The second and most critical half of the winter sports season begins later this week for the Commerce High School basketball teams.
The bulk of the Tigers’ 8A-A subregion schedule starts to unfold on Friday, when both teams travel to Hiawassee for games against Towns County. The girls play at 7 p.m. and the boys follow at 8:30 p.m.
Subregion records determine seeding for region tournaments in February. The top four teams in the region tournaments advance to the state playoffs.
The break is well timed. Both teams have managed some ups and downs through the first half of the season, including at last week’s holiday tournaments.
The Lady Tigers went 0-3 at East Jackson High School’s Wing Slinger Holiday Bash, dropping contests to larger classification schools, Banks County, Berkmar and East Jackson.
Commerce was outscored 158-94 in the three games, averaging just 31 points in each.
Lily Mather used her inside strength to lead the persevering Commerce squad. Mather nabbed 12 rebounds against Berkmar and another eight against Banks County. She scored a combined 10 points against both teams and added eight against East Jackson.
Martin, meanwhile, showed her outside shooting talent as she converted three-of-three, 3-point attempts against Banks County. She led the Lady Tigers in scoring with 9 points. Madison Maddox was close behind with six points.
Against East Jackson, Bridgett Barnett joined Mather in scoring eight points to lead the team.
Coach Rex Gregg remained optimistic about
the rest of his team’s season on Friday, pointing to the caliber of competition at the East Jackson tournament as a significant factor in the Lady Tigers’ losses.
The Commerce boys fared a little better at their own CHS tournament, winning one out of three games.
Placing sixth, the Tigers lost to Gilmer 71-59, beat Madison County 55-52 and lost to Archer 63-33. Each of Commerce’s opponents hailed from larger school classifications.
Douglas County won the tournament, beating St. Francis 105-71 in the championship. Thomson finished third, Gilmer placed fourth; Archer secured fifth; Johnson of Savannah and Madison County finished seventh and eighth.
For the Tigers, Jonathan Book led the team, scoring 38 points during the tournament. All but five of those points came on 3-point-attempts.
Thomas McMillan joined Book in leading Commerce during the tournament. He averaged 10.3 points a game.
Coach Chad Bridges also singled out Robert Hayes as “playing well.” Specifically, his 13 points in the fourth period against Madison County moved the Tigers into the lead with less than two minutes to play. He finished the game with 17 points.
“I really like the effort we’re getting out of the kids right now,” Bridges said. “They are starting to compete a little bit more. We’re giving effort.”
The coach isolated his team’s decision making on offense as an area the Tigers need to strengthen as the squad enters the meat of its season.
“(We need to improve) offensively, with our execution, running the plays correctly, making better decisions,” Bridges said, explaining, “it’s easier to make an open and good shot than make a contested shot that probably should not have been taken.”
After Towns County, the Commerce teams host rival Jefferson on Saturday. The games start with the girls tipping off at 6 p.m. and the boys following at 7:30 p.m. The Tigers host another subregion series on Tuesday against Tallulah Falls, with the girls playing at 6 p.m. and the boys playing at 7:30 p.m.
Banks County 50, Commerce 32
Scorers — Bridgett Barnett 3, Hannah Crumley 2, Hannah Davis 2, Erica Greene 2, Anna Leffew 1, Madison Maddox 6, McClaine Martin 9, Lily Mather 5, Hannah McRee 2.
Berkmar 47, Commerce 29
Scorers — Bridgett Barnett 3, Hannah Davis 5, Jessika Kyle 1, Madison Maddox 3, McClaine Martin 4, Lily Mather 5, Drea Mathis 4, Allie Morgan 4.
East Jackson 61, Commerce 33
Scorers— Erica Greene 7, Bridgett Barnett 8, McClain Martin 4, Hannah Davis 4, Lily Mather 8, Madison Maddox 2.
CHS is 3-7, 0-1 in 8A-A.
Gilmer County 71, Commerce 59
Scorers — Thomas McMillan 10, Chase Klugh 1, Jonathan Book 17, Chandler Rogers 7, Tony Patman 11, Keenan Lord 5, Robert Hayes 8.
Commerce 55, Madison Co. 52
Scorers — Thomas McMillan 10, Chase Klugh 4, Jonathan Book 15, Chandler Rogers 3, Tony Patman 4, Dylan Seagraves 2, Robert Hayes 17.
Archer 63, Commerce 33
Scorers — Thomas McMillan 11, Chase Klugh 1, Jonathan Book 6, Tony Patman 7, Robert Hayes 5, Tristian Reed 3.