The current eight-game win streak for the Leopards has them in perfect position to accomplish all the goals they set out with entering this season. It also means Banks County (18-8) is peaking at the perfect time.
“It gives them confidence that every time we step on the floor, we can win,” says coach Mike Cleveland. “It’s the perfect time to be playing good basketball.”
Heading into this year, everyone knew Banks County would have its hands full replacing four great seniors in Dylan Orr, Gabe Martin, Darius Bonds, and Gatlin Lunsford. The Leopards though knew they would be able to reload and maintain their supremacy in the region.
“Our young guys we thought were going to be really good,” says Cleveland on his team. “The guys have worked extremely hard and we’re proud of where we are right now.”
Carl Cleveland, a junior guard/forward who already holds an offer from North Georgia, meanwhile is enjoying his best year yet. He eclipsed 1,000 career points last season and has a chance at 2,000 by next year. In 25 games, he averages 27.3 points, 11.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.4 blocks, and 1.2 steals per game. Other teams have wisely double-teamed him most of the season to no avail, and he has become the guy every opposing team base loves to hate.
“People don’t really understand that I feed off that,” says Carl Cleveland on when he gets booed. “I actually like getting booed and people talking trash, that just makes me play better.”
As the Leopards gain momentum heading into the region semifinals against Rabun County, the young group points to one game in particular that really fed the current streak.
“I feel like it was pretty big,” says senior Wes Ledford on the team’s win over powerhouse Elbert County. “We were firing on all cylinders, we just did everything we could to shut them out. We played a great game that night, and we had probably the best games that we’ve had. The momentum was just really moving…it sent a statement.”
Banks County takes on Rabun Thursday at 5:30 PM in the 8-AA Semifinals.