Area Sports...

MAY 19, 2004

Eason Does It
Tiger Senior Wins State Discus; Second In Shot Put
Tommy Eason’s strong right arm has been steadily improving for four years.
Unfortunately for his foes, it’s impressive launches came Thursday.
The senior thrower came a foot and a half away from becoming a two-time state champion at the Class A meet in Jefferson, winning the discus with a school-record throw of 150’5” — after not qualifying for that event last year — and taking the silver in the shot put with a personal-best throw of 51’6.25”, just shy of the winning mark of 52’11.5”.
“It felt good,” Eason said. “It’s hard to complain when you’re a state champion and runner up.”
Eason’s first- and second- place finishes earned Commerce 18 team points and landed him in the company of Commerce’s best throwers. His discus win makes him the first state champion at Commerce since Casey Gary won the shot put back in 2001. Twion Shealer also won a state title back in 1998 in the discus.
“It was my goal to win at least one state championship,” he said. “I feel honored to be the first since Casey to do it.”
For Commerce track coach, Terry Canup, a former thrower himself, it was especially fulfilling to see Eason accomplish his goals after watching him progress over the past four years.
“He came through like a champion today,” Canup said. “It was an excellent day for him ... He’s worked extremely hard.”
To his competitors, Eason’s exploits Thursday might have made the senior look like he appeared out of nowhere.
Eason didn’t make the state meet in the discus last spring after “choking,” he said, in a


Teachers top Lady Leopards at fund-raising basketball game
The Banks County High School faculty team defeated the Lady Leopard basketball team, 36-43, at a fund-raising game held on Saturday at BCHS.
Even with a well-stocked Lady Leopard team and a surprise starter, Kyle Roberts, a.k.a. “Kylee”, the student athletes couldn’t defeat the team of coaches and high school staff.
Playing for the faculty was Cindy Autry, para-professional at BCHS; Don Gillig, social studies teacher and soccer coach; Donnie Bennett, high school counselor and BCMS golf coach; Greg Moore, head football coach; Mike Williams, head baseball coach; and Jodie Watkins, girls basketball coach, girls soccer coach and social studies teacher.
Kyle Watkins and former Lady Leopard, Haley Crumley, served as referees.
The faculty team was optimistic before the game, believing they could defeat the opposing team composed of players half their age.
“I think we can win, but fatigue may be a problem,” Watkins said.
Gillig agreed. “I haven’t played pick-up basketball since 1989 and I’m already tired after warming up. If we don’t play smart, the girls will win because fatigue will be a problem. It will be fun.”
The students were also confident heading into the game.
“We are going to humiliate them,” said Lady Leopard senior Heather Beck.
At half-time, the Lady Leopards were down, 9-27. Halfway through the third quarter, the students were down 11-33. Three dunks and numerous blocked shots by Roberts helped close the gap and it became a close game near the end. With one minute left on the clock, the entire Lady Leopard team flooded the court trying to make-up some points. However, the students were still short seven points at the end of the game and they fell to their teachers, 36-43.
Playing for the student team were: Hannah White, Penny Mullins, Ashley Blevins, Candace Tyner, Mandy Slaton, Sara Gardiner, Kayla Parks, Nicole Powell, Chel Bryant, Heather Beck, Kayla Sims, Allie Strickland and Brooke Whitmire. Lauren Reiselt was head coach. Jessica Rogers was the assistant coach.
The game was a fund-raiser for the Lady Leopard basketball camp. The team needs $3,500 to attend basketball camp in Ft. Walton Beach, FL over the summer. Watkins said the team had already raised close to $800 before the start of Saturday’s game.
A silent auction of donated items was held in the gym lobby during the game and donated items were raffled during half-time and directly following the game. Concessions sold at the game were also donated.

Out with a bang
Host Jefferson claims Class A state track title
There was some confusion following an overall disappointing performance in the field events Thursday, some frustration following the 1,600-meter relay's qualifying heats Friday, but after Saturday's improbable ending to the GHSA boys' state track meet, nothing but elation was found among the Jefferson boys' track team.
The Dragons were able to clip defending Class A champion Jenkins County by two points on the final day of competition at the 33rd Georgia Olympics held at Memorial Stadium. The win earned Jefferson the school's first state track title since 1983.
"It's been a long, long time since we've been able to win a track title here," first-year boys' coach Tim Corbett said. "It's nice to add to the tradition of Jefferson."
The win was made all the more special because of the unlikely circumstances that surrounded the meet's conclusion. Jefferson, a team whose strength was typically in the field events, was able to recover from a tough day on the infield Thursday and win the Class A crown thanks in large part to solid performances on the track Friday and Saturday. After trailing then first-place Landmark Christian by six points and sitting in third place, one back of Jenkins County, the Dragons were able to surpass the War Eagles and the defending champions in Saturday’s final three events.
Jefferson's Montray Riley ran well in the 200 meters to secure valuable fourth-place points and Travis Reed was solid, taking second in the 300-meter intermediate hurdles to put the Dragons ahead heading into the final event of the day — the 1,600-meter relay.
But, because of what Corbett deemed the luck of the draw, the Dragons, who qualified two teams for the state meet in the 1,600-meter relay, were without a represenative in the event’s finals, despite posting times in the past that were good enough to qualify. “That’s just the way things go sometimes,” Corbett said. “But I was proud of the way our guys performed in the 400 (-meter relay).”
In that event, earlier in the day, the Dragons took home the gold medal after the team of Reed, Riley, Stephen Wiley and Courtney Wiley edged out Johnson County by .2 seconds with a time of 43.45.
“It’s really rewarding,” said Corbett. “You put in this time — and it’s a lot of time and effort — and to see that reward is just really nice.”
In the state meet, as has been the case most of the year, it was a strong senior class that carried Jefferson. All but six of the Dragons’ 52 points were scored by seniors.
S. Wiley was the first Jefferson athlete to make his mark during the meet. He secured his second-straight triple jump state championship with a leap of 46 feet, 4 1/4 inches. Corbett called the performance one of the more clutch showings on the team. Wiley also secured fourth-place points in the long jump, where brother C. Wiley scratched and was unable to defend his two-straight state titles.
Reed was an ironman for the Dragons, taking second in both hurdle events and running the first leg of the 400-meter relay.
“I told him I was counting on 16 points out of him, and that’s what he did — he really came through for us,” Corbett said of Reed.
The key, according to Corbett, may have been a solid team performance on Friday, as the Dragons recovered from some disappointment Thursday.
“Everybody that touched the track for us (recorded a personal record),” Corbett said. “After Thursday, I still had hope, but I knew it was going to be tough. Looking back at the whole thing I think it might not have been one of the best ways to win one, but from an excitement standpoint it was.”


Two and through
Top-seeded diamond Raiders swept by
East Paulding first round of state tournament
Even the best teams are entitled to a bad afternoon.
Unfortunately for the diamond Raiders, they had to play two games they couldn’t lose on their off-day.
In a matter of five hours Friday, the Madison County baseball team’s post season aspirations vanished with 14-4 and 6-5 upset losses to Region 7-AAAA four seed East Paulding.
Raider head coach Charlie Griffeth said his team couldn’t seem to recreate the magic of its 21-5, region championship regular season run in the first-round double header.
“We were flat, we pressed,” he said. “Nothing really clicked.”
Madison County might have found its post season nemesis.
It was also East Paulding that knocked the diamond Raiders out of the second round last year in a sweep as the Dallas, Ga. outfit has now won its last four meetings against Madison County.
This time around the diamond Raiders were stymied by a five-run second inning in a 10-run loss in the first game and squandered an early 2-0 lead and missed some big opportunities late in the game two defeat.
East Paulding came into the series with the reputation as a team with dangerous bats and did nothing to dispel that reputation Friday in scoring 20 runs in the two games.
“They’ve always seemed to be able to hit the ball over there,” Griffeth said. “And it seems like with two strikes, they were even better hitters.”
Friday’s games were Madison County’s first since beating Clarke Central 6-0 on May 4 as the team went into the first round of the state tournament on the heels of a 10-day hiatus.
Griffeth feared such a layoff.
“I was scared of that from the get-go,” he said. “It seemed like we were most successful when we played all the time.”
But that is no excuse, Griffeth added.
“Fifty teams in the state were in the same boat that we were in ... So that wasn’t the ultimate reason.”
The Raiders ran into a buzz-saw in the game one loss.
East Paulding put Madison County on the ropes with five two-out scores in the second inning and administered the knockout blow with a Jeremy Roberts grand slam in the fourth to take a 10-1 lead en route to run-ruling Madison County.
The 10-run defeat was only the second time all-year the Raiders have been run-ruled with a 10-0 loss to Oconee County March 5 was the only other occurence.

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