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Archives 02-24-2010

Sports

LA places 17 for district honors
Lady Cats place 3rd in District Tournament
Wildcats win District Tournament

 

LA places 17 for district honors
By Mac Mcleod,
OCN Sports

A total of 17 Livingston Academy players and one coach have received post season honors announced by District 8, 2A last week.

Junior Mackenzie Sells picked off the top honor in girls play being named Most Valuable Player for the 2009-2010 season. Joining Sells in honors included Shelby Taylor, second team and Mallory Mahaney and Samantha Maya , third team.

Freshman Sydney Staggs was named to the All-Freshman team while Mahaney was placed on the All-Defensive team.

Abby Miller, Alyssa Thompson, and Amber Welch all received honorable mention honors. The Lady Wildcats finished the regular season 23-7 and 7-2 and tied with Cannon County and Upperman for first place in the district.

Senior Wildcat T.J. Smith was named the district’s Most Valuable Player. Smith has been a solid performer for Livingston Academy for four years and this past season reached the 1,000-point mark.

Freshman Mason Ramsey was named to the district’s first team. Brad Jackson was placed on the second team, and Kailen Melton took third team honors. Jake Huitt received honorable mention.

Smith nailed down Defensive Player of the Year honors while Mason Ramsey was named Freshman of the Year and Brock McCoin was placed on the All-Freshman team.

Livingston Academy head coach Richard Melton was named Coach of the Year. Melton’s Wildcats have claimed the regular season title all five years of his coaching tenure at the school. The Wildcats finished the regular season 23-6 and perfect 10-0 in the district.


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Lady Cats place 3rd in District Tournament


Mac McLeod photo
Alyssa Thompson takes a 2-point shot in the tourney.


Mac McLeod photo
Mallory Mahaney is open for a basket in LA’s tourney loss.


Mac McLeod photo
McKenzie Sells moves in for a shot against Upperman.

By Mac McLeod,
OCN Sports

Last year the Lady Wildcats of Livingston Academy lost twice in the regular season to arch rival Upperman. Then in the championship game of the district tournament, they lost again. As usual, all three games were close and in the finals of the Region 4 tournament, LA turned the tables and won by two points. This led the Lady Cats all the way to the final game of the state tournament.

So what does that say about last Friday’s 42-39 loss to the Lady Bees in the District 8, 2A tournament at the Elben Center at Tennessee Tech?

Not much, other than it’s just another game in the long and arduous journey through the high school basketball playoffs. Sometimes it’s almost like the more a team loses, the better chance it has.

Following last week’s coin toss between Livingston, Cannon County, and Upperman to determine the seedings for the tournament, Cannon got the top spot, Livingston number two and Upperman three. All three had tied with identical 7-2 district records during the regular season.

Cannon County, by virtue of winning the toss, drew the bye while numbers two and three would face off in the second round Friday night. The winner faced Cannon in the title game Monday, and the loser played again Saturday for third and fourth place. All four moved on to the region tournament.

The only importance in any of the above situations is one and two will play at home and three and four will hit the road. Livingston will be on the road Friday night at a yet to be determined site against a team from District 7. The choices appear to be Chattanooga Christian or Grundy County.

In the Upperman contest, the Lady Cats were a slight favorite simply because they had won the two regular season meetings and Lady Cats head coach Lesley Smith couldn’t quite understand that.

“I don’t see how we can be a favorite,” Smith explained. “Both of us are about equal in talent and physical ability but we don’t have a big inside player like they do (Karissa Dyer).”

On paper, Smith was correct. In the two regular season games, Livingston won both by a total of eight points and both were well played by both teams. If anything, Smith and her chargers had the odds against them if nothing else and in the end, that was about all that separated the two rivals.

Mallory Mahaney and Abby Miller got the Lady Cats off to a good start with five quick points and Shelby Taylor and Samantha Maya added buckets during the opening frame, but at the buzzer, Upperman held an 11-9 advantage.

And as expected, it stayed close throughout the second period. Amber Welch put LA on the boards first to knot the score at 11 and Alyssa Thompson gave her team the lead with a three-point basket. Mackenzie Sells connected for a 16-11 LA lead, but two straight turnovers down the stretch of the frame closed the gap to one, 24-23, Upperman.

A controversial play at the buzzer saw Tori Stocking release a three-point shot that went through as the buzzer was sounding, but the officials maintained that her shot did not beat the horn. In the end, the Lady Cats could have used the three points.

At the end of the third period, despite baskets by Sells and Maya throughout the period, Upperman led 34-30 heading into the final period.

Welch opened the final frame with a basket and Taylor’s three-pointer with 6:44 remaining actually put LA back on top, 35-34. But down the stretch, the Lady Cats played very deliberate ball and shots in the final second wouldn’t go down.

“It looked like we were afraid to shoot,” a disappointed Smith explained after the game. “I don’t know why we wouldn’t shoot, but we kept passing the ball around and it just looked like nobody wanted to take the shot. You’ve got to shoot to make points in basketball.”

Sells led the LA attack with 14 points and Maya followed with six. Taylor added five, Mahaney and Welch had four, and Thompson and Miller each had three.
In Saturday’s consolation game, the Lady Cats had little trouble rolling over DeKalb County for the third time this year, 59-38.

Livingston took a 16-8 first period lead and never looked back. The Lady Cats led by 26, 46-20 going into the final period. Eleven of the 12 LA players who played scored. Sells was the top scorer with 11 while Thompson and Maya each had nine.

Miller and Stocking had five, Mahaney, Heather Cravens, Taylor, and Sydney Staggs nailed four, and Allison Dailey and Welch rounded out the score with two each.

With a third place finish and a 24-8 record, Livingston will find out early this week who and where they will play Friday. After Friday’s games, the tournament will move to Sparta at White County High School.

 


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Wildcats win District Tournament


Mac McLeod photo
Members of the 2010 District 8-AA Tournament Champion Livingston Academy Wildcats are, kneeling from left, Logan Beaty, Bubba Jolley, Heath Thompson, Creed Hayes, Brock McCoin, All-Tournament Player Jake Huitt, Hayden Hill, standing, Kendall Melton, MVP Brad Jackson, All-Tournament Player Mason Ramsey, Logan Ramsey, All-Tournament Player T.J. Smith, Adam Wilson, Kailen Melton, and Colby Reeder.


Mac McLeod photo
LA’s Mason Ramsey, #25, scuffles for control of the ball in the semifinal against Cannon County on Saturday.


Mac McLeod photo
Brad Jackson, #32, grabs a rebound away from a Cannon County Lion in the semi.

By Mac McLeod,
OCN Sports

Back when golfer Jack Nicklaus was so dominant, one of his competitors once observed that “Jack knows he can beat all of us and we all know Jack can beat all of us. The bad thing is Jack knows we know he can beat all of us.”

And that’s kinda how it has been in District 8, 2A boys basketball for the past six years. Most of the time, every team in the district knows Livingston Academy can beat them, and for the most part lately, the players on the Wildcats teams know they can beat any other team in the league. But unlike Nicklaus knowing what everybody else knows, a team will occasionally jump up and put a scare in the LA game plan.

Such was the case over the weekend at the district tournament played at the Eblen Center on the campus of Tennessee Tech in Cookeville. After winning yet another regular season championship and going through the league undefeated in the regular season, it was an almost forgone conclusion the Wildcats would win the title for the sixth straight time.

And they did, topping Cannon County 60-53 on Saturday in the semifinals, then rolling over Upperman 51-35 in the championship game on Monday. In the girls finals, Upperman toppled Cannon County 55-32.

“It is something I am really proud of,” explained senior Wildcat T.J. Smith. “I’ve been on the championship all four years. I’ve been lucky in that I’ve been on very good teams and now it has become a tradition,” he laughed as he dropped a gig on freshman Mason Ramsey. “Now you’re going to have to carry it on.”

Ramsey and his teammates should very well continue the tradition, but as far as head coach Richard Melton is concerned, they shouldn’t go out of their way to make it easy for the opposition.

“You can’t expect to walk in here and walk out with a title,” the coach told his team after a come from behind win over Cannon County Saturday. “You weren’t motivated out there tonight, and this is the post season where everything counts.

You’ve got to play motivated and not give the other team a chance to get back in the game. You’ve got to learn to put them away.”

What Melton was referring to was a weak performance most of the night against the Lions. The Wildcats would jump ahead only to fall back. At intermission Livingston led by 11, 32-21, then trailed 41-40 early in the fourth period. A strong final period by Brad Jackson and clutch free throw shooting late in the game finally pulled out the win.

Jackson had six points in the first half and 11 in the second, nine in the fourth frame.
It was Jackson’s strength inside and free throws from Jake Huitt, Kailen Melton, and Kendall Melton that finally salvaged the win for the Wildcats.

“Brad had a good game,” the coach said, “but as a team, we have got to be more mentally prepared and stay focused. That is hurting us right now and keeping us from being where we need to be at this stage of the season.”

Jackson’s 17 points paced Livingston while Mason Ramsey added 14, Huitt 10, Kendall and Kailen Melton each with 6, Smith with 5, and Adam Wilson with 2.

At the outset of Monday’s championship game against rival Upperman, it appeared Melton had gotten his message through. Huitt opened the game with a three-pointer and Smith did likewise. Sandwiched in between the two was an inside bucket by Mason Ramsey and suddenly LA was on a tear and went up 13-1 before the Bees knew what was going on.

Then, as in past performances, the LA attack sputtered, and at the intermission, Upperman was on top, 25-23. It was not the game it had started to be. Somewhere along the line, the Bees figured out they could win.

But to paraphrase a commercial: “What happens in the LA dressing room at halftime stays in the dressing room.”

Whatever Melton had to say to the team, no one was saying after the game, not even the coach, but it worked and worked extremely well.

In the third period, Jackson got things started off with a lay-up inside followed by a basket by Huitt, then another by Jackson and a three by Huitt and then a fast break led by Smith and suddenly, after Huitt’s second three-pointer of the period, LA was on a 16-0 run and at the buzzer, led 39-25. Upperman failed to score a single point in the third frame.

During the period, Livingston was called for seven fouls while Upperman only received one. At the outset of the final frame, that number became critical.

After a basket to open the period, the Bees walked to the foul line three straight times and connected on six straight points. It appeared that everything the Wildcats did resulted in a foul and the exact thing by the Bees went unnoticed.

Smith hit LA’s first basket of the period with 4:50 remaining in the game, then it became the Wildcats’ turn to go to the line. In a complete reversal of the first part of the period, the officials suddenly called everything on the Bees and LA responded with Brock McCoin hitting a pair, Smith hit three, and Huitt getting two. And Kailen Melton nailed a critical three-pointer with 2:10 left in the game to put the outcome out of question. The basket gave LA a 49-35 lead.

Smith led the Livingston scoring with 14 points followed by Huitt with 13 and Jackson with 10. Mason Ramsey added four while Kailen and Kendall Melton each dropped in three and Logan Ramsey and Brock McCoin had two.

The victory left Livingston with a 25-6 overall record.

Following the game, four Livingston boys and two Livingston girls were named to the All-Tournament teams. For the girls, Mackenzie Sells and Shelby Taylor received honors for the Lady Wildcats who finished third in the event. For the boys, it was Huitt, Mason Ramsey, Smith, and the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, Jackson.

The Wildcats will hit the hardwoods Saturday at 7 pm in Livingston to host either Sequatchie County or Bledsoe County.



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