Area Sports...

NOVEMBER 24, 2004

Leopards fall to Dragons in tip-off tourney
Turnovers, shot selection decide the outcome
Banks County’s Leopard basketball team fell to the Jefferson Dragons Saturday in the first game of the three-game tip-off tournament scheduled to conclude on Saturday, November 27.
“We just got our tail flipped,” said Banks County coach Mike Ruth.
Banks County scored first, going up 4-0 early in the first quarter. But, once Jefferson took control of the ball they ran away with the game. The Leopards lost by 36 points. When the game ended, the score read 78-42.
Turnovers in the first quarter changed the momentum of the game.
“We made the first turnover when we were down 6-4, they came down the floor and scored,” he said. “We made three turnovers in a row and they took advantage of all three.”
Banks County had 11 turnovers in the first quarter.
“Instead of being calm, they tried to run the floor with Jefferson, that’s a mark of a young team,” Ruth said.
Jefferson held Banks County to six points in the first quarter, while they racked up 20 points.
Banks County was stronger in the second quarter. The team scored 18 points in the second period, but Jefferson added 21 and was up 41-24 headed into halftime.
“We didn’t have any turnovers in the second, but we were so far behind in the first quarter we couldn’t catch up,” Ruth said. “They are so strong on offensive boards it is so important to hold on to the ball against a team like that.”
Banks County added four to the score in the third, Jefferson put up 16. The Leopards put up another 14 in the fourth quarter, but the Dragons added 21 and won the game 78-42.
“Our turnovers and bad shot selection took us out early in the game,” Ruth said. “Our kids played hard, they never gave up.”
Jazz Hulsey scored half of the team’s points with 21, including one three-pointer and six from the free throw line, he was 50 percent from the line. He also had 13 rebounds. Tony Bedford put up nine, including one from beyond the arc. Bedford had seven assists. As a point guard, he was only responsible for two of the team’s 23 turnovers.
Eli Minish had four including two from the stripe, he was 100 percent from behind the line. Rob Allen gave three. Chancey Dorsey put up two and Josh McMahan added one.
“Hulsey and Bedford played well, the rest of the team has to figure out what their roles are on this team,” Ruth said.
Ruth said he was disappointed the team wasn’t screening out.
“Turnovers, bad shot selection, with a young team you can live with that, but not screening out, I will not tolerate,” he said. “After each game, we have to progress. I don’t know how many games we will win, but if we learn not to turn the ball over and to screen players out we’ll be more competitive.”
Banks County will play Providence in the second game of the Jefferson tournament on Wednesday, November 24. The game will begin at 5:30 p.m.
Ruth said his team should match-up well with Providence.
“Offensively, Providence isn’t that good, but defensively they put a lot of pressure on the ball,” he said. “If we can calm down we’ll be right in there with them.”
Banks County will start region play on Tuesday, November 30, in Homer. The game is against Buford and will follow the Lady Leopard’s game, which begins at 6 p.m.

Tip-Off tournament play continues this week at JHS
Both Turkey and basketball will not be in short supply this week in Jefferson.
Jefferson High School will continue to host the Tabo’s Tip-Off Tournament this week through Saturday. Set to play are all 16 teams that competed last weekend in opening round play. In the girls’ semifinals, Jefferson plays Oconee County and Buford will take on Franklin County.
Lady Dragon head coach Brandy Corbett expects that her team’s meeting with Oconee County will test them more than last Saturday’s opener did. Jefferson dropped two games to the Lady Warriors in holiday tournaments last year and she hopes her team will fare better this time around.
“They are a good team, they are fundamentally sound and they’re patient,” she said. “I predict that they’ll try to slow the game down against us.”
Other girls games include Winder-Barrow vs. Jackson County and Providence Christian against Banks County.
On the boys side, Jefferson meets Oconee County in one semifinal and Franklin County takes on Winder-Barrow in the other.
“They’re a good basketball team,” Dragon head coach Bolling DuBose said. “They can do a lot of things but we need (to face a team like that) right now.”
In other boys games, Jackson County will take on Wesleyan and Banks County will play Providence.

Wrestlers Hope To Build On Nucleus Of State Qualifiers
With the Commerce Tiger Wrestling team due to report for its first day of practice Monday, Coach Joe Hames isn’t exactly sure what to expect.
“It’s hard to say. I’ll probably have 15-16 come out,” Hames said.
He’ll try to build the squad around three seniors and a junior returning from last year’s squad, which finished 10th in the state in Class A. All five state qualifiers on last year’s squad are back this season.
Tops among them is Hunter Glenn, whose only loss last year came in the state finals in the heavyweight class. The senior will be looking to add that medal to his collection.
Also returning are Taylor Glenn, a junior who was fourth in the state at 171 pounds last year; senior Ben Wilson, who qualified for state at 215 pounds by finishing third in the area; and David Bray, a senior who was injured last year.
“That would have to be the nucleus,” Hames said. “We’ve got to build a team around them. We’ll be as good as they are plus the leadership they show toward the younger wrestlers. They’ve got to help the young kids along during the season and help them develop the right attitude and teach them what to do and what not to do on things like diet and preparing for a match.”
Others returning include Justin Cotton, a senior who wrestled at 135 last year; Scott Kujawa, a senior, 119; Jake Askey, a sophomore, 125; Jacob Lord, a sophomore, 215; Josh Beauchamp, a sophomore, 152; and Quentin Vultaggio, a sophomore, 125.
A number of those veterans may move up a class or two, depending on their weight gains.
“I’ve got a bunch of holes to fill. Right now I have no idea where we stand,” Hames advises.
The Tigers’ first meet will be Dec. 17 at Elbert County against Elbert and Hart County.
As usual, Jefferson will be the team to beat in Region 8A.
“Shoot, they’re the team to beat in the state,” Hames observed.
Hames will start the squad off with the fundamentals, “real simple stuff,” teaching the new wrestlers what to do and, hopefully, refreshing the memories of the older kids. Some of the ninth graders, he notes, will see immediate action.
“We’ve never really had a true junior varsity,” Hames said, “so when kids come out in the ninth grade they get thrown right at the varsity. It’s kind of unfortunate. We’ll have ninth graders competing against juniors and seniors.”
A lot of the learning takes place as younger wrestlers practice against older, better, more experienced Tigers.
“That’s the only way you get better, wrestling someone better than you,” the coach remarked.
Hames said improvements in the middle school program are starting to bear fruit. Under Russ Brown this year, the CMS squad will practice alongside the CHS squad, learning techniques and building confidence that will prepare them for high school competition.

Epic start vs. Hart
Raiders launch 2004-2005 season with dramatic win over Bulldogs
For Raider old-timers, it’s that other gym — the one where the middle schoolers now work up a sweat during P.E. — that holds the ghosts of Madison-Hart County epic battles.
But the echoes of Saturday’s Raider-Bulldog showdown in the newer Madison County gym won’t fade from the school’s basketball folklore anytime soon.
Coach Steve Crouse’s squad took the floor in the season opener Saturday and tamed a lightning-quick, three-point popping Hart County team, 74-68.
The gym roared as Madison County repeatedly fought back from deficits, then finally took command of the game in the final minute of play.
Crouse said the victory wasn’t the product of any fancy strategy, but of answering a simple challenge.
“I challenged them before the game — just work hard,” said the Raider head coach after the win. “If we do that, then we’ll take care of business. And the scoreboard can take care of itself.”
No doubt, the victory took quite an effort.
A perennial power on the hardwood, Hart County looked the part early, taking a 12-2 lead in the game’s opening moments. The Bulldogs netted four three pointers in the first quarter, but Madison County pushed the tempo, clawed its way back, and trailed 18-12 at the end of the first quarter.
The Raiders trailed by two, 31-29, just before the half, but Hart’s Ricky Eades launched a shot on the run at the buzzer, connecting for a three-pointer, and a 34-29 halftime Bulldog lead.
The Bulldogs, who drained nine three-pointers on the night to Madison County’s four treys, pulled ahead by eight in the opening seconds of the third quarter, but Madison County responded with an 8-0 run to knot the score at 37 with 4:25 to go in the third.
Hart County quickly drilled two three pointers and again pushed ahead, 48-41, but Metric Shivers, who led Madison County with 22 points on the night, answered with five points to cut the lead to 48-46. Then Brent Bird drained a three-pointer from the top of the key with just 48 seconds left in the third quarter to give the Raiders their first lead, 49-48.
“These guys got down and didn’t quit,” said Crouse. “It’s just a credit to how hard they’re working.”
The two teams traded leads several times in the fourth quarter, with Madison County pulling ahead by four, 54-50, with 6:56 to go. Hart County responded with a 12-6 run to go up 62-60 with just over three minutes left.
A put-back basket with 1:58 to go gave the Bulldogs a 66-65 lead. Hart County then forced a steal. But the Bulldogs missed two free throw shots with 1:49 left.
The Raiders, meanwhile, showed a steady hand at the line all night. And when Madison County’s Jamey Rice was fouled rebounding the second missed Bulldog free throw, the junior football standout stepped to the line and calmly sank two freebies to put his team back up, 67-66. Rice was fouled again seconds later and hit one of two shots.
For the rest of the story see this weeks Madison County Journal.

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