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80 Years Ago

Archives 03-10-2004





Lady Cats bound for Murfreesboro


Lady Cats bound for Murfreesboro

Dewain E. Peek/OCN staff

Senior Katrina Beechboard elevates for a shot against Jackson County in the Region 4-AA championship game.


Three games. The Lady Wildcats want three more games before this season comes to a close.

They are guaranteed one more game, thanks to an outstanding team effort in the sub-state game Saturday, March 6.

Livingston Academy hosted Walker Valley, and were considered the favorite, but the girls of Walker Valley had a different idea.

LA went ahead 13-7 in the first period, but Walker Valley took charge in the second and closed the gap to 22-19 at halftime.

The visitors kept up the pace with a 15-6 third period onslaught and passed the Lady Cats for a 34-28 lead going into the fourth. Walker Valley held steady through much of the fourth period. but the Lady Cats defensive pressure allowed LA to chip away at the lead. When a Kellie Thurman rebound and pass to Katrina Beechboard resulted in a 3-pointer, the game was tied at 42.

Then, with less than 5 seconds to go, Kasey Baltimore found April Handy open and threw the ball into her hands. The surprised but quick-thinking junior moved forward and fired a prayer. The ball hit rim, and then net. And the Lady Cats were going to Murfreesboro to play in the TSSAA Class AA State Tournament.

The 44-42 win was the solution to a problem the Lady Cats could not solve earlier in the year. Walker Valley used the same defensive scheme Sevier County had used to defeat Livingston Academy.

Lady Wildcats Coach Lesley Smith said, "Their defense, we had such a hard time attacking it. Early on we were penetrating, we were attacking it and getting in their gaps, then we just stopped.

"And it's ironic, that's the way April scored. She penetrated that gap and hit the jumper that we'd been hitting earlier in the game and had quit doing.

"I'm tremendously proud of all five of the starters."

Constant adjustments were made to break through Walker Valley's defense.

"It seems like there were a million," Coach Smith said. "We started in our press, and it wasn't working. They were just spreading us out.

"We tried to zone defense them, and they made too many threes.

"We had to go to five, had to go to man defense. Then when they got the lead, they were almost too patient on us. They were slowing it down.

"Then we went to a half-court trap, and that's kind of a desperation thing for us," she said. "We've done that in several games where we get down. We used that in Clarkrange. Then we were able to start getting our hands on some of their passes and getting some steals. That uplifted us.

"And then the crowd got going. The crowd was awesome. Right at the end, we were still down and they were going crazy. That gives the kids a lift more than anything.

"The biggest adjustment that made the difference was the half-court trap and the way the girls played it just a refusal to lose and not hold anything back."

Katrina Beechboard scored 18 points, including two 3-pointers and 2 free throws, followed by Megan Thompson with 9 points, including a 3-pointer, Kellie Thurman with 8 points, including a 3-pointer and 3 free throws, Kasey Baltimore with 5 points, including a 3-pointer, and April Handy with 4 points.

Baltimore and Thurman each made 3 assists, Thompson made 2 assists, and Handy and Whitney Sells each made an assist.

Thurman had 8 rebounds, followed by Beechboard with 6, Thompson with 4, Handy with 2, and Sells and Baltimore with 1 each.

Megan Thompson had 4 steals and blocked 2 shots. April Handy had 3 steals and blocked a shot. Katrina Beechboard blocked 2 shots and had a steal. And Thurman and Sells each had a steal.

The Lady Cats will play undefeated Gibson County at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, March 11 in MTSU's Murphy Center.

"We've got the toughest first round of anybody," Coach Smith said.

A win would place LA in the semifinals at 5:30 p.m. Friday, and a win there would place the Lady Cats into the state championship game at 5 p.m. Saturday.

The Lady Cats' had exorcised their own personal demons, or Blue Devils rather, in the Region 4-AA Tournament championship game preceding the sub-state contest. Livingston Academy faced Jackson County yet again on Thursday, March 4 with nothing more than a home sub-state game and personal pride on the line.

The Lady Cats led from start to finish. LA jumped ahead 16-8 in the first period and never let up. Each team scored 10 points in the second period, and the Lady Blue Devils edged the Lady Cats 11-9 in the third to narrow the LA lead to 35-29. The fourth quarter scoring mirrored the first with Livingston outpacing the Gainesboro team 16-8 for a 51-37 win.

The home court proved a blessing for the Lady Cats, and the road trip proved a curse for the Lady Blue Devils. Jackson County lost the sub-state game at McMinn Central, banishing them from the state tournament picture.

Coach Smith praised her seniors' determination.

"The seniors in particular were not to be denied," she said. "They were tired of hearing about Jackson County, and tired of hearing about who can't beat who.

"One of their big goals since the last home game was to get another home game, no matter who stood in their way. They weren't playing a rival that they were afraid of or anything like that; they were playing to get the sub-state.

"The first quarter, those guys came out so fired up that it wouldn't have mattered if we'd have been playing the Los Angeles Lakers. They were intense, they were sharp, and from end line to end line we just attacked, offensively and defensively and on the boards. That kept them off balance and gave them some things to think about that we haven't done to them before."

The battle of the boards was particularly hard fought by the Lady Cats.

"We had four and sometimes five people diving in there," Coach Smith said. "We've been focusing on our guards doing more rebounding because April and Kellie do such a good job boxing out."

Foul trouble also let a few fresh faces get in on the action.

"Megan Brown had to switch to the post position this year. She had never played there before. So she's getting more and more used to it. Her athleticism helps her out down there so much. She's a great rebounder," Coach Smith said. "And Haley, she was one of the best scoring posts on the floor. Haley's boost offensively was huge."

Coach Smith was also impressed with the way her team stepped up against Miss Basketball finalist Marissa Hensley.

"April and Kellie are still head and shoulders the best defensively we've got," she said. "They held Hensley to 13. That is quite a feat."

Livingston Academy's own Miss Basketball finalist, Katrina Beechboard, had a gut check moment in the game. Struggling with a Lady Blue Devil for a rebound, she hit the floor hard and left the game for what turned out to be only a few seconds before returning to the floor.

"I knew she was already frustrated," Coach Smith said. "She's pretty bruised up. She has a pretty bad bruise on her hip. I called something for her right then because I knew that frustration, maybe it would be gone now, let's just go to her right now and get it out of her head. And she made it, and that was huge."

Beechboard led in scoring with 18 points, including a 3-pointer and 7 of 9 from the foul line. Thompson scored 13 points, including a 3-pointer and 4 of 4 on foul shots.

Mullins scored 8 points, including 2 free throws, Handy scored 6 points, Thurman scored 3 points, including a free throw, Baltimore scored 2 points, and Brown hit a free throw.

Thompson made 4 assists, followed by Thurman with 3, and Handy and Beechboard with 1 each.

Beechboard completed a double-double by pulling down 10 rebounds. Thurman and Thompson each had 4 rebounds, Handy and Brown each had 3, and Baltimore and Mullins each had 1.

Beechboard had 4 steals and blocked a shot, Thurman had 2 steals, Handy had a steal and blocked a shot, and Baltimore and Mullins each had a steal.

The Lady Wildcats broke the Lady Mustangs of David Lipscomb in the region semifinals with a 22-9 first quarter and never looked back until the game was over and Livingston was victorious 61-47.

"One of the best we've played all season defensively especially," Coach Smith said. "We just came out and jumped on them so hard with the press and the pressure.

"Our post defense has been a strength all season. Kellie and April and Haley and Megan Brown, they played great post defense. Kellie Thurman is just kind of an icon for post defense, and the other ones are learning from her, which encourages me for the future.

"Offensively, we were making lots and lots of our shots. It was one of the sharpest games we've played."

Katrina Beechboard scored the 2,000th point of her career with about 3 minutes remaining in the first quarter, but she wasn't finished. Beechboard completed a rare triple-double in the game. She scored 20 points, had 10 rebounds, and had 10 steals. Beechboard's 20 points included a 3-pointer and 5 of 5 shooting from the charity stripe.

Kellie Thurman scored 15 points, including 4 free throws, Megan Thompson scored 11 points, including a 3-pointer and 4 of 4 on free throws, Whitney Sells scored 7 points, including a 3-pointer and 2 free throws, and April Handy and Kasey Baltimore each scored 4 points, Baltimore including 2 free throws.

Megan Thompson just missed a double-double by making 9 assists. Thurman made 3 assists, Beechboard 2, and Baltimore, Mullins, and Krista Clinard 1 each. Thurman had 7 rebounds, Baltimore 6, Handy 5, Sells 2, and Thompson, Clinard, Brown, and Mullins 1 each.

Thompson had 3 steals and blocked a shot, Handy had 2 steals and blocked a shot, Baltimore had 2 steals, Clinard had a steal, and Sells blocked a shot.


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