Area Sports...

DECEMBER 8, 2004

Showing signs of improvement
Banks County wrestling team taking early season wins
Banks County wrestling season is in full swing with positive results from several early season matches and several more matches ahead on the schedule.
This weekend, December 10 and 11, the team will travel to Lumpkin County to compete in one of the biggest tournaments in North Georgia, the John Smith Mountaineer Tournament. Tuesday, December 17, wrestlers will travel to Stephens County to wrestle a quad meet against Stephens County, Oconee County and Flowery Branch. Then on Thursday, the team will travel to Dawson County to face a region competitor. On Friday, December 18, the team will wrestle in the Habersham Duals.
Off to a good start
The Banks County wrestling team is off to a good start earning several points for pinning opponents.
Grapplers started the season in Lumpkin County Tuesday, November 30, with matches against Lumpkin and Habersham counties. Although the team fell short of a win, several individual grapplers won their matches. Saul McCoy, Jeremy Angel, Dustin McDuffie, John Wray, Lloyd Willis and Dewayne Bailey all won matches Tuesday night.
Banks County coach Tim Bragg said the first match showed him a much improved wrestling team.
“We’ve got to see the long term goals and achieve them by accomplishing the short term goals that will get us there,” he said. “We will get better everyday and take advantage of every challenge in order to reach a high standard.”
Habersham County earned 60 points over Banks County’s 34 and Lumpkin County wrestlers earned 69 points to beat Banks County’s 12.
Friday, December 3, the Leopards wrestled in Habersham County. They took the mat against Appalachee, one of the top ranked programs in the state, and AAAA Cedar Shoals. The Leopards brought an aggressive style that made the matches competitive and close.
Bragg said the wrestlers once again stepped up their performance on the mat and improved over the previous match.
“I feel like each time we step on the mat we have a great opportunity to get better,” he said. “I see us accepting these challenges and building more self-confidence in our style of wrestling. Every match, win or lose, is a chance to learn and get better and the team is working hard to come together and get closer during these battles.”
Wrestlers traveled to Flowery Branch Saturday to compete in the first of many tournaments to be held this season.
Grapplers took the mat against wrestlers from Northside-Columbus, Peachtree Ridge, East Hall, Flowery Branch and Oglethorpe County.
Angel pinned his Northside opponent in 30 seconds, earning his team six points. Wray also won his Northside match by a pin. Banks County had to forfeit four matches due to the fact they didn’t have wrestlers in the respective weight classes.
Tyler Smallwood won his match against a Peachtree Ridge opponent by a pin. Wray pinned a Peachtree Ridge wrestler as well.
As a team, Banks County defeated East Hall, 42-30, and Oglethorpe County, 42-36. Angel pinned his Oglethorpe opponent in 10 seconds. Several other Leopards recorded quick pins against Oglethorpe and East Hall. Most of Banks County’s wins by pins came from the weight of the team, those in the 171, 189, 215 and 275 weight classes.
Individual results from the tournament are as follows: Angel, three wins, two losses, three pins; Dustin McDuffie, three wins, two losses, three pins; Smallwood, three wins, one loss, three pins; Wray, three wins, no losses, three pins; Cory Schmid, two wins, three losses, one pin; Saul McCoy, one win, three losses, one pin.
Wray remains undefeated.
Appreciating parents
Last week, wrestlers held a Pepsi fundraiser to raise money for team T-shirts and parent sweat shirts. The team raised $1,500 for the spirit appareal.
Bragg said tremendous parent support was evident by the sight of the parent team shirts seen in the stands.
“Parent support is great,” Bragg said. “We feel it is important to give the parents something to show how much we appreciate what they do. Besides, it is always good to see Leopard support, that can also be recognized in the crowd.”


Dragons to continue stringent non-region schedule Friday
Trip to No. 1 ranked Whitefield set for Friday; seven-day layoff to follow
By the time the Jefferson boys basketball team begins postseason play, it’s safe to say the No. 6 Dragons will have seen the best Class A has to offer.
After playing host to last week’s No. 1 team, Southwest Atlanta Christian, last Saturday, the Dragons will travel to this week’s new No. 1 team, Whitefield Academy, on Friday. This time though the Dragons will hope to come away with a win.
During Saturday’s contest with the Warriors, Jefferson came out sluggish in the first half and fell behind 40-20 at the half. Although they played much better in the second half, according to head coach Bolling DuBose, the effort was still short of what the Dragons are capable.
“You’ve got to match their intensity if you’re going to play with them and we did not do that in the first half,” DuBose said. “We played much better in the second half, at one point cutting the lead down to 12, but it was disappointing in the sense that we didn’t play our best for 32 minutes.”
Friday’s meeting with Whitefield Academy will be a similar type game, DuBose expects, although he feels like the Wolfpack are an even better team than the Warriors.
“We’d love to beat the number one team, and if we play well enough to do it then great.”
The stricter non-region schedule this season is the result of last year’s upset loss in the state tournament, DuBose said. Despite a top seed and a team that won 17 games in a row at one point, the Dragons were upended by W.D. Mohammed in the first round.
“The reason I put (SW Atlanta Christian) and Whitefield Academy on the schedule was to make us a better team,” DuBose said. “Last year I felt like we won all those games, yeah, but we really didn’t play anybody in the second half of the season.”
Against the Wolfpack on Friday, DuBose expects his squad to face a tremendous defensive team that has a slew of returning starters from last year’s state runner-up squad. The Wolfpack lost to SW Atlanta Christian and top NBA draft pick Dwight Howard in the Class A state championship game.
“This in going to be a real challenge for us this Friday,” DuBose said. Teams like that show you real quick what you need to work on.”
Jefferson can expect to see a zone press which the Wolfpack like to use to try and force turnovers before dropping back into man-to-man defense. Whether the Dragons are able to take care of the basketball and not commit turnovers often will be key if they hope to pull of the upset.
DuBose said the way to beat the pressure is by using short, quick passes and having players come to meet the ball. Dribbling through the press against a solid trapping team like Whitefield is tough to do, he said.
“I hope this Friday will be a good learning experience and will help make us a better team,” said the Jefferson coach.


Lady Panthers let lead slip away at Hart Co.
Unfortunately for Jackson County there are no consolation prizes in basketball.
Despite leading for three of the four quarters of play on Saturday at Hart County, the Lady Panthers were handed their fifth loss of the season, and the team's third in a row. The Lady Bulldogs rallied from a three point deficit in the fourth quarter, then pulled away for a 51-44 win over the Lady Panthers.
The loss had Jackson County head coach Chad Pittman with mixed emotions following his still youthful squad's latest setback. On the one hand, he was extremely pleased with the play his squad displayed for much of then night, with solid rebounding and point production topping the list of positives, he said. On the other hand though, the sluggish nature the Lady Panthers displayed late in the contest left him a bit frustrated.
"Well, we led for 28 minutes and then we decided we didn't want to win the game," Pittman quipped. "We had three key turnovers down the stretch and they had some key offensive rebounds."
Despite the result, the game was in many ways a marked improvement from some previous affairs this season, mainly because the offense was flowing better. Nonetheless, Jackson County is shooting poorly as a whole from the field, behind the 3-point arc and especially at the free throw line, Pittman said. The Lady Panthers are below 35 percent from the field, in the 20's when shooting 3-pointers and are at a 43 percent clip from the foul line. All are numbers Pittman hopes will go up as the season continues.
The one main constant so far this season for Jackson County has been the play of guards Tynishia Berry and Brooke Hughes. The two have led the Lady Panthers in scoring through much of their games and again did so Saturday night. For the season Berry, a junior, was averaging 19 points per game heading into this week. Hughes, a sophomore, was second on the team in scoring with 12 points per game.
Berry poured in a team-high 19 points, and Hughes added 12 during Saturday's loss, but they were also very effective on the boards. Berry grabbed a team-high 13 rebounds Saturday and Hughes pulled down 10.
The two will be counted on even more heavily now, because of the recent departure of guard Jaimeca Cooper who is no longer with the team, according to Pittman. She left for personal reasons.
"We've had to kind of change our mentality some (because of her departure)," he said. With Cooper no longer with the team now, Pittman noted the importance players with less experience will play.
Saturday, it was the play of one of Jackson County's freshman that caught their head coach's eye. Freshman post player Emma Turner had six points and continued to make progress down low.
Jackson County jumped out to a five point lead thanks to a 17-point first quarter. They carried that momentum into the second where they upped the margin to 29-22 by the half. Hart County took over in the second half, mainly in the fourth quarter. Jackson County was outscored 17-7 in the period as the Lady Bulldogs took control and held on for the victory.
"As a whole, we played pretty solid except for three or four minutes down there at the end," Pittman said. He remains upbeat regarding his team's progress so far this season. "I do see some improvement," he explained. "We've been in every game except one."


Cheer Tigers Overcome Injuries, Win Weekend Meet
A short-handed Commerce competitive cheerleading team was still steady-handed enough to earn a victory this past weekend, tallying 211 points to get a win over Greater Atlanta Christian at a meet held at Woodstock.
The injury-riddled cheer Tigers got the victory using two alternates and a scaled-down routine with Deanna Brown and Laura Cummings still missing from the team due to ailments.
The team had four cheerleaders out at one time during the preseason.
“We did a good job with our injuries and two alternates,” Tiger cheerleading coach Dianne Cotrell said. “ ... Our stunts hit. I was really proud of them.”
It was the first meet for the team this year after having to skip its original opener at Gainesville due to the amount of cheer Tigers on the disabled list.
The team was originally slated to compete at Dawson County this past weekend but had to scrap that meet due to a new rule that only allows 40 teams per competition. .
That sent Cotrell searching for an alternate meet and the team was able to find a spot at the Woodstock event and pickup up a win in the Class A/AA division.
While Cotrell is happy with the victory, she warns that her three-time defending state champion team has a lot of work left to do if its going to keep its crown again this winter.
The team is just now getting back to having close to full squad for practice and competition as Brown is supposed to return this week. Cummings will still be sidelined.
Cotrell said her team has enough personnel now to go back to its original, more complex routine that the coach said involves four stunt groups rather than just three which it used this past weekend.
“It’s really all beginning for us now,” she said.
For the rest of the story see this weeks Commerce News.


Raiders upended
Madison County could never work its way back from a third quarter funk this past Tuesday night and because of that, will have to try to find a way to work its way back to the win column this weekend.
The Raiders (2-2) will take on Heritage Friday and Rockdale Saturday as they continue to face 8-AAAA clubs from the other side of the region.
Holding a 32-31 over Loganville heading into the second half thanks to a buzzer beating put back by Josh Mattox right before halftime, the Raiders were ambushed in the third quarter by the Red Devils who surged past Madison County with a 12-1 run and went on to hold off Madison County in a 56-49 win.
The Raiders, which hadn’t played in a week, eventually cut the lead to 47-46 with a fast-break lay up by Brent Bird with 6:59 left in the game but shot themselves in the foot down the stretch in falling for the second time this year.
For Madison County, which was looking to even the score against the Red Devils after a 74-45 thrashing last year, this was perhaps their first letdown of season in falling to a Loganville team which lost several players from last year and are in a transitional period with a new coach right now.
For the rest of thes story see this weeks Madison County Journal.

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