Area Sports...

FEBRUARY 18, 2004

Next up: Goliath
State Tourney Berth Marks ‘Remarkable Turnaround’ For Commerce boys
The Tiger basketball team started winter with the credo that “Together Everybody Achieves More” or T.E.A.M.
Those didn’t turnout to be wasted words.
Commerce bounced back from both a 2-18 season last year and a 1-7 start this season to secure a spot in the state tournament with a dramatic win over Towns County in this past week’s region tournament.
Tiger head coach Rex Gregg said the accomplishment is a tribute to his team’s resolve.
“It’s a big turnaround from last year,” he said. “It’s a great accomplishment. Not many teams in Commerce’s history can say they went to the state tournament ... I’m tickled that we’re going to state. It’s a major accomplishment to go from last year to this year.”
A clutch 10-foot game-winner with four seconds left from David Evans against Towns County last Wednesday in a 57-56 win assured the Tigers the spot in the state round of 32.
For the rest of this story see this weeks Commerce News.


Lady Leopards head for state competition
In an all out battle, the Banks County Lady Leopards prevailed over the Buford Lady Wolves and won not only a close game, 57 to 52, but a seat on the bus to the state competition.
The last team that went to state competiton was the 1994 Lady Leopards.
Coach Jody Watkins said: “The girls understood the importance of Saturday’s game against Buford. It was not just about placing third in the region; it also determined where we would enter the state tournament.”
The team came out strong Saturday in the second day of the 8AA region tournament finals and dominated the court both offensively and defensively, in spite of some questionable calls by the referees.
Watkins made it known to the officials that she was not happy with their performance and was warned. The fans from Banks County who made the trek to Atlanta made their feelings known, loudly.
On one play towards the end of the game, Heather Beck was going up for a shot at the basket with a Lady Wolf in tow on her back. The referee called a foul on Beck. The crowd howled, but the Lady Leopards took it in stride and kept their minds on the business at hand like true competitors.
Kayla Duncan worked the boards and fought for rebounds, coming away with the ball several times. Chastico Beasley overcame an aggressive Lady Wolves’ double-manned defense with speed and agility allowing her teammates to set up and score.
Four Lady Leopards came away with scores with double figures – Duncan, 13; Beasley, 13; Brooke Whitmore, 12; and Kayla Parks, 10. Other scores in the game were Nicole Powell, 7, and Beck, 2.
Watkins said: “We matched up well with Buford and I knew it would come down to who wanted it more. Buford’s coach even commented about how the Lady Leopards played with a lot of heart. The girls have found the desire to win and that is what it takes to be successful at this level of play.”
As for the fans who have supported the team through-out the season, Watkins said,: “It has such an impact on the girls when the gym is packed.
Banks 32, GAC 71
On Friday, the team found themselves up against the quick-paced, no-holds-barred Greater Atlanta Christian Lady Spartans.
GAC outgunned them at the hoop, outran them on the court and proved to be adept at stealing the ball. But sometimes it came with a cost and the Lady Spartans racked up fouls that put Banks at the free-throw line 27 times.
The intense pace was more than the tired Banks team could handle after a tight game Wednesday night against Providence in Dawsonville.
The shooters –Parks, Duncan and Beasley had a tough time getting off their shots.
Scores for that game were put on the board by Parks, with 11; Duncan, with 8; Beasley with 7; Whitmore, with 3; Beck with 2.
GAC had four girls in double figures and a total of 11 players adding to the score.
Watkins said: “GAC is definitely a talented team. The girls were recovering from the hard fought game last Wednesday against Providence. With ohnly one day of rest, we had a hard time holding up against the depth of GAC.”.
Banks 62, Providence 48.
Last Wednesday night, the team traveled to Dawsonsville for the start of the regional tournament and came away with a hard-won win.
Watkins said: “The girls left everything on the floor. I could tell they were not ready for this season to be over. The girls have worked so hard this year and they deserve a chance at state.”
Duncan led the team with 23 points. Parks was close behind with 18. Other scorers were: Powell, 11; Beasley, 8; and Beck, 2.
Saturday, February 21, the Lady Leopards will face Paideia at GAC. The game starts at 4 p.m.


Jefferson eyeing fourth straight title
Dragons qualify 14 for state tourney this weekend
The Jefferson wrestling team will be vying for its fourth consecutive traditional state title this weekend as the school hosts the Class A State Wrestling Championships on Friday and Saturday.
The Dragons, who have won seven traditional state crowns over the years, will be among the favorites in the event as they qualified 14 for state last weekend at the area tournament.
But, according to head coach Doug Thurmond, No. 1 Jefferson is not necessarily the team to beat. That title may well go to second ranked Bremen, a squad that gave the defending champion Dragons all they could handle earlier this month at the state duals. A narrow win secured by a late comeback to claim the duals crown came against the Blue Devils in the finals.
“I hope we are prepared,” Thurmond said. “I expect Bremen to put seven or eight (wrestlers) in the finals, so we’re going to have to match that. It’ll probably come down to the finals.”
Prior to the duals meeting Thurmond stated that he felt Bremen should have been the state’s top-ranked Class A team, not his Dragons.
But, Jefferson managed to pull out the title thanks to a difference in pin victories. Each team won seven matches, with Jefferson coming out on top 37-28.
“I hope they respond like they did at the duals, but we’ll see what happens,” Thurmond said of his team.
Jefferson returns just one state champion from 2003, Forrest Garner, however the Dragon roster is full of wrestlers that have been in the state spotlight before. Seven grapplers off of last season’s state championship team are no longer with the team, four of which were state champions.
Gone are Nathaniel Wilson (125), Seth Potts (140), Hunter Garner (160), and Jeremy Smith (189), all state champions in 2003.
Taking there place however have been a host of successful wrestlers. Forrest Garner has filled in admirably for his brother at 160 pounds, losing just once all season. Jake Gurley won the area title last week at 189 pounds, Jose Zavaleta took second at 125, and Lornorian Sims took second at 140.
In order to equal last year’s success though, Thurmond stated that his squad will need to see some grapplers rise to the occasion.
“We’re just going to have to have some guys step up, (both team’s) won seven matches at the duals so that kind of tells you how close things are.”
In all, Jefferson had eight area champions last week, and six runners-up — meaning every Jefferson wrestler reached the finals of their weight classification. Bremen, an experience-laden squad, will look to a host of nine seniors to lead the way this weekend.
Jefferson is hosting the event for just the second time in school history. Last season JHS held the event and saw five Dragon grapplers win individual state crowns while the team won the traditional title. Bremen was last season’s runner up, finishing 80.2 points behind.
Thurmond noted the importance of having local organizer Bob Gurley to help out with the event’s scheduling and preparation, allowing him more time for coaching.
“He takes a lot of pressure off me and enables me to focus on the team, so we sure are glad to have him,” Thurmond said.


Jackson Co. readies for state’s No. 1
When the Jackson County girls’ basketball team started this season there was one particular goal in mind — getting back to the position that they now find themselves in.
Friday afternoon the Lady Panthers will battle top-seeded and highly regarded Stone Mountain at 4 p.m. in the first-round of the state tournament at Cedar Shoals High School. It is the second-straight season the Lady Panthers have reached the state tournament, and the third time in four years. Jackson County was eliminated in the first round of the state tournament last year by Creekside.
A win, although improbable in the eyes of some, is certainly attainable for the Lady Panthers, thanks largely to the squad’s wealth of experience. Led by the senior duo of Nikki Sosebee and Tosha Ransom, two of the better players in Region 8-AAAA, if not the state, and a complimentary set of role players surrounding them, coach Chad Pittman’s squad is confident they can play with anybody in the state. And they have the record to prove it.
But Friday’s contest against the Lady Pirates will present as big a challenge as many on the current, experience-laden Jackson County roster have seen.
No. 1 Stone Mountain has been at the top of the Class AAAA rankings for most of the season and the Lady Pirates have only lost once all season in 25 games.
But Jackson County (18-10) is not without talent, as No. 7 Cedar Shoals and No. 5 Newton can attest. Last Friday the defending region champion Lady Rams were taken to four overtimes by the Lady Panthers before eventually pulling the game out. That squad was then beaten the next night in the region title game by the Lady Jaguars.

Lady Panthers qualify for state, then fall in semifinals
It took eight periods of play, two hours and fifteen minutes, and countless ups and downs, but in the end the Jackson County girls saw their hopes of a region championship come to an end for the second straight season in the semifinals against Newton. The Lady Rams won thanks to a Latoya Flournoy 3-pointer with 36 seconds to go in the fourth overtime. Her shot was later followed by a break away lay up as time expired to seal the 56-51 victory.
For the Lady Panthers there could not have been a more devastating way to fall. Solid last second chances to win the game in the fourth quarter and the second overtime went against Jackson County. Tosha Ransom’s last second turnaround in the lane and a pair of free throws with .8 seconds remaining all rimmed out in the fourth quarter and second overtime respectively. Likewise, Newton also missed out on chances to win the game in the second and third overtimes respectively before they pulled out the game in the fourth extra period.
In that final four-minute period Jackson County appeared to be heading for the victory, but as was the case all game long things would get interesting in the waning moments.
Following a bucket by Ransom, the Lady Panthers led 51-49 with under two minutes to go, however that would be the last time Jackson County would score. Newton’s Jamica Wyatt tied things up at 51-51 at the 1:30 mark and then later, following a timeout Flournoy, drained a shot from behind the arc to put her squad ahead for good. Jackson County mysteriously missed a jumper with time winding down instead of taking a 3-pointer that could habve tied the game.
The following night against Rockdale County in a game to determine the third and fourth seeds from the region in this week’s state tournament Jackson County fell 46-43. The win secured the third spot for the Lady Bulldogs.


MCHS rifle team rolls on with three more victories
Raider shooters blast Jackson County, Lucy Laney and Hephizbah
The Madison County rifle team continues to roll through the regular season, collecting three more wins over the past week and a half.
The team downed Jackson County 1119-973 Feb. 9, beat Lucy Laney 1125-760 this past Thursday and obliterated Hephizbah 1119-0.
The team’s next meet is against Harlem Monday.
In the win over Jackson County, Daniel Martin led the team with a 288, followed by Kelly Holliman (284), Ben Willis (280) Andy Booth (267) and Heather Wofford (259).
Against Lucy Laney, Holliman led the team with a 286. Others scoring were Martin (283), Kavanaugh (283), Willis (273) and Gabriel (270)
In the rout over Hephzibah, Martin had a 285 followed by Willis (281), Holliman (277), Booth (276) and Kavanaugh (275).

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