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Archives 01-26-2005

Sports

 

Lady Cats stop streak, Wildcats back on track

 









Lady Cats stop streak, Wildcats back on track

Dewain E. Peek/OCN staff
Krista Clinard pulls up for a shot late in the Lady Wildcats' District 7-AA win over York Institute at Livingston Academy on Friday, Jan. 21. The win stopped a 5-game skid.

By MAC McLEOD, OCN Sports
Rebounding is a term used in basketball referring to getting the ball after a missed shot. In the case of the Livingston Academy basketball teams, it also could refer to getting back on the winning side of the score.

After several weeks of "missing the ball", both Wildcat squads rebounded Friday night, Jan. 21 against arch rival York Institute.

For the Lady Wildcats, Friday's 48-37 victory marked the end of a five-game losing streak, the longest since 1984. For the boys, a 58-48 win stopped a backward slide that had only lasted two games, but it marked the first time this season they had posted back-to-back losses.

Wildcats guard Wilson Cates said, "I think it has been a reality check for us. We had been moving along without a lot of setbacks, then all of a sudden, we stumped our toe and struggled. Tonight (Friday), we put it all back together and played a good game for the most part, from start to finish.

"We needed to get back our confidence and this certainly helped."

For the Lady Cats, the story was much the same.

Lady Wildcat junior Megan Brown said, "This will certainly build our confidence. I'm not sure we had lost confidence in our ability to win, but we certainly were struggling over the past several weeks. Tonight, we played outstanding defense and we got the scoring we needed.

"I guess one of the lessons we are having to learn is that we have to be consistent to win. At least now we know we can win if we put forth the effort."

After a non-district setback to White County, the LA boys saw their record settle in at a very respectable 15-5, but the next loss, a 45-53 defeat at district rival Upperman on Tuesday, Jan. 18 spoiled dreams of an undefeated season in league play. The loss left Livingston with a 6-1 district mark and half a game behind leader DeKalb County.

What happened at Baxter last Tuesday night showed the Wildcats just how much they missed the scoring threat of injured Brandon Matthews, and also, even with 19 points from Brad West in the first half, there are two halves in a game.

In that contest, both teams ended the first quarter with 13 points, and at the intermission, the game was stilled tied, 25-25. Then in the third period, the outside shooting of West went cold and the inside game of Matt Reeder became non-existent. West had 13 of Livingston's first 18 points, but in the second half, he failed to hit a single point.

Reeder explained, "Usually, when we are hitting from outside, that opens up the inside for me. But I couldn't throw the ball in the Atlantic Ocean all night. It wasn't from a lack of effort, it was just one of those nights when nothing I threw up, fell in."

Meanwhile, Wilson Cates and Wesley Puckett kept the game close. At the end of the third period, Upperman led by 3 at 36-33.

A basket by Cates and two steals by Puckett enabled the Wildcats to knot the game at 37 midway through the final period, but Upperman picked up the pace and took the win.

West said, "I can't explain the failure to make shots in the second half. It just wasn't there and I just couldn't get anything going."

West led Livingston with 19 points, followed by 10 from Cates.

The Lady Wildcats put up a fierce battle with the number one Lady Bees at Baxter only to see a fourth quarter letdown allow the home team to remain undefeated in district play.

Livingston led at the end of the first period 16-11, but trailed by 7 at intermission, 22-29. A strong rally led by April Handy and Haley Mullins allowed the Lady Cats to claw back to within 3 at the end of the third frame, 36-39.

Upperman then slowed the game, picked its shots well, and slammed the basket shut on Livingston. Handy and Whitney Sells paced the Lady Cats with 11 points each.

Lady Wildcats Coach Lesley Smith explained, "Even though we didn't win that game, I think it showed our kids that we could play, and play well, against the best team in the district. We came away from that game with much more confidence than we carried into it."

Friday's contest with York proved Coach Smith correct.

The game was tied at the end of the first period 7-7, and the Lady Dragons even held the lead 17-16 at intermission. Then in the third period, Livingston's girls played what may have been their best 8 minutes of the season thus far.

Mullins opened the period with a basket, followed by one from Krista Clinard. Sells then dropped in a pair, and Kristin Hoover added two more. Handy added a basket, Clinard hit for two more, then connected on a pair of free throws. Suddenly the Lady Cats had run off 14 straight points and led 30-17. With just over 2 minutes remaining in the period, York finally scored their first points of the frame.

Brown then started her game-high scoring spree and ended up with 12 points. Clinard had 10, while Sells came in with 6, and Handy and Mullins each had 5.

Brown said, "We really played good defense in the third period, and that made the difference. Now we have to continue to play this way as we head for the tournament."

The Lady Cats are now 11-11 overall and 3-4 in district play.

For the boys, West started out where he left off at the half at Baxter, and a basket by Reeder at the buzzer gave Livingston an 18-9 lead to start the second frame. Although the Dragons cut the lead to 5 early in the second period, another 3-pointer by West and outstanding defense by the entire Wildcats squad gave the home team a 32-15 advantage at intermission.

Midway through the third frame, York went on another run led by its standout, Derrick Ledbetter, but critical buckets by West and Tyler Smith put the brakes on the Dragons' run. Livingston led 42-31 heading into the final period, then fine defensive play by Cates and Puckett spoiled any chance of a York rally. Livingston won by 10 at 58-48.

West said, "We knew we had to get back to winning. I think we played the first half about as good as we could play, then we just played as physical as the refs would let us, and we can be physical if we have to be. We probably needed a reality check and we got it in those two losses. We'll be okay."

West had 17 points to pace the Wildcats, and Cates added 14. On the night, the Wildcats hit 46 percent of their shots and now boast a 16-6 overall record and a 7-1 district mark.

After travelling to Pickett County on Tuesday, Jan. 25, the LA teams will travel to Clarkrange on Friday, Jan. 28. Livingston Academy will then host Smith County on Tuesday, Feb. 1.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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