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Archives 01-11-2006
Sports

Cats win, Lady Cats lose in Gainesboro



Cats win, Lady Cats lose in Gainesboro

Leah Thomas/OCN Sports
Livingston Academy's Brandon Matthews fights for 2 of his 8 points in the Wildcats' 48-28 win at Gainesboro over the Jackson County Blue Devils on Friday, Jan. 6.

By MAC McLEOD, OCN Sports
Almost four weeks have passed since either Livingston Academy boys or girls basketball teams have played a district game, but as far as the players are concerned, they all matter.

"Every game is big," said LA big man Justin Monday with a smile on Friday night, minutes after he and his fellow Wildcats pinned rival Jackson County to the floor in a convincing 48-28 style.

"We've played a lot of games recently that don't count in district play, but we still go out every night and try to win," he said. "Winning can be habit forming, and that's a good habit to have."

Though Monday and his buddies had fun beating up on the Blue Devils on January 6, the Lady Wildcats didn't have such an enjoyable evening as they looked good early, fell apart during the middle stages, then came on strong but fell short in a 37-44 losing effort.

Lady Wildcats junior Alison West said, "We couldn't get anything to fall early in the game, and we just played terribly there in the second and third periods. But we came back strong in the fourth, and we never gave up.

"It hurts to lose, especially when you don't play well, but maybe we learned something tonight and that will help us when we get into district action."

The win by the boys brought their record to 11-6, while the Lady Cats dropped to 11-6 with the loss.

Lady Wildcats Coach Lesley Smith said, "From the opening tip I was impressed with our hustle on the defensive boards. We went down, took some shots that didn't go in, but got four or five straight rebounds.

"Then, we just stood around and let Jackson County take over. That's the part I was disappointed with."

The Lady Cats couldn't buy a basket early, despite the strong showing on the boards. But Jackson wasn't much better off, and when the first period ended, the Lady Devils led by only 2 at 6-4.

Then in the second frame, the roof fell in on LA's girls. To open the period, Jackson County connected on two 3-pointers, then put on a solid defense that kept the Lady Cats sometimes from even getting the ball back up court. Jackson County outscored LA 19-7 in the quarter, and the final outcome seemed to be sealed.

But there was still life left in the LA attack.

Mallie Stephens said, "Coach was pretty rough on us at halftime. We needed it simply because we weren't doing anything.

"We came back to life in the second half and played much better, but being behind so far at the half was hard to overcome."

With 5 minutes left in the third period, the Gainesboro team upped its lead to 20 points at 31-11. Then West found the range for a three and Jada Ledbetter went inside and suddenly LA was cutting into the lead.

When the period ended, the Lady Cats had cut into the Jackson County lead, but not much.

But Stephens caught fire in the final frame, hitting three straight 3-pointers before the Lady Blue Devils could react, and with over a minute remaining, Livingston was within 5 at 35-40.

"I thought we might be able to pull it out at that point," Stephens added, "but then they played me closer so I couldn't take the long shot, and time just ran out on us."

On the night, the Lady Cats only shot 22%, never a winning percentage. Stephens led the LA attack with 12 points, while West had 9, and Megan Brown and Ashley Matthews each added 5.

After the girls took their lumps, the boys went at the home team with a balanced scoring attack and some outstanding defense to take what appeared to be a ho-hum decision.

LA Coach Richard Melton said, "Well, it may have looked like we were just going through the motions, but it was a little more than that.

"I guess since no one really got a hot shooting hand it looked like we were kinda lifeless, but actually we got outstanding balance in our scoring, and we allowed them only 7 points in the second half of the game.

"That's outstanding defense."

Jackson County hung close in the first period, trailing only 13-15 at the buzzer, and just wouldn't go away in the second period. At the intermission, it was still a close game, 26-21 in Jackson County's favor.

Senior guard Wilson Cates said, "They were very physical and really quick. One reason we didn't score more than we did was because they got back on defense so fast we never could break it open."

Monday opened the second half with a basket, then Lance Ruble followed with a drive inside. Brandon Matthews then hit a 3-pointer, and suddenly the Cats were off and running.

Meanwhile, the defense simply destroyed the Devils' scoring attack as well as their ability to get a rebound.

Monday said, "I never did think I was doing anything, but when coach said I got 12 rebounds, then I felt a little better."

Coach Melton added, "Justin was outstanding. Tyler Smith stepped up and had a good game, and Tyson (Stover) came on in the fourth period and played exceptional.

"I am just excited about the fact we held them to 7 points in the second half. From the stands that may not be all that exciting, but from a coach's view, it's great."

Cates and Matthews each had 8 points in Friday's win, while Monday, Stover, and Smith each had 7, and Ruble added 6.

Livingston controlled the boards 39-22 in rebounding, and shot 35% for the night.

"We go to David Lipscomb Tuesday, and that's another non-district game," Coach Melton said, "but at lunch time today, it hit me: 'wonder if they remember Livingston Academy for any particular reason?'"

Livingston Academy defeated Lipscomb in early December for the state 3A football championship.

They might just remember Wilson Cates, Tyler Livingston, and the Blue and White.

After the trip to play David Lipscomb High School on Tuesday, Jan. 10, the Wildcats and Lady Wildcats will travel to Carthage on Friday, Jan. 13 to take on Smith County in a District 7-AA matchup.

Livingston Academy will then host district juggernaut Upperman on Tuesday, Jan. 17.

 

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