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Archives 12-14-2010

Sports

Dunn heads home Thursday when Tenn Tech plays at LA
Cats give Miller win in first game as coach
Lady Cats fall to Lady Blue Devils, rebound against Lady Dragons
Letter To The Editor


Dunn heads home Thursday when Tenn Tech plays at LA

Tennessee Tech has added a game to the men’s basketball schedule, replacing a contest that was postponed a couple of weeks back.

The Golden Eagles will host Hiwassee College on Thursday, Dec. 16 in a game to be played at Livingston Academy. The game will begin at 7 p.m.

Not only will it give Tech fans in the Upper Cumberland region an additional opportunity to see the Golden Eagles play, redshirt freshman Chase Dunn will return to the high school gym where he set the Livingston Academy career scoring record.

TTU Coach Mike Sutton said, “This is going to be an exciting night for Chase, and a great opportunity for our team and our fans in the region. Chase gets to go home and play in front of the fans who followed his tremendous high school career. Our players are excited about an opportunity to play another game close to home and possibly attract some fans who may have never seen a Golden Eagle basketball game.”

Tech’s home game against Appalachian State was postponed on Tuesday, Nov. 23, and will not be rescheduled during the 2010-2011 season.

The game against Hiwassee could not be played in Tech’s home venue, Eblen Center, because the facility will be set up all week for hosting Fall Commencement ceremonies on Saturday, Dec. 18.

All of Tennessee Tech’s basketball season tickets will be honored at the game in Livingston, and Tech students will be admitted free with a valid TTU ID.

All seating will be general admission, with tickets priced at $5 per person. Tickets will be available in advance at the Athletics Ticket Office in Eblen Center or online at TTUsports.com.

Tickets are also on sale in advance at Livingston Academy, and Thursday night at the game. Doors will open at 6 p.m.

Fans holding tickets to the Appalachian State game may trade those tickets in and receive two tickets to the Hiwassee game in Livingston.

For additional information on tickets call the Athletics Ticket Office at (931) 372-3940.

A 2009 graduate of Livingston Academy, Dunn was an all-state selection and Tennessee Mr. Basketball finalist following his senior season for the Wildcats.

Named the District 7-AA Player of the Year and Region 4-AA MVP, he was chosen a 3-time Upper Cumberland Player of the Year by the Cookeville Herald-Citizen.

In his senior campaign, Dunn averaged 22 points and 4 assists per game, after notching 23 points per game as a junior and 20 per outing as a sophomore. He finished with 2,508 career points for the school record, including a career-best 49-point explosion in the Region 4-AA semifinals as a junior.

He was a redshirt on the Golden Eagle roster in 2009-10 in his first season at Tech, and this year has played in all six of Tech’s games, averaging 5.7 points and 12.7 minutes per contest. He ranks second on the team in 3-pointers made and steals, and third in free throw percentage.

Dunn scored 12 points, including a 3-pointer and hitting 3 of 4 free throws, in Tech’s 98-94 loss to Lipscomb on Saturday, Dec. 11. He also made an assist in his 17 minutes on the court.



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Cats give Miller win in first game as coach



Mac McLeod photo
In his first game as the new head coach at Livingston Academy, Jimmy Miller takes a look at what his team is doing. Apparently they were doing it right as the Wildcats gave Miller a 60-44 win in his first time out.

Mac McLeod photo
Trying to get the ball up court, Wildcat Creed Hayes looks to pass to a teammate in last week’s game with Jackson County.

Mac McLeod photo
With his eye on the mark, Livingston’s Logan Ramsey takes the ball to the hoop in Friday’s game with York. Ramsey scored 11 points in the Wildcats’ win.

By Mac McLeod,
OCN Sports

When the players on the Livingston Academy boys basketball team arrived at school Friday morning, they had one thing on their minds: beat York. By the time they got to Jamestown Friday night, they had a “new guy driving the bus” and a lot of unanswered questions.

By mid-morning, while the players were in class, their coach, Richard Melton, was in principal Lesley Riddle’s office resigning and assistant principal Jimmy Miller was taking on a new responsibility – coaching the high powered Wildcats that had won five straight district championships and were undefeated in league play for the past two seasons.

“To say I’m a little nervous would be quite an understatement,” the likeable new coach said while his players were changing into their uniforms before the big game.

“This has been quite a day, not only for me, but for those kids in there (pointing to the dressing room). For most of them, Coach Melton is the only coach they have ever played for going back to grade school and now, tonight, they are having to make a very big change. I’ll try not to mess them up.”

Miller was true to his word. He didn’t get in the way and before a packed house of loyal and vocal Dragons fans, the Wildcats came out and put on perhaps their finest performance of the young season, whipping the home team 66-40. It will be a “first win” Miller will not soon forget.

But Friday’s win was only part of a much bigger story that took several days, if not longer, to unfold.

Melton had been a highly successful coach for the Wildcats for going on six seasons. His teams had rolled through District 7, 2A every year under his leadership to district championships. They had also won two regional titles and went to the state finals two consecutive years. His teams had posted a 139-41 record, outstanding by any measure, but now things were changing.

On Tuesday, the Wildcats suffered one of their most humbling setbacks of Melton’s tenure, falling to a good single A Jackson County team 71-48. During the contest, Melton benched his entire starting five, the entire third period, showing his displeasure in their performance. The return of the starters in the final frame did nothing to change the outcome of the game.

That loss came on the back of a Saturday defeat at the hands of an outstanding team from Marshall County. The Wildcats were 3-5 going into Tuesday’s game, one of their slower starts to a season, but Melton was known for playing strong teams early to get his team in playing shape.

All that added up to a vital game in Jamestown Friday night and the team responded well to the new coach.

“I have to give all the credit to the players and that man,” he said pointing to assistant coach, Nate Kennard. “The players showed tonight they can get the job done and coach Kennard stayed with me and got me through my first game. This will be a day none of us will forget, but in the end, it turned out okay. I can’t say enough about the great effort the players put forth under such adverse conditions.”

The loss to Jackson County was enough to make the Cats feel bad, but after everything else that went on, it was only a minor mark. When they hit the floor in Jamestown, the team appeared happy and loose and that was a good sign. When they left two hours later they made a statement, that once again, Livingston Academy is the team to beat in the district.

In Tuesday’s loss, things started off badly. The Wildcats used baskets by Logan and Mason Ramsey and a pair of free throws to take an 8-2 lead, then the lid slammed shut on the basket and regardless how hard they tried, the Cats couldn’t get it back open. By the half, Jackson County was on top by 2, 27-25, and like sharks at feeding time, they smelled blood.

With the starters watching from the bench in the third period, Jackson County went on a roll and led by 17, 49-32, when the final period started.

By now, it was too late to make a comeback and the visitors were simply playing too good to be overtaken. The 23-point loss was one of the worst regular season defeats in over five seasons.

Friday would be a real test for the Wildcats and when it was over, they passed it with flying colors.

Putting all distractions behind them, the Cats jumped on the home team Dragons like a junk yard dog, leading 16-10 at the end of the first frame and 42-20 at intermission. Three three-pointers by Kailen Melton in the second period coupled with strong inside play by both Ramsey brothers, Logan and Mason, pulled the Wildcats out to a lead that the Dragons simply couldn’t deal with.

“We did play very well, “ Mason would say after the game. “It was a big game for us and we got the job done.”

“That’s the way we can play,” Jake Huitt said. “We had a very bad night with Jackson County and you can’t explain that, but it happened. Tonight I guess we had a lot of questions to answer and I think we answered them. This feels real good.”

By the end of the third period, the LA offense was working like a well oiled machine and meshing perfectly with a defense that kept the Dragons frustrated all night.

Mistakes and turnovers were the key words for York’s performance.

Melton led the scoring attack with 16 points while Mason Ramsey added 12 and Logan Ramsey 11. Huitt and Colby Reeder were good for 9, Heath Thompson had a good scoring night with 4, Brock McCoin and Creed Hayes each had 2, and Paxton Eldridge 1.

“This team was very positive tonight and we were really confident,” Reeder explained after the game. “As far as we were concerned, there were no distractions out there and we wanted to make it happen. Now we have a new coach and we’ll have to learn his way of doing things. This was a good start.”

Now 4-6 overall and 2-0 in district play, the Wildcats will travel to DeKalb County on Saturday, Dec. 18 for another league match, which was moved from Tuesday because of the snow storm. LA will hit the holiday trail over Christmas, first going to Nashville to play in the Ensworth Christmas Tournament then to Daytona Beach, FL, after Christmas.



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Lady Cats fall to Lady Blue Devils, rebound against Lady Dragons

Mac McLeod photo
Lady Wildcat Mackenzie Sells takes charge and goes high to nail down two more points in Friday’s game at Jamestown. Sells led the LA attack with 21 points in the 18-point victory.

Mac McLeod photo
Trying to slow the Jackson County attack is Livingston’s Heather Cravens, #23, in last week’s game at the LA gym. The Lady Wildcats played great defense the first half of the game, but let a lead slip away late to lose by three points.

Mac McLeod photo
Livingston’s Abby Miller goes up and over the outstretched arms of Jackson County’s Mackenzie Hensley in last Tuesday’s game at Livingston Academy. Miller led her team with 17 points in the game, but the Lady Wildcats lost 55-52.


By Mac McLeod,
OCN Sports

Coaches like to use the phrase, “if we can learn from the loss, it was worth it” and sometimes the players buy into that and if they truly do, it does make for a better team.

Such was the case last week for the Livingston Academy girls as they brought a perfect 9-0 into two big games. In the first one, they stumbled late and lost. In the second, they “learned from the mistakes” and won.

If they could go back and do it again, they might have won both.

Tuesday night the undefeated and always highly regarded Lady Blue Devils from Jackson County ventured into the confines of LA gym and left an impression that carried the Lady Wildcats to a resounding district win three nights later.

“You play Jackson because you know you are playing one of the best teams around and win or lose, you learn something,” LA coach Lesley Riddle said before the game.

When it was over and her team came up on the short end of a 55-52 score, she credited the loss to being “afraid to win” and Jackson County’s strong comeback.

“We simply got scared and let them come back,” Riddle said after her team had suffered its first loss of the season. “Jackson County is the best team we’ve played this year and you should be able to hold the lead we had going into the final quarter, but I think we got tired and that’s my fault and we also just got afraid to win.”

Jackson County coach Jim Brown was “just amazed we came back and won.

Livingston is a great program and we always like to play them,” Brown said after the game. “I didn’t give us much of a chance when we got down and stayed down late in the game, but hey, kids do strange things and we just never quit. It was a very good win for us.”

It was simply a case of never giving up and the Lady Devils never called it quits.

“We learned a lot from that game,” Livingston standout Mackenzie Sells recalled Friday night after she and her teammates thrashed rival York Institute 79-61 for their second district win of the season. “We stepped up our defense tonight and we never felt like it was over until the final buzzer blew. Tonight we settled down after a close first half and really played good in the third period to get the crowd out of the game and then stayed with our plan all the way to the end.”

In the Jackson County game, Livingston looked as if the state championship was just a game away. In the first three quarters of the game, the Lady Wildcats were unstoppable, but as the clock ticked away in the final eight minutes, things came unraveled.

Abby Miller got things rolling for Livingston with a three-pointer right off the bat and Tori Stocking added another seconds later. When Sells dropped in a bucket from the lane, LA was rolling 8-1. Samantha Maya nailed a three to put her team up 11-1 and when Sells hit again, the game was getting out of hand, 15-1.

But Jackson County stayed calm. In the final two minutes of the period, the Lady Devils chipped away at the lead and trailed by only two at the horn, 18-16.

It was almost a repeat in the second period as Livingston roared out to a 31-18 lead, but at the intermission, the visitors had cut into the lead once again. The Lady Cats were on top by 10, 31-21.

The third quarter was back and forth, things really got heated in the final period, especially the final minute and 35 seconds.

After trailing the entire game, Jackson County finally took the lead with 1:35 showing on the clock. A steal on a bad pass by the Lady Cats resulted in an uncontested lay-up and the Lady Devils took control at 51-50.

Kayla Williams got a great pass in to Maya with 50 seconds remaining to put Livingston back on top 52-51, then the game went to the foul line and the visitors were flawless, hitting three straight for the final margin of victory.

“The turnovers really hurt us,” Maya pointed out after the game, “and we looked like we were playing not to lose instead of trying to win late in the game. This was not a district game and that’s the good news and if we learned something tonight , we can use it Friday at York.”

Miller led the LA scoring attack in perhaps the best game of her young career, scoring 17 points. Stocking and Sells each had 13, Maya got 7, and Williams was good for 2.

With the loss behind them, the Lady Cats traveled to Jamestown Friday night with no intention of losing and also taking the lessons learned on Tuesday in their travel bags.

For the first 16 minutes, the Lady Dragons refused to go away and the home crowd added to the difficulty of getting ahead and staying there. Sells put LA up early, 2-0, but it took a free throw and a field goal by Heather Cravens to keep her team within striking distance at the end of the frame. York was on top 13-10.

Maya opened the second period with a nice bank shot and Sells made an old fashion three, a field goal and free throw, to finally get the Lady Cats back on top, 14-13.

York would lead one more time, 27-26, midway through the frame, but a three-pointer by Cravens and a pair of free throws by Taylor Meadows put LA on top 37-33 at intermission.

“We were ready to go when the third period started,” Sells later explained. “Our defense really stepped up and they (York) couldn’t handle our pressure”
LA ran off an 11-0 run started by Maya, continued by Miller, and ended by Sells that put the Lady Cats out to a 50-35 lead and there was no looking back.

Only 18 foul shots by York kept the Lady Dragons in the game while four Lady Wildcats hit double figures. Sells led the scoring attack with 21 points while Miller nailed 18. Maya was good for 13 and Stocking used four three-pointers for her 12 points. Cravens added 6, Chezney Hammock 5, Allison Daily and Meadows each had 2.

Livingston Academy’s game scheduled for DeKalb County on Tuesday has been moved to Saturday, Dec. 18 in Smithville. The game will be the final regular season game before holiday tournament action that will find them in Nashville at Ensorth the week of Christmas and in Daytona, FL, the week after Christmas.



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Letter To The Editor

Effective Friday, December 10, 2010, I resigned my post as boys’ basketball head coach at Livingston Academy.

I love the game of basketball. It has been a major part of my life from my youth throughout my professional teaching career. Coaching has been immensely rewarding in so many ways, but none as great as the relationships I’ve developed with the young men that I have been so blessed to coach, teach, and mentor. It is and will always be an honor for me to continue those friendships with my players into their adult lives.

In the coaching realm, nothing has been more rewarding than the hard work and dedication they have put into the boys basketball program at LA. They deserve praise and credit for the success we have achieved both on and off the court. For that, they have my heart-felt gratitude and appreciation.

Every coach has his/her own way of developing players and encouraging them to reach their goals, both personally and as a team. While I realize that my coaching style wasn’t popular with everyone, I believe it was successful in many ways, both on and off the court. My teams have shared in achieving immense success in Tennessee high school boys’ basketball.

As with most every team, one of our goals was to win that coveted gold ball, and we came close. That was the goal for this year’s team, and I certainly hope they reach it.

Outside of their families, I will most certainly continue to be their biggest fan in their continued efforts to do it. I wish them only the best in basketball, continuing their educations, and life in general. The success of the student-athletes was the only reason I coached.

Coaching high school basketball is very time consuming. I have three beautiful young children of my own, and a wonderful wife who has always supported me in my coaching endeavors. For some time, we have discussed when I might decide to give up coaching in order to spend more time with them. That may have occurred within the next year or so, but we had not made that decision.

I did nothing wrong and have always maintained that I would coach as long as I was able to do it the way I thought it needed to be done. I had never contemplated resigning mid-season, but I was not willing to be suspended indefinitely from coaching because of my coaching style.

I continue to be thankful to Principal Riddle for her support, the true fans and student sections, and for the opportunity to be a part of the boys’ basketball program at Livingston Academy.

Richard Melton


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Overton County News
415 West Main Street
P.O. Box 479
Livingston, Tennessee 38570
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