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TUESDAY, MAY 24, 2005
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Tanner coach unsure if hoax affected team

By Michael Wetzel
DAILY Assistant Sports Editor

mwetzel@decaturdaily.com 340-2462

Nearly every girls high school softball team in the state would love to trade places with Tanner today. The Class 2A Limestone County school finished second in the state tournament in Montgomery after two tough losses to Flomaton on a rainy Friday. Tanner fell in the final game 4-3.

But Tanner coach Gynger Williams and her players had to overcome a distraction before ever leaving for the state tournament. The team was informed three weeks ago, it had been named one of USA Today's "50 Hottest Teams in the Nation" and a story in the newspaper would feature them.

A day before packing for Montgomery, the Lady Rattlers were informed they were duped in a scam.

USA Today's Director of Communications Steve Anderson broke the news to Williams on May 17.

Williams said Monday she is unsure if the news of the hoax affected her team adversely.

"Before we left for Montgomery, last Tuesday and Wednesday were filled with distractions, but once we got down there, I don't think it was ever mentioned," Williams said. "It might have affected the girls. ... We never got that fire down in Montgomery that we showed the Saturday before when we won against Ider.

"I know (the hoax) was a letdown for the girls at first and we might have been a bit embarrassed, but the bottom line is Flomaton played great to beat us twice. They deserved to win."

The school's booster club lost $346 when it purchased bumper stickers promoting the alleged honor from John Gilbert a.k.a. Gilbert Monoson of Florida. Booster club president David Dunavant wrote the check to "G. Monoson" on a C.O.D. package via FedEx, shipped May 6 from Coconut Creek, Fla.

Court records show a man with the name of Gilbert Monoson from Palm Beach County, Fla., has been linked to several scams in the past five years.

On Aug. 30, 2001, a Palm Beach County judge order Monoson to pay total restitution of $6,270 to 13 victims from Nebraska, Vermont, Wisconsin, Ohio, Virginia, Massachusetts, Arkansas, New York, Maryland and Oregon.

Williams said USA Today officials told her a lawyer would contact her for information.

Going 4-2 at the state tournament, Tanner finished the season at 42-12.

"We knew we had a good team this year and this might be our year to win it," Williams said. "To come that close and not win it was heart-breaking."

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