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Archives 01-17-2007

Sports

Lady Wildcats defeat state's No. 2 team
Thompson assists FHU in recent wins
Thurman helps Bryan College in victory
Cats win over Smith County, Cleveland

 

Lady Wildcats defeat state's No. 2 team

Kassie Hunley/OCN Sports
LA's Alissa Sells shoots out of a crowd in Saturday's win over Cleveland High School.

By MAC McLEOD, OCN Sports
In high school basketball, most girls over six feet tall present a problem for most opponents. Throw one on the court at 6-8 and it's usually devastating to the other team, physically and just as importantly, mentally.

"I felt like a midget out there," Livingston Academy's Britany Smith laughed Friday night, Jan. 12 as she and Brittany McCoin, both fairly tall, found themselves going up against Smith County's Kayci Farris, one of the tallest female players (if not the tallest) in the state.

For Smith, McCoin, and the rest of the Lady Wildcats, Farris was just one obstacle facing LA in a tough week that included an always tough trip to single A power Pickett County on Tuesday night, Jan. 9, a big district match-up with Farris and Smith County on Friday night, and to top things off, a home game Saturday night, Jan. 13 against 3A power, Cleveland High, the state's number 2 ranked team and number 20 in the nation.

"It was a big week for us," Livingston head coach Lesley Smith stated, "and I was pleased how the team adjusted to each situation. It's always tough at Pickett, and although it was not one of our better efforts, we did manage to win, and that makes a statement in itself.

"Smith County was an important game simply because it was a district game, and even with Farris controlling the inside, we had players come off the bench and score from outside to make the difference.

"And then to top it all off with a win over Cleveland, a very good team. It was a very good week."

Livingston started off the week traveling to Byrdstown, facing the 9-10 Lady Bobcats. Earlier in the season the Lady Cats had pulled off a hard-fought 69-51 win, but this time the game was at home for the Lady Bobcats and they were looking for revenge.

At the end of the first period, Pickett held a 14-11 advantage, but with Ashley Matthews, McCoin, and Alison West leading the scoring, the Lady Wildcats clawed their way back on top at intermission, 30-20. Nineteen points in the period topped with a big basket by Kendria Kilgore at the buzzer capped a Livingston offensive performance that also saw strong defense as Pickett could only score 6 points in the frame.

In the second half, Livingston led by as many as 12 points, but a late surge by the home team cut the final score to a 3-point margin at 65-62. Matthews had 19 points in the game, while Kilgore added 14 and West knocked down 12.

One tough one down and two tough ones to go.

During warm-ups Friday night, the LA players seldom glanced to the other end of the court. Every time they did, all they could see was Snow White and all the dwarfs.

"She is so big you just can't ignore her," McCoin stated, "and every time the ball comes to you inside you know she's right behind you and covering you up like a big cloud. She was very good and she definitely controls the inside game."

Plan B. While Smith and McCoin were fighting for their lives inside, it was time for some good outside shooting. Enter Alissa Sells and Chelsea Carr.

LA managed to hold a one-point, 17-16, lead at the end of the first period, and Matthews nailed a couple big baskets to keep the Lady Cats close early in the second frame. But at intermission, the Lady Owls were on top by 7 at 27-20. Farris had 14 of Smith County's 27 points.

At the end of the third period, Smith County was still on top, this time by 3, but things were about to change.

Sells opened the fourth period with a big 3-point basket, and Carr followed on the next trip down court with another three, and suddenly LA was out front for the first time in a long time at 43-40. A couple free throws by Smith and another basket by Carr capped an 11-0 run, and now it was time to use the clock.

Sells admitted, "We knew we were blocked inside, so there was not much left to do but go outside. I hit that three to start the period, and Chelsea scored another three, and from then on I really felt confident."

Sells would end the night leading the Lady Cats with 14 big points, most of them coming in the final 8 minutes. She connected on eight tries from the free throw line, and connected on two 3-pointers. Carr had a pair of 3-point baskets.

Carr added, "On this team, everybody is a starter. That means that everybody has to be ready to play at any time.

"Tonight, we needed outside shooting and we got it. I was so pumped up when I hit that three late in the game I almost got excited. It was a total team effort and that makes this so good."

The 56-52 final margin proved the Lady Cats could adjust to just about any situation. McCoin managed 7 big points inside, while Smith put in 6 and Carr added 8. Matthews hit for 10, showing Livingston has a balanced scoring attack regardless of who has the hot hand.

Farris topped all scorers with 25 points.

Coach Smith said, "She (Farris) is a very fine player, and she's only a freshman. She's got to be on everyone's top player list. It was a credit to our team to win tonight.

"Britany Smith and Brittany McCoin did a great job inside with her, and Chelsea and Alissa found the shooting range at the right time.

"We expect Ashley to get her points, and as usual, she came through."

By Saturday night, a lot of expectation was that if Livingston would stay within 25 points of Cleveland, it would be a moral victory. The Lady Cats just didn't see it that way.

Matthews said after the game, "We knew they were good, and we found out that their best player wasn't going to play tonight because of an injury. But hey, one of our best players (Jada Ledbetter) wasn't going to play either.

"We played our game, controlled the tempo pretty good, and Alison killed them from the foul line. It's a big win to say the least."

Cleveland High School brought all the credentials to LA, but a sore ankle to Kerrie Simpson was the one thing they didn't need to leave behind. With Simpson watching, her teammates pulled out to a 13-9 first period lead, but watched as Livingston knotted the score at 20 at intermission.

But in the third period, Matthews started to put on her show. The senior guard nailed a 3-pointer to start the frame, then followed with another basket, and suddenly, at 25-20, LA finally had the lead.

A 3-pointer from almost the parking lot by Matthews with 2:30 remaining in the period put the Lady Cats up by 6 and a lead they would never give up.

While Matthews was hot in the third period, it was West who sealed the deal with her shooting in the final period.

West opened the critical final period with a basket, then nailed a 3-pointer, then hit another basket and now LA led by 10. But the senior forward wasn't through. As time dwindled away, West went to the foul line and connected on 8 of 9 attempts. On the night, she was 13-15 from the line.

But Cleveland wasn't 17-2 and number 2 in the state for nothing. Trailing by 10 with less than a minute to go, the Lady Raiders stormed back and hit two critical threes, and suddenly what seemed like a sure win for LA was in doubt.

Livingston needed to survive 4.5 seconds after the inbound pass for the win, and naturally it was West who needed the ball. She got it, covered up, and held on.

"We just had to get the ball to her," Coach Smith said. "They couldn't call five seconds because there was less than five seconds to go.

"Alison got on a roll there at the end, and this entire team played so hard all night. Mallie (Stephens) doesn't show up much on the scorecard, but her defense has been a key to everything we are doing. We controlled the tempo tonight, and this is huge."

West led all scorers with 22 points, while Matthews added 12.

Cleveland Coach Rachel Moore pointed out, "Credit goes to Livingston Academy and Coach Smith. Sure, our top player was out, but that's not an excuse. That can happen anytime, and you have to be prepared to move on.

"I thought tonight Livingston did exactly what they had to do to win. The one girl (West) was outstanding, especially late in the game, and they played smart. My hat's off to them."

At 17-4, things continue to be tough for the Lady Cats. After travelling to Baxter on Tuesday, Jan. 16 to take on Upperman in a battle that could determine the regular season champion, the Lady Cats will travel to Macon County for another district game on Friday, Jan. 19.

Livingston Academy will host district foe York Institute on Tuesday, Jan. 23.

 

 

 

Thompson assists FHU in recent wins

Megan Thompson, of Overton County, was instrumental in recent wins by Freed-Hardeman University's Lady Lions.

Freed-Hardeman defeated Lyon College 88-53 on Thursday, Jan. 11. Thompson made 7 assists, pulled down 5 rebounds, scored 4 points, and had 2 steals in the game.

The Lady Lions then defeated Blue Mountain College 95-74 on Saturday, Jan. 13. Thompson scored 12 points on four 3-pointers, made 3 assists, had 4 rebounds, blocked a shot, and had 2 steals.

 

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Thurman helps Bryan College in victory

The 12th ranked Bryan College Lady Lions defeated Covenant 81-73 on Tuesday, Jan. 9 in an Appalachian Athletic Conference game at Dayton.

Kellie Thurman hurt the Lady Scots inside the paint with 16 points in the game.

Bryan (14-4, 7-0) also had 21 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocked shots from senior forward Sarah Coffman, and senior Brittany Swanson added 20 points. Ashley Gray scored 11, including two 3-pointers, for the Lady Lions.

Thurman has been on a scoring spree lately, with 18 points against Georgetown, 18 points against Brevard, 10 points against Milligan, and 10 points against Tennessee Wesleyan - all wins, and 15 points in a loss to Charleston Southern.

 

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Cats win over Smith County, Cleveland

Kassie Hunley/OCN Sports
LA's Jeremy McLearran makes a defensive move against a Cleveland shot attempt
.

By MAC McLEOD, OCN Sports
When they arrived in Byrdstown Tuesday night, Jan. 9, the Livingston Academy Wildcats were sporting a respectable 11-6 record, but the two previous games had resulted in losses, and perhaps a single A opponent could get them back on track.

After all, eight of the final 12 games of the season are against District 7-AA foes, and it would be important to get back to winning ways.

Pickett County would have nothing to do with that thinking, and as they traveled back down Highway 111 later in the evening, three straight losses were not what the Cats had in mind.

"Wednesday's practice was pretty tough," junior guard Todd Smith explained. "We ran and ran and ran. I don't think we even picked up a basketball all day. Coach felt like we were simply out of shape."

After dropping a 56-51 game to the Bobcats, the Wildcats rebounded well to play two good games Friday and Saturday night at home. On Friday, Jan. 12, Livingston whipped district foe Smith County 77-60, then scrapped their way to a solid 54-50 win against 3A opponent Cleveland High School on Saturday night, Jan. 13.

"We played much better Friday and Saturday night," Smith added. "As a team, we seemed to move better, shoot better, and control the tempo of the game better. Those are all things we are going to have to do from here on out.

"We go to Upperman Tuesday night for a big district game, and we're going to have to be on top of our game to best them. Upperman is good again this year." And the other thing that has to be good is Chase Dunn. The sophomore guard had an "off" night against his standards, scoring only 14 points, and the Cats lost. On Friday and Saturday night he dropped in a total of 47 and the Cats won.

Center Deven Ramsey pointed out, "There's no doubt, we feed off Chase. It seems as if Chase is having a good game scoring, we play much better. We might not need to be that way, but that's the way it seems.

Dunn answered back in his modest way, "I don't know about that. Some nights it just isn't there, then some nights it is. I try my best every time." Despite how hard he tried Tuesday night, "it just wasn't there."

Livingston jumped on top of Pickett County 16-5 in the first period, then saw the lead drop to 16-10 at the end of the period. At the half, the advantage had fallen to 4 at 25-21, and at the end of the third frame, the Wildcats were desperately clinging to a 34-32 edge.

In the final period, despite falling back by 6, the Bobcats clawed back, ripping the nets for 24 big points and taking the win.

Dunn could only manage 14 points for the Cats, while Ramsey and Tyson Stover connected for 8.

Wednesday at practice it was back to square one.

By Friday the hard work paid off. Dunn got back on his game, the team came back together, and the 17-point win could have as easily been 25.

Smith said, "Chase was Chase tonight. When he's on his game, you just can't stop him."

Although they only led by a point, 20-19, at the end of the first period, Dunn got fired up in the second frame, connecting for 7 points, including a 3-pointer, and Livingston led 38-29 at halftime.

In the third period, Dunn continued to nail the nets and got help inside from Ramsey and outside from Stover. Then in the final period, the Cats ran the routine of using the clock.

This time Dunn was good for 25 points, and Smith nailed 13. Ramsey, Stover, and Jeremy McLearran each added 8.

Saturday night, Cleveland High School brought its 10-9 record to town, and the 4 points that separated the two teams at the final buzzer was a good benchmark as to how the entire game went.

The Raiders, with 6-8 Drazen Zloughrich taking up a lot of space inside, moved ahead, 18-15 in the first period. Despite a slight height disadvantage inside, Ramsey held his own in the rebounding department and the ball seemed to bounce Livingston's way more times than not.

Ramsey admitted after the game, "He (Zloughrich) was big and he was pretty good, but tonight I played better, and we did get a lot of good bounces. Sometimes it pays to be a little lucky."

The game was knotted at 41 at the end of the third period, and in the final frame the game went back and forth. A critical rebound by Clint West with 7 seconds remaining, and two big free throws by Dunn seconds later, sealed the win for the Wildcats.

In the final period, Dunn had 9 of his 22 points for the night.

Smith said, "Chase was big all night, but in the final period, he was really big. We feed off him and he's good. That's not a bad combination." Stover had 12 points to aid the LA cause.

After a trip to Upperman High School on Tuesday night, Jan. 16 for one of the season's most important games, the Wildcats will travel to Lafayette on Friday, Jan. 19 for a district game against Macon County.

After last Friday's game, Ramsey said of the Upperman matchup, "They are big and they are good. We are going to have to go there and play good, smart ball. We know what we have to do, now if we can do it. These two wins will help, and I can't tell you how important they were after we lost those three straight."

Livingston Academy will host district rival York Institute on Tuesday, Jan. 23.

 

 

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