Area Sports...

DECEMBER 15, 2004

Lady Leopards stepping up, but falling short
Kayla Duncan: running the show
Lady Leopards head coach Jodie Watkins said players on the team are starting to step up and show some talent on the court.
“Kayla Duncan is really stepping up her senior year, she’s running the show,” Watkins said about the 6’1 senior post. “We’re having to play her on the wing a lot, which is taking her away from her role on the team as an inside player - where she is so dominant.”
So far this season, Duncan has racked up 160 points, an average of 16 points per game. She’s scored in the 20s in several of this season’s games and often has rebounds in the double digits.
Watkins said she doesn’t like playing Duncan on the wing, but she needs some guards to step up. She is looking to Kayla Sims, Lauren Reiselt, Hope Autry and Ashley Blevins to put forth the effort on the floor.
On Friday, Banks County played host to Providence and was dealt a difficult 69-46 loss.
“We played well the first half, but we are still turning over the ball too much and we can’t expect to win a game when you turn over the ball that much,” Watkins said.
Banks County had 27 turnovers in Friday’s game.
Duncan led the offensive and defensive effort for the Lady Leopards. She had 15 points and 27 boards, offensive and defensive.
The Lady Leopards trailed by four points at the half, 35-31. But, were only able to score two points in the third quarter, which were put up by Duncan. Providence added 22 points to its score in the third quarter and took a 24-point lead.
The Lady Leopards added another 13 in the fourth quarter, but were unable to overcome the deficit and lost the game, 69-46.
Watkins said players she was hoping would step up showed signs of improvement in Friday’s game.
“Autry came in off the bench and contributed to the defensive effort, Blevins came in and hit a couple of shots outside and Slaton has stepped up and is playing better and contributing more offensively and defensively,” she said.
Kayla Parks contributed eight points to the effort. Slaton put up seven. Blevins added six to the score and Sims chipped in with four. Brooke Whitmire had three points, Andrea Hunter added two and Hannah Jordan hit one from the charity stripe to total the team’s 46.
On Tuesday, the Lady Leopards fell to the Wesleyan Lady Wolves, the defending state champions, 100-20. The Lady Wolves have won the state title twice in the past three years.
On Saturday, the Lady Leopards will travel to Commerce to take on the Lady Tigers for the first of two scheduled games this season. The second meeting is scheduled for Saturday, January 22, in Homer.
On Tuesday, December 21, the team will travel to Hiawassee to battle the Towns County Indians. The original date for the Towns County game was Monday, December 20, but was rescheduled due to final exams.

Dragon wrestlers to compete on national platform
After big weekend tournament, JHS grapplers to trek to New Orleans for national tourney
If wrestling against the best Georgia has to offer weren’t enough, the Jefferson grapplers will soon be taking on some of the nation’s top stalwarts.
One of the state’s most storied wrestling programs will try to make a name for itself out of state in a tournament in “The Big Easy” next week when the top-ranked Jefferson Dragon wrestling team departs for New Orleans, La. for the Brother Martin National Duals which starts Tuesday.
The tournament will expose Jefferson to some of the very best programs the country has to offer with a field of teams that will include 16 nationally-ranked programs.
Dragon head wrestling coach Doug Thurmond said the team will be embarking on a big step.
“It’s a really big thing for our program,” Jefferson head wrestling coach Doug Thurmond said. “It’s something we’re going to get experience for some of our guys. We’re not going to really count whether we win or lose.”
Before the team can even start to think about what it will face in New Orleans, it will have to deal with a host of tough foes right here inside the state lines this weekend in one of the state’s most prestigious tournaments.
“We’re going to have to tie it on now because we’re going to the Starrs Mill Tournament which is one of the best in the state,” Thurmond said.
Included in this weekend’s event will, of course, be tournament host Starrs Mill and Parkview, which are in the top five in Class AAAAA, along with teams like Union Grove and Dublin which are both in the Class AA top 10.
“It’s a packed tournament,” said Thurmond, whose team finished third in the event last year.

Lady Tigers Top Athens Academy; Have 'Learning Experience' Against Hebron
In the span of 48 hours this past weekend, the Commerce Lady Tigers won game it would like to remember and endured a game it would rather forget as their first offical region game awaits this weekend.
Commerce - which edged 8-A foe Athens Academy 32-29 Friday night but was overwhelmed by new region school Hebron Academy 69-24 a night later - will play Towns County in a game that will count in the region standings.
"Those are the most important games that we talk about," Commerce head coach Don Watkins said of the upcoming region opener. "Like I told the girls, we can be 1-0 and tied with somebody for first place in the region."
On the other hand, both the Athens Academy and Hebron Academy games will not count in the 8-A standings under the region structure this year. Only second game against an 8-A foe will go down as an official contest.
The lone exception to that rule will come Friday when Commerce faces Towns County in its only meeting with the Lady Indians this year.
"They lost a lot of folks from last year so I think we've got a shot in that one," Watkins said.
As for the past weekend, the Lady Tigers - which started the week with a 51-26 loss to Social Circle - topped the Lady Spartans this past Friday despite just taking seven shots in the second half in holding on for a three point win.
For the rest of this story see this weeks Commerce News.

Doing the Jingle Jam
WHAT: ‘Mountain Dew Jingle Jam’ Christmas Tournament WHEN: Dec. 18-21 WHERE: Jackson Co. GYM
Jackson County will host the inaugural Mountain Dew Jingle Jam Christmas Tournament Saturday, Monday and Tuesday, December 18 through 21.
“We think its great to have quality competition at home,” said Panther head coach Richard Crumley. “It’s easier on athletes and their families to not have to travel to play in a Christmas tournament.”
Teams participating in the round-robin tournament will play one-game each day. Local teams slated to play are: Apalachee, Habersham Central, Mill Creek and host Jackson County.
Habersham Central will play Mill Creek in the first game of the tournament on Saturday. Girls will play at 2 p.m. and the boys’ team will follow at 3:30. Jackson County will take on Apalachee at 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Last year, Apalachee made it to the state semi-finals.
Monday, Apalachee will play Habersham Central at 4 p.m. and 5:30 and Mill Creek will face-off with the Panthers at 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. On the final day of the tourney, Mill Creek will play Apalachee at 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. and Jackson County will defend its territory against Habersham Central.
Admission will cost $6 for adults and $4 for students on each day.
Crumley said he hopes to expand the tournament in years to come to include more teams. He said several local businesses are helping sponsor the tournament.
For the rest of the story see this weeks Jackson Herald.

Crouse:‘We got after it’
Hustle — it isn’t just something the Raiders coaches preach.
It’s something they put into numbers.
Madison County head coach Steve Crouse has taken to compiling “effort plays” in the team’s stat package as a way of gauging who’s leaving the most out on the floor at the end of the night.
Take for instance, Brent Bird, who has taken four charges this year to lead the team — an impressive stat according to the coach.
“That’s unselfish and we try to emphasize that,” Crouse said.
Crouse said that the Raiders (3-3, 2-3) graded out quite well in hustle columns on stat page this past weekend in splitting a pair of games with Conyers schools Heritage and Rockdale County.
“I’m going to sound like a broken record,” Crouse said. “But we played hard Friday night against Heritage and we played hard Saturday night against Rockdale. We just happened to get the win Saturday. I’m proud of the effort that we put in.”
Led by 23 points from Micah Sales and 10 more from Tobias Gantt, the Raiders came from a point down heading into the fourth quarter to pull out a 53-51 win over Rockdale, snapping a two-game losing streak.
Madison County’s record is now back even at 3-3.
We got after it and we try to measure that,” Crouse said. “It’s one thing to talk about playing hard but its another thing to do it.”
Crouse pointed to the Raiders exploits at the free throw line in guiding them to the win.
Madison County, which outscored the Bulldogs 13-4 in the second quarter to lead 26-21 at the half, got to the charity stripe 22 times in the contest, draining 17 free throws.
Crouse pointed out that, in the team’s three wins, it has gotten to the free throw line at least 20 times.
“That’s a measure of effort,” he said.
Crouse said the entire group seems to be embracing this workman-like mentality as it tries to rise above the .500 mark this weekend with a pair of games against 8-AAA foes Winder-Barrow and Franklin County.
“I think the whole team is just playing hard, the coach said. “The guys that get mentioned in the paper, get mentioned because the other 10 guys are busting their tails in practice.”
Crouse said that the team will have to maintain mentality this weekend in a pair of contests that promise to be intense. Both Winder-Barrow and Franklin County are past region foes and know the Raiders well.
“It’s kind of our version of rivalry weekend,” Crouse said.
“We’ve got both of them back-to-back and we’ve got them at home.”
Madison County, of course, has a particularly long history with boarder-rival Franklin County with the teams going up against each other for a number of years in 8-AAA. While the Raiders and Lions haven’t been in the same region the past three seasons, Crouse said the

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