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Archives 02-14-2007

Sports

Earl Lloyd to speak at TTU February 19
Lady Cats take season championship from Upperman
Rickman Lady Bulldogs take 1st place in state
Cats continue as District 7-AA season champs

 

Earl Lloyd to speak at TTU February 19

The first African-American to play or to serve as assistant coach for an NBA basketball team will give a presentation at 5 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 19, in the Tech Pride Room of the Roaden University Center at Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville.

Earl Lloyd, as part of the university's Black History Month celebration, will share some of his experiences and answer questions from the audience.

A West Virginia State graduate, Lloyd became the NBA's first African-American basketball player when he turned pro in 1950. His team was the Washington Capitols.

After starting out with the Capitols, he went on to a solid NBA career playing for the Syracuse Nationals and coaching for the Detroit Pistons.

While playing for Syracuse in 1955, Lloyd, alongside teammate Jim Tucker, became the first African-American to win an NBA title.

He became the NBA's first African-American assistant coach when he joined the staff of the Detroit Pistons in 1968. Still working on the staff of the same team three years later, Lloyd became the first African-American bench coach and only the second African-American head coach.

Among the future Hall of Fame players he coached at the time were Dave Bing and Bob Lanier.

Lloyd's presentation is free and open to the public. For more information about it, or other Black History Month events at the university, call the Minority Affairs Office at (931) 372-3392.

 

 

Lady Cats take season championship from Upperman

Kassie Hunley/OCN Sports
Senior Ashley Matthews brings the ball around for LA.

By MAC McLEOD, OCN Sports
After 28 games, almost three months of practice and play, everything the Livingston Academy girls and boys basketball teams had been working for came to a head Friday night, Feb. 9 when arch rival and district 7-AA contender Upperman came to the LA gym for the big showdown.

"It's championship night," LA girls coach Lesley Smith grinned. "Tonight, the winners go home district champs, the losers take second place."

And when it was over and the packed crowd filed out, it was the two Livingston Academy teams that were holding the titles, and it was Upperman that had to settle for second place.

When the night started, the Lady Wildcats were holding a 22-6 overall record and a 9-2 mark in the district. The Lady Bees came into the contest with a 27-2 mark and a 9-1 league mark. A loss by Livingston would give the title to Upperman, and a loss by Upperman (plus a win in its final league game) would produce a tie in the loss column.

In the first meeting between the two teams a month earlier in Baxter, the Lady Bees took a convincing 70-57 win and marked themselves as the team to beat for the championship.

"It sounds a little complicated," Coach Smith said, "but Upperman, with one district game to go, has a loss to York and we beat York twice, so the tie-breaker would go to us.

"The bottom line is, we have to win tonight."

Livingston set up the "championship night" with 9 district wins over the season, including a convincing 79-43 win over Cannon County on Tuesday night, Feb. 6. It was just a warm-up game for the Lady Cats. Livingston came out hot from the opening tip and led 22-3 at the end of the first period.

Things didn't get any better for the visiting Lady Lions, but it gave Coach Smith a chance to use just about everybody on the team.

At halftime, LA led by 15, 38-23, then ripped it open in the third period and were on top 62-27 going into the final 8 minutes.

And although "Senior Night" was three nights away, senior Alison West decided to put her best foot forward in advance. West ripped the cords with 12 points in the first half, and ended the night leading all scorers with 21.

Kendria Kilgore hit for 11, while Ashley Matthews dropped in 9, and Mallie Stephens and Alison West each scored 8.

West said, "It was a good chance for us to work on our defense. I thought we played well, and we probably need a little break before going against Upperman Friday. It was a good team effort and a lot of players got to play."

West and her teammates knew well that Upperman is always strong and a win before that game could only help in the confidence department.

Regardless of where the game is played, Upperman and Livingston usually bring out the best in each other and the best in the district. Friday's game would do nothing to disprove that.

Matthews got LA's first 5 points with a pair of free throws and a 3-pointer early in the game, and West went inside to up the LA lead to 3 at 7-4. Stephens scored the next 7 Livingston points as the game went back and forth. At the horn, Livingston was on top 18-13.

Upperman didn't let the first period spread cause any problems as the Lady Bees came right back with 7 straight points in the early minutes of the second period, and during the run, LA's West picked up her third foul.

Kilgore replaced the valuable West and went on a scoring spree herself, getting the final 4 points of the period, and Livingston was back on top, 26-23, at intermission.

Coach Smith would later point out, "Both teams played outstanding defense in the first half. Upperman is a class act, and you never count them out unless you have a 10-point lead with 10 seconds remaining in the game."

When the third period was over, the game was knotted at 38. Two 3-point baskets by Matthews proved critical during the frame as Upperman hit three 3-point shots.

Then in the final period, Upperman made several critical mistakes, including sending West to the free throw line four times, where she connected on 7 of 8 tries. In the meantime, Matthews was drilling home 7 points and Kilgore would match the number with 7 of her own.

At the buzzer, Livingston was on top with a convincing 57-45 win and the district crown.

West said, "The key to the whole thing was defense. We have really been playing good defense for the past several games, and tonight, when it really counted, we played good defense again."

Matthews chimed in, "You have to give Upperman credit, they are a well-coached team with a lot of talent.

"This may have been our best effort of the season, and whenever you play them, you have to be at your best. I'm sure we'll see them again."

Assistant coach Elizabeth Maxwell added, "Coach Smith leaned over to me in the second period and pointed out that ‘those are two great teams out there.' And she was right. That was a great high school basketball game with two fine teams playing. It was just a privilege to be a part of it."

The Lady Cats had four players in double figures, Matthews with 19 points, Kilgore with 13, Stephens with 12, and West with 11.

Stephens said, "We played hard and we won tonight. It was fun playing against them (Upperman), and it was great to win. They win at their place and we win at ours, but now we have to go to their place for the tournament. Maybe it will be our time to win at their place.

"We will have to be totally focused when we go there, and we will have to come up with another game just like this one."

With their win Friday night over Upperman, the seniors on the Livingston Academy basketball team can add another milestone to their list of accomplishments. The victory marked the 99th win for the seniors over the past four years.

Coach Smith said, "That's quite an accomplishment. This is a fine group of young ladies who have continued a fine reputation of Livingston Academy basketball.

"They have played together so well, and they have never given up. There were times when they could have, but they didn't, and the entire coaching staff is very proud of them, their effort and their contribution.

"We will surely miss each and every one of them."

Seniors on this year's squad include Ashley Matthews, Brittany McCoin, Alison West, Mallie Stephens, Jada Ledbetter, and Britany Smith.

As district champions, the Lady Cats will see tournament action Saturday night at 7 p.m. against the winner of the Smith County/Macon County game, which will be played Friday afternoon at 5. p.m.

The District 7-AA Tournament consolation game will be held at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 19, and the championship game will follow at 8 p.m.

 

 

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Rickman Lady Bulldogs take 1st place in state

photo courtesy of Rickman Elementary School
Rickman Elementary School's Lady Bulldogs again took 1st place in the James C. Haile State Tournament in Murfreesboro for the second consecutive year.

Courtesy of Rickman Elementary Sports Department
Members of the Rickman Elementary School girls basketball team put the finishing touches on their basketball season by claiming their second consecutive state championship on February 3 at the James C. Haile State Tournament in Murfreesboro.

The road was a hard one for the Lady Bulldogs as they battled four tough opponents in route to the championship.

The Lady Bulldogs found themselves facing Friendship Christian in their first round game at Murfreesboro. They played solid despite a tough shooting night as they claimed a 34-19 victory.

Seven of the girls entered the scoring column for a total team victory. Mackenzie Sells led the way with 13 points, Taylor Eldridge chipped in 8, Abby Miller added 6, Abby Stephens, Ashley Boykin, and Haley Norris each had 2, and Kelsey Copeland rounded out the scoring with 1 point.

In their second game, the Lady Bulldogs were matched up against a strong, well-coached Forrest team. Forrest had a definite size advantage, but their size was no match against Rickman's speedy running game.

At the end of the night, the Lady Bulldogs found themselves winning by a score of 55-38.

Mackenzie Sells again led with 29 points, Taylor Eldridge followed up with 10, Abby Miller and Ashley Boykin each contributed 6, and Haley Norris racked up 4 points.

The Rickman team faced a very familiar foe in its semi-final game as they took on Livingston Middle School.

The two teams had already squared off numerous times over the course of the season.

The game was very well-played and was tight throughout until the Lady Bulldogs made a run in the second half. As the horn sounded, the Lady Bulldogs were crowned champions in its division.

Mackenzie Sells was again at the top in scoring with 22 points, Taylor Eldridge and Haley Norris each added 8 points, Abby Miller had 5 points, and Kelsey Copeland scored 2.

Three of the Lady Bulldogs were selected for the All-Tournament team -Mackenzie Sells, Taylor Eldridge, and Abby Miller. Coach Jimmy Miller, however, gave credit to all the girls for the win.

"What a total team effort!" he said. "We told our girls before each game that whoever was the most intense team on the court was the team that was going to win.

"We had several girls step up for their team during the tournament and that is promising, and also, we are so deep that different girls stepped up big on different nights, and that is a rare quality to have on any team,” he said.

The Lady Bulldogs season is not over. After competing in county tournaments, they will play in the McDonald's Mid-South Classic February 16-18 in Hopkinsville, KY, competing against teams from several different states.

"This is a great opportunity for our kids and a great opportunity for Rickman School," Coach Miller said. "We get to go face teams we would never play in the regular season and get to go against some of the best teams in the southeast region."

 

 

 

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Cats continue as District 7-AA season champs

Kassie Hunley/OCN Sports
| LA junior Todd Smith moves toward the basket in Friday's win over Upperman.

By MAC McLEOD, OCN Sports
In the case of the Livingston Academy girls basketball team, they had to beat rival Upperman last Friday then go to a tie breaker to determine the District 7-AA championship. For the boys, it was clear and simple: win and take the crown; lose and settle for second place.

"It was pretty cut and dry," Wildcats center Deven Ramsey pointed out after he and his teammates had just defeated Upperman 77-68 in overtime to take their second straight championship. "We knew exactly what we had to do and we did it. It's a good feeling knowing you're the champions, and right now we're all pretty happy with that."

Ramsey and his teammates entered the game with a 9-2 district record. Upperman had two losses as well, so it came down to who would leave with fewest defeats.

"When we lost to them at their place, we still felt like we were the better team," the big sophomore continued. "They are a really good team, and when you beat them, it makes it a little special. Beating them and winning the championship makes it that much better."

In the first meeting between the to titans of the district, the Bees came away with a 5-point, 67-62, win and sole possession of the top spot in the league. Friday's game was for all the marbles, and when it came to crunch time, the Wildcats were determined they would win.

LA head coach Richard Melton said, "It was a confidence thing. We know how good Upperman is. They are always strong, and when you play them, you have to play your best to have a chance to win.

"I thought we played well tonight. We played outstanding defense, and we got the ball inside to Deven. He didn't make all his shots, but he was so close I knew sooner or later he would find the range."

To reach Friday's all important game with the Bees, the Wildcats had one more league foe to get past and they did it with ease, pounding Cannon County 73-42 on Tuesday, Feb. 6. Earlier in the season, at Woodbury, Livingston had to go to double overtime to claim a 79-74 hard fought win.

LA guard Todd Smith recalled, "That was just one of those nights. We didn't play well down there, we never do, and they played extremely well. I don't remember much about that game except they shot the lights out and we had to make a lot of free throws in overtime to win.

"This time around, we were in our game and it wasn't all that hard, especially the way Tyson (Stover) shot tonight."

It was indeed Stover's night. The Wildcats' only senior moved Senior Night up a couple days on Tuesday as he nailed seven 3-point shots and ended the game with a total of 26 to lead all scorers. Chase Dunn added 11 and Ramsey had 8 in the Wildcats' 20th win of the season.

Coach Melton said, "That could have well been Tyson's best game ever. He not only made all those points, but he took a couple charges as well. He's the best I've seen taking a charge."

As for the soft spoken Stover, it was all in a day's work.

"They just started to fall (the 3-point shots) and I kept on shooting them. It was fun," he smiled.

Friday's game was a more serious affair. Everything was on the line and the Wildcats played it just that way. Using balanced scoring from the field, excellent aim from the foul line, and outstanding defense, the Wildcats earned the number one seed in this week's district tournament.

Livingston jumped out to a 20-16 lead at the end of the first period, riding two 3-pointers from Dunn and one from Stover. Clint West put up two 3-pointers in the second period as both teams battled on an almost even keel. At the intermission, the game was tied at 34.

Upperman went up by 3 at the end of the third period, 47-44, but the Wildcats refused to fold. Dunn started off the final frame with a big 3-pointer, then much of the period was spent at the foul line. Livingston went to the line four times and came away with 6 points.

In the final second, Dunn drove the lane for a lay-up that forced the overtime at 58.

In the overtime, the Wildcats again marched to the foul line in regularity, this time nailing the cords 15 times. Ramsey had a pair, Dunn hit four, Stover was good for five, and Smith was deadly with four. In between, Jordan Everley hit a critical basket as did Smith. After Ramsey hit the first two foul shots to open the period, the Wildcats never trailed.

Dunn said, "We got hot there in the overtime, and we were determined to win. We're on a roll."

Dunn led the LA attack with 23 points, while Ramsey put in 16 once he found his range. Smith had 14, with 6 from the foul line, and Stover added 8 and West 7.

About the only bad news for both the LA boys and girls teams Friday night was the district tournament gets underway this week and it's played at Upperman High School, a place that has never been kind to the Livingston Academy teams.

Smith said, "We'll just have to go over there with confidence and do what we do best. We can win at Upperman just as easily as we can win anywhere."

The LA boys will get into action Saturday night at 8:30 p.m. against the winner of the DeKalb/Macon County game. One of Livingston's losses this year came at DeKalb County, and the Wildcats defeated Macon twice.

The consolation game will be held at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 20, with the championship game to follow at 8 p.m.

 

 

 

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