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LA Wildcats win two games, hit buzzsaw against Melrose
Lady Cats post 3 wins in opening week play
Macy Savage wins Bronze in Spain
Just Thinkin'

LA Wildcats win two games, hit buzzsaw against Melrose
By Mac McLeod,
OCN Sports

Before Tuesday’s basketball season opener in Red Bank, LA head coach Richard Melton pointed out that his team “loved to play bigger and better than us. We’ll take some lumps along the way, but its important to learn and we have got to learn to play against teams with a lot of speed.”

After posting a pair of wins early in the Hall of Fame Classic, played Tuesday night in Red Bank and Saturday in Jackson, the Wildcats found a team much quicker than they were in Melrose of Memphis.

After taking his team to the state finals for the past two seasons, only to get beat in the open round by much quicker teams, Melton made it a point to get some experience early this time around, hoping a return trip to Murfreesboro wouldn’t end like the previous two.

Melrose, one of the top teams in the Memphis area with two big time college prospects on the roster, took no prisoners in rolling over the outmanned Wildcats, 85-40.

Livingston did have a few issues of its own prior to the game as starting guard Jake Huitt fell ill on the trip to Jackson and returned home. Brad Jackson, one of the big men inside, reinjured an old ankle sprain, and another of the starters, Kailen Melton, also sustained an ankle injury in one of the earlier games.

That being noted, the results would have probably been much the same as Melrose took command early, racing out to a 25-10 first quarter lead then running away to a 48-22 halftime margin. At no time did LA threaten to come close.

The Golden Wildcats were out front 67-31 at the end of the third quarter with rebounding strength and overall speed doing most of the damage. The winners had little trouble scoring either.

T.J. Smith led Livingston in scoring with 15 points while Mason Ramsey and Adam Wilson added six each, Brock McCoin and Logan Beaty dropped in four, and Kendall Melton, Logan Ramsey, and Colby Reeder each hit for two.

Before running into the Melrose buzzsaw Saturday afternoon, the Wildcats were successful on Tuesday night, running away from Red Bank late to a 74-62 win and also stopping Lexington 54-31 earlier Saturday.

Freshman Mason Ramsey took over in the Red Bank contest, nailing a game-high 20 points. Smith added 14 and Logan Ramsey was good for 13. Kailen Melton had 11, Jackson put in six, Kendall Melton had five, and Hayden Hill had two.

After a close 14-13 first quarter, Livingston eased out to a 31-28 halftime lead against Red Bank. At the end of the third frame, the Wildcats were only ahead by five, 48-43, but the outmanned Lions just couldn’t hold on.

Saturday’s first game in Jackson saw Livingston and Lexington fight to an 8-8 deadlock at the end of the first period and actually trail by one, 18-17, at intermission.

In the third frame, Wilson took a hot hand as did the Ramsey duo of Mason and Logan while the Meltons, Kendall and Kailen, nailed down five quick points and the Wildcats emerged on top, 36-27, heading into the final eight minutes.

T.J. Smith got things rolling in the final frame then Mason Ramsey added a pair and LA was out 40-27. McCoin slammed home a three-point basket, Logan Ramsey followed with a field goal, and Creed Hayes sealed it off with a final three-pointer.

Smith led the LA attack with 14 points. Logan Ramsey followed with eight, Mason Ramsey had five as did McCoin. Wilson was good for six, Kendall and Kailen Melton along with Hayes and Beaty each had added three, and Reeder added one.

After playing at Pickett County on Tuesday, Nov. 24, the Wildcats, 2-1, will be back in action in Dyer County on Friday, Nov. 27 against Fayette Ware, and Saturday, Nov. 28 against Dyer County. The Cats will visit Cookeville on Tuesday, Dec. 1 to take on the Cavaliers.




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Lady Cats post 3 wins in opening week play
By Mac McLeod,
OCN Sports

Basketball season got underway at Livingston Academy over the past week with both the boys and girls teams combining to collect five wins and only a single defeat.

After posting a 25-13 record last season that carried them to the final game in the state playoffs, the Lady Wildcats picked right up where they left off starting last Tuesday on the road at Red Bank posting their first win of the young season, 82-67.

Coach Lesley Smith needed to find the right combination of players that could work well together both offensively and defensively, and that started coming together late in the game.

Before the game started the coach pointed out, “It’s early in the season and it’s not about winning or losing, it’s finding out what we can and can’t do.”

Mallory Mahaney got the season started off right with a three-point bucket at the outset of the contest. Shelby Taylor and Alyssa Thompson each followed with baskets that pushed the Lady Cats out to a quick 7-0 lead. Red Bank finally got its offense rolling and at the end of the first quarter, LA held a 21-13 lead.

Amber Welch followed Mahaney’s lead to open the second quarter as the senior nailed a three-pointer to push the lead to 26-13, and at the intermission, Livingston was in control 39-30. Ten of 11 Lady Cats scored in the first half.

Taylor and Abby Miller continued to add to the LA score, and going into the final frame, the visitors were in command 58-44.

Taylor paced the LA attack with 20 points while Thompson added 17, Mahaney 12, Miller nine, Allison Dailey six, Mackenzie Sells and Kayla William each had four, Welch hit for three, Sidney Staggs added two, and Heather Cravens rounded out the scoring with one.

On Saturday, the Lady Cats continued their season at Clarkrange in the Hall of Fame Classic taking on Cumberland in the morning and Coalfield later in the afternoon.

Defense, the trademark of LA girls basketball over the years, again appeared, holding Cumberland County to a mere 49 points in a 78-49 decision.

The Lady Cats showed a strong defense early while Sells was finding the offensive range, hitting for 10 points in the first quarter and pacing LA to a 28-16 lead. In the second quarter, a three-point basket by Tori Stocking, free throws by Sells, and a demanding defense passed by Dailey moved Livingston to a 52-25 lead at the intermission.

The second half was almost a repeat of the first as Livingston simply wouldn’t allow Cumberland to get to the boards.

Sells led the scoring with 21 points followed by 12 from Stocking, nine from Taylor, eight from Dailey, seven from Welch, six from Williams, five each from Thompson and Miller, three from Mahaney, two from Staggs, and one from Craven.

In the nightcap, the Lady Cats finished off a perfect 3-0 week with a 55-39 come from behind win over Coalfield.

After trailing 32-24 at intermission, the Lady Cats came alive with a 7-3 run to open the second half, then applied a defense that only allowed Coalfield seven points in the entire final half.

Miller turned the hot hand in the comeback offensively, hitting a three-pointer late in the third frame to pull LA to within one, 35-34, then connected at the buzzer to finally put her team up by one headed into the final frame.

In the final frame, the Lady Cats came alive, racing out to a 14-0 run at one point then cruising to win.

Sells led all scorers with 24 points with Miller adding 13, Mahaney 11, Thompson four, Stocking three, and Taylor and Dailey getting two.

After playing at Pickett County on Tuesday, Nov. 24, the Lady Wildcats will travel to LaVergne on Wednesday, Nov. 25 to play Oakland. The Lady Cats will visit Cookeville on Tuesday, Dec. 1 to take on the Cavaliers.


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Macy Savage wins Bronze in Spain


Macy Savage, at right, 7 year-old daughter of Marty and Melissa Savage, and member of the 2009 World Karate Association-USA National Karate Team, recently traveled to Huelva, Spain, to compete in the WKA World Championships on October 27 through November 2. The Hunter’s Karate student won bronze medals in the girls 55 lb. point fighting and light continuous fighting divisions.

 


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Just Thinkin'


LA Wildcats seniors who went through it all are, front row from left, #7 Dylan Ashlock, #41 Kevin McGregor, #11 Dylan Harris, #8 Brannon McCoin, #16 Ty Eldridge, #73 Jordan Danner, #14 David Winningham, back row, #58 Tracy McDonald, #75 Justin Hill, #62 Seth Kilgore, #74 Talon Sircy, #71 Daniel Miller, #55 Jacob Beu, and #53 Ridge Harris.

By Mac McLeod,
OCN Sports

In last weeks’ “North County Line” I got interested in what Bob was saying since it pertained to journalism. Having made a living for many years writing sports stories for three or four newspapers during my working career, I always enjoyed seeing how others went at the profession.

For the most part, I agreed with Bob, but the one thing in the entire column that stuck in my mind was the last sentence: “The point of good writing is knowing when to stop”.

Now if the truth was ever told it was right there. Me, I never seem to know when to stop and Overton County News editor, Dewain Peek, will be the first to agree. Every week for the past seven or eight years I have been sending Dewain football or basketball stories pertaining to Livingston Academy and more than once we have talked about how long they are. Heck, I can get carried away and almost force publisher Carson Oliver to add several more sports pages.

But I try to cover the point and still not lose the audience. I was told many years ago to make a story like a lady’s skirt: long enough to cover the subject, but short enough to make it interesting.

That always made sense to me, but there are some subjects that require a little more than just the plain facts to make it interesting. It has always been my job, I felt, to get as many names of these young athletes in the paper as possible. I want them to be able to show their children 20 years down the road just what they did when they were in high school.

And just as important, I want the stories more than just numbers and wins and losses. It must be told as a story or I haven’t done my job.

And such is the case of Livingston Academy Football for the past four seasons.

We are all familiar with the story of the 2005 Wildcats team and how it went 5-5 in the regular season then staged one of the most spectacular playoff runs in Tennessee history to win the state championship.

Those were the good days, but when graduation rolled around the following spring, most of that team was gone. Along with returning players from the sophomore and junior classes was a group of 28 freshmen that, like young recruits in the army, were there but didn’t expect to see much action.

First thing that happened to the team was coach Matt Eldridge moved on up the ladder. The vacancy was filled by Danny McCoin, one of the school’s most decorated athletes. McCoin was a standout at the University of Cincinnati then went to the professional ranks before being injured.

By his own admission later, McCoin always said that the only thing he really wanted to do was return to Livingston Academy and be a coach. Now he had the chance, but in the real world, it was a bittersweet opportunity.

With the core of the championship team gone and playing in arguably the strongest region in the entire state, McCoin entered the season with optimism, but also reality.

In one of the pre-season’s first outings, his starting senior quarterback went down with a broken collarbone. And it didn’t get any easier from that point on. When the season was over, the Wildcats were 1-9 and McCoin stepped down.

Next season, Grant Swallows gave the head coaching spot a try and, as McCoin before him, he finished 1-9 and moved on to another job. Now it was Bruce Lamb’s opportunity, but having been around through the good times and bad, Lamb was well aware of what was ahead.

After his first year, like his two predecessors, Lamb had a 1-9 record. He also had only 14 of the 24 players who started as freshmen three years before.

“We were moved to a more competitive region and I had 12 seniors who had been tested in fire to build with, “ Lamb would point out. “Those two things plus some new coaches were going to return us to where we once were.”

That’s what happened and going back to the rule of “know where to stop” should end this story right here. But there’s a lot more to be said about this year’s LA Wildcats.

First things first. The 14 seniors remaining of the 28 that started four years back included: Dylan Ashlock, Brannon McCoin, Dylan Harris, David Winningham, Ty Eldridge, Kevin McGregor, Ridge Harris, Jacob Beu, Tracy McDonald, Seth Kilgore, Daniel Miller, Jordan Danner, Talon Sircy, and Justin Hill.

In those 14 names are more stories than we have paper to put them on, but here are just a few. Collectively, they all knew how it was to lose. After all, they had lost 27 of 30 games the past three years. Some had quit during that span then returned. In doing so, they had to do extra work. One, Danner, even had to quit because of sickness in his sophomore year, but over the next two years went to every practice and every game, knowing full well, he wouldn’t dress out.

“These kids were all winners,” Lamb goes on. “They had every opportunity in the world to quit, but they didn’t. They stuck it out on a team that probably had more things against it than any team in the history of this school. I will never be able to say enough about these 14 players who, in the end, finally saw the true meaning of hard work pays off. I speak for all our coaches I think when I say, it was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity to work with such a fine group of young men.”

And if one player had to be singled out as taking the brunt of it all had to be quarterback Brannon McCoin. Expectations were high for him before he got to the school. His dad had been a star there and he was being groomed to fill in for the highly talented Wilson Cates who had rewritten many of the records at the school.

But Brannon never got the chance to be groomed, he was thrown in the battle his first game but survived to his senior year where he led his team to an 8-4 record and a second round berth in the state playoffs.

Hats off to every senior on the team and two hats off to McCoin. Very few freshmen are ever confronted with what he faced yet he did his best every time out and remarkably, never sustained a serious injury.

“There were several times when I didn’t think he would get up,“ Danny would say one time.

“What Brannon was asked to do as a freshman never allowed him to build on his skills,” Lamb adds. “He didn’t have the chance to come in a few plays here and there after the outcome of a game was decided. He had to walk out there in the toughest league in the state and take the first snap and every snap after that. You can never underestimate what he was asked to do and what he did. “

And not only did he face opponents on the other side of the ball, he also had to face his dad who was the offensive coordinator. Danny had played the game the way he knew it should be played and he wanted Brannon to do it the same way. Sometimes the two didn’t see eye to eye on things, but again, Brannon went on doing his job the best he could.

And in the final meeting of the team after the playoff loss, Danny stood before the entire team and had high praise for his son. “There was a lot of tough love with me and number eight.”

With that, he had said it all. The coach, the father and player all knew, that in the end, Brannon had done much more than he should have been asked to do, and did it with class and to the best of his ability.

So here would be a good place to stop. I’m sure by now I’ve said too much to keep your attention, but it was one of those stories I have wanted to write for several years, but never found the right opportunity.

Now, with the season over and the career of 14 players finished for good at Livingston Academy, it was time to say it. The time was finally right. To the 14 who stayed and struggled and lost and cried and tried again and again and again, take pride in the fact you stayed with it through thick and thin and in the end, you came out on top. You went from 3-27 to 8-4 and that was one rough trip but it had a very successful ending.

As the ole saying goes: quitters never win and winners never quit. Nowhere has it made a better fit.

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Overton County News
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