America's excess

"I hear all this talk about people not having any jobs, not having any money, what hard times we're having. I went by the hospital for a checkup this morning, and I'll tell you what. In there, and on my rounds while I was shopping too, I never saw anybody that looked like they'd ever missed a meal. As a matter of fact, most of them looked like they should miss a few meals. And as far as not having any money, you just try to get out on the highway and see how many Lincoln Continentals and Cadillacs are out there. You can hardly get out on the highway. So something don't add up somewhere, all this stuff I'm hearing and then when you get out and look at all these fat people and big cars, something just don't add up."

A real hero

"I want to say thank you to the kind man who stopped his car to help me catch my special needs grandson who had gotten away from me at the medical office building earlier this week. I could hardly believe someone would be so kind. He must care an awfully lot about children to make sure my grandson was safe. Thank God for you, sir. You are one of the real heroes of the world."

Make it nice too

"This is a Rave about the great things going on at ABAC. So many nice buildings and things going up, and the grounds look so nice. The buildings look well taken care of. My Rant is about the Coastal Plain Experiment Station right down the street. The buildings are very deteriorated on the main campus. I wish that the government would possibly give some money that could help these buildings look just as good as the ones on the other end of the road at ABAC. That's really all I have to say."

No job shortage

"I keep reading complaints from folks that say they can't find a job. Maybe they should ask the people that risk their lives to get here each year just so they can plant, pull and harvest the food you eat. That's right ... ask an illegal alien. They don't seem to have a problem finding work. The problem isn't a shortage of jobs, it's a shortage of Americans that are willing to work."

Not paying for it

"If you smoke, it is your business. But when it bothers me medically - it is my business. I don't care if you smoke until your lungs rot. I do think insurance, Medicare and Medicaid shouldn't pay a dime to smokers for illnesses caused by smoking - cancer, emphysema, whatever. Smoke away, but don't expect me to endure it, nor pay for it."

Think behind the wheel

"In March of 2001, I was in a horrific car accident (alcohol related). It has been on my mind and I want to urge anyone who drives to a place where they may be drinking and getting under the wheel of a car to please make arrangements to get home by some other means. Sometimes we think that as long as we are not driving - we will not get the DUI. You may not get a DUI but you may be fighting for your life and hurting all of your family and friends or you may hurt someone else. Please think before you drink and drive."

Simply laughable

"This is in regard to 'tax dollars paying for people's junk food.' I'd hate to know that I was so hooked on tobacco that I would have to start making remarks like that one, just to justify such a nasty habit. What a laugh."

DULUTH -- Called a longshot to win the state basketball title in the Atlanta press Wednesday morning, the Tift County Blue Devils went into their state Class AAAAA semifinal matchup with the Lithonia Bulldogs with something to prove.

And prove it they did as Tift defeated the Bulldogs 58-54 and will now advance to the state championship game tomorrow night against the winner of the other semifinal game between Beach and South Gwinnett.

Tift is now 29-0, while Lithonia ends its season with a 25-3 record.

"I am so proud of these guys. They have worked hard all year and now they are only one win away from their goal," said Tift County head basketball coach Robert Moore.

The win over Lithonia, the Bulldogs' first loss in the state of Georgia this season, was basically the same story with a different chapter for the Devils. Tift got a number of contributions from several different players.

"We have been an unselfish team all season and that is the way we played today. These guys do not care who gets the credit as long as the end result is a Tift County victory," Moore said.

Dwight Tolbert led the Devils in scoring with 22 points. The senior also pulled down 12 rebounds as he played most of the game against taller players.

"I think they got tired guarding me," said Tolbert after the game.

Tolbert helped ice the game for the Devils. Down two, Lithonia went for a last second shot and a floater in the lane by Darrell Smith came up short. Tolbert came up with the rebound and was fouled on the play.

The senior converted both free throws with 1.8 seconds left to seal the victory for the Devils.

"I was a little nervous, but I knew I would make them," Tolbert said of his free throws.

Thomas Hightower was Tift's second leading scorer with 18 points, including five three-pointers. Those shots came after Lithonia only allowed Chattahoochee two three-pointers in their quarterfinal victory.

"He hit several big shots for us and he has done it all year," Moore said of Hightower.

An early three by Hightower gave Tift its' biggest lead, 15-5, with 4:12 left in the first quarter.

Hightower also contributed three big free throws in the final 2:10 of the game.

Stanley Brownlee scored nine points for the Tift team, but he also added three rebounds, three assists, a steal and a blocked shot. Most importantly, however, was his defense on Lithonia star Robert Dozier. Averaging 16 points a game, Dozier only scored nine against Brownlee and was never a factor in the game.

"It was fun guarding him. It was also an challenge, but I enjoy challenges," Brownlee said.

Up by 10 in the first quarter, Tift saw Lithonia come back to tie the game with 5:15 left in the second quarter on a three-pointer by Leon Williams.

Tift fought back to take a 29-28 lead into halftime.

In the third quarter, the Bulldogs took their biggest lead when a Smith shot gave Lithonia a 38-34 advantage with 3:02 left.

Tift quickly got the lead back as Donnell Cullins hit a three and then fed Tolbert down low on a bounce pass through traffic. The junior later took a rebound up the court and hit Tolbert for another layup. That gave Tift 43-42 lead going into the fourth quarter.

Cullins ended the game with eight points, five assists, three rebounds and two steals.

"He is just another one of the guys who has always found a way to contribute this season," said Moore.

The teams traded the lead in the fourth quarter. Lithonia led 54-52 with 1:41 left on a basket by Smith. That was the last lead for the Bulldogs as Tift scored the last six points to win the game.

"It was a great win. We now have to get ready for the big one. Beach or South Gwinnett are not going to be impressed with a 29-0 record. We are going to have to come out and play hard Friday," said Moore.

Brownlee said the team will be ready.

"Right now I feel like we can play with any team in the country," the senior said.

The contest will be broadcast locally on WTIF radio. The game will also be shown across the state on Georgia Public Television.

"We are hoping to have a huge crowd here Friday," Moore said. "These guys will give their all for the community, I guarantee that."

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