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Archives 01-03-2007
Sports

Cats take tourney championship
Lady Cats take runner-up spot
Volleyball league open to area women
Men's winter basketball league forming

 

Cats take tourney championship

By MAC McLEOD, OCN Sports
While most of us were enjoying the holidays shopping, unwrapping gifts and spending extra time with the family, Livingston Academy Wildcats Basketball Coach Richard Melton was spending a lot of his extra time trying to figure out what could be done to keep the boys from blowing leads late in the game and losing when winning was just as easy.

There's good news and bad news.

The good news is he may have finally put his finger on the problem, and the bad news was the three opponents in last week's East Literature Holiday Classic in Nashville couldn't stop the pumped up Wildcats.

Result: A tournament championship, a Most Valuable Player, and three players on the All-Tournament Team. And maybe the most important thing was this time Livingston got ahead and didn't blow the lead.

LA guard Todd Smith proudly admitted, "We finally won a tournament, and we didn't fold late in the game.

"Coach has us working a new offense, making us use more patience, and when Chase (Dunn) takes over, he's something to watch."

Before the Christmas break, the Wildcats blew a lead late in a game with district foe DeKalb County and lost. Then they went to Florida for the Disney Classic and lost twice in three tries, once after leading by as many as 19 points.

After his team's 66-60 title victory Friday night against Knoxville Hall, Coach Melton confessed, "I knew we had a problem and I spent a lot of time looking at film and stats trying to figure out what we needed to do to stop losing when we got a good lead.

"It was apparent that we needed to work our post players more and get Chase better shots," Melton continued. "We also needed to remember to take more time off the clock late in the game when we have the lead and the ball. That does two things. First, it lets time run off, and second, it makes the other team play more defense and in turn commit more fouls."

Melton was right on the mark.

After breezing by Mississippi's Alcorn Central 80-27 in the opening round of the three-day event at East Literature, the Wildcats got a balanced shooting performance from four players and got past Northwestern of Clarksville, 74-62, in a game that put more pressure on the Wildcats in the final period..

In the opening game with Alcorn Central, the outcome was never in doubt. Livingston raced out to an 18-3 first period lead, and was on top 41-7 at intermission. In the game, everyone played and 13 players scored. Dunn led the attack with 23 points, while Deven Ramsey and Jordan Everley each posted double figure performances with 11 points each.

On Thursday night, the going got a little tougher, but this time things had changed for Livingston Academy. After falling behind 18-11 in the first period, the Wildcats scrambled back to within a point, 37-36, at intermission.

In the third period, Livingston outscored the Vikings 19-11, then fought off late charges by Northwestern. The Vikings closed the gap to 3 at 61-58, then Ramsey stepped up to make a critical basket and Tyson Stover pulled down a big rebound, with less than 90 seconds remaining, and hit Dunn on the outlet pass for an easy lay-up.

Those two big plays put a little breathing room on the scoreboard. Then the Vikings, in desperation, had to foul anyone they could. Down the stretch, LA, paced by Smith's 5 of 6 free thows, pulled off the win.

Dunn again led all scorers with 29, while Smith had 16, Everley dropped in 11, and Stover added 10.

"That was a good win for us," Coach Melton went on. "Finally, we showed we could play in a close game and win."

In the championship game Friday, against Knoxville Hall, it was the "Chase Dunn Show" as the hot handed sophomore nailed the nets for 39 points, 20 of 21 from the line, and proved without a doubt that he was the tournament's Most Valuable Player.

"It was kinda spectacular to watch," Coach Melton added, "but we have come to expect that from Chase. Todd played a very steady game for us, but we didn't get much out of our post players. That's an area we need to improve on.

"We are a talented team, and if we ever get our post players working with our guards, we can play with anyone."

Leading 42-31 going into the final frame, the Wildcats had to pick up the pace as the Red Devils finally came alive late in the game. In the first period the Wildcats defense allowed the Red Devils only 4 points, all from the free throw line, and it was much the same story in the third period as Hall scored only 6 points, and none before the 2:20 mark in the period.

But as they had done in the second period, Hall's shooters finally found the mark, and with a little over 5 minutes to play, trailed by only 7.

The biggest problem the Devils' had was keeping Dunn from the charity stripe. With a little less than 2 minutes remaining, Dunn hit his 17th straight free throw to give Livingston a 6-point lead, and down the stretch, he would only miss once.

A pair of threes with under a minute remaining pulled the Devils to within 3 at 63-60, but a free throw by Smith and a pair by Dunn with less than a second remaining sealed the win.

"They had a big problem in that Chase was hot at the line, and we kept getting the inbounds to him and they had to foul him," Coach Melton explained. "You did not want to foul Chase this night or Todd (Smith) for that matter.

As a team, Livingston hit 27 of 31 shots from the free throw line. Dunn was followed in the scoring by Stover and Smith with 8 points each. On the three nights, Dunn had 89 points, and they came from everywhere on the floor.

"I don't know," the modest Dunn tried to explain after the win. "Everything was just working. At the free throw line, I just felt like I couldn't miss. It was just one of those deals. "I did think we learned from our trip to Florida, and it helped here. We played much better as a team, and we're trying to remember what Coach Melton has been telling us all along: Pass the ball around and use time off the clock when we're leading. It makes sense."

The Wildcats will be home Friday night, Jan. 5, hosting Jackson County, and again on Saturday night, Jan. 6, welcoming David Lipscomb. Both teams promise to put the new system to a big test.

Coach Melton said, "We looked at the schedule while we were in Florida, and the team made a goal of winning 14 of our final 17 games in the regular season. We won three of those so far, and I can't wait to get in the district and see just where this team can go."

After the weekend, the Cats will travel to Byrdstown on Tuesday, Jan. 9 for another round against the Pickett County Bobcats.

 

 

Lady Cats take runner-up spot

By MAC McLEOD, OCN Sports
Teenagers are generally thought of as an endless bundle of energy, but contrary to that line of thinking, three straight trips to Nashville may just be what it takes to slow them down.

At least that may be the case for the Lady Wildcats of Livingston Academy. Traveling 200 miles each day for three straight days last week to compete in the Beech Holiday Tournament finally took its toll Saturday night, Dec. 30 in the championship game against host Beech High School.

"You don't usually think of teenagers getting tired, but they do," explained LA Coach Lesley Smith, "and I think it showed on us in the championship game. I take a lot of the blame for not subbing more early, but we were doing pretty good and I didn't really think our kids needed the rest.

"Late in the game, it caught up with us, especially in our shooting and our foul shooting."

Beech won its event with a comeback 51-50 win over the Lady Cats. The loss was only the fourth loss for LA in 16 games.

Livingston reached the championship game by taking wins over McGee High School of Mississippi on Thursday night, Dec. 28, and getting past a tough Brentwood bunch on Friday evening.

"Looking back at the tournament, Brentwood was probably our toughest game, but I thought we held our composure well and it was a good game for us," Coach Smith explained.

"I also thought the game against Beech was ours to win, but it just didn't turn out that way."

The Lady Cats had little trouble with McGee in the tournament opener, racing out to a 20-2 lead in the first period and holding a 39-15 halftime advantage. When the final buzzer sounded, Livingston was totally in command with a 76-49 win in which just about every player who dressed out scored for the winners.

Ashley Matthews paced the Lady Cats in the game with 15 points, with Alison West adding 14. Shelby Taylor hit for 9, Devin Thompson had 8, Alyssa Thompson had 7, Alissa Sells, Chelsea Carr, Adrian West, Amber Welch, and Mallie Stephens each hit for 4, Britany Smith and was good for 3, and Kendria Kilgore dropped in two.

The only loss on the night was Jada Ledbetter, who injured a leg early in the game and will be out for at least another week. Her loss would play a big role in the championship game on Saturday.

Friday afternoon, the Lady Cats went against Brentwood in the semi-finals, and when it was over, were clinging to a 52-48 win.

Livingston got out to a 16-14 first period lead, and was on top by 3 at 28-25 at intermission. It was a big third period showing that would seal the win, both offensively and defensively. In that third frame, the Lady Cats would rip the cords for 14 points while holding the Lady Bruins to a mere 4. Livingston scored the last 9 points of the period.

Despite the 4-point win, the game wasn't that close. Brentwood got a final basket after the buzzer had sounded, but was awarded the points regardless.

"Our third period in that game was a very good one," Coach Smith stated. "We had a good offensive run, but defensively we played outstanding."

In the championship game, it appeared Livingston would match the feat accomplished on Friday night by the LA boys team, who were playing in Nashville at the East Literature Classic. In that game, the Wildcats claimed the title, and a win by the Lady Cats in Hendersonville would give Livingston a double championship.

But it just wasn't to be.

The Lady Cats led by 6 at the end of the first period, 13-7, but Beech battled back and trailed by only a point, 20-19, at intermission.

Matthews and Britany Smith opened the third period with a pair of baskets to up the lead by 5, but again the Lady Buccaneers scrambled back, and for most of the frame it was a back-and-forth game. When the quarter ended, LA was on top by 5 at 39-34.

Fourth period action saw both teams trade the lead on several occasions after Beech went ahead 49-48, but it was the free throw shooting that made the difference. Livingston missed 10 charity shots, going 17-27 at the line, while Beech was 8 for 11.

"We didn't win the game, but Mallie (Stephens) probably had her best game of the season," Coach Smith continued. "Normally she makes steals and grabs rebounds and then gives the ball up to another shooter. In this game, she decided to take some shots herself, and she hit.

"She also played great defense, which is something she does more often than not anyway.

"It was good to see her have that kind of game."

Stephens had 9 points on the night. Matthews again was LA's leading scorer with 17, while Alison West added 10, Brittany McCoin 6, and Smith 5.-Three Livingston players were named to the All-Tournament team -Alison West, Britany Smith, and Ashley Matthews.-"Jada will have her leg examined Tuesday to determine the extent of the injury," Coach Smith said. "Right now, she's on crutches and won't play this week. Had she played Saturday, I have no doubt the outcome would have been different. Her play inside would have really helped us.

"We have three non-district games coming up, then we hit the district part of our schedule and it will be good to be back playing teams we know something about and can better prepare for the games.

"Lately, here (Hendersonville) and in Florida, we just had to hit the floor blind and try to see what would happen. Now we can start preparing better, and that will get us coaches back into the game. Me, Elizabeth (Maxwell), Penny (Reagan), and Lara (Franklin) have almost been like spectators since we didn't know much more about our opponents than anyone in the stands.

"We had a good tournament schedule over the holidays," Coach Smith said. "We won four and lost only two, but now it's time to look down the road in our district. The experience we gained, I think, will serve us well."

Livingston Academy will host Jackson County on Friday, Jan. 5, and will host David Lipscomb High School the following evening. Friday's game will start at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday's game will begin at 5:30 p.m.

Then, the Lady Cats will travel to Byrdstown on Tuesday, Jan. 9.

 

 

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Volleyball league open to area women

A women's volleyball league will kick off Monday, Jan. 22 at 6 p.m. at the Cookeville Community Center gymnasium.

All area teams that would like to participate should register by Wednesday, Jan. 10. A fee of $95, as well as rosters and signed release forms, will be required at this time.

Only the first 12 teams to sign up will be accepted.

For more information call Anita Bay, program coordinator, at (931) 520-7765.

 

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Men's winter basketball league forming

A men's winter basketball league is forming.

Cost per team is $175. Deadline to submit the registration fee, roster, and signed release forms is Friday, Jan. 5.

Only the first seven teams to sign up will be accepted.

The first A Division game is set for Thursday, Jan. 18. The first game for the B division will be will be Tuesday, Jan. 16, starting at 6 p.m.

For more information call Anita Bay at (931) 520-7765.

 

 

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