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80 Years Ago

Archives 02-18-2004





Lady Cats tie for 1st place in regular season
Wildcats take on top district foes, prepare for tournament


Lady Cats tie for 1st place in regular season

Dewain E. Peek/OCN staff
Katrina Beechboard hugs teammate Kellie Thurman while Jackson County's Kristi Apple appears to pray after Thurman was fouled in the final seconds of the February 10 game. After Thurman hit a free throw to give LA a 1-point lead, Apple's prayer was answered as she took a Marissa Hensley pass and put in a layup to give Jackson County a 46-45 win.

Now, we get to the nitty of the gritty. The regular season is over for the Livingston Academy Lady Wildcats. The District 7-AA Tournament will begin this week. The wheat shall be separated from the chafe.

The Lady Cats had the chance to be the outright top team in the district when they played host to Jackson County last week, but chance can go either way and chose to go to the Devils on Tuesday, Feb. 10.

Jackson County gained the advantage early and held onto a 9-8 lead at the end of the first period. Then, the Lady Cats took charge with a 20-11 second period to lead 28-20 at the half.

The Lady Blue Devils edged LA 11-10 in the third to cut the Livingston lead to 38-31. The Lady Cats surged to an 11-point lead in the game's second half, but the Lady Devils kept chipping away until the LA lead was gone and the teams were tied at 44 with less than a minute to play.

The Livingston faithful jumped to their feet when Kellie Thurman was fouled on a shot attempt with 11.6 seconds to play. Hitting one of the two foul shots, Thurman gave LA the lead. But that lead was short-lived as Jackson County's Kristi Apple dropped in a layup to give the Lady Blue Devils a 46-45 lead.

Katrina Beechboard took one last shot for Livingston, but the ball hit the goal and fell away.

Lady Wildcats Coach Lesley Smith said, "We led the whole game, had a good lead, and our shots stopped falling. Possibly, we were taking them too quickly.

"Our shots quit falling, and theirs started falling. They were making everything at the end.

"Defensively, we played great the whole time," Coach Smith said.

Megan Thompson led LA in scoring with 14 points, including two 3-pointers and perfect 6 of 6 free throw shooting. Kellie Thurman scored 13 points, including 9 of 10 on free throws, and Katrina Beechboard scored 11 points, including a 3-pointer. April Handy scored 5 points, including 3 free throws, and Kasey Baltimore scored 2 points.

Thompson and Handy made 2 assists each, and Thurman and Baltimore each had 1.

Katrina Beechboard completed a double-double by pulling down 12 rebounds. April Handy had 7 rebounds, Thurman 5, Haley Mullins 2, and Whitney Sells 1.

Beechboard had 2 steals and blocked a shot, Mullins blocked a shot, and Thurman and Handy each had a steal.

The team was well supported by fans of the Blue and White who turned out to pack the home portions of the Livingston Academy gymnasium.

"That was the most awesome atmosphere," Coach Smith said. "I told the girls, so few players get to play in that kind of an atmosphere, with so many people against you and the rest of them just cheering like crazy.

"The fans were awesome, and they were definitely a part of the game. They made a difference. And that was a big part of the disappointment, too. That was hard for me and the players, too, because we felt like there were so many people that cared, but we let them down."

The loss marred a perfect run through District 7-AA by the Lady Cats, forcing Livingston into a must-win against Upperman's Lady Bees in Baxter on Friday, Feb. 13 in order to hold a share of the top spot.

LA jumped ahead 12-7 in the first period, then the Baxter team struck back in the second with a 13-8 quarter for a 20-20 tie at halftime.

The Lady Bees kept on the attack in the third quarter and outpaced the Lady Cats 13-9 to take a 33-29 lead into the fourth quarter. This time, the Livingston team started chipping away, in big chunks, with a 16-8 period for a 45-41 win.

April Handy and Katrina Beechboard each scored 12 points in the game, with each hitting 2 free throws. Kasey Baltimore and Megan Thompson each scored 7 points, each including a free throw, Kellie Thurman scored 5 points, including 3 free throws, and Whitney Sells scored 2 points.

Thompson led LA in assists with 3, followed by Thurman and Beechboard with 2 each, and Baltimore with 1.

Kellie Thurman led LA in rebounds with 9, followed by Beechboard with 8, Handy with 7, Sells with 5, Thompson with 2, and Baltimore and Mullins with 1 each.

Thompson and Handy had 3 steals each, Beechboard and Thurman had 2 steals each, and Baltimore and Kristin Hoover each made a steal.

"I worried about that game because we were so emotionally drained," Coach Smith said. "The Jackson County loss was so hard for our seniors.

"Katrina really stepped up and scored 7 in the fourth quarter."

The Lady Cats closed out the regular season with home games against Clarkrange and Cookeville on Monday and Tuesday, Feb. 16-17. The District 7-AA Tournament will be held in Tennessee Tech's Eblen Center, beginning Friday, Feb. 20.

Team seeding was not complete at press time. Three coin flips will be held to determine #1 and #2, #3 and #4, and #5 and #6. Livingston Academy and Jackson County both ended with an identical 11-1 district record. Upperman and York Institute both ended with a 7-5 record, and Cannon County and Smith County ended up at 3-9 in the district. DeKalb County closed out yet another season without a district win.

A loss of the coin toss would pit LA against DeKalb County in a first round game at 5 p.m. Friday.

A win of the toss would give the Lady Cats a first round bye. Their first game would be on Monday, Feb. 23 at 6:30 p.m. against the winner of the #4 versus #5 game.

Coach Smith doesn't take any of the top teams in the district lightly.

"I think it's going to be a fight," she said. "In any given night, the top four could beat each other.

"I feel like we are the most talented, but sometimes we don't play like that.

"Playing against the same teams so many times, over and over and over, and how familiar all of us are with each other makes it so much harder to continue to beat people. We know each other's strengths and weaknesses.

"Not much of anything would surprise me."


Wildcats take on top district foes, prepare for tournament

Lyndon Johnson/OCN staff
Wesley Puckett tosses the hook-shot in last Tuesday's game versus Jackson County High School. Puckett netted 10 points that evening.

The Livingston Academy Wildcats made some of the final rounds in their regular season play last week, facing Jackson County's Blue Devils and Upperman's Bees.

On Tuesday night, Feb. 10, the Blue Devils visited Livingston, bringing a load of Jackson Countians with them, in a heated contest.

In the first quarter, the Wildcats rolled out the welcome mat in the form of a 17-11 lead. The Cats felt good and shot good, and it showed in the opening period.

And then, the Blue Devils gasped at what was happening to them. They came back, scoring 28 points to LA's 19 in the second to take the 3-point lead at halftime, 39-36.

After the break, things slowed down a little from the pace of the second quarter, but not much, with LA knocking down 18 points to Jackson County's 14 to take a slim lead of 54-53 headed into the last quarter.

That last quarter would be all LA. The Wildcats tallied 27 points and held the Devils to 15 in order to take the big District 7-AA win at a score of 79-68.

Brandon Matthews had a hot performance against the Devils, nailing down 23 points for the Cats. Brad West made 20 points, and Wesley Puckett made 10. Also on the scoring summary were Matt Reeder with 9, Wilson Cates with 9, Lance Ruble with 4, Tyler Livingston with 2, and Tyler Smith with 2.

Hot off the heels of that win, the Cats loaded up the bus to face the district's number-one ranked Upperman Bees in Baxter.

The game started slowly, but good enough for the Wildcats, who saw themselves on top after one at 7-6.

In the second quarter, while LA repeated its 7-point performance from the first quarter, the Bees were busy as, well, Bees, scoring some 16 points to take the authoritative lead at the half, 22-14.

The most well-balanced quarter of the game, however low-scoring of a quarter it was, came in the third, with the Wildcats netting 11 to Upperman's 13 to head into the fourth down by 10, 35-25.

The fourth quarter saw the Cats score 7 yet again, while the Bees knackered 17 of their own to win the game 20 points large, 52-32.

LA Head Coach Danny McCoin said, "At Upperman, we played bad. We couldn't score.

"But of course, we didn't have Brad (West) or Brian (Colson). It was a low-scoring game; we couldn't get any shots to go in."

Among Wildcats who managed to make shots go in, Brandon Matthews led the pack with 10 points, and Matt Reeder almost doubled the performance with 9 of his own. No other Wildcat scored more than 5 points.

After playing their last regular season game in Livingston versus Cookeville High School on Tuesday, Feb. 17, the Wildcats enter District 7-AA Tournament play at Tennessee Tech's Hooper Eblen Center on Saturday, Feb. 21.

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