Lady Wildcats defeat Owlettes in OT
Wildcats notch another district win
Lady Wildcats defeat
Owlettes in OT
Mac McLeod/OCN Sports
Alison West appears surrounded in Friday's home win over Smith
County's Owlettes. West scored 11 points in the district game, which
the Lady Wildcats won in overtime.
By MAC McLEOD, OCN Sports
By halftime of the Livingston Academy's boys game Friday night,
Feb. 3, Megan Brown had changed from her uniform and back into street
clothes and was sitting in the grandstands watching. She may have
looked like any other fan in the packed house, but inside, her stomach
was still churning.
"Those kind of games tear me up," Brown confessed. "It
was a big game for both teams, both teams played well, and we came
through in the end when we had too. I'll still be nervous when I
go to bed."
Brown and her Lady Wildcats teammates had just defeated a strong
Smith County team 60-54 in overtime to extend their overall mark
to 18-7, but more importantly, 9-1 in District 7-AA competition.
"Overall, I thought we played well tonight," Brown continued.
"Defensively, we played really well in the second and third
periods. But it was our defense in the overtime that really determined
the outcome. We held them to 2 points, and that was the difference."
There wasn't much defense early in the game as Smith County used
five 3-point shots to race out to a 23-15 lead in the first 8 minutes.
But, although the Lady Wildcats gave up the long shots, they weren't
doing badly themselves in the scoring department.
LA Coach Lesley Smith pointed out after the game, "There isn't
much you can do when a team gets hot from outside. You just have
to adjust your defense and put much more pressure on those shooters
who are hot. I thought we did a good job of that tonight.
"Megan and Alison (West) really played outstanding defense
tonight, making several key steals and appeared everywhere on the
In the second period, LA used the inside power of Haley Mullins
and the outside shooting of Ashley Matthews to pop in 17 points,
while holding Smith County to 8. At the intermission, LA was on
West later pointed out, "They got off to a hot start, but
we played steady and finally took the lead, and once we did, we
felt like we could win.
"We started doing a better job of recovering from a missed
shot, and although that's something most people don't recognize,
it's a critical part of the game."
Throughout the third frame, the contest stayed close, with each
team taking the lead on almost each trip up and down the court.
And when it was over, Livingston held a slim 2-point margin at 40-38.
Matthews said, "You have to give Smith credit. They just wouldn't
go away, and we had to play as hard as we could all night. Those
kind of games are nerve racking, but they are fun because you do
have to play as hard as you can all night."
Mallie Stephens opened the final period with a bucket, upping the
LA lead to 4, and West upped it 7 with a basket and a foul shot.
But Smith County countered with a big 3-point play.
Mullins then hit 2 of her 8 straight shots from the foul line
in what appeared to be the killing blow.
But again Smith County answered with a pair of 3-pointers from
Monica Hembree, and when the buzzer ended regulation play, the game
was knotted at 52.
"We should have won in regulation," Matthews continued,
"but I couldn't make the free throw. I guess Dad and I will
be back here over the weekend practicing foul shooting. I have to
get better at that.
On the night, Livingston Academy made 24 of 37 free throw attempts
and missed many key first shots on a one-and-one situation.
In the overtime period, Brown started out making the first of a
one-and-one, but missed the second, and Hembree pulled her team
to within 1 on a basket.
Brown then missed 2 free throws, but Matthews and Mullins connected
to give the Wildcats some breathing room. Matthews then hit one
of two from the line, and West did likewise. Down the stretch, Matthews
hit a pair of free throws to ice the win.
"Those last two free throws made me feel a little better,"
Matthews added. "If I had done that earlier, we wouldn't have
had to go to overtime."
On the night, Matthews led the Lady Cats in scoring with 21 points,
while Mullins added 12 and West was good for 11.
Coach Smith said, "We played well tonight, and Smith County
did likewise. It was a good game for us."
Things didn't go quite as well Saturday, Feb. 4 when the Lady
Cats traveled to Cleveland for a non-district contest. Only minutes
after the game started, Livingston Academy was already out of it
and the Lady Blue Raiders were racing away to a convincing 81-50
Falling behind 9-26 in the first frame, the Lady Cats just couldn't
stop the hot-shooting Lady Raiders. Cleveland led 46-20 at intermission
and poured it on throughout the second half.
On the night, the home team shot an astounding 64% from the floor
and missed very few free throws. On the other hand, the Lady Cats
were simply cold from the outset and never could find a flicker
"Cleveland was a very good team," Coach Smith said. "They
were quick and they could shoot, and that's a deadly combination.
"I'm glad we went down there and played because it gave us
a chance to see what we have to do when we play strong opposition.
Of course, Cleveland is a 3A school, but our kids need to be able
to adjust to those situations, and you have to know that sometimes
you just get beat by a better team.
"It was a good learning experience for us, and this week we'll
need all the experience we can get as we face both Cannon and Upperman
in big district games.
"If we can win those games and finish either first or second
in the district, it will be a big step up for us," Coach Smith
said. "Last year we were fifth in the district. So we have
come a long way."
Matthews again led the Lady Cats scoring with 14 points that included
two 3-pointers, while Mullins added 8 points, Jada Ledbetter hit
for 6, and Stephens added 5.
After travelling to Woodbury to take on Cannon County on Tuesday,
Feb. 7, the Lady Cats will travel to Baxter on Friday, Feb. 10 for
the big showdown against Upperman's Lady Bees in a game that should
determine the regular season champion.
Livingston Academy will host Pickett County's Lady Bobcats the
following night, then LA will host Jackson County for Senior Night
on Tuesday, Feb. 14 to end the regular season.
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Wildcats notch another
Leah Thomas/OCN Sports
Brandon Matthews shoots out of a crowd for 2 of his 16 points
against Smith County.
By MAC McLEOD, OCN Sports
If every game was as easy as Livingston Academy's romp over Smith
County on Friday night, Feb. 3, coaches would never second guess
themselves, but they aren't and late Saturday night, LA Coach Richard
Melton was wondering just why he didn't change some things against
"I think looking back at the game, I should have changed our
defense earlier, but at the time, things were going pretty much
like I thought they should, so I didn't.
"I guess the loss was as much my fault as it was the team's."
Coach Melton was referring to the Blue Raiders' 79-72 upending
of the Wildcats on a snowy evening at Cleveland. On Friday night,
the Wildcats had an easy time rolling over Smith County, 75-51.
"I'm glad we went to Cleveland," Coach Melton continued.
"It was good experience for us, but I wish I had changed our
defense when they started making all those 3-pointers. And, in the
third period, we just went ice cold shooting and rebounding, and
against a good team like Cleveland, you can't do that and get away
Not being able to match up with the Wildcats in height, the Raiders
made up for the disadvantage with speed, outstanding rebounding,
and super shooting, especially in the second half.
The loss leaves Livingston Academy with a fine18-8 record, but
most importantly, the Wildcats remain undefeated in district play
"You are never pleased with a loss," Coach Melton added,
"but this game was more for experience than anything else.
It wasn't a district game, and playing a good 3A team will only
Justin Monday had an outstanding first half for the Wildcats and
helped in keeping the game close at the half, 41-38. In the first
two periods, Monday put in 11 points, and added 15 in the second
half for 26 on the night.
But Monday couldn't do it alone, and although Brandon Matthews
and Wilson Cates each added 13 to support the cause, it was missed
shots and turnovers that finally allowed the Raiders to race out
to a 17-point lead late in the game.
In the third period, Cleveland outscored Livingston 20-11, and
most of the advantage came on costly turnovers and missed shots
by the visitors. Three-pointers by Cates and Matthews in the late
going closed the margin.
"Although we were down by about 17 at one point, I was glad
to see the final score be much closer, which was actually how close
the game really was," Coach Melton pointed out.
Friday night was much more to the liking of the Wildcats and their
home fans as the Cats blistered Smith County for the second time
this season. In the two meetings of the two district foes this year,
Livingston has won both by a combined margin of 66 points.
After the home game, Tyler Smith said, "We started out strong
and played well, but we went through a spell there where we kinda
let our guard down. It was good to get back on track because you
really need to play strong the entire game."
Taking a 23-9 advantage in the first period, the Wildcats rambled
to a 42-18 halftime lead, and were up by 30 at 63-33 at the end
of the third period.
It was well-rounded scoring plus strong rebounding inside that
highlighted the victory. Matthews was good for 16 points and Chase
Dunn added 14, and they were the only players in double figures.
Lance Ruble had 8 points, Cates contributed 6, and almost every
member of the team got in the scoring column.
On the night, the Wildcats were good on 43% of their shots, and
simply dominated the rebounding on both ends of the floor.
Monday said, "We can get the job done if we set our minds
to it. It was good tonight that everyone played and almost everybody
scored. That builds confidence.
"Next week, we have two district games, and if we win both,
we'll be perfect in the district for the season (12-0) and win our
second straight district title.
"That's what we are after now. Then it's on to the regions.
We have to take it one step at a time and just go out every night
and play like we're capable of playing."
After travelling to Woodbury to take on the Cannon County Lions
in a District 7-AA contest on Tuesday, Feb. 7, the Wildcats will
travel to Baxter to take on Upperman's Bees on Friday, Feb. 10.
On Saturday night, the boys will play a make-up game at home with
Pickett County, scheduled for 6 p.m.
Livingston Academy will host Jackson County for Senior Night on
Tuesday, Feb. 14 to end the regular season.
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Overton County News
415 West Main Street
P.O. Box 479
Livingston, Tennessee 38570