LA teams fall to Cookeville
Lady Wildcats end season in tournament
LA teams fall to
Dewain E. Peek/OCN staff
Senior April Handy fires a shot during last week's loss at Cookeville
High School, finishing the regular season.
BY MAC McLEOD, OCN Sports
Despite losses in both the boys and girls season finales last Tuesday
night, Feb. 15 at Cookeville High School, both Livingston Academy
teams enter this week's district tournament in Sparta with both
high hopes and high expectations.
But that may well be where the similarities end. The Wildcats played
well in a season-ending setback, 64-73, while the Lady Wildcats
once again showed it is hard to predict which squad will show up,
the one that has played outstanding part of the season or the one
that just can't seem to get anything right. The girls lost by 20
against the Lady Cavaliers, 35-55.
Of the boys' play, junior guard Wilson Cates surmised the night,
"You don't think you played well if you lose. I really think
we should have won, but only if we had played much better. We gave
them too many easy baskets."
In a way, Cates might have been right, but for Coach Danny McCoin,
it wasn't a total losing effort.
"I thought we played well," he said. "We just made
a few critical mistakes, and Cookeville is a very good team. Against
good teams you can't make many mistakes.
"We let them score some easy baskets, but that is a tribute
to their patience. They played with poise and just when we let our
guard down just the slightest, they hit that backdoor basket and
made it look easy."
In the end, the Wildcats just couldn't get "over the hump"
as McCoin explained. On several occasions, Livingston would cut
the Cavaliers' lead down to 4, but that was as close as they could
get. Cookeville would then run off 6 or 8 unanswered points and
build the lead back to 10.
On the night, four LA players hit in double figures, led by Brad
West with 20, 15 of which came from 3-point range. Matt Reeder followed
with 16, Cates with 12, and Brian Colson added 10. The Wildcats,
regular season champions of District 7-AA, will enter the District
Tournament on Thursday, Feb. 24 with an 11-1 district record, 22-7
On the other hand, the Lady Cats never could get the intensity
achieved the previous Friday night when they upended district champions
Upperman. Against Cookeville on Tuesday, Livingston got behind early,
scored only 4 points in the first period and 13 in the first half,
and were never in the contest. Whitney Sells paced Livingston with
11 points while April Handy added 9.
The Lady Cats ended the regular season with a 6-6 district mark,
16-13 overall. They were scheduled to open the District 7-AA Tournament
against York Institute on Monday night, Feb. 21.
Looking at the numbers, it's not hard to see how and why each team
posted the record it did.
Coach McCoin laughed one morning last week, "I always liked
what Adolph Rupp (legendary coach at Kentucky) once said. He said,
'You can take the finest mule in the world to the Kentucky Derby
and you won't win. You got to have those horses.'
"And there's no denying it - we had some fine 'horses' this
season," McCoin went on. "And you have to remember these
guys have been playing together for three or four years, and that's
"It was a very good season and we accomplished our first
goal of winning the regular season championship.
"I knew before the season started that we should be good,
and even though we had fine players, we also had a great attitude.
I never heard one grumble this season from any player on the team,
and that shows that every player on this team wanted to win.
"I know it is hard to sit on the bench, but those guys that
didn't get a lot of playing time didn't complain once, and that's
a big key to success. They were part of the team, and they did their
part to make this team successful.
"If I had one disappointment this year, it was when Brad Matthews
got hurt. He was really hitting his stride when he broke a bone
in his foot, around Christmas. When Brad went out, it changed what
we could do to some extent. But the team accepted it, regrouped,
and continued to play well."
At the time of his injury, Matthews was averaging 12 points per
game. Wesley Puckett stood up to fill Matthews' spot, and despite
that he never came close to 12 points per game, his defensive play
more than made up for the lost shooting power.
The Wildcats had three players in double figures for the 29-game
regular season, led by Cates with an 11.2 ppg average. West averaged
10.8 points per game, and Reeder was close behind with a 10.6 average.
As a team, Livingston Academy averaged 59.7 points per contest,
while holding opponents to 52.3 points per game.
In the 3-point department, it was West by a mile. The hot shooting
senior made 79 on the season, for a 37 percent average, and also
led the team in free throw percentage at 77 percent. Cates was second
at 72 percent.
Reeder led the team in rebounding with almost 7 per game, with
Colson not far behind at almost 6. The Wildcats out-rebounded opponents
31-22 on the season.
Cates was the assist leader by far with almost 6 per game.
While the boys were putting up some high numbers, the Lady Cats
were almost the complete opposite.
Not a single player averaged in double figures in scoring, and
that was one reason for the on-again/off-again season.
Sells averaged 9 points per game to lead the Lady Cats, and April
Handy was second at 7 points per game. Sells also led in the 3-point
department with 52 on the season. Ashley Matthews had 30, Handy
had 16, while Allison West and Krista Clinard each added 11.
In the scoring department, the Lady Wildcats averaged 54.8 points
per game, while opponents averaged 49.
Haley Mullins grabbed the most missed shots for Livingston Academy
with 171, while Handy picked up 122 rebounds.
Although her numbers were almost never near the top of any category,
Kristin Hoover's team leadership was most valuable. The senior guard
was the team leader on both ends of the court, and according to
Lady Wildcats Coach Lesley Smith, "Kristin made things happen.
She was our leader, and she accepted that most important role. Her
contribution to this team can't be measured with numbers and percentages;
it was measured in confidence and leadership ability."
Coach Lesley Smith went on to point out, "One thing that really
hurt us this season was our lack of consistent defense. We knew
at the start of the season that we didn't have a super scoring team,
which meant we would have to keep the other teams from outscoring
us. We didn't do that very well.
"Another shortcoming we had was my fault," the coach
continued. "I had a very hard time figuring out who could play
with whom. I tried every combination I could, and on several occasions
I felt we had found it, then it didn't work. I think now we have
found which combinations play best, but to be effective, the players
have to take that to the court and play very intense.
"From a coach's view, sometimes we feel like we didn't do
a good job this season," Smith added. "But as coaches,
our job is more than just winning. It's about teaching, and hopefully
both Elizabeth (Assistant Coach Elizabeth Woodard) and I accomplished
something in that department. Hopefully, we have taught these young
women that sometimes you win and sometimes you don't, but what's
important is that you do the very best you can every time you try.
If they learned that, then we have had a good season."
Both coaches were quick to give praise to their respective assistants.
For the boys, Dusty Whitaker completed his third season and according
"Dusty is an outstanding assistant who knows the game, but
even more important, he knows how to work with young men. "Dusty
was the buffer between the players and the head coach. When they
had a gripe with me, they would take it to Dusty, and that's a big
job to handle. He handled it super."
Smith said of her assistant, "Elizabeth is there to take care
of so many things I can't take care of. She's a detail person, and
that's so important. She makes sure every Ôi' is dotted and every
Ôt' is crossed, and by that, I mean she nails down the details."
Lady Wildcats end
season in tournament
By MAC McLEOD, OCN Sports
Fearing the hot scoring of York Institute's Brandi Brown, the Livingston
Academy Lady Wildcats held the junior to only 12 points, all in
the second half of the Monday, Feb. 21 first round District 7-AA
tournament held at White County High School, but accurate shooting
from the foul line helped the Lady Dragons eliminate LA 56-46.
Livingston got off to a slow start and trailed at the end of the
first period 5-14. Things didn't get any better in the second quarter,
and York carried a 21-12 advantage to the dressing rooms at the
Late in the third frame, trailing 19-36, Livingston, sparked by
a hot streak by Whitney Sells, managed to close the gap to 10 at
26-36 at the end of the period. Sells scored 5 straight points,
and Ashley Matthews hit a big 3-pointer. The Lady Cats scored 8
straight points to close out the frame.
In the final period, Livingston, with Sells leading the way, closed
the margin to within 5 at 35-38. Matthews and Megan Brown kept the
Lady Cats close with good offensive and defensive play.
But it wasn't enough as York went to the foul line 19 times and
connected on 18. Brown came alive for York in the second half, after
being held scoreless in the first half, to rip the nets for 12 points.
For Livingston, Matthews led the scoring with 16 points, followed
by 9 for Sells, and 8 for Haley Mullins. Livingston, last year's
state champs, ended the season with a 16-14 record.
York will face number 1 seed Upperman on Wednesday, Feb. 23 at
6:30 p.m., while Jackson County will take on Smith County at 8 p.m.
Jackson defeated DeKalb 55-40, and Smith County upended Cannon County
45-43 in Monday's first round action.
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Overton County News
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