LA Wildcats place 3rd in tournament
Lady Cats play in Greene County tourney
LA Wildcats place
3rd in tournament
Dewain E. Peek/OCN file photo
LA's Lance Ruble averages near 10 points per game in the East
Literature Classic held last week in Nashville.
By MAC McLEOD, OCN Sports
If the Livingston Academy boys basketball team had any wonders of
just how they stack up, those questions may well have been answered
last week as they took on some of the mid-state's best 2A and 3A
schools and came away with a 2-1 record and a strong third place
in the East Literature Classic in Nashville.
With an overall 8-4 record in their baggage, the Wildcats resumed
play after Christmas with the main intention of getting better and
having fun. They achieved both goals.
"I wanted the kids to have some fun," explained LA Coach
Richard Melton. "We stayed in Nashville, played well for the
most part, and had a really good time. That was important.
"We could have come home every night, but I wanted us to spend
some time on the road together, get to know each other better, and
"Plus, I wanted us to win some basketball games, too."
Senior standout Wilson Cates reported Friday morning, still half
asleep, "We did have a good time. It was great time for all
"We played pretty good ball over there, and we spent a lot
of time together off the court. We may have had too good a time
because Thursday's game was probably our worst. But I think everybody
was about ready to come home."
In the opening game for Livingston on Tuesday afternoon, Dec. 27,
the Wildcats took on a powerful Station Camp team and came away
with an impressive come-from-behind 84-79 victory.
After trailing by as many as 11 points early in the contest, the
Wildcats, especially Brandon Matthews, got hot. Matthews nailed
five 3-pointers in the game, and led all scorers with 27 points,
to help his team pull away in the late-going for the win.
Coach Melton said, "That game kinda set the stage for us.
We got double figure scoring from (Justin) Monday with 16, Wilson
(Cates) with 12, (Lance) Ruble hit 11, and Chase (Dunn) added 10.
"The comeback also was a good sign in that we finally figured
out that we could, if we played well. That was important."
After being knotted at 60 at the end of the third frame, the game
see-sawed back and forth until Monday's put-back gave Livingston
a 66-65 advantage. Then Dunn nailed a 3-pointer, Cates drove in
for a layup, and steady free throw shooting down the stretch by
Dunn and Monday iced the win.
LA's Tyler Livingston said, "Station Camp is probably the
best team in their region, and we might see them again down the
road in tournament play. It was good for us to have a strong game
against them, and we did.
"Everybody that hit the floor played well."
Melton said, "Tyler really came in and gave us a super strong
performance. On defense, he was the trigger, and it was good to
see him have his best game of the season so far."
Things didn't get any easier for the Wildcats on day two as they
took on Clarksville, one of the best 3A teams in the mid-state.
And although they trailed the entire way, late in the game, a surge
brought the Wildcats to within a point at 69-68, before losing 69-76.
Cates said, "I feel like we should have won that game. We
got behind, then came back and we had it going, but we just could
never quite get over the hump.
"Brandon (Matthews) hit that 3-pointer in the fourth that
got us to within one, but Clarksville was a good team, and they
didn't lose their poise and hung on to win."
Coach Melton said, "That was a good effort on our part. Clarksville
was one of the two best teams we've seen this season, and I was
pleased, although we didn't win, with our play. They were big and
talented, but our players never backed up, and that says a lot about
"Hey, we like a challenge, and I just thought we took this
one head-on and almost won."
Cates and Monday were the hot hands for the Wildcats in the loss,
with Monday topping the LA scoring with 21 points, and Cates adding
19. Lance Ruble tacked on 10 for the only other Wildcat to hit double
"Wilson played probably his best game of the season, both
offensively and defensively," Coach Melton continued. "Monday
played well the entire tournament, but in this game, his rebounding
and his shooting really kept us in the game.
"Just about every game, Justin was in against bigger players,
but he held his own.
"Defensively, we did okay, but we just couldn't stop Shawn
Dowling, and that proved fatal to us. He's a really fine player,
and he had 27 against us. If we could have stopped him, or even
slowed him down, then I feel like we could have won."
On day three, playing for third place in the classic, the Wildcats
took on South Doyle of Knoxville in a game that looked as if it
could have gone either way. The Wildcats hung on for a 54-52 win.
Cates said, "I think we were a little tired and ready to come
home. I really think we should have won easier, but we won and that's
the good news. Everyone kinda slowed down, but when we had to, the
team stepped up and got the job done."
From start to finish, neither team could get away from the other.
At the end of the first period, the game was tied at 11 and Livingston
held only a 2-point advantage at the half at 23-21. At the end of
three, the lead for LA was only 1 at 38-37.
Then, as the game was winding down, Tyson Stover and Ruble pushed
the Cats out to a 6-point lead at 47-41 with only 3 minutes remaining.
But South Doyle just wouldn't go away, and actually took the lead
at 50-49. Then with 31 second left, Stover hit for his 9th point
of the period and put Livingston back on top, this time to stay,
Coach Melton said, "Tyson had a super fourth period and we
sure needed it. And Lance made one of the finest defensive plays
I've ever seen as he went parallel to the floor to deflect a pass
and Tyler Smith was there to get the ball. A very critical play.
"We got some good play from Jeremy McLearran and Deven Ramsey
also. They came off the bench when we got in some foul trouble,
and played extremely strong inside. They were able to allow us to
keep it together when we really needed to hold our own."
South Doyle had the last shot at the basket, needing 2 to tie and
3 to win. They took both shots and missed on both tries.
The scoring was spread evenly across the lineup. Monday led the
way for Livingston with 14, while Stover had 9, Ruble 8, and Cates,
Dunn, and Matthews each added 7.
Cates and Monday were named to the All-Tournament Team, and Clarksville
was the eventual winner of the event.
"I believe our kids came away from that tournament knowing
they are a pretty good team if they do as they can do," Coach
Melton said. "We played good teams, beat two of them, and could
have beaten the other if a break had gone this way or that.
"We're coming together and that's the main thing now as we
head back to the district part of our schedule. We've been on the
road since before Christmas, played and beaten several 3A schools,
and really didn't have a bad night
."If you do that well on the road, you can't help but get
excited about coming back home."
The Wildcats will be in Gainesboro on Friday night, Jan. 6 to
take on the Jackson County Blue Devils, then will travel to Nashville
to take on David Lipscomb the following Tuesday for a non-region
game. The Cats will play at Smithville on Friday, Jan. 13, then
hit the home court for six of their next seven games.
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Lady Cats play in
Greene County tourney
Dewain E. Peek/OCN file photo
Haley Mullins led the Lady Wildcats with 16 points in Livingston
Academy's tournament win over South Greene.
By MAC McLEOD, OCN Sports
While the Livingston Academy boys took I-40 west to Nashville over
the Christmas holidays, the Lady Wildcats loaded up and headed east
to the Greene County Bank Ladies Classic near Greeneville.
"It's a very big tournament and we're fortunate to be invited
back over here," LA Coach, Lesley Smith said. "Two years
ago we finished third, which was a good showing because there will
be teams here from all over like Kentucky, Tennessee, and even as
far away as Washington State. It will be a good test for our youngsters
to see just how we stack up."
When it was all over, the Lady Cats found they were better than
some and not as good as others as they posted a 2-2 record in the
Tuesday was opening day for the event and Livingston took on West
Greene in the opening round. The Lady Cats were expected to do well
against the Lady Buffalos and they did, coming away with a convincing
"I thought we played very well as a team," Coach Smith
said. "We got good, balanced scoring from our starters, and
the bench did a good job of resting players. It was a good start
for us as you always want to win that opening round."
Livingston was in control from the very outset, racing out to a
17-8 first period advantage and expanding it to 56-26 at intermission.
Ashley Matthews and Mallie Stephens paced the Lady Cats with 13
points each while Megan Brown added 10, Haley Mullins 9, Alison
West chipped in 8, and Rebekah Jackson hit for 7.
On the night, Livingston hit 53% from the floor and held a 37-25
advantage in rebounding, thanks mainly to Mullins' strong play under
the boards. The Lady Cats also were hot from long range, connecting
on 7 of 18 shots from 3-point range.
On day two, LA faced one of the tournament's stronger teams in
Heritage of Maryville, and lost a heartbreaker 41-42.
"We knew we had to play our best ball to stay with Heritage,"
Coach Smith said after the game, "and I thought we did a very
good job. We had a chance to win, and that's all you can ask for.
"Heritage had a height advantage and they have some outstanding
guards who can really control the tempo of a game. And they did
LA jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead early in the game, and forced
Heritage to miss its first four shots at basket. At the end of the
first period, Livingston held a 13-11 lead.
And it stayed that way through the second period as the game went
back and forth. Mullins put the Lady Cats up by 4 at 15-11 with
a shot from inside, and Jada Ledbetter added to the lead with a
strong put-back. But Heritage fought back with some long-range shooting,
and held a 21-20 lead at the half.
Matthews got the Lady Cats ahead for 5 with three straight baskets
to open the third period. But as in the second frame, Heritage hit
a 3-point play to knot the game at 28, then went on to score 5 straight
points to lead 33-28 going into the final period.
Heritage used a 16-2 run, beginning in the third period, to take
a 37-30 lead with time running down.
Then LA ripped off 4 straight points to again close the gap to
3 at 34-37.
"I thought we might be able to keep it going at that point,"
Coach Smith said. "Both teams seemed to get momentum, then
turn it over to the other. It was that kind of game from start to
Stephens hit a big 3-pointer with just under a minute to play to
tie the score at 41, but Heritage made one of two free throws with
only 3 seconds left to take the victory.
Matthews and Stephens each had 9 points in the game, followed by
Mullins with 8. The Lady Cats also shot fairly well with a 42% mark,
but never could get the long-range ball to fall.
On day three, the Livingston girls took on South Greene and cruised
to a 70-56 win.
The outcome of the game was never in doubt as the Lady Cats raced
out to a 21-9 first period lead, then doubled their oppo-nent's
score, 44-22, at intermission. They maintained the 20-point advantage
throughout the third period, then allowed South Greene to stage
a mild comeback late.
"That was a good game for us," Coach Smith said. "South
Greene is a 2A school much like us, so it gave us a chance to see
how we would stack up against teams in our region. I thought we
did quite well.
"Haley (Mullins) had a really super game, both on the boards
and in shooting, and again we had three players in double figures
and shot over 50% for the game."
Mullins paced the Lady Cats with 16 points, while Matthews added
11 and Brittany McCoin hit for 10.
Then Livingston Academy ran into Prairie, the No. 1 girls team
in the state of Washington.
From the outset, the Lady Falcons proved why they were the pre-tournament
favorite as they roared out to a 21-14 advantage in the first period,
led by 18 at the half, 42-24, and pulled away to a 65-45 win.
"Their best player got hurt early in the first game and they
lost by one point," Smith pointed out. "Had that not have
happened, I feel confident they would have played for the championship.
"They were a very sound, fundamental team with very big players
who could shoot well. It's hard to beat a combination like that.
"I was proud of our effort though," Smith added. "By
day four everyone was tired and ready to come home, but the experience
of playing big, strong teams from all over will help our team.
"Even when we were down by 20 against Prairie, we didn't panic,
and we continued to do what we knew we could do. Our shots wouldn't
fall from long range, and we had to have that since we were much
smaller than Prairie.
"They were a very good team and I was excited just to have
a chance to play them."
Matthews was the only LA player to hit double figures as she tallied
16. Jackson had 6 points and West added 5.
With an 11-5 record, the Lady Cats will return to action Friday
night, Jan. 6 in Gainesboro against Jackson County's Lady Blue Devils
in a district game, then will travel to Nashville on Tuesday, Jan.
10 to play David Lipscomb High School.
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Overton County News
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P.O. Box 479
Livingston, Tennessee 38570