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|SPORTS SECTION - DECEMBER 22, 1999|
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CLASS A STATE FOOTBALL FINAL
Tigers Open Strong
Commerce Boys Win First Two Games
The Commerce High School boys' basketball team had one week of practice before its first game of the season.
But based on their first two games, the Tigers don't seem to have needed much preparation time.
After disposing of Oglethorpe County 75-56 in the season opener in Lexington last Saturday, Commerce's boys kicked off the Spartan Invitational Christmas Tournament at Athens Academy with a convincing 78-69 win over Prince Avenue Monday night.
Michael Collins, the Tigers' returning leader in most every statistical category, has made a smooth transition so far.
Collins scored 27 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and added five assists and four steals against Oglethorpe County. The Tigers' junior added 29 points, seven rebounds, four assists and six steals against the Wolverines.
Senior guard Daniel Carder has not been absent on the court either.
Carder had 23 points and seven rebounds in the win over Oglethorpe County. He added 24 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals in the win over Prince Avenue.
Commerce started slowly in each of its wins, but proved too much over the long haul.
Commerce outscored the Patriots 24-10 in the second quarter to pull away for good.
Twion Shealer had 11 points and 11 rebounds. Casey Gary added seven boards.
The two teams were knotted up at the end of the first period. The pesky Wolverines kept causing trouble for the Tigers in the second quarter. Commerce took a 26-20 lead into the half.
Straight out of the shute, the Tigers set things right.
Carder led off with a three pointer that started the Tigers on a run.
The lead stretched to more than 20 points for Commerce in the fourth quarter before substitiutions and a few timely shots allowed the Wolverines to narrow the lead less than 10 in the final minute.
While several players contributed to the win, the victory was more impressive by who didn't play.
When the ball tipped off Monday, the Tigers had R.T. Poole, Willie Stevens, Monté Williams, and Russ Brown in street clothes.
The short bench could have become a bigger factor when Shealer picked up his third foul midway through the second period.
However, Commerce proved to have enough to reach the championship game. The Tigers were to have played Athens Academy Tuesday night in the final game of the Christmas Tournament, but results were not avaialable.
Lady Tigers Suffer
First Loss To Oconee
After picking up games sporadically during the football's teams run during the playoffs, Commerce's girls basketball team split its first regular action around last weekend.
The girls suffered its first loss of the season Monday in the opening round of the Spartan Invitational Christmas Tournament to Oconee County 47-34.
Commerce had rolled to a 50-34 win Saturday over Oglethorpe County.
Charlene Gaither scored 15 points and Sheka Wheeler added 10 to pace the Tiger attack.
Commerce opened with a 19-6 lead at the end of the first quarter to create an early gap that held up the rest of the game.
Shemika Reed added 15 rebounds and 10 assists.
The Warriors came out in the third period to take charge of a game that was closely battled in the first two quarters.
While Oconee County featured several players around six feet tall, its shooting on the outside and foul line paved the way for its win. Oconee County was 10-16 on its free throws.
Commerce contributed 17 turnovers to the cause. The Tigers were 4-12 at the free throw line.
"In the second half, we just never left the dressing room," Commerce coach Don Watkins said. "But we play these tournament games to get better. They ought to help us when we hit our subregion schedule in January."
Reed scored nine points in the first half and added no more. She did finish with nine assists and 14 rebounds.
Commerce will host Banks County, Oglethorpe County and Lakeview Academy next week for another tournament during the break.
Commerce will open against Lakeview at 7 p.m. next Tuesday.
Leopard teams in holiday tourney
BCHS squads part of four-team event Commerce this week
Mike Gordon is hoping the Christmas week will be good for his Banks County girls' basketball team. After losing their last regular season game in December at Dawson County, some time off may help the team prepare for next week's WJJC Christmas Classic tournament in Commerce.
"I hope we get well and rested," Gordon said. "We've got two out with mono. We've got some others who have been sick."
But getting better physcially is not the only goal Gordon has for his team. After a 56-46 loss to Dawson County last Friday, Gordon saw plenty for the Banks County girls to improve on.
"We didn't shoot well. Our rebounding was good and we didn't play good defense," Gordon said. "I just want to see us go down to Commerce and improve on those things we haven't been doing well. Hopefully we can use this to get our confidence back."
The team practiced this Tuesday and will be off until next week.
The WJJC Classic begins next Wednesday. Banks County's girls will kick off the tournament when they face Oglethorpe County at 4 p.m.
The BCHS boys will play Oglethorpe County immediately following the girls' game. Commerce and Lakeview will square off in the other first-round games.
Banks County began the season with a sweep of the Patriot teams in Lexington.
Consolation and championship games will be played Thursday.
Both Banks County teams are 3-4 and 2-3 in the subregion overall on the season.
Banks County will continue its regular season schedule Jan. 4 at home against subregion foe Lakeview Academy. The game with Lakeview is one nine subregion games remaining for Banks County.
The possiblity of playing Region 8-A North Lakeview in the holiday tournament and then again in the regular season is not big concern for Gordon.
"I don't think it's that big of a deal right now," Gordon said. "We need some games now to get better."
Banks County held a 35-34 edge at the half, but was outscored 21-12 in the second half to take the loss. Gordon said the team's effort was not the problem.
"I didn't think we got tired," he said. "The fourth quarter was our strongest physical effort. Making bad passes and key turnovers at the wrong time did us in."
Haley Crumley led Banks County with 19 points. Bree Whitlock added 13 points.
Michelle Snipes and Laura Carlyle each had six points each. Ashley Freeman added two points.
Banks County's boys were square with the Dawson County Tigers, headed into the final period of the game.
The Tigers outscored the Leopards 21-15 in that final frame to take a 69-63 win.
Blakley Crumley had 24 points to lead Banks County. Victor Bonds had 15 points. Mike Ivey had 10 points.
Justin Smith scored six points. Bray Maxwell and Jonathan Dumas each added three points. Chris Ivey scored two points.
JHS teams finish third and fifth at North Georgia
Boys win opener in final seconds
BY TIM THOMAS
Bolling DuBose's Drag-ons brought home the third-place trophy from the Gold City Shootout this week. Jefferson capped off an eventful tournament with an 85-75 win over Gilmer County Tuesday night.
Buzz Wehunt hit for 35 points, Daniel Goza had 18, and Kyle Potts was close behind with 14.
The Dragons looked as though they might put Gilmer away early, but the inconsistency that has plagued them all season returned, and the Bobcats rallied from a 15-point deficit to tie at 53 near the end of the third period.
Jefferson put on a shooting clinic in the fourth, at one point scoring 15 unanswered points on their way to an amazing 30 for the quarter. Fans for both teams became quite animated in the midst of the run, after a controversial traveling call against Wehunt that was followed by an aggressive defensive rebound by Nick Sheridan. Wehunt had three of his six three-pointers in the frame, and added three points from the stripe after being fouled behind the three-point line to quiet the Gilmer faithful.
The Dragons started the tournament with a heart-pounding win over Starr's Mill, 66-65. The two teams battled back and forth from the opening whistle, with neither taking more than a four-point lead in the first half.
After falling behind by 11 in the second half, Jefferson fought back late. With only four seconds remaining, Wehunt hit a free throw to put his team up by one. Starr's Mill drove quickly up the court in an attempt to win, but Goza blocked a shot at the buzzer to give Jefferson the victory. Goza led the Dragons with 17 points, Potts had 14, and Wehunt hit for 11.
The Lady Dragons recovered well from an opening-round loss to class AAAA Berkmar, winning two straight to finish fifth.
In the opener, Jefferson lost Annie Goza early to a knee injury, though she returned in limited action later in the tournament. The Lady Dragons led 13-10 after the first period.
Berkmar showed off an overwhelming defense in the final three quarters, trapping on nearly every Jefferson posession and causing a number of turnovers. The Patriots hit for three points to take a 17-16 lead early in the second period, and never looked back.
Kevin Jacobs' girls came back in force against Lumpkin County, drubbing the Indians 59-32. Within two miles of their home court, both of Lumpkin's teams limped home in seventh place among eight teams.
The Lady Dragons convincingly defeated Centennial to take fifth place, but the official score and stats were not available at press time.
"We lit it up," said Jacobs of his team's Tuesday performance.
Third Keen Classic to begin Tuesday
BY TIM THOMAS
Jefferson High School will host the Keen Classic wrestling competition next Tuesday and Wednesday, December 28 and 29. Tuesday's action will feature five dual matches, followed by a traditional individual tournament Wednesday.
This year's Classic will mark the final time Jefferson's Jack Keen will coach in the competition that bears his name.
Also scheduled to participate are teams from Adairsville, Armuchee, Buford, Calhoun, Commerce, Dawson County and Oglethorpe County. Jefferson, Dawson County, Calhoun and Commerce all finished in the top 10 in the class A state tournament last season.
In last week's action, the Dragons brought home their third tournament trophy of the year, and won their 26th consecutive dual match, a streak that reaches back to the first Keen Classic, in 1997.
AVADO BRANDS RESULTS
In the Avado Brands Invitational, Jefferson was fortunate to squeak out a fourth-place finish by 1.5 points over Elbert County. Jefferson's Brendon Kemp missed the team bus Saturday morning, but managed to reach Morgan County in time to score three points for the team at 275 en route to a fifth-place finish.
In addition, Keen allowed Clint Bryson (215) to wrestle in the opening round before defaulting in the remaining rounds due to injury.
"I thought he [Bryson] could win that match pretty easily," Keen said. Bryson did win the match, earning what would later prove to be a crucial four points for the Dragons. The single win was enough to propel Bryson to a fifth-place finish.
Eric Wilburn (135) and Steve Green (171) led the Dragons in scoring by winning gold medals in their respective weight classes. The duo combined for 43 of Jefferson's 120 team points.
Jeremiah Wilson (103) and Hunter Garner (140) finished second, while Blake Gooch took third at 119 and Chris Seibert fourth at 160.
Fifth-place winners for Jefferson were: Nathaniel Wilson (112), Brian Ferguson (125), Jeremy Smith (130), Chad Hemphill (189), Clint Bryson (215) and Brendon Kemp (275).
Even though the Dragons finished behind Jackson County in the tournament, Jefferson wrestlers were 3-1 head-to-head against the Panthers, stretching the season mark to 8-4. The two teams will not see dual-meet action together, but will meet in three more tournaments before the season is done.
DUAL Match WIN
Jefferson rolled to a surprisingly easy 59-10 win over a good West Hall team Friday. Seven Dragon wrestlers won by pin, six of them in the first period.
Winning by pin were: J. Wilson, N. Wilson, Gooch, Ferguson, Joseph Carter, Hemphill and David Parks. Smith and Wilburn each won via major decision, and Garner, Seibert and Green won by regular decision.
Winning JV matches for Jefferson were: Casey Wilkins (technical fall at 125), Tarren Butler (pin), Braxton Pittman (pin), David Boring (decision) and Chris Baldwin (pin).
At press time, the Dragons were competing in day two of the Duckhead Southeast Invitational, at Winder-Barrow High School.
picks up three hardcourt wins
Lady Panthers' win streak ends at six
BY TIM THOMAS
Basketball teams from Jackson County Comprehensive High School will travel to Hart County next week to participate in the 1999 Dairy Queen Classic. Opening-round games are scheduled for Tuesday and the tournament will wrap up on Thursday.
The Lady Panthers will start with McBee, SC at 1 p.m. Tuesday, and Jackson County's boys will play Spartanburg at 5:30. Spartanburg is one of the larger schools in South Carolina, with more than 3,000 students.
Ron Garren's Panthers (7-2/3-1) picked up two more wins last week, over Hart County and Athens Academy.
The Lady Panthers dropped a game to Hart County Friday, ending the team's six-game winning streak, but rebounded with a 61-34 blowout of Athens Academy Saturday.
Jackson County started with a stifling perimeter defense against Hart County. On the offensive side, Rodrick Gresham scored eight of his 21 in the first period, including a huge slam, to lead his team to an early 10-2 lead. The Bulldogs fought back with eight straight to tie at the end of the period.
The two teams battled back and forth in the second, with neither able to take more than a two-point advantage. Hart County exploited a Panther turnover in the final minute of the half, hitting a three-pointer to take a 23-18 lead into intermission.
Hart County came out firing in the third, scoring eight straight in the opening three minutes to extend their lead to 31-21. Jackson County rallied with a 10-point run to close the gap to two at 33-31.
The final quarter was all Jackson County. Gresham and Dustin David each picked up six points in the frame, as the Panthers went on a 14-4 run to take a 45-35 lead. Hart County could not recover, and the Panthers went on to take their sixth win, 49-42.
The Panthers earned win number seven Saturday, 52-42 over Athens Academy. Gresham scored 11 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, and B.J. Wilmont scored 12 in the win.
The Lady Panthers (7-2/4-0) got off to a fair start against Hart County, as Abrielle Varnum and Megan Elliott each hit three-pointers early. The game was tied at eight before Hart County went on a nine-point run. The Lady Bulldogs got the ball inside often for easy points, and took a 17-8 lead after one. That quarter would prove to be pivotal. Hart County failed to win any of the final three periods, but kept the game close enough to take a 44-39 victory.
Jackson County closed to within a point in the third on a jumper by Elliott. Trailing by five going in to the fourth, the Lady Panthers were burned by several turnovers, sealing the win for Jackson County.
Monic Stewart finished with 14 points, and Krystal Britt scored 10 and had seven steals.
boys earn split in Christmas tourney
BY BEN MUNRO
Madison County picked up a win and a loss during the week in the Spartan Invitational Christmas Tournament, falling 53-44 to Athens Academy in the opening round on Monday, before dominating Prince Avenue 70-45 in the consolation game Tuesday.
MADISON COUNTY 70 PRINCE AVENUE 45
Though Madison County had to piece together a fourth quarter rally to surge past Prince Avenue in the squads' first meeting earlier this year, there was little worry this time when the fourth quarter rolled around as the Raiders coasted to a 25-point victory.
Center Chad Gillespie turned in a strong performance on the evening, pouring in 18 points to lead the way in Madison County's lopsided win.
Though the Raider squad won by a large margin, the contest was tight throughout the first half of play as Madison County's largest lead was only eight points through the first two quarters.
The Raiders ran out to a quick lead in the contest, scoring the first four baskets of the game to claim an 8-0 lead at the 3:37 mark in the first quarter. However, the Wolverines scored the last six points of the quarter to pull within two.
Prince Avenue pulled even closer in the second quarter as the squad went on a 5-0 run early in the period to close the gap to 12-11. However, Madison County pushed themselves back out to a more comfortable lead as they went on a 10-4 run, capped off by a three-point shot by Donny Stamper to put the Raiders up by a score of 22-15.
Madison County, who led 24-20 at the break, broke away from the Wolverines in the second half as the team outscored Prince Avenue 46-25 over the last two quarters of play.
The Raiders started to make their move toward the end of the third quarter, outscoring the Wolverines 10-1 over the last 3:48 of the period to put themselves up by 13 heading into the final quarter of play.
Madison County, however, simply exploded during the last five minutes of the ball game, going on a 17-6 run to turn the game into a route.
ATHENS ACADEMY 53 MADISON CO. 44
A fourth quarter rally by the Red Raiders fell by the way side Monday night in Athens against Athens Academy in the first round of the Spartan's Christmas tournament as the Madison County squad was downed by a score of 53-44.
Madison County found themselves trailing by a count of 46-30 with 5:53 remaining in the contest when the squad suddenly got red-hot, outscoring the Spartans 14-2 over the course of the next 1:16 to chop the Athens Academy edge to 48-44.
Ben Baker led the comeback effort as he scored all of his seven points on the night during the Raider tear, highlighted by his three-pointer with 1:37 left in the game to bring the Raiders within four.
However, that was as close as Madison County could get as Athens Academy nailed five out of six free throws during the final minute of play to claim the nine-point win.
Athens Academy used a 7-4 at the end of the first period to claim a 9-6 edge over the Raiders after a quarter. The Spartans then distanced themselves from Madison County at the start of the second quarter with an 11-2 run to claim a 20-8 lead with five and a half minutes left before intermission.
The Raiders, who trailed 23-15 at the half, were able to cut the Spartan lead down to five points during the third quarter of play after Jamaris Mattox drained a three-pointer with 6:31 left in the quarter, making the score 25-20.
However, Athens Academy then went on an 11-2 spurt to push their lead out to 36-22 on their way to taking a 12-point edge into the fourth quarter.
Those getting into the scoring book for the Red Raiders were Chad Gillespie, who lead his squad with 11 points; Mattox, five points; Trellis Appling, four; Josh Chandler, Corey Berryman, and Donny Stamper, each with three; and Chris Lattimore, Travelle Heard, and Drew Sparks, two points each.
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