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Lady Leopards win top-ten matchup at Rabun for inside track in region

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In a battle of top-ten teams in the Class 2A, the Banks County Lady Leopards bested the Rabun County Lady Wildcats 59-49 Tuesday night in Tiger for the team’s eighth win in a row. The region rivals’ first of two season matchups goes a long way in giving Banks the early inside track for a potential region title.

For Banks County (13-3; 4-0), the Lady Leopards are perfect in 8-AA play, while the Lady Wildcats (12-3; 1-2) have now suffered tough losses to Banks and also state-ranked Putnam County. It was expected to be a three-way battle for region supremacy.

On Tuesday, Banks County held an early 16-14 lead and padded that to 25-18 well into the second before the Lady Cats’ Natalie Nix tied the game at 28 apiece. However, a Lady Leopards short jumper to beat the buzzer gave them a 30-28 lead into the break.

The game remained tight after three, with the visiting Lady Leopards up 40-36. Banks went on a run in the fourth to push the lead to 54-42 with just over two minutes to go. An eight-point lead remained with a minute to go, until Georgia Stockton got a bucket to close within 55-49.

Banks held on for the 59-49 win, hitting on free throw opportunities. Rabun’s Laken Stiles poured in 21 pts, tallying 5 steals and 4 rebounds. Banks County was led by Allison Smith’s 19 points, while Jaycie Bowen (14), Amber Williams (11), Kailynn Gilstrap (8) and Maddie Thomas (7) also contributed in the win.

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