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|SPORTS SECTION - DECEMBER 15, 1999|
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Lincoln Co. Seizes 35-21 Win
BY DREW BRANTLEY
Commerce's run in the Class A football playoffs came to an end Saturday in Atlanta at the Georgia Dome.
Lincoln County scored defensive touchdowns on the Tigers' first two drives of the game. The Red Devils ended with the same cushion in a 35-21 win.
Commerce came back to within one touchdown by the end of the first half, but could manage no points in the final two quarters.
Another turnover killed Commerce's final drive toward the end zone in the fourth quarter and set up the final Lincoln County touchdown of the day.
Commerce's defense stopped Lincoln County after the opening kickoff, taking over at its own 35-yard line.
On the second play from scrimmage, a Tiger fumble was recovered and returned for touchdown with 9:03 left in the first period.
Commerce fumbled on its next possession also. That ball was returned for another Red Devil touchdown, making the score 14-0 with less than four minutes off the clock.
From that point on, Commerce and Lincoln played an even game.
Commerce mounted a scoring drive on its next possession. Monté Williams ran the ball seven times on the march, including the final six for the touchdown. Daniel Carder added the point after to make the score 14-7.
Lincoln County put together its first successful offensive drive of the game on its next possession.
The Red Devils used the run and pass to move 72 yards in just less than five minutes for their touchdown as time expired in the first quarter.
Commerce added a touchdown on its next possession. The team moved 76 yards in just more than three minutes to cut the lead to seven once more.
The Red Devils added another long time-consuming march to its list of accomplishments for the day. Lincoln County went 83 yards in six minutes to up their lead to 28-14.
With 2:40 to go in the first half, Commerce quickly marched down the field for its third score of the game.
Williams ended the drive with his third receiving touchdown of the season.
Carder hit Williams down the Commerce sideline over the outstretched arms of Exavier Wright.
Williams bobbled the ball at the two, but regained possession before darting out of bounds in the end zone.
The touchdown made the score 28-21. Lincoln County tried to make a big pass play on its next possession with 33 seconds left on the clock.
Starting quarterback Dominique Mason had injured his leg early in the quarter and did not return before the half.
Replacement quarterback Andrew Smalley was hit before throwing the ball, fumbling around his own 35. The Red Devils recovered the ball, opting to down the ball on the next play.
The success Commerce had enjoyed in running the ball was not present in the third quarter. Commerce had two drives in the third period which were good for one first down.
The Tiger defense stiffened at the same time, keeping the Red Devils out of all but the doorway to Tiger territory.
Commerce moved the ball to midfield on the Red Devils early in the fourth quarter, but failed on a fourth-down play.
The Tiger defense again stiffened, taking over on downs at the Commerce 20.
Commerce moved to the Red Devil 30-yard line before a fumble bounced into the arms of another Lincoln County player. Mason scored on a 54-yard touchdown run two plays later to seal the Red Devil win.
Commerce vs Lincoln County Stats
Score by quarters:
TIGER TEAM STATS
TIGER INDIVIDUAL STATS
One more regular game
BY DREW BRANTLEY
Banks County's basketball teams are each on a two-game slide with one regular season game to go before the Christmas break. The Leopard teams will travel to Dawson County Friday night for a subregion matchup to end the calendar.
Banks County will play in a holiday tournament in the last week of December. For more information on the WJJC Holiday Classic, please turn to page 3B.
The Leopard teams will return to regular season action Jan. 4 with a home game against Lakeview Academy.
The Lady Leopards were playing for the second straight game without senior starting point guard Bree Whitlock at full strength due to a recent illness. Senior post player Brooke Shubert is likely out for most of the rest of the season as well with mononucleosis.
Taking a rough loss at Rabun County last Friday and another defeat to Union County Tuesday has compounded the team's woes, coach Mike Gordon said.
"We're frustrated right now," Gordon said. "We've had too many things go wrong at the same time. We're going to take off (Wednesday). I told them to get away from it for a day. They can come back and have a peppy practice on Thursday and then have the best game of the season on Friday."
Union County used a 21-8 advantage in the second quarter to separate from the Lady Leopards Tuesday. The Lady Panthers finished with a 57-42 win.
Haley Crumley led Banks County with 13 points. Laura Carlyle added eight points.
Other scorers against Union County included: Michelle Snipes and Johnna Williams with six; Kate Whitfield had three points; Whitlock, and Regina Veal scored two each and Ashley Freeman and Megan Williams each scored one point.
Rough play on the court against Rabun County did not do any favors for the shorthanded Banks County girls last Friday. Without Whitlock, Shubert and Kate Whitfield out with illness at Rabun County the team lacked the depth to stay with the home team.
The Lady Wildcats took a 19-6 lead at the end of the first quarter and never looked back.
Freeman led the team with 10 points against Rabun County.
Other scorers included: Brittany Holcomb with six; Maggie Elrod, Snipes and Carlyle with four each; Crumley with three and J. Williams and Laura Mitchell with two each.
Dragons win 25th straight
BY TIM THOMAS
Jefferson High School's wrestling team stretched its dual-meet win streak to 25 last week, with victories over Hart County and Riverside Wednesday night. The last time Jefferson lost a dual match was during the 1997 Keen Classic. That loss was to class AAAA Berkmar, 46-27.
In addition, the Dragons brought home the second-place trophy from the 16-team Mountaineer Invitational last weekend. Defending class AA state champion Morgan County ran away with the tournament, winning medals in 11 of 14 weight classes.
The Dragons will see plenty of action this week. They begin by trying to extend their dual-match streak again Friday at West Hall, before going to Morgan County Saturday for the Avado Brands Invitational. The hosting Bulldogs are heavily favored to take their second tournament title in as many weeks. Tuesday and Wednesday, Jefferson will travel to Winder to participate in the Duckhead Southeast Holiday Classic, which is known for featuring top-notch competition.
At Riverside last week, Jefferson downed the Blue Devils 62-9, and blanked Hart County, 84-0. The Bulldogs were likely hampered by the fact that they are still participating in the state class AA football playoffs.
Winning matches against both Hart County and Riverside were: Jeremiah Wilson (103), Chris Gooch (119), Blake Gooch (125), Justin Gooch (130 and 135), Eric Wilburn (140), Hunter Garner (145), Jon Velduis (152), Zach Evans (160), Steve Green (171), Chad Hemphill (189), Clint Bryson (215) and Brendon Kemp (275).
Nathaniel Wilson (112) and Jeremy Smith (130) each won against Hart County. Winning JV matches for the Dragons were Ryan Crane, Joel Thrasher, Casey Wilkins, Scott Nix, Joseph Carter, Ricky Waters, David Boring and Chris Seibert.
Jefferson had 10 place-winners at the Mountaineer Invitational, including six medal-winners.
Garner took his second gold medal of the year at 140, and Green his first at 171. Green also scored 28 team points, the most of any Dragon wrestler in the tournament. Jeremiah Wilson finished second at 103, defeating Jackson County's Jason Powers in the semifinals.
In a battle of defending state medal-winners, Wilburn (2nd in class A last year at 135) lost a close 2-0 decision to Jackson County's Stephen Ledbetter, who finished fourth last year at 135 in class AAA.
Justin Gooch lost to last year's AAA 119-pound state champion, Dacula's Paul Stansbury, but rebounded to take third at 125. Smith took a fourth-place medal at 130.
Finishing fifth for the Dragons were: Blake Gooch, 119; Carter, 145; Bryson, 215 and Kemp, 275.
Others participating in the tournament for Jefferson were Nathaniel Wilson, Veldhuis, Seibert and Hemphill. Thirteen of the Dragons' 14 wrestlers won matches and scored team points in the tournament.
Panthers to take subregion break
BY TIM THOMAS
Panther basketball teams have begun a three-week break from subregion action, but Ron Garren and Annette Watts' teams will certainly not be inactive.
The Panthers will take on Hart County Friday and Athens Academy Saturday. After a 10-day break for Christmas holidays, the teams will participate in the Dairy Queen Classic at Hart County Dec. 28-30.
Both teams fared well in their first three subregion games. The Lady Panthers are 4-0 in subregion play, while the boys' team is 3-1 following a loss last weekend to North Hall.
The Panthers took their second subregion win of the year Friday, defeating Madison County 68-55. Jackson County had scoring runs of nine and seven points in the first period, to take a 21-11 lead.
The second period featured lots of high-flying action, with numerous blocks, slams and hard-fought rebounds. The Panthers led by 17 at intermission.
The second half was much the same as the first. Gresham, Tim Birdette and Justin Lott all had big blocks in the fourth period, and the Panthers held on to win by 13. Gresham finished with 25 points and 14 rebounds.
"I thought we did what we had to do to win the game," said Garren of his team's efforts. "We were only 25-for-58 at the free-throw line, but we executed when we had to. "
Though the free-throw performance was much the same, the outcome of Saturday's game was far different.
"We just ran into a buzz saw in the first quarter," Garren said. The Panthers fell behind 20-0 early, as North Hall made eight consecutive shots. Jackson County closed the gap to 10 at the half, but could get no closer than seven in the second. Gresham had 20 points and 12 rebounds in the game, Blake Wilson scored 14, Dustin David 13 and B.J. Wilmont 10. The team hit only 21 of 40 free throws.
Garren said he was pleased with his team's subregion performance thus far.
"We've set ourselves up going into Jan with an opportunity to compete for the first seed in the tournament," he said. "One of the things we concentrated on at practice [Monday] was running and getting tired and shooting free throws."
Raiders slip to 3-5 with weekend losses
BY BEN MUNRO
The Red Raiders watched their record slip two games under the .500 mark over the weekend as the squad was defeated by Jackson County 68-55 in Jefferson and then fell at home to Elbert by a score of 57-44.
Madison County faced Habersham Central in Mt. Airy Tuesday night, but results were unavailable as of press time.
AGAINST ELBERT COUNTY
Madison County was dealt their fifth loss of the season at the hands of Elbert County as the visiting Blue Devils downed the Raiders by a count of 57-44 in Danielsville.
The Red Raiders, who trailed 30-19 at the half, tightened the contest up early in the second half of action, bring themselves to within six points with a basket by Trellis Appling with 5:55 left in the third quarter.
However, Elbert pushed Madison County back down in a hole, outscoring the Raiders 15-7 over the remainder of the period to claim a 45-31 advantage heading into the fourth quarter of play.
The Blue Devils the kept the Raiders at bay in the final period, leading by as many as 18 points as they cruised to the 13-point victory.
Factoring into the Elbert win were Ben Butler and Ron Herod, who both struck for double figures on the night with 19 and ten points.
Chris Lattimore turned in a solid evening for Madison County as he led the Raiders with 17 on the evening.
The contest was a seesaw affair in the first quarter as the lead changed hands four times with Elbert on top at the end of the period 11-9.
After tying the game at 11 with 7:34 in the second quarter of play, the Raiders then sputtered, allowing Elbert to go on an 11-3 run to claim a 24-14 advantage with just over three minutes left in the half en route to the Blue Devils taking an 11-point lead to the locker room.
Other Raiders adding points in the loss were Appling, Josh Chandler, and Donny Stamper, who all had five, Chad Gillespie, who had four, and Chad Youngblood, Trevelle Heard, and Jonathon Berrian, who each added a bucket.
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