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Athlete of the week: Sims leads Red Elephants into semifinals
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Honorable mentions


Blanche Alverson, Buford: 17 points against Rabun County last Saturday.

George Manomano, Gainesville: 17 points, six rebounds and three steals against Cedartown last Saturday.

Brandon McKinney, Riverside Military: 16 points and 14 rebounds against Blessed Trinity last Wednesday.

Peyton Robertson, Chestatee: 15 points and eight rebounds against Carrollton last Tuesday.


David Sosebee, White County:
Pitched a complete game, struck out seven and allowed no runs against West Hall last Saturday.

Luke Crumley, White County: Threw a no-hitter with eight strikeouts while going 2-for-3 against Johnson last Wednesday.

Scott Chewning, Chestatee: Pitched a complete game with 10 strikeouts against White County last Friday.

Zach Bennett, Chestatee: 3-for-3 with two runs against White County last Friday.

Spenser Gruenenfelder, Chestatee: Two hits, two runs, two stolen bases and an RBI against Pickens last Wednesday.

Davis Partrick, North Hall: 4-for-4 with four RBIs against Gilmer last Friday.

Chris Stevens, North Hall: 3-for-3 with two runs and six RBIs against Chestatee last Thursday.

Nick Deaton, East Hall: Pitched a complete-game one-hitter with seven strikeouts against Johnson last Friday.

Logan Pethel, Johnson: Pitched a one-hitter with five strikeouts against Pickens last Thursday.

Josh Preston, West Hall: Hit a three-run home run and also picked up the on the mound against East Hall last Thursday.

Chris Beck, Jefferson: Struck out eight hitters and homered against Madison County last Thursday.

Ralston Cash, Lakeview Academy: Pitched a one-hitter with nine strikeouts against East Jackson last Thursday.

Erik Tarnaki, Gainesville: 2-for-3 with two runs and two RBIs against Gilmer last Wednesday.

Will Anderson, Lumpkin County: 3-for-5 against Flowery Branch last Thursday.


Landry Haynes, North Hall:
Shot a 72 to lead the North Hall to a first-place finish at the Cole Mountain Classic last Saturday.

Camryn Cole, Gainesville: Carded a 75 to winn the Cole Mountain Classic on Saturday.


Tess Patton, North Hall:
Three goals and an assist in three games last week.

Bethany Johnson, Johnson: Three goals against East Hall last Thursday.

Kaitlyn Hooper, White County: Two goals and an assist against Banks County last Wednesday.

Brie Ballinger: Two goals and an assist against Banks County last Wednesday.

Joy Smith, Flowery Branch: Three goals and two assists against Chestatee last Tuesday.

Track and field

Marlon Veazie, Riverside Military: Won 200-meter, 100 and the 4x100 against Gainesville and Chestatee last Thursday.


Marco Cancemi, Riverside Military:
Five goals against Gainesville last Wednesday.

Gainesville High’s Blake Sims knows how to find the weakness in his opponent, even if it’s in the Class AAA state quarterfinals.

The junior point guard help create a high-tempo offense and, more importantly, let his teammates find him for a team-high 19 points in a 58-46 win against Cedartown last Saturday.

“It was easy to blow by them (Cedartown),” Sims said. “But I have to give it to everybody else on the court. They had to keep their defenders on them so it was easier for me to score.”

Anchored by Sims’ leadership and a team chemistry that earned them a region title, the Red Elephants (21-8) remain alive in the Class AAA state semifinals, where they face Westover on Friday in Macon.

The last time the two teams met was in the 2001 state semifinals, with Westover winning 75-44.

Hoping for a better outcome this time around, Sims believes that Gainesville is prepared to play the next two games and battle for the state championship.

“I feel like we have a really good chance,” he said. “If we come out and play like we do every night, we’ll be in that game.”

It won’t be an easy task, though. Should the Red Elephants defeat Westover and advance to the state finals, they’ll face the winner of South Atlanta and Columbia, Class AAA’s top-ranked teams.

But Sims has assured himself and his teammates that the championship game is not a worry yet, and that Westover is still their target.

“We just have to take things one game at a time,” Sims said. “We have to make sure we play defense, rebound and communicate with each other.”

Should this week’s practice go smoothly, the Red Elephants will be a tough opponent for anyone. They haven’t lost a game in more than a month, and are currently on an eight-game winning streak.

With Sims coming off two straight nights in double figures after also scoring 19 points against Druid Hills last Wednesday, Red Elephants coach Todd Cottrell hopes for Sims to be stay consistent entering Friday’s game.

“I hope he’s the same guy,” Cottrell said. “(Westover) plays a little more up-tempo than what we’ve seen the last couple of weeks. They like to press, but I think he can adjust to that pretty well.

“I expect him, and I expect the rest of the team to play very well.”

Cottrell has enjoyed Sims’ presence not only for his well-rounded game that includes offensive ability and willingness to play defense, but also for his outspoken personality that has made him one of Gainesville’s vocal leaders and a well-liked player in the locker room.

“He’s fun to coach,” Cottrell said. “He’s an outstanding leader and he can make things happen. He did that in his other sports as well.”

That other sport is football, where Sims’ athletic future may lie. As the Red Elephants’ starting quarterback, he has picked up offers from several Division-I schools, including Tennessee, Michigan and Florida State.

“I’m just sitting back on the offers and keeping my options open,” Sims said. “I’ll be cutting down my list this spring.”

Sims has a busy spring ahead of him. Amidst college visits and scholarship offers, he will join the Gainesville track and field team, then begin spring football practice before school ends for the summer.

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