’s once fat lead to 10-9. Three more scores in the sixth gave Towns a 12-10 lead before they ended the game with an exclamation point, slamming a three-run homer in the seventh to highlight a four-run inning.
Cash was at a loss for an explanation of Friday’s turn of events.
“I don’t know what to say about that,” he said. “For us to fall apart the way we did, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like that for or against us. But they say if you do something long enough you’ll see it all.”
On the heels of a pair lopsided losses to Jefferson and Social Circle, Commerce looked liked they were to be the ones to end the game early this time with the 10-run mercy rule, sprinting out to a nine-run lead with five scores in the first, four in the second and one in the third to give it what seemed to be a “safe”10-1 margin.
However, an assortment of well-placed Indians hits paired with some Commerce defensive miscues quickly put Towns County back in the game over the course of the fourth and fifth innings.
“It wasn’t that they hit (Tiger starter) Chad Jordan that hard,” Cash explained. “They just had some well-placed hits, some hits we just couldn’t get to, the occassional error and then we had an interference call. The wheels just fell off and we couldn’t do anything to get back on track.”
Jordan lasted until the sixth before Hank Tiller spelled him out of the bullpen with the teams dead locked at 10.
Towns then scored the go-ahead run after Tiller threw wildly in an attempt to gun-down at a stealing runner at second and went up by two scores with a subsequent an RBI double.
Things continued going downward defensively in the seventh as a double error allowed Towns to push its lead to 13-10 before the Indians capped the inning off with the three-run shot to right center field.

Annual JHS meet set for Saturday
When Jefferson High School hosts the 39th Annual Jefferson Relays this Saturday at Memorial Stadium some 24 boys and girls teams will get a chance to test the waters of competition in one of the larger meets anywhere in the state this season.
Additionally though, the boys squads in particular will get a chance to familiarize themselves with the confines, surroundings and surface within the stadium prior to the GHSA Boys State Track and Field Championships which will take place from May 15-17.
This year’s meet will also be the last Relays for the home boys team from Jefferson under the direction of coach James Pinion. He recently announced his retirement at the school after this year.
Pinion has been actively involved in the planning of both the state tournament and the Relays since he first came to JHS in 1981.
Saturday’s teams will be divided into two groups, with 16 teams from Classes AAAAA, AAAA, and AAA together in Group I, while the remaining eight squads from Classes A and AA will compete against each other in Group II.
Field events for the meet begin at 10 a.m. with track events set for a 1 p.m. start. Events will run through the evening with awards presentations to follow the competition.

Mixed results
What’s becoming a “Jeckle and Hyde” type of spring for the Raider baseball team only got more erratic this past week.
The Madison County baseball team trekked to Eastside for a Friday double header and pounded the traditionally sound Eagles by a combined count of 25-6 in the twin bill.
But any momentum from that pair of convincing wins was quelled Tuesday in a 3-2 loss to region cellar-dweller Jackson County in which the Raiders didn’t score a run after the first inning.
Obviously, Raider head coach Charlie Griffeth and his team were disappointed after the loss to the 3-10 (2-11 in 8-AAAA) Panthers.
“You need to beat the teams you’re supposedly better than,” he said, adding that his team must become more consistent and tougher mentally when things aren’t going its way.
The turn of events of the past week were the latest in a series of transitions by the team this year though.
After losing its first three games, the Raiders rebounded with wins in six of seven contests before hitting another three-game losing skid which was halted Friday with their double pummeling of Eastside.
The team hopes the version that took care of business in Covington over the weekend is the one that shows up this week as the team has a Friday home double header with Salem, one of the region’s top teams, a Tuesday matchup with Winder-Barrow and a Wednesday contest with Habersham Central in a makeup of a April 8 rainout.
Other than a first-inning Brent Burkhalter solo homer and Conrad Carey RBI single, Panther starter Drew Cantrell kept Madison County’s bats off-kilter all afternoon long in Jackson County’s 3-2 upset win in Jefferson Monday.
With the loss, the Raiders will split the season series with Jackson County after sweeping the Panthers the past two years.
After pushing a run across in the first inning, Jackson County took the lead in the bottom of the second with two scores and then rode Cantrell’s arm and some solid defensive play behind him for six shutout innings in grabbing the team’s second region win of the year.
Jackson County threatened to break the one-run game open in the fourth, putting runners at second and third with no outs.
However, Madison County turned the tables on the Panthers, throwing out Ryne Williams at home on a grounder to third and then turning a double play to escape the inning.
Once at bat in the top of the fifth, the Raiders put two runners on with only one out, but Jackson County forced a fly out and ground out to end Madison County’s last substantial scoring threat of the contest.
Raider starter Thad Pruett picked up the loss but put up numbers decent numbers, working six innings, surrendering the three runs and eight hits while striking out two.
Madison County put the long ball to good use in its demolishion of Eastside in the first game of Friday night’s twin bill.
Trey McCay swatted two homers and drove in five runs while Travis Calloway added a round-tripper of his own in the Raiders’ 12-0, run-rule-shortened win.
Michael Young was near-perfect from the mound with a one-hit shutout in five innings of work, striking out five and walking none.
McCay made his intial noise in the first inning with a double, not the long ball, which drove in three runs.
Conrad Carey followed with a two-run single in the second and Brad Osborne added an RBI single in the third to push Madison County’s lead to 6-0.
McCay then made it 7-0 in the top of the fourth with his first homer of the day before Calloway provided the big clout of the contest, a three-run homer in the top of the fifth, to give the Raiders a 10-0 edge.
McCay’s second blast followed later than inning as did an RBI double from Tony Tittle.
The Raiders followed their 12-run pounding of Eastside in the first game with a comfortable seven-run victory over the Eagles in the night cap.
Madison County cruised to 11-1 lead after five and a half innings and 13-3 edge after six and a half before Eastside notched three mop-up scores in the bottom of the seventh.
Leading the way offensively were Calloway, who lauched his second homer of the night in the sixth inning; Sales, who had four RBIs on the day with a pair of two-run doubles, one in the first, the other in the seventh; Cody Ferguson, who drilled a two-run double in the first; Tittle, who had a RBI triple in the fifth; Will Ryder, who doubled home a run in the fifth also and sacrificed a run home in the sixth; and Brent Burkhalter, who smashed a two-run double in the sixth.
The Red Raider baseball team’s Tuesday matchup with Winder-Barrow will be “Fan Appreciation Day”
Each fan with a ticket stub will recieve a free drink and a hot dog.
Diamond Club leaders say that all its members should have already been mailed their tickets for the game.
If any Diamond Club member doesn’t have a ticket yet, they’re to report to the gate keeper who will have a complete member list.

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