Cats take tournament championship
Lady Cats play in 7-AA Tournament
Lady Cats defeat DCA in Region 4-AA Tourney
Cats take tournament
Leah Thomas/OCN Sports
Justin Monday goes up for 2 of his game-leading 22 points in
the Wildcats' District 7-AA Tournament championship win over Upperman's
Bees on Friday, Feb. 24.
By MAC McLEOD, OCN Sports
After breezing through District 7-AA this past season with a perfect
12-0 record, it was not much of a shock when it was announced originally
that Livingston Academy's Wilson Cates was named the District Most
Valuable Player and Coach Richard Melton was tabbed as Coach of
Several days later, it was announced that the votes from one of
the schools hadn't been counted and the MVP award should have gone
to Macon County's Colby Stinson, not Cates.
Two days after that shocker, the district came back and said that
Melton was not the top coach and the award should have gone to DeKalb
County's Linus Martin. While Melton had guided his Wildcats to a
22-8 overall record and a perfect 12-0 record in the district, Martin
guided DeKalb to a mediocre 12-15 overall record and an 8-4 district
The Wildcats decided to just settle the matter once and for all
with an impressive romp through last week's district tournament
In their first game, LA destroyed Stinson and his Macon County
teammates 88-43, then pounced on Upperman 65-49 for the championship
on Friday night, Feb. 24.
"If 80-40 doesn't send a message, then maybe they just don't
get it at all," a happy Tyler Livingston said after Tuesday's
mauling of the Tigers. "I think this team had a little something
to prove tonight, and we did it."
It didn't take long to prove the point either. Cates scored the
game's opening bucket, then Tyson Stover hit a 3-pointer followed
by a couple three's from Brandon Matthews and a fourth by Tyler
Smith, and the Cats were off and running to a 25-14 first period
Before the half ended, the officials could have thrown a flag for
'piling on'. Smith opened the second period with a three, and the
Cats raced off a 12-4 run and were firmly in control, 47-22, by
But the assassination was not yet complete. By the mid-point of
the third period, the Wildcats had scored 17 points while holding
the Tigers to only 2, and were ahead by 40 at 64-24 with just a
little over 3 minutes to play. During the period, Stover had a 3-pointer
as did Cates, and the ‘message' the Wildcats were sending was being
well received all over the Tennessee Tech gym.
To make sure the word didn't fall on deaf ears, Coach Melton kept
his first team on the floor until a little over 3 minutes remained
in the game and the Cats were up by 41 at 80-39.
"I would have to say they played with ‘inspired determination',"
Coach Melton said after the game. "It was one of the best games
we have played all season, and it came at a very good time.
"We need to be reaching our peak now, and tonight we were
very close to the top."
Cates led all scorers, with 16 points, followed by teammates Chase
Dunn with 14, Tyler Smith with 13, Matthews with 12, and Justin
Monday with 11.
Stinson had 11 points for Macon County.
Then to make sure there was no doubt in anybody's mind of who had
the best player, the best coach, and certainly the best team, the
Wildcats returned to the floor in Friday's championship game against
Upperman and posted a 16-point victory.
After the game, Monday, Matthews, and Cates were named to the District
7-AA All-Tournament team, and Cates received the tournament Most
Valuable Player award.
"Actually, I think that award should have gone to Justin,"
the always modest Cates said after the game. "He had a great
game tonight, and also on Tuesday. I tried to give him the plaque,
but he wouldn't take it. But I'm going to try again.
"But this wasn't about any one individual, it was about a
team," Cates continued. "We came here with a mission to
get the job done, and we accomplished that mission. Now our mission
is go and win the region next week. All the other stuff will come
out in the wash."
Cates also gave his teammates a pep talk after the game.
"We can't win the state championship until we all believe
we can," Cates told the team in the dressing room after the
"When we won the football championship we made sure everybody
knew that there was no other option other than believing we could
"If anybody doesn't believe then we won't win. Winning the
state title was our goal at the beginning of the season, and now
we are closer to that goal.
"We have to set our minds to getting it done then go out and
Getting to the next step got off to a good start in Friday's game.
Matthews raced in from the left side and made a reverse layup to
bring the crowd to its feet. Monday then hit four straight free
throws to added to his 10-point first period performance, and the
Cats were off to a 16-7 lead.
Monday opened the second period with a drive in the lane, and
Matthews hit an NBA 3-pointer. Later in the period, he hit another
from downtown Cookeville, and by the half, Livingston had doubled
the score, 34-17.
Then in the third period, things went a little cold for the Wildcats,
and at one point the margin had been cut to 12. Monday later pointed
out, "We didn't play all that well in the third period. Our
shot selection wasn't all that good, and we got a little impatient
with our shooting. But we settled down in the fourth period, and
it all worked out okay."
After leading 47-35 to start the final period, the Wildcats went
on a 6-point spree led by Dunn, Cates, and Monday, and with a little
over 5 minutes remaining, the game was safely in hand.
Coach Melton told the squad after the game, "I am real proud
of this team. We forced some shots there in the third period, which
didn't make us look all that good, but good teams overcome that,
and we did tonight.
"Now we are headed for the regional tournament, and it gets
tougher from here on out. We can't afford to overlook anybody.
"Unless you want this (the district title) to be good enough,
we are going to have to really focus. I think we have a good shot
this year, maybe more than last year simply because the region has
"Rest up this weekend and be ready to play Tuesday,"
In the title game, Monday led all scorers with 22 points. Dunn
added 17 for the Wildcats, and Matthews hit for 12.
Cates said, "This was a good week for us. This was not about
all-team or all-district or most valuable player. Nobody will remember
those things. What they will remember is we were district champions,
and that's what team sports are all about.
"By the way, this was our second district championship in
a row. We'll certainly remember that."
With a 23-8 overall record, the Wildcats were scheduled to face
Goodpasture on Tuesday night, Feb. 28 in the opening round of the
Region 4-AA tournament held at White House.
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Lady Cats fall to
4th in 7-AA Tournament
Leah Thomas/OCN Sports
Livingston Academy's Alison West takes a long shot in Friday's
By MAC McLEOD, OCN Sports
When the District 7-AA basketball tournament got underway last week
in Cookeville, the Livingston Academy girls had high hopes of winning
the event and moving on to the regional tournament in White House
this week as the number one seed. At worst, they figured, they would
be number two.
In reality, the Lady Cats will venture west this week as the district's
number four seeded team.
After Friday night's 59-65 consolation game loss to Upperman, LA
senior center Haley Mullins said, "We really felt good about
our chances when the tournament started last week. Going into the
tournament we had only two district losses all season, one being
to Upperman and one to York, and if we played our best we could
"We didn't play our best by a long way, and now we have to
get it back together. Hopefully, we have our worst games behind
Mullins' explanation was pretty much right on the money. With the
exception of junior Ashley Matthews, the Lady Cats not only didn't
play their best, they perhaps played their worst ball of the season
and fell to York in the second round of the event 41-44, then came
back Friday night to be handed a very disappointing loss to Upperman.
Against York Institute on Wednesday night, Feb. 22, Matthews did
all she could to try to boost her teammates to the championship
game with a 22-point outburst, but she didn't get any help in the
scoring department. Her 22 points were over half of the total output
by the Lady Cats, and no other LA player came close to double figure
scoring. Alison West, Mallie Stephens, and Jada Ledbetter each had
4 points apiece in the loss.
Lady Cats Coach Lesley Smith said, "Defensively, we didn't
play all that poorly. We held York to 44 points and Brandi Brown
(York's leading scorer) only got 20. When you can hold Brandi to
20 and the entire team to 44, you should have a chance to win, but
we just didn't shoot well, didn't take good percentage shots, and
we missed too many easy shots and foul shots."
While LA was falling to York in the second round, Upperman, the
regular season champs, were also having a tough time and dropped
their match to Smith County. That set up Friday's games with York
facing Smith for the tournament championship and Livingston squaring
off against Upperman. The four teams were battling for seeds in
this week's regional tournament.
To make matters worse for the Lady Wildcats, Matthews injured her
left ankle in practice and was heavily taped for Friday's matchup.
"It hurts, that's for sure," Matthews said before the
game. "I'm going to pretend that it's okay and maybe I can
contribute. I'll do my best."
Matthews did her part, but as in the previous game, she didn't
get much help offensively.
Playing in obvious pain, the junior sharpshooter poured in 10 points
in the first half and 17 more in the second half, but her game high
27 points just couldn't hold back the balanced attack of the Lady
"We're very disappointed about how things turned out,” Matthews
said as she was having ice applied to the ankle after the defeat.
My ankle really hurts, but losing hurts even more. But we'll just
have to play through this and get ready for next week."
Two weeks ago in the regular season, LA fell behind 3-16 at Baxter,
then outplayed the Lady Bees for the next three periods to drop
a close 44-49 decision. This time the Lady Cats jumped out to a
14-8 first period lead and trailed by only 1 at the intermission,
At the end of the third period, it was still a 1-point Upperman
lead at 40-39, and to open the final frame, Stephens hit a pair
of free throws to give LA a 41-40 lead.Then Megan Simmons hit three
straight 3-pointers to put Upperman on top to stay.
Stephens would end the night with 13 points, but as in the loss
to York, the remainder of the team just couldn't put any points
on the board. Ledbetter had 7, Mullins hit for 6, and West had 3.
Mullins said, "With Ashley hurt we are really going to have
to step up and put some points on the board if we expect to continue
playing. Hopefully, we are saving our best games for the regionals.
It's not that we can't do it; it's now we're going to have to do
Matthews scored 71 points in three games for the Lady Cats and
was the only Livingston Academy player named to the All-Tournament
In the title game, Smith County and York Institute put on one
of the tournament's most memorable games, with York, paced by Molly
Eacret's 21 points, coming from behind late in the game to take
a 50-47 decision.
Smith County held an 18-15 lead at the end of the first period,
but a strong defense by York in the second frame allowed the Owlettes
only 3 points and gave the Lady Dragons a 26-21 lead at the half.
Smith County outscored York 18-11 in the third period, but once
again York did what it had to when it had to, taking a 13-8 advantage
in the final period for the championship.
Tara Sleeper led Smith County in scoring with 16 points, while
Brandi Brown added 19 for York.
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Lady Cats defeat
DCA in Region 4-AA Tourney
By MAC McLEOD, OCN Sports
Using clutch free throw shooting in the fourth period Monday night,
Feb. 27 in the opening round of the Region 4-AA Tournament at White
House, the Livingston Academy Lady Wildcats rolled past Donelson
Christian Academy 61-57, and advanced to the semifinal round Wednesday
night against the winner of the Smith County-Goodpasture contest.
Hitting on 15 of 18 attempts from the foul line in the final 8
minutes, the Lady Cats held off a late charge by DCA, who at one
point in the period trailed by 13 points.
Going into the opening game of the tournament, Livingston represented
District 7-AA from the 4th seed, while DCA was the number one seed
from District 8-AA.
In other opening round games Monday night, York Institute played
Portland and Upperman took on host White House.
Livingston used the strong inside play of Haley Mullins early in
the game to run out to a 15-12 first period lead. Mullins had 6
points, 3 blocked shots, and 4 big rebounds in the opening 8 minutes
to set the Lady Cats in the right direction.
By intermission, Livingston had upped the lead to 7 at 28-21. During
the first two frames, the Lady Cats had 20 of their 28 points from
inside the lane, and had outrebounded DCA 18-8.
Mallie Stephens hit her first points of the game to open the third
period and up the lead to 9. Mullins got into foul trouble late
in the period and Jada Ledbetter was given the call.
Ledbetter responded with 9 points in the second half to keep the
Lady Cats out front.
Also playing one of her best games of the season, Megan Brown dropped
in 11 points, but none bigger than two free throws with only 3 seconds
remaining in the game after DCA had rallied to within 2 points at
Ashley Matthews, who had carried most of the scoring load during
last week's district tournament, got help this time, but still managed
to come up with 13 points on the night.
Top scoring honors went to Alison West who led the winners with
16 points, 3 of which came at a critical point late in the third
period after DCA had pulled to within 6 points at 41-35. West also
had a huge night rebounding as the Lady Cats dominated the boards
on both ends of the floor.
Lady Wildcats Coach Lesley Smith said, “I told the team before
the game that we could win this game. Despite their impressive 28-2
record, the 2 losses had come against teams we had beaten during
the regular season (Upperman and David Lipscomb).
"At this stage of the season, you lose and you go home, and
although we didn't play well in the district tournament, we knew
we were better than fourth, and today's game proved that.
"Now we'll just have to continue playing like we did tonight."
Livingston's record climbed to 22-11 for the season with the win,
while DCA ended its season with a 28-3 mark.
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