Area Sports...

DECEMBER 1, 2004

Costly mistakes
Turnovers contributing to Banks County losses
The Banks County varsity basketball team is 1-4 after competing in two tip-off tournaments.
“I can’t say anything bad about the hustle or their attitudes,” said Banks County coach Mike Ruth. “I see great improvements after every game.”
Inexperience, injuries and trouble with turnovers are costing the Leopards on the scoreboard.
“We are making too many turnovers, when we have the momentum going our way, we’ll make turnovers in a cluster, two or three in a row,” Ruth said.
So far this season, the team has turned the ball over 90 times, an average of 18 turnovers per game.
Towns County Tourney
Banks County fell to Habersham Central, 67-48, November 22, to start the Towns County tip-off tournament.
Banks County was leading, 23-21, at halftime. But, Habersham outscored Banks County in the third and fourth quarters.
Chancey Dorsey led the scoring for the Leopards with 14.
The Leopards defeated Rabun County for their first win of the season, Tuesday, November 23, 68-50.
“We played well,” Ruth said. “Jazz, Josh, Tony and Chancey all had good games for us. We controlled the tempo of the game, we brought the ball down and set it up.”
Banks County led by 10 points at the end of the first quarter, six points at the half and nine at the end of the third quarter. But, Banks County scored 23 points in the fourth quarter and won the game by 18 points.
The team had only eight turnovers in the game.
Tony Bedford led the offense with 20 points. He was 75 percent from the charity stripe, earning 12 of 16 possible points. Chancey Dorsey also gave a solid defensive effort, earning 18 points, including three shots from beyond the arc. Jazz Hulsey also scored in double digits with 14 points.
Jefferson Tournament
After falling to Jefferson, 78-42, in the first game of the annual Jefferson tip-off tournament, Banks County had to play Providence in the second game of the tournament.
The score was tied at 11 at the end of the first quarter, but Banks County couldn’t get the shots to fall in the second quarter and fell behind, 28-14. Providence added to its lead in the third, 42-23, and won the game 53-38.
“We played well, but we had a break down in the third quarter,” Ruth said.
Josh Miller led the scoring with 10 points.
Banks County had 24 turnovers in the game against Providence, the most so far.
The Leopards had to play one man short in the final game of the Jefferson tourney.
Last week at practice, Banks County’s 6-foot-five pivot man, Josh Miller, damaged his ankle and is unable to play. Ruth said he doesn’t know how long the player will be out.
Banks County was paired with 8-AAAA Jackson County for the final game of the tournament.
The score was tied at eight at the end of the first quarter. Banks County took the lead and led by six, 22-16, at the end of the first half. But, Jackson County came out strong in the second half and went up three points, 32-29 at the end of the third quarter. Jackson County won the game, 41-37. It was the team’s first win of the season.

The dynasty rolls on
If Jefferson’s Doug Thurmond was a college football coach, he probably wouldn’t be mistaken for Steve Spurrier.
While the new University of South Carolina and former Florida gridiron coach usually prides himself on a cocky, often excessively brash tone, Thurmond, the Jefferson head wrestling coach, has a drastically different approach to coaching.
He might more accurately be described as the Lou “poor mouth” Holtz of Class A wrestling.
Every year Thurmond discusses his squad’s chances at winning the state title with a cautious, humble tone. And during the last four seasons a state title has still come home to Jefferson despite those overly-modest assessments.
Despite what might again be described as another tough year ahead for the Dragons, full of challenges and likely some adversity, because Jefferson continues to dominate Class A wrestling year in and year out they are once again the preseason favorite to sweep the state dual and traditional crowns in 2004-05.
It’s true, going for a school record fifth consecutive Class A state title this year won’t be easy, but if last year was any indication don’t expect Jefferson to derail anytime soon. Since 1995, no wrestling program in the GHSA has more state titles than the Dragons (5), and if they can win a ninth crown this season they will truly join elite company.
There are only three programs in the state that have ever won nine state crowns in traditional wrestling. Only Lovett has more than that figure (11) all time since wrestling became a GHSA sanctioned sport in 1961.
That said, there does remain plenty of work to be done on the Jefferson mats. The most important challenge appears to be finding a way to replace the seniors from last year’s squad, including state champions Daniel Love (171 pounds) and Jason Fields (152).
But, as the new wrestling season begins this week for many GHSA teams, a familiar question remains: will anyone be able to dethrone the powerhouse Dragon program?
By all accounts, many in Georgia think Bremen, which has had to become accustomed to finishing second to Jefferson in recent years, will be the biggest challenger. But the Blue Devils will likely have their hands full with trying to accomplish such a feat once again. A large graduating class that saw nine seniors leave the program from last season has them with plenty of question marks this year.
Last season Bremen came close though, stretching Jefferson to their very limits before the Dragons pulled out a third straight state duals title since the format was started in 2001. The four in a row since then make Jefferson the only school to have won the state duals crown every year since its inception.
Then, in the traditional state meet a couple of weeks later, the Blue Devils again provided another solid test, but again came up short of winning the top prize in Class A. And thus the Jefferson dynasty lives on.
Aside from the team accomplishments that the Dragons will be looking to achieve there are plenty of individuals looking to continue past successes this season. Senior Forrest Garner is at the top of that list. The 160-pounder is trying for his fourth consecutive individual state crown, a feat that has only been accomplished before at Jefferson by his brother, Hunter.
Also, of the school record 14 state qualifiers the Dragons had last year, four returning state champions including Garner will be back. Caleb Beckwith, J.J. Brueshaber, and Kyle Baird all also won individual crowns last season.

Panthers counting on captain quartet for leadership in ‘04-05
With four returning starters, two of which qualified for the state meet last season, the Jackson County wrestling program has young talent waiting to make a name for themselves in 2003-04.
But, according to second-year head coach Roger Powers, the key to the season will likely be how well the team’s four captains are able to lead the less experienced grapplers on this year’s squad.
“Those four guys are our leaders and we really need them to be this year,” Powers said of his captains.
The quartet, made up of seniors Nick Pesaresi, Spencer Gaskins, Marshall Collins and junior Robert McVay have all been there before, Powers said, and they know what it takes to win.
As for the remainder of the team, there are still plenty of question marks about how the rigors of the season will play out for them.
“Overall I feel like we’re pretty good,” Powers said. “We’re better in some spots than we were last year. We’re getting there so far this year, but we’re still young in some spots. Once they get used to the change I think we may be all right.”
McVay and Gaskins were the most accomplished grapplers last season. As a sophomore McVay qualified for his second consecutive Class AAAA state tournament. He wrestled at 160 pounds last season but will move up to 171 this year.
“I’m hoping this year he can place in state. He’s done well to qualify the past two years, but we’d like to see him get better this season,” Powers said of the junior.
Gaskins also advanced to state as a junior last year in the 125-pound division. He’s moving up to 135 this season.
Other returning starters from last season include: Chris Looney, who’ll be moving up from 119 to 130 this year; and Pesaresi, a 189-pounder. Other grapplers Powers expects to have an impact in 2004-05 include Justin Bess, Ben Lesnick, and Andrew Blackwell among others.
Jackson County hosts the annual Panther Invitational this weekend beginning Friday at 6 p.m. and running all day on Saturday following a 9 a.m. start time.

Basketball 2004-2005
Does State Await? Well-Rested Tigers Looking To Back It Back To State In ‘05
Preseason is usually a foreign word around the Commerce basketball team.
But for the first time in years, a Rex Gregg squad might take the floor without feeling like it should still have shoulder pads on.
That’s because the Tiger football season has had almost four weeks to wear off now as the Commerce basketball team hits the hardfloor this week for Gregg’s 25th season with the Tigers. Though the majority of the basketball roster, of course, doubles as football players, this year’s hoop team will actually be rested for a change as opposed to seasons like last year when the squad had four days to prepare for its season opener.
“We didn’t have to do so many things in such a short time,” Gregg said. For the rest of the story see this weeks Commerce News.

Ramble on
Raiders hold off Salem, look toward Loganville
Raider head basketball coach Steve Crouse warns that he might sound like a broken record, but its only because he wants to ingrain this message into his team’s psyche:
“When we play hard, good things happen,” he said.
It’s a simple equation, but one that Crouse said rang true for his team for the most part in its 62-56 win over Salem this past Tuesday, downing the Seminoles with a solid first quarter and steady play at the end of the third and then entire fourth quarter. With the win, the Raiders now turn their attention to Loganville which they’ll face in six days.
The crucial stretch Tuesday night came in the second half when Madison County (2-1), which was coming off a 67-47 setback to Cedar Shoals, embarked on a 19-2 run to erase a 40-36 deficit and grab a comfortable 55-42 edge by the fourth quarter. The Raiders had trailed for nearly eight minutes prior to that spurt.
“It was our first region win and we want to make a run in our region,” Crouse said. “When we play hard, we can play with anyone in our region.”
Micah Sales led the effort, pouring in a season-high 24 points. He’s now averaging 19.0 points per game through three contests.
“It’s good to see that kind of scoring from him,” Crouse said.
Sales burned the Seminoles in the first quarter with 12 points in the period alone — including a three pointer and then completing a rare four-point play — to help give his team a 19-14 lead after a quarter in what would be a back-and-forth first half.
“When we’re unselfish, we can make some things happen,” Crouse said. “And Micah just happened to be on.”
Sales highlighted his night with a dunk in the fourth quarter which both capped the Raiders’ pivotal 19-2 run and atoned for a missed slam in the first quarter.
Madison County also received solid front court production from Tobias Gantt in his first game back from injury. Gantt came off the bench to score 14 points with 10 of those coming in the second half in helping the Raiders pull away from the Seminoles.
The verdict was much in doubt in the first half though with 10 lead changes and five ties with Salem taking a 32-28 lead into the locker room. The Seminoles then ran out to a 36-30 edge before Madison County rallied and went ahead 44-42 with 56 seconds left in the third quarter.

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