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Archives 03-09-2005

Sports
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Cats' season ends in regional
Soccer Cats ready to defend 9-A/AA title

 

 

 

Cats' season ends in regional

By MAC McLEOD, OCN Sports
On Friday night, Feb. 25, the Livingston Academy Wildcats were on top of the world, having just won the District 7-AA championship. Four days later, the world was on top of them as they lost the first round of the Region 4-AA Tournament.

The loss ended the Wildcats' season with a fine 24-8 record.

Livingston's team leader Wilson Cates said, "When you get to this part of the season, a bad night ends it all. We had a very bad night shooting, and you just can have that happen.

"You have to give Greenbrier credit -they did what they had to do and obviously we didn't," Cates went on. "They were bigger than we were and that hurt to some extent, but in the end, we couldn't penetrate their defense effectively, and we couldn't hit the outside shots."

Cates was right on the mark with his assessment. Shooting only 32% for the night, Livingston dropped the opening round game to the Region 8-AA 4th place team 44-53. Greenbrier's Bobcats went on to lose later in the week to David Lipscomb in the semi-finals.

To make matters even worse, the tournament, slated for White County High School, was moved to Livingston Academy due to a scheduling conflict. It appeared the Wildcats would have a solid advantage with the home court and the home crowd.

Despite a packed house Tuesday night, March 1, things didn't start off well for the Wildcats, or for the Bobcats for that matter. In a low-scoring first period, only a pair of 3-point shots by Wesley Puckett and Tyson Stover gave the Wildcats the advantage 10-7.

Cates upped the lead to 5 to start the second frame with a pair of free throws, and Brian Colson added a bucket to give Livingston a 12-7 margin, but more importantly, he drew his third foul of the game.

"When Brian got that third foul, it really changed the way we had to do things," Cates went on. "We missed his soft touch from the baseline, and about that time, Greenbrier started to control the boards."

For the final 4 minutes of the period, Livingston got only one shot at the basket simply because the Bobcats grabbed every missed shot. Cates also picked up his third foul late in the half, but the Wildcats managed to cling to a 21-19 lead at intermission.

Eight of Greenbrier's 19 points came from the foul line, and 7 Livingston points came from the charity stripe.

To open the third period, West got things going for the Wildcats with a 3-point basket, but then the ceiling started to fall in on the home team. In the last 3 minutes of the period, Greenbrier outscored Livingston 9-2 and took the lead 28-26 going into the final period.

Cates tied the score early in the 4th quarter at 28 with a pair of free throws, but then Greenbrier rolled off 8 straight points and continued to control the boards on both ends of the court.

Colson fouled out with a minute to play, and 15 seconds later, Cates followed him to the sidelines with his fifth foul.

Steady shooting from the foul line late in the game kept the Bobcats in control. In the fourth quarter alone, Greenbrier went to the foul line 12 times and made 9, the final margin of victory.

West explained, "We couldn't have picked a worse time to go cold shooting. I had several good opportunities and didn't make the shot, and when Brian got into foul trouble, it really hurt. I guess knowing we didn't play like we were capable of playing hurts more than anything.

"We had played real good last week and felt we were ready to go on, but in basketball, you have those nights."

Reeder led Livingston in scoring against Greenbrier with 10 points, while West had 8, and Cates, Puckett, and Colson each had 6.

In the two games leading up to the first round of the regional tournament, the Wildcats had played perhaps their best ball of the long season, hitting on 60% of their shots against Jackson County and Upperman in the district tournament.

Wildcats Coach Danny McCoin said, "We just didn't shoot well; that's all there was to it. You have to give Greenbrier credit. They played well. They didn't shoot all that well, but they controlled the boards on both ends of the floor, and they made a lot of critical foul shots.

"We had a great season, and I'm extremely proud of this group of youngsters. They had goals at the start of the season and they attained several of them, but they had one bad night, and, unfortunately, it came at a time when you don't get a second chance.

"This season is now over and we'll start getting ready for next year. We lose some fine players like Matt (Reeder), Wesley (Puckett), Brad (West), and Brian (Colson), but we have some talented young men coming back. We're in good shape for next season right now," McCoin concluded.

Soccer Cats ready to defend 9-A/AA title

Beth Underwood/OCN staff
Members of the 2005 Wildcats boys soccer team are, front row from left, Hunter Burnett, Luke Huffman, James Dellapace, Graham Goodman, David Brady, B.J. Byers, Josh Foster, Cody Penticuff, middle row, Ben Jolley, Cory Cross, Aeric Gunnels, Casey Ledbetter, Andy Gunnels, Joey Green, Matt Anderson, back row, Logan Huffman, Jonathan McGill, Blake Vaughn, Matt Myers, Jacob Pennington, Wesley Puckett, Alex Gunnels, and Westley Burnett.

By BETH UNDERWOOD, OCN Sports
The 2005 Livingston Academy boys soccer season will get underway Tuesday, March 15, when this year's roster of 25 players takes the field in the Bison Cup Tournament in Hendersonville.

The Wildcats will play four games in the tournament before heading back to Livingston for their first home game on Tuesday, March 29.

Last year, the LA boys soccer team captured regular season district and tournament titles in 9-A/AA, then took the Region 5-A/AA title before falling to Hume-Fogg 2-0 in the sectional.

LA Soccer Coach Ethan King said, "It was a very good season - the best the boys have ever done; so they're fired up and they're wanting to have as successful a season this year as they did last."

Although the team will be without last year's five graduating seniors, four of whom were starters, Coach King thinks this year's lineup has what it takes to succeed.

Ten seniors return to this year's team - Matt Anderson, Westley Burnett, Jeff Cummings, Graham Goodman, Alex Gunnels, Andy Gunnels, Ben Jolley, Casey Ledbetter, Jacob Pennington, and Wesley Puckett. As of now, 9 of them are starting, according to King.

"We have a lot of leadership on our team this year," he said.

The team also includes 2 juniors - Jonathan McGill and Matt Myers; 3 sophomores - Cory Cross, Logan Huffman, and Blake Vaughn; and 10 freshmen - David Brady, Hunter Burnett, B.J. Byers, James Dellapace, Jonathan Emmerich, Josh Foster, Joey Green, Aeric Gunnels, Luke Huffman, and Cody Penticuff.

"This is the first time we've ever had a full A/B team," Coach King said, "so everybody will get to play a lot.

"We wanted the freshmen to get the experience of seeing this group of seniors, how well they work, how hard they work, so maybe they'll develop some good habits, and maybe learn some things from them, because a lot of them will have to step up in the following years when they're gone."

Although the team lost several defensive players after graduation, Coach King said many of this year's players have played in other positions before. Some of them will switch back to help out on defense.

Offensively, Coach King expects an equally strong showing.

"Our strikers mesh well together; they know each other," he said. "So, I think that'll be one of our strengths. I think our midfield is gonna be really strong, too."

This year's goalies include senior Graham Goodman and freshman David Brady.

"Graham had some big shoes to fill," Coach King said. "But he has done a great job so far, and he's looking forward to having a good season."

One of the more challenging aspects of the season, King said, will likely be the schedule.

"We've got a really tough schedule, and that's kind of by design, so that we get used to playing some really tough competition," he said. "Then by tournament time, they're ready to play the better teams and be prepared to maybe take that next step."

Between now and tourney time, the team will be able to play night games at home with the addition of lights on the field.

"If you're driving by and see the lights on, you might want to stop by and check out a game," King said. "I think people will like what they see.

"They're one hard-working bunch. They've done travel soccer and their camp in the summer, so they're ready for the season to get started."

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