Area Sports...

MAY 5, 2004

Two For The Trophy Case
Tommy Eason Wins Region Discus And
Shot Put Titles; Gary Saxon Qualifies
For State in 3,200 Meters At 8-A Meet
Tommy Eason made sure his last region meet was one for the scrap book.
The senior swept the throwing events Saturday during day one of the 8-A meet in Jefferson, earning first-place medals in both the discus and shot put to secure himself two passes to the Class A state meet May 13-15 also in Jefferson.
Eason said winning the pair of region titles has added to what’s been a fun track season so far.
“I think I’ve improved every week,” he said. “That’s what you look for. Track is not a long season so you want to go out and get done what you need to get done.”
Commerce track coach Terry Canup said Eason lived up to the expectations he had for himself this year.
“I’m really pleased,” Canup said. “You always talk about what you should do but you still have to go out and do it. He didn’t have his best day but he won the discus and the shot put and achieved his goal.”
While at least two goals have been met there are still, of course, accolades left out there for the taking — like state championships.
Eason — who recorded distances of 147’3” in the discus and 47’4” in the shot put at region — has the throwing strength at his disposal to challenge for Class A’s top spots in both throwing events according to his coach.
“Hopefully, he’ll be able to do it,” Canup said. “I think he can.”
Eason will compete in the discus May 13 at 2 p.m. on the blue circle and in the shot put at 4 p.m. on the red circle on the same day.
Eason already has state experience in the shot put, qualifying last year as a junior and finishing 11th. But the discus has been his stronger suit this year.
He broke the school record in that event back on April 2 with a throw of 150’1” and has also reached distances of 160’ in practice.
Eason said the approaches to throwing the shot put and discus are different.
“In the shot, you can kind of muscle it up. But in the discus, you’ve got to stay calm,” he said.
Canup expects Eason to be a strong competitor in both events.
“He’s a little bit stronger in the discus but I think he has a chance to do well in both,” he said. “The opportunity is there.”
Eason will not be alone at state.

Dreams come true
Kyle Roberts signs with Maryville College
Kyle Roberts, a 6’10” 260 lb. post player for the Banks County Leopards, has committed to continue his education and basketball career at Maryville College.
Roberts is the son of Ted and Sherry Roberts of Maysville. For the 2003-2004 season, he averaged 12 points per game, 12 rebounds per game and 7.5 blocks per game. He set two school records for blocked shots last season, one for most blocked shots in a single game with 16 and another for most overall blocks in the season with 192.
For the 2003-2004 season, Roberts was named as a 1st Team All-Region performer in region 8AA. He earned 219 total points for the team in 2003-2004 season, he shot 57 percent from the line.
He said he hadn’t considered Maryville until he met the coach and made a few trips to visit the school.
“I went up there two times before I made my decision,” Roberts said. “I loved it up there. The team was really great, I spent most of my time up there getting to know them.”
Roberts said he is both nervous and excited about making the change from high school to college ball.
“I love playing, but playing at the college level is different, it probably won’t be as easy to block,” he said.
Roberts said he had considered majoring in communications, but said he won’t declare a major until a little later on.
Randy Lambert, head coach of the Maryville College men’s basketball team, said he expects Roberts to be a strong addition to the Fighting Scots’ program.
“Kyle has unlimited potential as a college low post player,” Lambert said. “Coach Ruth has accelerated his progress as a player over the last few years and our staff hopes to develop him even further.”
Lambert said the team graduated two post players, so size was a high priority in scouting this year. Roberts is a good three inches taller than any player on last year’s line-up.
“Kyle has the ability to play on the college level and I feel like he will be in our playing rotation this season,” Lambert said. “He has the ability to come in and help us this season.”
Next fall, Roberts will join a team that finished 23-6 in the 2003-2004 season and earned a spot in the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA National Tournament for Division III. The Fighting Scots went undefeated in regular-season play in the Great South Athletic Confrence and won the conference championship in post-season play.
Lambert was honored as the GSAC Coach of the Year and was selected by his peers as the South Region honoree in NCAA Division III.
Lambert was introduced to Roberts at a game by Danny Maxwell, father of Banks County graduate Bray Maxwell who plays football at Maryville College.
Maryville College is located in Maryville, Tennessee, situated between the Great Smokey Mountains National Park and Knoxville. The school was founded in 1891, it has a focus on liberal arts. For six of the past seven years, it has been ranked in the top 10 of the U.S. News and World Report’s listing of the best Southern liberal arts colleges. Total enrollment for the fall 2003 semester was 1,068 students.

Inspired JHS teams move on to second round of state tourney
It’s been a tough past few weeks for the Jefferson tennis program, but some recent success on the court is allowing for at least a small portion of healing as the Dragon family deals with a life-threatening situation off the court.
Since an April 24 car accident left No. 1 boys singles player Marc Baskett in a coma, the Dragon netters have had to deal with both the emotional challenges of seeing a dear friend fight for his life, while still somehow finding the resolve to compete on the court during such a trying time.
“It’s been real tough,” tennis coach Jim Bryan said Wednesday. “The kids have just come together, but it’s just been a tough situation all around.”
So far the inspiration Baskett’s absence has provided to both the boys’ and girls’ teams has been used to lift their levels of play. After entering the first round of the state tournament this week amid relative uncertainty, both teams responded with fervor and advanced to the second round.
Monday, the girls’ squad upset the No. 2 seed from Region 5-A in the first round. The Lady Dragons dismantled the Lady Bobcats 3-1 thanks to singles victories by Betsy Bryan and Breanna Bray, and a doubles win by the tandem of Hannah Sims and Ashley Garmon.
Jefferson, which is seeded No. 3 out of Region 8-A, will now travel to Milledgeville for a meeting with top-seeded Georgia Military College.
“They’re No. 1 is supposed to be very good,” Bryan said of the Lady Bulldogs. “But if we play like we think we’re capable of, we think we have a shot at it.”
The boys have had to deal with even more adversity related to Baskett’s injury because, from a tennis standpoint, he was the top singles player for the Dragons. Due to GHSA rules that state that in the case of injury a team must fill in for a designated player “from the bottom up,” that meant some relatively inexperienced players have been thrust into unfamiliar roles on the team. But so far they have responded admirably.
Tuesday the Dragons routed Bowdon 5-0 in the first round of state, dropping just one set in five matches on the day. Kaleb Thurmond took over Baskett’s top position on the team and dominated Tuesday, winning 6-0, 6-1. No. 2 singles player Jason Laughinghouse also rolled to a 6-0, 6-1 victory. One of the biggest examples of a player stepping though was in the case of No. 3 singles player Daniel Balthazor. Despite a lack of experience (Balthazor is only in his second year of playing tennis), the senior has played remarkably well. Tuesday, Balthazor knocked off his first round opponent in straight sets, winning 6-2, 6-4.
“He’s not a Marc and he knows it,” Bryan said of Balthazor. “ But he’s doing the best Daniel can do. These kids show a lot of heart, and that’s all you can ask.”
The Dragons will also have to face a top seed in the second round of the state tournament this week. They are set to face No. 1 Galloway from Region 6-A. The Scots had a bye in the first round. A tentative match date of Saturday has been set, Byran said, with play expected to begin in the afternoon at Chastain Park in Atlanta.
“We think we can do something,” Bryan said. “We know Marc is there with us, we keep thinking of him. What we’re doing now is a game, he’s battling for his life.”
The squads will continue to wear yellow ribbons in honor of Baskett during their matches this week.

Panthers finish track and field season after hosting region meet
The Jackson County boys track and field team saw their season come to an end last week at the Region 8-AAAA meet at Panther Stadium. Plagued by inexperience and some depth problems, the Panthers managed just four points in the meet and finished in 11th place out of 12 teams.
The high finisher for Jackson County for the meet was by pole vaulter Trey Boggs. Boggs took fourth-place in the event, clearing 12 feet, 6 inches, but still falling short of the top two placing needed to qualify for the Class AAAA state meet. That meet will take place May 13-15 at Jefferson High School’s Memorial Stadium.
Blistering times were abundant throughout the running events during the region meet. First-place Cedar Shoals saw a slew of participants qualify for state, with Clarke Central finishing in second place, 16 points behind their Athens rival.
Former Jackson County distance runner Daniel Elder was one of the top Gladiators in the meet. He finished first in the 1,600 meters with a time of 4:23.91 and was the region champion also in the 3,200 meters with a time of 9:48.46. The Jefferson native will now move on to state in both events.
“It’s a pretty dang good region,” Jackson County head coach Steve Collins said. “The top echelon is as good as I’ve been around in a long time.”
Elder was one of six Gladiators to qualify for the state meet on the day, one of three to make it in more than one event. Cedar Shoals was strong overall, qualifying five on the day, but several in more than one event.
It was that type of stiff competition that made Jackson County’s chances tough from the beginning said Collins.
“We’ve been down this year,” he said. “We had about five season bests (in the region meet), but it’s tough when you’re going up against that kind of (strong) competition.”
In other region track results recently, the Jackson County girls also competed in the Region 8-AAAA meet in April.
Jameica Cooper came close in several events, but could not return to the state meet in Albany this week. She took third place in the 100 meters, fourth place in the 200 meters and fifth in the long jump.
Both the Panthers and Lady Panthers track and field seasons are now over following the region meet’s results.

Raider netters advance to Sweet 16
Both boys and girls cleared the first hurdle of the state tournament this past week, advancing to Class AAAA’s “Sweet 16.”
The guys’ squad shut out Columbia High School in the Raiders’ inaugural match on the new sports complex tennis courts Monday as wind gusts curled lob shots and led spectators to put on their jackets.
While the wind posed challenges, the host squad found little resistance from Columbia.
“The impressive thing about this win was the fact that we lost only eight games,” said Raider head tennis coach Keith Strickland. “Every player went out and played good, consistent tennis to move the team into the round of 16.”
Madison County will host the second round match against the winner of the Saint Pius X and East Paulding matchup. A time for that match had not been finalized as of press time.
The Lady Raiders downed Mays quickly in the opening round Thursday in the girls’ first-ever match on the new MCHS tennis courts.
Kimberly Edins, the lone senior on the squad, had an impressive win, routing her opponent in straight sets and not losing a game. Her win quickly put the Lady Raiders out front 1-0. It didn’t take the doubles combos long to post the decisive wins to put Madison County up 3-0.
For the rest of this story see this weeks Madison County Journal.

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