It was a big turnaround for the Banks County Leopards last weekend.
The boys’ basketball team picked up wins over North Oconee and Stephens County in two hard games.
Banks improved its record to 3-9 for the season with the wins which came after the team “played with a purpose and took pride in the their game.”
“They played hard and for a purpose,” said assistant coach Jerry Loftice. “The players were playing for Coach Ruth and took pride in what they were doing.
Loftice filled in for head coach Mike Ruth during the North Oconee and Stephens County games, following Ruth’s suspension for two games after a technical foul during the Jan. 12 Oglethorpe game.
“I told the guys that if I feel like you are getting the short end of the stick, I’m going to stand up for you no matter what,” Ruth said. “And that is what I did.”
The foul was thrown as Ruth questioned an official’s call.
“It turned out to be a blessing in disguise,” said Ruth. “I have been pressuring the guys all year to take ownership. … The kids went and really busted their rears and won for themselves and for me and that means a lot.”
During the North Oconee and Stephens County games, Loftice said he could see the excitement on the bench and the coming together of the players as they wanted to win for coach Ruth.
Banks found its passion at a critical time as the Leopards hit the brunt of the region schedule. This Friday Banks is back home hosting Walnut Grove in an 8:30 p.m. game.
Walnut Grove is also 3-9 for the season and almost matches Banks County across the board for average points per game. Friday nights game is the first meeting between the schools and the Leopards could use the region win.
On Saturday, the boys are back on the road, as the Leopards head south on 441 to take on Commerce.
In an earlier game this season, Commerce defeated Banks 69-43. Banks will look for retribution against the rival following the girl’s game at 5 p.m.
For more on the North Oconee and Stephens County wins, see the Jan. 20, The Banks County News.