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Archives 03-12-2003

Sports

 


LA Wildcats fall in region tournament
Lady Cats advance to state tournamentt

 

 

LA Wildcats fall in region tournament

By KEVIN BURMEISTER, OCN staff

After being escorted into the Region 4-AA Tournament by a disappointing loss against district antagonist Upperman, the Livingston Academy Wildcats readied themselves for an even tougher opponent in the Portland Panthers.

As LA fans have become accustomed to seeing, the Cats played their hearts out in what was to become the season's final outing.

The contest was a wash from the get-go with the Panthers clenching an early 18-4 lead, leaving the helpless Cats nary opportunity at any sort of recovery at the hands of the eventual region champs.

After trailing by 25 insurmountable points at the half, Livingston limped past the finish line with a 67-44 drubbing to their name.

Season savior Jamie Gurley contributed 17 to the Wildcat cause, as he finished out his LA career as the reigning District 7-AA Most Valuable Player.

Coach Danny McCoin believes the game's outcome could be traced to a number of different sources, not the least of which is Livingston's current conundrum of youthfulness.

"We're a young team," he said. "I think that had a lot to do with it. We're a young team.

"Against Upperman, the last home game, every game since then has been a big game. And we're young, and we never won a big game this year. And that may be the reason, we aren't ready to win the big game."

McCoin also believes his squad picked the worst possible time to play against a quality opponent like the Panthers, who, according to him, were on top of their game in the truest sense of the phrase.

"It was a tough game,” McCoin said. "Of course, Portland went on the win the regional championship, so we played a good team. They were probably playing at their best, and we were playing at our worst."

After a surging second half of the season, Wildcats production went into a tailspin at the end of the year, causing the tough Portland loss, among others.

"The last part of the season, we tailed off a little bit, and the game indicated that,” he said. "We never could quite get going in the game, never really got into it offensively."

The Wildcats were grossly undersized against the towering Panthers, and were thus out-rebounded by an alarming 38-18 margin.

"That's been a thorn in our side all year, rebounding. That's one thing we have got to do next year in order to be better, is to be a better rebounding team."

Looking ahead to next season, the Cats will feature a lineup largely composed of returning players, which should bode well for next year's quest for a championship. McCoin believes next year's boys should boast an even better mark than the surprising 2002-2003 team.

Standout freshman Wilson Cates will only get better at the LA guard spot, according to Coach McCoin.

"He's going to be a sophomore, and he's going to be better. It's hard to even say that Wilson Cates will be better, because he's awesome right now."

LA will have to bear the loss of senior Jamie Gurley at the start of next season, but Coach McCoin still feels blessed to have worked with the outstanding forward.

"He's been wonderful. There's a kid I'm really going to miss. You get attached to a lot of them, but I'm going to miss Jamie Gurley. He's kind of grown on me. There's a lot of things he and I have been through together, and I've watched him grow."

Senior Kyle Copeland will also be moving on, and will leave a huge dent to be filled in the Livingston front court. "He is the epitome of a team player,” McCoin said of his senior center. "Of a person with patience, a person who never gives up."

If it were up to McCoin, the new season would start immediately. But the chief Wildcat is willing to wait in order to see an even better Wildcats showing in the 2003-2004 season.

"I'm ready, I wish we could play right now," he said. "I'm anxious. I know it's a long way away, but I'm anxious.

"I think next year, we could be even better. I expect us to be better."

 

 

 

 

 

Lady Cats advance to state tournament

By ASHLEY HUNTER, OCN staff

Lyndon Johnson/OCN staff

Freshman Haley Mullins goes up for a shot against the Jackson County Lady Blue Devils in region play.

 

Famous University of Tennessee womens basketball coach Pat Summitt titled her autobiography "Reach for The Summitt". That's just exactly what the Livingston Academy Lady Wildcats basketball team continues to do as they travel this Thursday, March 13 to Murfreessboro to compete in the TSSAA Class AA State Tournament.

This is the first time the Lady Cats have been to the state tournament since 1999, when they not only participated in but won the whole thing.

Their quest for the top started Monday, March 3 when they participated in their first game of the Region 4-AA Tournament.

In that game, the girls played Macon County.

The game began pretty one-sided as Macon County got off to a hot start shooting the ball. The Tigerettes shot out to an 18-10 lead to end the first quarter.

In the second quarter, Livingston Academy woke up and smelled the coffee. They had a complete continental breakfast as they got it to their bread and butter star Katrina Beechboard. Beechboard scored 12 points in the second frame alone. At halftime LA had the advantage, 26-23.

The third quarter was highlighted with more good basketball by Livingston. The Lady Cats added 4 points to their halftime lead, and had a 7-point advantage at the end of three quarters.

The Tigerettes hit two 3-pointers early in the final frame and pulled the lead to within 3. It was the Cats that pulled away with the victory, though, as they slowly took away Macon County's chances for comeback and won the game 52-45.

Livingston Academy Coach Lesley Smith said of Macon County, "They're a good team. They were tied for first in their district throughout the season.

"Beechboard played awesome in that game."

Macon County was led in scoring by Trish Carver, with 16 points.

LA was led in scoring by Katrina Beechboard, with 34 points. Beechboard was recently named a finalist in the race for Class AA Miss Basketball. Christen Cates and Megan Thompson each scored 6 in the win. The Lady Cats then moved on to play the Lady Mustangs of David Lipscomb High School on Wednesday, March 5. Like the last game, it started out pretty one-sided, but unlike the last game, it was one-sided for Livingston Academy.

The Lady Cats used some fine offense to come out to an early 18-9 lead at the end of the first frame.

The second quarter was more of the same. The Lady Mustangs got to within 5 with about four minutes to play in the second quarter. Lady Cat Kellie Thurman then stepped up and made a 3-pointer. A little while later, Livingston junior Megan Thompson stole the inbound pass and dished it to Thurman, who hit another trey. By the end of the half, it was Livingston Academy by 12 at 34-20.

The third quarter was more of the same. Lipscomb couldn't make a positive run at it; LA was always there to answer. At the end of the quarter, Livingston had increased the lead by a point to 52-29.

The fourth quarter went as all runaway games go, and Livingston won by 12, 56-44.

David Lipscomb was led in scoring by Karen Dorris and Katie Foster, who each scored 12 points.

LA was led in scoring by Christen Cates, who scored 17 in the win. Megan Thompson and Katrina Beechboard each scored 12 in the victory.

Coach Smith said, "That was our best game. We played our best overall game of the season against them.

"Kellie and Christen stopped a girl on the defensive end that had scored 37 points in her last game."

The win put the Lady Cats in the Region 4-AA Tournament's championship game. The game was played against the team the Lady Cats just can't seem to shake: Jackson County.

The game began nicely for the Lady Cats, as they were on fire offensively in the first quarter. At the end of the frame, the Lady Cats were up 8 points on the Lady Blue Devils at 17-9.

The Lady Blue Devils staged a bit of a comeback in the second quarter, pulling their deficit to within 4 points toward the end of the frame. Then, Lady Wildcats senior Christen Cates hit a big three to boost LA's lead back up to 7 at the end of the half, 30-23.

Jackson County continued to hang around like gnats on roadkill during the third quarter. Jackson County cut the lead to 2 partway through the third quarter, but another Cates three silenced the Blue Devil fans.

They got loud again, though, as they managed to cut the LA lead down to 2 going into the fourth quarter.

LA hit two out of the first three buckets of the final quarter, but a three by Jackson County's Courtney Childress cut the lead to a single point, and all of a sudden, it was a game.

LA ended up having a 1-point lead and the basketball with under 10 seconds to play, but a steal by Alyssa Bowman and a bucket by Deanna Apple put the Lady Blue Devils up by 1, and that's where they stayed, getting the 48-47 victory.

Jackson County was led in scoring by Deanna Apple, who scored 13 points in the victory. Marissa Hensley and Courtney Childress each scored 12.

LA was led in scoring by Christen Cates, with yet another phenomenal game, scoring 20 points. She was followed by Katrina Beechboard with 12 points, and Kellie Thurman with 6 points.

Even though the Lady Cats lost in the region championship game, it didn't matter because they qualified for the sectional. In the sectional, Livingston traveled to Englewood to play McMinn Central High School on the Lady Chargers' home court Saturday, March 8. McMinn Central was consistently ranked above LA in all the polls throughout the season, but there's this thing called "margin of error” and Livingston used this to their advantage in the game.

The first quarter was low-scoring and uneventful as the two teams traded buckets. At the end of the period, it was McMinn Central with a 1-point advantage, 8-7.

The Lady Chargers came out of the quarter break with a little energy, though, and took a 10-point lead on the Lady Cats toward the end of the third quarter. On the next possession, it was Kellie Thurman keeping them in the ballgame, knocking down a three and cutting the lead down to 7. McMinn Central ended up leading by 8 at the end of half, 26-18.

To open the third quarter it was Thurman with a 3-pointer again, cutting the lead down to 5. In the beer commercials and at Conseco Fieldhouse where the Pacers play, it's always Miller Time, but at McMinn Central it was Thompson Time, as Megan seemed to take over the game, scoring 10 points in the quarter, including two threes. By the end of the period, LA had cut McMinn Central's lead down to 4 at 42-38.

No one wanted to get up from their seat because the game was absolutely nip and tuck basketball. The fourth quarter is when the stars come out to shine. And shine they did.

Katrina Beechboard seemed to pull an Emeril on her game, kicking it up a notch to help put the Livingston girls back in it. Beechboard scored 9 in the fourth quarter, including a bucket that put LA up 51-50 with under a minute to go.

Down on the other end of the floor, Christen Cates fouled McMinn Central's Stephanie Mullinix. Mullinix hit one of two free throws, and that meant overtime.

LA shined early in the overtime, scoring 3 points early in the period. Then, as always, when push came to shove, help came from an unlikely hero. Freshman Haley Mullins hit two clutch free throws to put the Lady Cats up by 5.

Time then began to run out, and the Lady Chargers couldn't keep going and going and going. They were forced to foul, and Livingston won by 9, 62-53.

McMinn Central was led in scoring by Stephanie Mullinix, who scored 19 points in the loss.

Livingston was led in scoring by Katrina Beechboard, who scored 26 points in the victory. Kellie Thurman and Megan Thompson each scored 14 points.

Coach Smith said of the win, "They were ranked above us all year. We were worried about their pressure.

"After halftime, we went in down 7. Megan Thompson then kind of took over.

"Kellie Thurman had a double double, with 10 rebounds. Katrina had 12 rebounds.

"I'm also really proud of Haley Mullins. She came in grabbing rebounds and hit two big free throws for us."

The next action for the Lady Wildcats comes this Thursday morning, March 13 at 10 a.m. in the opening round of the Class AA State Tournament held in MTSU's Murphy Center in Murfreesboro when the Lady Cats will play Seymour High School.

Coach Smith said of the upcoming tourney, "Everything just gets harder. The more you play, the harder the competition gets.

"We're playing our best right now. I think we've got a good draw with Seymour. They're playing great right now, though.

"Our goal is, as always, to win it all. We've just got to take it one game at a time."

 

 

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