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Archives 12-28-2005

Sports

Lady Cats down Cookeville, fall to Jackson County
Buzzer beater clips Cats



Lady Cats down Cookeville, fall to Jackson County

Mac McLeod/OCN Sports
Livingston senior Haley Mullins moves in for 2 of her 15 points against Coffee County.

By MAC McLEOD, OCN Sports
It seems regardless of where the Livingston Academy Lady Wildcats play and in what event, when it comes to crunch time, they face two of their toughest opponents: Cookeville and Jackson County.

That held true in last week's Coca-Cola Mid-South Classic basketball tournament. This time around, the Lady Cats managed to get by Cookeville, taking the third meeting of the two teams this year 39-37 in a squeaker, then falling to Jackson County in the tournament's semifinal game, 59-44.

In their opening game, the Lady Cats managed to hold off Coffee County 52-49.

LA Coach Lesley Smith explained shortly after the opening win, "We have trouble with bigger teams, and Coffee was bigger than we are. And we'll have a tough time with Cookeville tomorrow night.

"I thought we played well most of the night, and especially in the fourth period when we held them to 14 points and scored 21. Haley (Mullins), Ashley (Matthews), and Alison (West) all played well. And they have to if we expect to win."

Livingston jumped out to a 13-7 advantage in the first period, and was never overtaken, although it took a strong performance by Mallie Stephens late in the game to seal the victory. Stephens made 4 critical free throws in the final minute and 20 second for the Lady Cats.

Matthews paced the winners with 16 points, followed by Mullins with 15 and West with 11.

That win forced a third meeting of the young season between Livingston and Cookeville. In the first two outings, the Lady Cats managed to take a substantial lead early only to let it slip away both times. It looked like it would happen a third time.

After trailing 6-9 in the first frame, Livingston roared back to hold a 21-13 lead at intermission, mainly on strong play from Jada Ledbetter and Rebekah Jackson. Midway through the second period, Livingston went on a 7-0 run. Ledbetter had 5 points in the frame, and Jackson hit a critical 3-pointer.

When the period was over, LA had outscored Cookeville 15-4, in perhaps their best 8 minutes of the young season.

At the end of the third period, the Lady Cats had built a 15-point lead at 35-20. West was the sparkplug in the period, but again, Ledbetter and Jackson played well.

Then the final 8 minutes rolled around, and as in the past, things started to fall apart. Turnovers by Livingston and strong inside play by Cookeville saw the Lady Cats' advantage evaporate. With 3 minutes remaining, Livingston's lead was only 4 points at 35-31. Minutes later, after an 11-0 run by the Lady Cavaliers, the game was tied at 35.

With a little more than 2 minutes remaining in the game, she put points on the board for Livingston. Then with only 3 seconds remaining, Matthews scored again to put the Lady Cats up by 2 at 39-37, but it wasn't over.

Cookeville had one last try, and as Livingston remembered seeing the boys fall the night before on a half-court basket with 2 second left, they weren't about to roll over. Stephens made the night's biggest defensive play as she stole the ball on the in-bounds pass to seal the win.

"That was a big, big win for us," Coach Smith pointed out. "I thought we played extremely well for three periods, but we have got to learn there are four quarters in a game.

"Jada and Rebekah came off the bench and played really well. Haley got in foul trouble early and the bench had to pick up the slack, and I thought they did. Mallie was everywhere tonight, and Ashley came through when we needed her."

But to get to the championship game, the Lady Cats had to go through Gainesboro, a place that hasn't been kind to them over recent years. Wednesday night was no different when LA faced Jackson County.

Livingston took a 14-12 lead at the end of the first period on balanced shooting from West, Matthews, Ledbetter, and Stephens. But in the second period, the Lady Blue Devils made a 12-3 run, and at intermission Livingston trailed 17-26.

Mullins hit for 5 straight points to open the third period, and West and Matthews each hit a 3-pointer to pull the Lady Cats to within 4 at 35-31. But two straight turnovers at critical moments kept the game out of reach. Jackson County went on to win 59-44.

Matthews led the LA scoring with 10 points, followed by Ledbetter with 8, Mullins with 7, and West and Chelsea Carr with 5 each.

With a 9-3 record, the Lady Wildcats will travel to Greene-ville this week to play in the Greene County tournament starting Wednesday, Dec. 28.

 

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Buzzer beater clips Cats

Mac McLeod/OCN Sports
Livingston Academy's Brandon Matthews leaps to make a pass to a teammate in last week's heartbreaking 58-60 overtime tournament loss to Coffee County.

By MAC McLEOD, OCN Sports
"We should have never been in that position," Livingston Academy's Wilson Cates pointed out as he searched for words to describe the final seconds of the opening game of the Coca-Cola Mid-South Basketball Tournament played last week at Cookeville High School, Upperman High School, and Jackson County High School.

What Cates was trying to describe was a half-court shot by Coffee County with less than 2 seconds remaining that handed the Wildcats a heartbreaking 58-60 defeat and prevented them from playing for the tournament championship.

"We did some things early that led to that shot," Cates added. "If we had played better earlier, who knows, we may have made it to the championship game. We won our other two games, but you couldn't go all the way in the loser's bracket."

From the loser's bracket, the Wildcats rolled past Rossview of Clarksville on Tuesday night, Dec. 20, and finished up the event with a hard-fought 61-57 win over Forrest of Chapel Hill.

The two wins and one defeat leave the Wildcats with an 8-5 record as they travel to Nashville this week for the East Literature Tournament.

LA Wildcats Coach Richard Melton said, "I thought overall we played pretty good for three straight nights.

"We got beat on that half-court buzzer shot in the first game, but came back and played extremely well on the second night, and then played a tough team in Forrest tonight and won.

"So all in all, I was pleased. In tournament play, you play good teams every night, and we came away with a 2-1 record and a lot of experience for all our kids."

Against Coffee County in the opening rounds, Livingston Academy faced a much larger team, but held the lead 10-8 at the end of the first period. At the intermission, Coffee County pulled ahead by one at 21-20.

Cates said, "We had several chances in the first half, and just didn't take advantage of it. We felt we should have been up by 4 or 5 at least.

"Then in the third period, we got behind by 6 and had to really struggle in the final few minutes to force the overtime."

At the end of regulation, the teams were knotted at 51 after Cates and Justin Monday, along with Brandon Matthews, made up 6 points in the final 2 minutes.

In those final minutes, Monday had 6 of his game high 22 points, Cates had 5 of his 10 points, and Matthews hit a clutch 3-pointer. Matthews then drove for a layup with only 2 seconds remaining to tie the game.

Then in overtime, it appeared the Wildcats were headed for the win with a 58-57 lead and only 2.1 seconds showing on the clock. Coffee County in-bounded the ball, raced to the mid-court line, then made a desperate shot at the basket that hit the backboard and went right through the net.

Coach Melton said, "That was a tough one to lose, but there's not much you can do about a shot like that. We'll just have to shake that off and come back strong."

Come back strong the Wildcats did.

On night number two, the Wildcats faced Rossview, a team with a deceiving 1-7 record.

But the Cats were determined not to get into the situation they found themselves in the previous evening. In the first quarter, Livingston Academy raced out to a 20-0 lead and continued to hold the Hawks scoreless for 2 minutes into the second frame.

Lance Ruble got things going for Livingston Academy as he hit for 6 straight points, Matthews hit 4 straight, and Chase Dunn hit 2 straight. To add insult to injury, Matthews popped in a 3-pointer to end the first period with a 20-0 advantage.

Matthews commented, "We were on a roll and didn't want to slow down. I think we still remembered that shot the night before and just didn't want to get into that situation.

Rossview never could find the right combination as Livingston poured it on and led 34-12 at intermission, and a 49-26 lead going into the final period. When the final buzzer sounded, the Wildcats had cruised to a 70-42 victory.

Coach Melton said, "I thought we played extremely well, especially early. And we got some very good play off our bench tonight. We put in everybody that suited up, and I thought they all contributed."

Livingston put four players in double figures, led by Ruble and Dunn, both with 13 points, followed by Monday and Matthews, each with 12.

In their final action of the tournament, the Wildcats faced Forrest on Wednesday afternoon, Dec. 21 in Cookeville. With nothing to win or lose, the Cats came out loose, but at times were matched both offensively and defensively by the visitors.

Dunn and Ruble paced the Wildcats early, and LA led at the end of the firt period, 15-14. In the second frame, Matthews found the 3-point range, hitting a pair and at intermission, for a 2-point Livingston lead at 31-29.

Matthews opened the third period with his third 3-pointer, then Dunn and Monday turned up the heat and at the end of the frame, the Cats had their biggest lead of the night at 46-41.

A pair of 3-pointers by Dunn early in the final frame set the pace for LA as the game stayed close, but Forrest never managed to take the advantage. LA claimed the win, 61-57.

Dunn said, "It was a tough game from start to finish. They just wouldn't go away, and I thought, as a team, we played fairly well. Wilson (Cates) seemed to calm us down late in the game. and that was a big help.

"Now this one is behind us, and we'll go on to Nashville and see if we can improve."

Dunn led all scorers in the game with 20 points, while Monday added 16 for LA, followed by Matthews with 9, Ruble with 8, and Cates with 6.

Livingston will play Station Camp on Wednesday afternoon, Dec. 28 in the East Literature Magnet School Tournament in Nashville.

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