Area Sports...

JANUARY 7, 2004

Sub-Region Turnaround?
Boys Look For Better Fortunes In
8-A South Play
A few more wins might have been nice, but Tiger head coach Rex Gregg has his own way of looking at the first eight games of the year as his team moves into sub-region play this week.
“It’s kind of like we had a preseason,” Gregg said. “Now the real season starts in positioning yourself for the region tournament. I’m pretty excited about that.”
Commerce (1-7) began the “real season” Tuesday night against Athens Christian but results from that contest were not available. The Region 8-A South slate continues with the Tigers facing Prince Avenue Friday, Tallulah Falls Saturday and Athens Academy Tuesday.
Both the Wolverines and Spartans lost key personnel from last year’s team while Tallulah Falls should have some key transfers.
Either way, Gregg expects challenges in the upcoming stretch.
“They’re all going to be tough for us,” he said.
The good news from the holiday break was that it brought Commerce its first win, a 68-53 victory over Dawson County.
The bad news is that threestraight losses by 25 points or more followed, with the Tigers falling to Madison County (60-23), Banks County (72-35) and Jefferson (82-56).
Gregg said his team has relapsed into some bad habits that he thought were remedied with the win over Dawson County.
“We’re back in that lull of not shooting the ball and turning the ball over,” he said.
The shooting woes came against Madison County, where the team shot just 18 percent, and again against Banks County where it hit just 23.5 percent from the floor. Commerce shot the ball well against Jefferson — 46 percent — but turned the ball over 18 times in a 26-point loss.
Other problems, Gregg said, include not getting good ball movement on offense, a lack of rebounding and simply not having enough depth right now.
Still, the coach said he knows his group can perform well, referring back to its performance in the Dawson County win.
Gregg pointed to his group’s ability to press well, work the ball around and shoot the ball in the win as the team hit 50 percent from the floor.
“The Dawson County game was a great team game,” he said. “That’s the kind of effort we’re going to have to have.”
Though his team has dropped three games since, Gregg warned before the start of the season that the team couldn’t afford for anyone to get discouraged by early losses and the team doesn’t seem to be phased.
“We had a very good practice today (Monday),” Gregg said. “I’m confident that we’ll knock down some wins.”
The coach said the rest of schedule could play into his team’s favor.
“Not to take anything away from the rest of the teams, but I think we’ve played the toughest part of our schedule.”
JEFFERSON 82, CHS 56
The heavy favorites for the region crown this year looked every bit as good as advertised Saturday as the athletic Dragons ran past Commerce 82-56.
A 28-point first quarter from Jefferson helped the Dragons build a 19-point lead at half time as they upped their lead to as much as 30 points in the second half.
Three Dragon players scored in double figures with standout Jarvis Hunter leading the effort a 22-point night which was highlighted by a home-crowd pleasing first- quarter dunk.
The Tigers had three double-figures as well with Slayton scoring 16 and Jordan and Randolph both adding 10.
BANKS COUNTY 72, CHS 35
An eventful second quarter for Banks County set the tone for its 37-point win over Commerce Friday night as the Leopards piled up points in transition outscoring Commerce 16-2 in the period.
As a result, the Tigers, who were held scoreless for the last 7:03 of the second quarter, found themselves in an insurmountable hole by halftime, trailing 35-10.
The Leopards had four players reach double figures in the win while Randolph was the only Tiger in double digits, scoring 14.
MADISON COUNTY 60, CHS 23
One of Commerce’s best offensive nights thus far of the season was followed by its worst.
After putting up 68 points against Dawson County, the Tigers scored a season-low 23 points against AAAA Madison County last Tuesday in a 37-point defeat in the championship round of the Commerce holiday tournament.
The Tigers’ offensive trio of Randolph, Slayton and Jordan was held to a combined 17 points in the loss as Commerce scored just nine points in the second half.
CHS 68, DAWSON COUNTY 53
Four Tiger players scored in double figures to snap Commerce’s four-game season-opening losing streak last Monday night in a 15-point win over Dawson County.
Jordan led Commerce with a 22-point night, hitting 9-of-14 from the floor and 6-for-6 from the free throw line.
Daniels added a season-high 15 points and Slayton and Randolph reached double figure as well with 14 and 13 points.
Slayton also had 11 rebounds.
Commerce made its move in the second quarter, outscoring Dawson County 16-6 to take a two-point lead at intermission and built on that edge in the final two quarters, scoring 47 points in the second half.
The Tigers’ offense was a product of a its best shooting night of the season, hitting 28-of-56 attempts from the floor (50 percent) and 15-of-20 from the charity stripe.


Leopards tame Tigers
Banks blasts Commerce 72-35, downs Towns 64-49
The Banks County Leopards basketball team beat Commerce, 72-35, Friday.
The Leopards take on Rabun County at home this Friday and travel to Blairsville Tuesday to face Union County.
BANKS 72, COMMERCE 35
The Leopards pulled out all the stops, and the reserves, at Friday’s match-up against Commerce.
Banks was hot early with an 8-0 lead. A three pointer from Seth McCoy brought the lead to 11-0, with a first quarter finish of 19-8 Banks.
The second half put more points on the board for the Leopards, pushing the lead out to 27-10 with four minutes left in the first half.
Banks had strong defensive pressure against the Tigers. They forced several turnovers in the first quarter and made key points in transition.
“We played real well,” said Banks County Coach Mike Ruth. “We were working on some presses we had learned at practice. Our kids played hard, with a lot of intensity.”
Reggie Smith led the scoring with 16 points for Banks. Also putting up double-digits were: Dale, 15; Kyle Roberts, 13; and Tra Smith, 11. T Smith and Matt Dale put up two three pointers each in the game.
Seth McCoy added eight to the score for Banks, including one three-point shot. Alex Cruse also rang a three-point shot. Jacob Williams put up two for the team. Reserve players, Josh Miller, and Chancey Dorsey, each scored two points also.
BANKS 64, TOWNS 49
Banks County was two-for-three in the Battle of the States Holiday Tournament. After a winning tournament opener against Robbinsville, the Leopards proved victorious again over host Towns County, 64-49.
“We ran the floor well, were able to rebound consistently and got some good three point shots,” said Ruth.
Leading the scoring for that game were brothers Reggie and Tra Smith, with 16 and 14 points respectively.
Seth McCoy contributed 10. Jacob Williams put up nine and was seven-for-eight from the stripe. Matt Dale was good for eight.
Alex Cruse and pivotman Kyle Roberts both added six.
N FORSYTH 67, BANKS 51
The Leopards lost the championship game against North Forsyth 67-51.
“We got off to a slow start and were out-scored 18-5 in the first quarter,” Coach Ruth said. “We played well and never lost our intensity. We cut the gap down to eight, but couldn’t get over the hump.”
Seth McCoy led the scoring with 15 points. He was perfect from the charity line and sank a three-pointer.
Kyle Roberts was also 100 percent from the line and put up 12 total points for the team.
Reggie Smith put up 10, while Alex Cruse had six points, which came from two three-point shots.
Matt Dale and Justin Crocker both put up three and Tra Smith had two.

Lady Dragons take Lady ‘Skins to the wire again
The Jefferson girls gave No. 4 Social Circle all they could handle for the second time this season on Tuesday night, but in the end the Lady Dragons were outdone in the final minute on the road, losing 53-50.
The two teams were tied with roughly a minute remaining, however poise down the stretch enabled the host Lady Redskins to inch ahead after trailing for much of the game.
Lady Dragon head coach Brandy Corbett, although disappointed with her team’s second close loss to Social Circle this season, was encouraged by the way her squad performed against one of the better Class A teams in the state.
“I feel good about our chances against them now if we have to play them in the region tournament later this year,” Corbett said.
Jefferson (8-6, 1-0 in 8-A North) led by five heading into the fourth quarter and was up by as many as seven in that period. But, the experience and the addition of Lillian Durden to the Social Circle lineup proved to be the difference down the stretch. Durden, who was ineligible for the two squad’s prior meeting this season, returned to the court and netted 15 points. Her production was key for the Lady Redskins, especially considering Jefferson’s defensive effort elsewhere. While leading scorer and all-state candidate Shekyia Tarpkins was able to score 22 points, Jefferson was solid defensively on the low blocks. Leading post player Shae Heard was held to just two points in the game. She netted 21 points on a Dec. 19 double overtime win at Jefferson, including six of her team’s eight points in the extra period.
But the difference Tuesday night according to Corbett was mostly the addition of Durden as a third weapon for Social Circle, along with an active press by the Lady Redskins that was able to force turnovers.
Shenita Moon finished with 16 points to lead the Lady Dragons, while Shalita Brooks netted 13. Kenyotta Beasley’s effort down low was solid on both ends of the floor as well. She finished with 10 points.
Despite the defeat, Jefferson still had a solid stretch of play over the weekend during which they picked up two crucial region wins. Friday night the Lady Dragons knocked off Athens Academy on the road, winning going away 51-30. Moon again led the way in that contest, netting a team-high 17 points. Brooks chipped in with 10. A commanding third quarter performance by the Lady Dragons enabled them to pull away thanks to a 12-4 run.
The following night the solid play continued as the host Lady Dragons won easily 52-29 over their arch rivals from Commerce. Moon’s 21 points again led the way.


Out-dualing the competition
Madison Co. wrestlers win Raider Duals
Steve Mason’s Raider wrestling squads have already experienced highlights at the state level in his short tenure, but what transpired at his team’s own gym this past Saturday might have more sentimental value to the coach.
In what he called his group’s most inspired performance of the year, Mason’s squad won all five of its dual matches to claim the first-place trophy in its own “Raider Duals” tournament.
Madison County now has a 15-1 dual record.
“As far as the guys wrestling hard and the excitement we had, it’s probably the most satisfying experience as a head coach since I’ve been here,” he said.
The Raiders’ path to the title started with a 4-0 mark in pool competition — which earned them a top seed in the championship round — and culminated with a 45-33 win over AAAAA Fayette County in the finals, the top seed out of the other pool.
The team’s pool wins included victories over Chattahoochie (66-19), Newton County (54-18), Hart County (57-24) and Green County (72-9).
Fayette County made it to the finals by downing Cherokee County (52-26) and Elbert County (62-16) and two top 10 AAA teams — Gilmer County (52-21) and Grayson (48-33).
Included in the day’s highlights were six first-place wrestlers which went 5-0 in the tournament — Jesse Compton, Mark Arnold, Kevin Cash, Tyler Johnson, Walker Overstreet and David Giles.
“All those guys who went 5-0 wrestled great,” Mason said.
Madison County also had two wrestlers compile 4-1 records — Conrad Carey and Jim Myrick.
“That’s the best we’ve wrestled as a team all year long,” Mason said. “We still have a long way to go, but we had some really good practices.”
Madison County’s domination Saturday continued quite an impressive run in dual action at home as the program now boasts a 26-0 record in Danielsville under Mason.
“They’ve defended their home territory pretty well,” he said.
While the group demonstrated a lot this weekend, Mason warned that it can’t rest on its laurels.
“If we wrestle like we did this weekend, maybe we can step up and do something, but the guys can’t afford to be satisfied.”
Especially since the Raider wrestlers — which wrestled against Heritage and Stockbridge Tuesday at home (results were not available) — must turn around and compete in one of the biggest events in the state, the Gwinnett County Tournament at Dacula.
The event will feature powerhouses Parkview and Jefferson and every top notch program in Gwinnett County along with several other quality teams from outside Gwinnett. Mason estimates that 30 teams will compete Saturday.
The Gwinnett tournament was one of the high points of Madison County’s success a year ago. The team finished ninth, placing ahead of several notable AAAAA schools.
“It was a big showing for us last year,” Mason said.
MASON THANKS PARENTS
Mason said hosting nine other teams made for a hectic Saturday, but thanks to the parents involved, the Raider Duals went smoothly.
And the coach added that he wasn’t the only one who noticed their efforts.
“I want to thank all the parents who helped with the tournament,” he said. “All the coaches I talked to said it was the best-run tournament they’ve been to.”


Panthers headed to Hartwell this weekend for dual
THE JACKSON COUNTY wrestling team has had some bumps and bruises along the way so far this season, but the team is starting to come together according to head coach Roger Powers.
Although still relatively young compared to some of the prior teams the Panthers have had, this season’s group has been able to make steady progress on the mat thanks to the aid of Powers, a first-year head coach who has been associated with JCCHS wrestling for years as an assistant.
“They’ve been progressing from week-to-week and match-to-match, and that’s all you can really ask of the kids,” Powers said.
Tuesday, Jackson County traveled to Newton and beat Columbia 42-33, but lost to Woodward and Newton, all in duals.
This weekend the Panthers will travel to Hartwell to take part in the Hart County duals. For the most part this season Jackson County has faired far better in duals than in traditional tournaments.
“Overall I feel like we’re still improving, we’re just aiming for the area tournament — kind of shooting for the big time,” Powers said.
Last weekend at the Amicalola Classic in Dawsonville, the Panthers finished in ninth-place overall in the team standings. They totalled 64 points. John Schimmell (fourth at 103 pounds) and Robert McVay (fourth at 160 pounds) were the only Panthers to place in the event.
Jefferson was first in the tournament’s team standings with 226 points.

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