LA teams win over Smith and DeKalb
LA teams win over
Smith and DeKalb
Dewain E. Peek/OCN staff
Homecoming Queen Whitney Sells fires in a 2-point shot in the
Lady Wildcats' win over Smith County.
By MAC McLEOD, OCN Sports
Assistant Football Coach Grant Swallows walked into Head Basketball
Coach Danny McCoin's office Tuesday night, Feb. 1, moments after
the Livingston Academy Wildcats defeated district foe Smith County
with a tremendous second half offensive performance, and made a
profound statement, "I thought we did a great job coaching
the football team this year, but after watching (Wilson) Cates and
(Brian) Colson out there in the second half, I'm convinced we just
had super athletes."
Cates and Colson, both vital members of last year's record-setting
Wildcats football team, brought their talents over to basketball,
and now, heading down the stretch to tournament time, have proven
Swallows correct. They are superb athletes indeed.
With a combination of 59 points for the week, Cates, Colson and
the other members of the LA squad chalked up a vital pair of wins
in district play, defeating Smith County 67-50, then stopped DeKalb
on Friday night 44-34.
With the victories, the Wildcats upped their overall season record
to 20-6, but more importantly to 9-1 in district play. Livingston
tops the district, with second place Upperman at 9-2 coming to town
this Friday night in the final home game of the season.
Cates said, "Our biggest problem this year has been we have
not put four good quarters together in one game this season. We
seem to get off to a slow start, then have to come on in the second
half to win. We have got to stop that.
"I think the big reason is we don't play good defense in the
first half for some reason, then in the second half we get it together,
playing good defense, which leads to better offense."
Looking at last week's games, the junior team leader hit the nail
right on the head.
Against Smith County, the Owls led 16-14 at the end of the first
period, and were on top 24-22 at intermission.
Colson opened the third frame with a bucket to tie the game, then
Cates added a pair, Brad West hit a 3-pointer, Matt Reeder finally
got his inside game going, and Wesley Puckett had his finest two
quarters of the season with five extremely important rebounds. At
the end of the third period, the Wildcats were on top 42-37 and
never looked back.
Puckett played steady defensively in the final period, getting
two more critical rebounds, and the Wildcats finally pulled away
to the 17-point victory.
Coach McCoin said, "Wesley had an outstanding game. We don't
need him to score; we need him to do exactly what he did tonight
- get rebounds. Smith tried to slow the game down, and when they
did, any missed shot is a shot we need to capture, and Wesley did
Cates led the Wildcats in scoring with 20 points, 15 in the second
half, while Colson had 14 as did Reeder, with 12 of Reeder's points
coming in the second half.
Apparently, DeKalb County had somebody watching the Smith County
game because the Tigers decided from the outset they didn't want
to run with the Wildcats, so they simply slowed the game.
At the end of the first period, the game was tied at 10, then in
the second frame, the Tigers got a couple of quick baskets and tried
to sit on a 22-14 lead. That worked until the third frame.
In the third period, Cates got things rolling with a quick basket,
then West got his first points of the contest. Cates then added
two more, and Tyson Stover hit a 3-pointer, then Colson scored,
and Cates hit from 3-point range at the buzzer. Suddenly, the Wildcats
had overcome the halftime deficit and led by 1 at 32-31.
Stover started the fourth period with a three and West added another,
and the slow down game was no longer effective. Colson led Livingston
with 14 points, while Cates added 11, Reeder 8, Stover 6, and West
Cates said, "Upperman beat us the first time we played (53-45),
so now we have to be aware of the fact they can beat us. We have
got to bring our best game to the gym and play four quarters of
basketball the way we can play basketball.
"I believe we will because we want to win the district and
want to get the bye in the first round of the tournament. We should
be able to bring all the desire we need for that game."
On the night Upperman defeated Livingston back in mid-January,
the Lady Wildcats also lost. At that point in the season, Upperman's
girls were undefeated and Livingston had lost five straight games.
Since that time, Upperman has remained undefeated, but the Lady
Cats have reeled off five straight wins.
Following a big 63-54 win over Smith County on Tuesday, Feb. 1,
Krista Clinard said, "We know Upperman is a good team. And
we also know we can stay with them if we play like we played tonight."
"Tonight" was revenge night for the Lady Cats. In their
first meeting earlier in the season, Livingston held a 20-point
lead in the fourth quarter only to lose by 1 in overtime.
"That was heartbreaking, but tonight we sucked it up and played
like we can play," Clinard continued. "That loss was on
our minds, you can be sure, and tonight we played much better defense,
and that's the key to winning basketball games. You have to keep
the other team from scoring, and tonight we did that.
"We also played well on offense, and that's a bright spot
when you play both offense and defense well."
Much like their counterparts, the LA boys, the girls got behind
early, trailing 8-12 at the end of the first period, but came on
strong in the second frame to lead 22-20 at intermission.
In the second half, Whitney Sells got the hot hand while Clinard
was steadily popping in shots. In the third frame, LA outscored
Smith County 19-10, then cruised to the 9-point, 63-54 win. Sells
had 9 of her 16 points in the fourth period. Clinard contributed
10, while Haley Mullins dropped in 9 and Megan Brown added 8.
Coach Lesley Smith said, "Our defense made the difference
tonight. And they couldn't keep us from penetrating inside. April
(Handy) and Megan (Brown) played extremely well tonight.
"We can't outscore many teams, so we have to play good defense,
and tonight we did just that."
Against DeKalb on Friday, the Lady Cats continued to play strong
defense, plus they hit the scoring button with a resounding 64-38
decision. The win leaves LA with a 15-11 overall mark and a 5-5
record in district play heading into the final week of the regular
Sells was almost unstoppable as she hit for five 3-pointers and
ended the game with 15 points. Jada Ledbetter had a good offensive
game as well, scoring 10. Mullins added 9, and Clinard dropped in
"It was a good week for us, and now we have to step up a notch
and face Jackson County Tuesday night and Upperman Friday,"
Coach Smith added. "Obviously, Upperman will be very tough
since they are undefeated, and Jackson County is second in the district
and they beat us at home the first time we played this year.
"We have the ability to win, but we will have to play as well
as we can. I'm sure we'll do our best."
After travelling to Gainesboro on Tuesday, Feb. 8 to take on Jackson
County, Livingston Academy will host Upperman on Friday, Feb. 11.
The Livingston teams will travel to Cookeville on Tuesday, Feb.
15 to conclude regular season play.
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