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80 Years Ago

Archives 2005



LA teams fall to Cookeville
Lady Wildcats end season in tournament


LA teams fall to Cookeville

Dewain E. Peek/OCN staff
Senior April Handy fires a shot during last week's loss at Cookeville High School, finishing the regular season.

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 overall.

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 another plus.

"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 to McCoin,

"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 i' is dotted and every t' is crossed, and by that, I mean she nails down the details."


Lady Wildcats end season in tournament

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 intermission.

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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