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80 Years Ago

Archives 03-17-2004



Lady Cats State Champs
Meth lab, car seized in Hanging Limb area
Unemployment rate rises in Overton County




Lady Cats State Champs

Dewain E. Peek/OCN staff
Members of the 2003-2004 TSSAA Class AA State Champion Livingston Academy Lady Wildcats are, kneeling from left, manager Blair Hill, Coach Lesley Smith, All-Tournament Player Megan Thompson, Kasey Baltimore, Most Valuable Player Katrina Beechboard, All-Tournament Player Kellie Thurman, April Handy, standing from left, manager Samantha Sidwell, Assistant Coach Elizabeth Woodard, Kristin Hoover, Jada Ledbetter, Megan Brown, Brittany McCoin, Ashley Matthews, Mallie Stephens, Whitney Sells, Haley Mullins, Krista Clinard, manager Tiffany Livingston, statistician Chad Stephens, trainer Chuck Wheeler, and, not pictured, manager Amber Peek.

They tore through the TSSAA Class AA State Tournament on a mission to take what they believed belonged to them, and when the mission was accomplished, when the reality set in that they were now the undisputed, unmistakable, state champions, the tears flowed.

Four seniors ended their high school basketball careers together on the floor of MTSU's Murphy Center, then held high the golden basketball they had bonded together to bring home to Livingston. Most Valuable Player Katrina Beechboard and All-Tournament Player Megan Thompson hugged and sobbed uncontrollably. All-Tournament player Kellie Thurman grinned from ear to ear. And Kasey Baltimore, the silent defensive warrior, true to form, tried to remain stoic but was visibly pleased at what they had accomplished as a team.

"I thought about getting the starters out and getting them a hand from the crowd, but I just wanted them to finish it," Livingston Academy Lady Wildcats Coach Lesley Smith said. "Those four seniors, they started it, they got us there, just let them finish it."

Like Godzilla strolling through Tokyo, the Lady Cats crushed three great teams on their way to claiming Livingston Academy's fourth state championship.

Going into the title game against McMinn Central, a team that sent four-time state champion Jackson County home in the sub-state round, Coach Smith was at peace.

"Going in Saturday, I wasn't nervous because I had done everything I could do, everything I knew to do," she said.

"When the tournaments started, I broke down more tape than I've done in two years," she said. "I watched three or four tapes on everybody. We had their offenses, and a lot of times they were calling an offense and we were calling it, too. So, the kids knew exactly where they were going.

"That's my part of it."

Having played McMinn Central earlier in the season, albeit in an overtime game that swung LA's way, also helped bolster Coach Smith's belief in her team.

"I was very confident with our opponent, because I knew enough about them, and I knew that we'd beaten them.

"They play with four guards. They're all four quick and can shoot the three.

"Usually, I don't put Katrina on a real good offensive player, so she can help on defense, and get a lot of rebounds on defense and then she's a little rested for offense because she has to do so much scoring for us. But in this game, I put her on their best, potentially, because there's four of them and she's got to guard somebody, and I knew that she would step up to the challenge in this game, defensively. And I also had to put April Handy on a perimeter player.

"So, we had some defensive challenges."

The game plan was to find any mismatch and change it.

"The kids did a great job of recognizing that and doing that. Going in, I felt that we were the better team if the matchup problems didn't get us."

The Chargerettes charged ahead of LA on an 8-0 run to start the game, but the ever vigilant Lady Cats coolly came back and had taken a 20-14 lead at the end of the first.

"They never lost their composure," Coach Smith said of her squad.

The dominating defense of the Lady Cats took over in the second period and strangled the McMinn offense.

McMinn managed only 4 points in the period, while Livingston added 13 to lead 33-18 at the half. At one point, LA had its own big run, a 24-6 marathon. McMinn outscored LA 12-10 in the third to narrow the Livingston lead to 43-30. A single-digit fourth for both teams sealed it for the Lady Cats, who won 50-38.

"I think I almost cried," Coach Smith said of when she realized the championship was secured.

Katrina Beechboard scored 25 points, including two 3-pointers and a free throw. She completed a double-double by pulling down 15 rebounds. She also blocked 3 shots and had a steal.

Kellie Thurman scored 8 points, including a 3-pointer and 3 free throws. She had 11 rebounds, blocked a shot, and made an assist.

Megan Thompson scored 6 points on a 3-pointer and 3 free throws. She had 9 rebounds.

April Handy scored 6 points, made 2 assists, and had 4 rebounds.

Kasey Baltimore hit a 3-pointer, had a steal, and had 2 rebounds.

Haley Mullins scored 2 points.

Whitney Sells made 2 assists and had 3 rebounds.

LA shot 54.5 percent in the second half, while McMinn Central hit only 27.3 percent for the second half.

Honna Housley scored 25 points for the Chargerettes, including four 3-pointers and 3 free throws.

The Lady Cats opened the state tournament on Thursday, March 11 against Gibson County, who had a spotless 34-0 record.

"I really didn't know what to expect," Coach Smith said. "As I learned more, I learned more about their specific players and what they could do.

"I finally got a couple of tapes the night before the game. I watched those tapes and I felt pretty comfortable because their best two players were a post player and a wing player. My two best defenders are Kasey and Kellie, and I'll put Kasey Baltimore and Kellie Thurman up against anybody. I know they'll at least slow them down. They may not stop them, but they'll at least slow them down.

"The other three weren't great players. They were solid players, but I didn't feel they were as good as our other kids, besides Katrina, Megan, and Kellie."

LA gained a slight 19-17 advantage in a "feeling out" first period, then poured on the defensive pressure in the second to squeeze Gibson down to only 6 points, while tossing in 17 to lead 36-23 at halftime.

"We were able to get up on Gibson, and they had never been behind. So that was an advantage for us," Coach Smith said. "They'd lost all but one starter from last season, and they'd gone through a season of never being behind. We got them down and they didn't know what to do."

Gibson was outscored 17-14 by LA in the third and managed to go toe-to-toe with the Lady Cats' second line in the final frame to watch Livingston march forward with a 71-56 first round win.

Four LA players scored in double figures, led by Kellie Thurman with 24, including three 3-pointers and 7 of 7 on free throws. Megan Thompson scored 14 points, including two 3-pointers and 4 of 4 on free throws. Katrina Beechboard scored 12 points, including a 3-pointer and a free throw. April Handy scored 10 points, including 4 of 5 on free throws.

Rounding out the LA scoring were Haley Mullins with 4 points, including 2 free throws, Kristin Hoover and Kasey Baltimore each hitting 2 free throws, Whitney Sells with 2 points, and Krista Clinard with a free throw.

Thompson led LA in assists with 4, followed by Baltimore with 4, Beechboard with 3, and Thurman and Mullins with 1 each.

Beechboard led LA in rebounds with 6, followed by Thurman and Handy with 5 each, Thompson with 4, and Baltimore, Hoover, Sells, and Mullins with 1 each.

Beechboard and Thompson each had 3 steals, Thurman had 2, and Baltimore and Handy had 1 each.

Thurman blocked 2 shots, and Baltimore, Beechboard, and Handy each blocked a shot.

Next up was Oliver Springs in the semifinals on Friday, March 12. LA had lost to Oliver Springs to open the 2003-2004 season, but had gained revenge in a tournament at Christmas.

"I was glad Oliver Springs won against Cheatham because I didn't know much about Cheatham, and I knew enough about Oliver Springs," Coach Smith said.

"It was a matter of controlling Laura Hall, and I felt that Kasey could do that again.

"I did worry about their pressure, their traps, and things like that. But I knew that we've got three senior guards that just don't mess up much on that kind of stuff."

LA edged ahead 12-11 in the first period, then pushed the lead further with a 16-10 second period to lead 28-21 at halftime.

"We didn't play well in the first half," Coach Smith said. "We missed a lot of easy shots. We gave up offensive rebounds. And we didn't contain Hall like I thought we should.

"We made an adjustment at halftime in the way we were guarding her. We almost double-teamed her in a soft trap the second half, and she did absolutely nothing.

"Then we started making all those shots," she said. "The threes were just coming from everywhere. That second half is the best basketball we've played all year."

The Lady Cats again put on the clamps on defense in the third, allowing only 4 points from the Lady Bobcats while putting in 14 to race ahead 42-25 before adding an onslaught of 28 points in the fourth to win 70-37.

"I never expected to beat anybody by that margin," Coach Smith said.

Laura Hall was the only Oliver Springs player in double figures with 11, including three 3-pointers. Oliver Springs shot only 26.1 percent from the field in the last half, while LA hit 64.7 percent.

LA tied a 3-point shooting record with 10 in the game.

Katrina Beechboard scored 28 points, including four 3-pointers and 4 of 6 on free throws. Kellie Thurman scored 13 points, including a 3-pointer and 6 of 6 on free throws. Megan Thompson scored 12 points, including three 3-pointers and 3 of 4 free throws.

Rounding out the scoring were Kasey Baltimore with two 3-pointers, Kristin Hoover hitting 4 of 5 free throws, Jada Ledbetter with 3 points, including a free throw, Whitney Sells with 2 free throws, and Mallie Stephens with 2 points.

Thompson and Baltimore each made 4 assists, and Beechboard, Thurman, and Stephens each made an assist.

Beechboard completed a double-double with 10 rebounds pulled down, all defensive. Thurman had 7 rebounds, Mullins 4, Handy 3, Thompson and Baltimore 2 each, and Brittany McCoin 1.

Beechboard and Thompson each had 3 steals, Stephens had 2 steals, and Baltimore, Hoover, and Sells each had a steal.

Thurman and Mullins each blocked a shot.

As overpowering as the Lady Wildcats' offense could be, the defense controlled the games.

"Our defense was the difference in all three of the state tournament games, especially second and third quarters," Coach Smith said. "All three games, we were a little slow in the first quarter, and that was getting comfortable with that particular team."

The team's defensive prowess didn't just come by chance. From the beginning of the season, Coach Smith and Assistant Coach Elizabeth Woodard preached defense.

"Every single day we had at least two defensive drills in our practice schedule," Coach Smith said.

She said the late season loss to Jackson County provided the impetus to drive the Lady Wildcats to defensive perfection.

Just as this was the first state championship win for the four seniors, it was the first state championship for Lesley Smith as a coach. She was a player on the 1990 State Champion Livingston Academy Lady Wildcats team, but the winning coach plaque had eluded her until now.

"I was relieved to know all that hard work does pay off," she said.

She is not just referring to the hours put in by the coaching staff, but the team.

"I knew we had the talent this year, and I knew the kids really wanted it," she said. "They have been working all season hard enough, and were focused enough to win it. And I knew I just had to do my job, to do the best I could do with the scouting and the tape watching, making ourselves better, paying attention to our details and making our offenses just perfect, not letting them slack, just making them do the little things. And that was my part of it, because I knew they would play hard enough and they were good enough.

"All season I kept telling Coach Woodard we've got to pay attention to the details. Everything's got to be perfect.

It's got to get better and better every day."

She also credits that which cannot be perfected by practice.

"We were very, very fortunate that everybody stayed healthy."

The championship win gave the Lady Wildcats a final record of 37-3, and boosted Coach Smith's LA record to 90-19.

The Lady Cats came up just short of breaking the state tournament record for 3-pointers, tying the record at 21 over the three games.

The Livingston Academy Cheerleaders were presented the Spirit Award for the 2004 Class AA State Tournament during the awards ceremonies presented after the championship game on Saturday, March 13.

Baltimore, Thompson, Thurman, and Beechboard will all leave the team with May's graduation.

Of Baltimore, Coach Smith said, "Kasey's the best perimeter defender I've ever coached. And it's not because she's tremendously fast or tremendously quick, which she is both; the reason she's such a great defender is because she's so smart. She can take a scouting report and detail it exactly the way it's supposed to be done. And she never forgets."

Coach Smith also praised Baltimore's ability to hit a 3-pointer at critical times in games.

"She hits big buckets when they need to be hit," she said.

Coach Smith hopes Baltimore leaves a legacy behind her as valuable to the team as that golden globe.

"What's fortunate, I think some of the younger kids have watched her defensively, and they're becoming better defenders because of what she does," she said.

Of Thompson, Coach Smith said, "Megan did a lot of growing up over this season. Last season, she was so hard on herself. She would get frustrated and it would affect her game.

"This season, she got totally over that. She wouldn't be hard on herself. She wouldn't let her teammates be hard on themselves. She was the ultimate floor leader. She knew where the ball needed to be, she got it there, and she set the pace for us, kept us calm and under control in some pretty tough situations."

Her coach also was impressed with her improved shooting skills.

"She did a wonderful job this season becoming a scorer for us."

Of Thurman, Coach Smith said, "Kellie played her best basketball in the tournaments. Early in the season, we knew she was going to score more for us, but I think she did her best scoring in the tournament time when she knew we had to have it, when she knew people were going to focus on Katrina, focus on Megan, and she had to score.

"Kellie is known to me as the best post defender I've ever coached.

"She outsmarts them. They think they're open and they're going to get the ball and she'll slide in front and steal it.

"Luckily, the younger ones have been watching her and trying to learn. And April Handy's getting close."

Thurman will be the post player benchmark for LA for some time.

"I felt like she could guard anybody. I never worried if their best player was a post.

"Also at the end of the season, her offensive rebounding became unbelievable."

Katrina Beechboard ended her high school career with 2,104 points, third all-time on the Livingston Academy scoring list.

"It's just a privilege to coach a player that good," Coach Smith said.

"When I got to Livingston, this was a very athletic player who could score on the drive taking it all the way to the hole. She could rebound, she could post up some. That was her sophomore year."

Coach Smith told her she needed to be able to shoot 3-pointers in her junior year.

"She came in her junior year and she could shoot the three," Coach Smith said.

After the junior year, the coach told her she needed to be able to shoot the jumper.

"She came in her senior year and she could do that," Coach Smith said.

"She is just the most complete offensive player I've ever coached. She is an unbelievable high school player. She's very quick, she's fast, she's strong.

"She's a great passer. This season, her defense became a really good thing for her. She took a lot of pride in her defense toward the end of the season, and it was important to her.

"All four of them are wonderful kids. There's been no discipline problems."

The Lady Wildcats will be a much different team next year.

"We'll miss them. We'll miss those four seniors tremendously, and for people to say we're going to be state champions again, I think that's ridiculous. But, we're going to be pretty good," Coach Smith said.

"My junior class is the most fundamental group I've ever coached. They pay attention to more details than even this senior group does. I think it's because they had to. The senior group was so much more athletic, and they've played against them for so long that they had to pay so much attention to details and do things exactly right.

"They're as smart. Kristin Hoover is one of the smartest players I've ever coached. I could go through a scouting report and she could give it back to me almost verbatim.

"We won't be able to score as much," she said. "We'll have to play better defense. But, I don't think we're going down a whole lot. The junior class is very solid. Krista Clinard, I think, is going to give us a big lift next year. Of course, Hoover and Sells played a whole lot this year, and April Handy was a starter all year, and Haley Mullins will probably be our other starter.

"And then, that freshman class is awesome. There's eight of them. Potentially, all eight of them could contribute next year. Ashley Matthews is going to be one of the best around here next year.

"They went through the JV season and just demolished people. They've got everything," she said. "They've got every position. They've got three posts. They've got two point guards. They've got three wings. So, they're really going to make a big difference next year."

Where Coach Smith expects the juniors to be the solid core of the team, she said the freshmen will be the team's flare.


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Meth lab, car seized in Hanging Limb area

Dale Welch/Hilltop Express
Overton County Chief Deputy Dewain Winningham, standing left, and Investigator Lucian Finch, standing right, look on as Deputies Jacob Boswell and Darren Butler, who are certified to break down meth labs, document items related to the manufacture of illegal meth found in the trunk of a vehicle in Hanging Limb. Monterey, Putnam, and Overton law officers were looking for the car Saturday morning and found it just across the Overton County line.

By Dale Welch, Hilltop Express by permission
An Overton County man faces several charges including manufacturing meth after Overton County deputies spotted a vehicle that Monterey Police and Putnam County deputies were looking for.

Dusty Dale Foister, 22, of Hanging Limb Highway, was also charged with evading arrest, tampering with evidence, and escaping custody, according to Overton Chief Deputy Dewain Winningham.

Monterey Police Officer Chad York and Putnam County Deputy Sam Lee began looking for a red car after someone called the Putnam County Sheriff's Office and alleged that it had drug traffic in it and even gave the tag number.

Overton County authorities were also contacted.  

Local law enforcement were also interested in the vehicle because it was of similar description as a vehicle involved in the burglary of DesChamps General Store in Monterey earlier Saturday morning.

Overton County Sheriff's Investigator Lucian Finch was on his way to another call when he spotted the car with the correct tag information pulled into a driveway just across the Putnam-Overton county line.

After a quick investigation, the deputy alleged that Dusty Dale Foister was the driver of the vehicle. The car, deputies say, was registered to Foister's brother's girlfriend, Majesta Pierce, who lives at Wonderwood Apartments.

When back-up officers arrived, including Overton County Deputy Johnny Arney and Putnam County Deputy Sam Lee, they were reportedly given permission to search the vehicle. They found what they say was an "elaborate” meth lab set up in the trunk.

Besides the components used to make illegal meth, such as lye, red phosphorous, hydrogen peroxide, iodine, and ephedrine, the lab, contained in overnight bags and ziplock bags, included beakers, flasks, and other paraphernalia.

Charges were added when Foister reportedly attempted to flee from Overton deputies.

While Investigator Finch came out to the edge of the road to talk to this reporter, Deputy Arney still had Foister in custody inside the home. While talking to Investigator Finch, this reporter noticed someone peeping around the corner of one end of the house and made note to the Investigator Finch.

By the time the investigator turned around, the person ducked back behind the corner of the house.

Shortly afterward, Dusty Foister came around the other end of the house while Investigator Finch still had his back turned. Foister appeared to be coming down to talk to the investigator, but stopped at the back of Majesta Pierce's vehicle, waved at this reporter, picked up two of the bags of meth lab equipment and began running toward a field behind the house.  

Alerted by this reporter as to what was taking place behind his back, Investigator Finch quickly began chasing Foister.

The fleeing suspect dropped the two bags in the back yard as the deputies and family members began chasing him and shouted for him to stop. He was quickly detained by the deputies, and the meth lab components were recovered.

Foister had escaped, deputies explained, after he was allowed to go to the bathroom. He immediately had slipped out the bathroom window.

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) was called to send a cleanup team to collect the hazardous waste.

Dusty Dale Foister was taken to Overton County Jail.

Majesta Pierce's vehicle was seized by Overton County Sheriff's Office.

Afterward, Monterey Police Officer Chad York, Lt. Richard Lynch, Putnam Deputy Sam Lee, and others made an investigation at Pierce's apartment.

The investigation by Monterey, Putnam, and Overton law enforcement continues.


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Unemployment rate rises in Overton County

Tennessee's seasonally adjusted January unemployment rate was 4.9 percent, down from December's revised rate of 6.0. County non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rates showed 50 county rates increased, 36 county rates decreased, and 9 remained the same.

Overton County's unemployment rate went up 1.7 percent from 5.3 to 7.0. Overton County had 660 unemployed of a workforce of 9,490.

Clay County's rate of 14.9 percent, down from 15.1, reported the state's highest jobless rate. Clay had 420 unemployed of a workforce of 2,810.

Pickett County's unemployment rate went up 2.6 percent, from 9.8 to 12.4, with 290 unemployed of a workforce of 2,330.

Fentress County's rate went up from 9.3 percent to 9.4. Fentress had 590 unemployed of a workforce of 6,270.

Jackson County's unemployment rate was unchanged at 7.9 percent. Jackson had 390 unemployed of a workforce of 4,950.

Putnam County's unemployment rate dropped from 4.4 percent to 4.2. Putnam had 1,300 unemployed of a workforce of 31,270.


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