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Archives 03-08-2011

Sports

Huitt plans to play for UT-Chattanooga
Lady Cats overpowered by Lady Chargers in Sub-State
Wildcats take Region Championship
Wildcats headed to State Tournament

Huitt plans to play for UT-Chattanooga

Mac McLeod photo
On hand for the announcement are, seated with Jake Huitt, his parents, Ron and Lisa Huitt, and standing from left, his basketball coach, Jimmy Miller, and his football coach, Bruce Lamb.

By Mac McLeod,
OCN Sports

Livingston Academy senior Jake Huitt, son of Ron and Lisa Huitt, has chosen to walk on at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga next fall in hopes of earning a spot on the school’s football team as a kicker.

Huitt, an All-State kicker at Livingston, will be a “preferred walk on”, which means he will be a member of the school’s 90-squad with scholarship possibilities the following year. Currently UT-C has a senior kicker who Huitt will challenge.

“Jake is an amazing young man with a lot of talent,” said his coach, Bruce Lamb. “I have no doubt he will succeed at UTC and at anything he attempts to do.”

Huitt averaged over 40 yards per punt last year as a Wildcat and also played offensive end and defensive back. He tied a school record for the most interceptions in a single game, 3, and had 11 over a two-year span.



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Lady Cats overpowered by Lady Chargers in Sub-State

Mac McLeod photo
Three Livingston Academy players, left to right, Samantha Maya, Abby Miller, and Mackenzie Sells, were named to the All-Region 4 Team last week.

Mac McLeod photo
LA’s Abby Miller waits for a Cannon County defender to come down before taking a shot in the regional finals.

Mac McLeod photo
Lady Wildcat Mackenzie Sells, #10, pulls up and looks for a teammate during Wednesday’s regional championship game in Sparta. Sells would lead her team in scoring with 16 points.

Mac McLeod photo
With a deadly eye, LA’s Tori Stocking turns loose a 3-point shot that zipped through the nets during Wednesday’s game. Stocking would hit two critical 3-pointers on the night.

Mac McLeod photo
Samantha Maya, #33, takes the ball inside trying to get the Lady Wildcats back in a scoring mood. In the second half of the championship game, LA went over 10 minutes in the second half without a field goal.

By Mac McLeod,
OCN Sports

When they finally settle down and take a look back, the Livingston Academy Lady Wildcats will discover that it was a 10 minute lull in the regional finals and a similar non-productive period in the sub-state game with McMinn Central that blocked them from going to Murfreesboro for the 18th time in school history and taking a shot at state championship number 5.

And to make it even worse, it was almost a shoe-in for the Lady Cats. They had rolled through District 8 , 2A undefeated at 12-0. They had slipped past Smith County and Cannon County in the district tournament and they manhandled rival Upperman in the semifinals of the Region 4, 2A tournament.

At that point, only Cannon County in the way to an easy opponent (East Hamilton) in the sub-state then the trip to Murfreesboro. After all, Livingston had beaten the Lionettes three times already, twice rather handily, so before Monday’s region title game, all the Lady Wildcats seemed to need was a good strong showing, then make motel reservations at the state tournament.

But hold on. Things aren’t all that easy in Region 4 and when Livingston and Cannon clashed for the fourth time for all the marbles in Sparta, the Lady Cats went into a 10 minute scoring lapse, actually a field goal laps, in the fourth period that forced an overtime and saw Michael Dodgen’s team take the title, 54-48, on a host game with East Hamilton.

On the other hand, Livingston, the team that was almost impossible to beat ever since early November, had to hit the road in the sub-state and of all places to go, the Lady Cats had to travel to one of the most hostile gyms in the state – McMinn Central near Englewood.

And that didn’t turn out too good either as the Lady Chargers beat the life out of the Lady Cats early then raced away to a 66-41 victory and a trip to the state tournament. Livingston saw its fine season end with 29 wins against only 6 losses, but the last two defeats told the entire story on the year.

“It’s tough to beat a team four times in this district,” LA coach Lesley Riddle would say after the loss to Cannon County. “They are a very good team to start with and they got better and better as the season went along. We were doing well until we hit that cold shooting spot and that was the difference.

“We had much rather be home as the host team in the sub-state and we know much too well how tough it is to play at McMinn, but that’s the way it turned out and we’ll go and do our best.”

In the regional championship, Livingston seemed to be headed for a fourth straight win over the Lionettes. Abby Miller opened the game with a pair of free throws followed by field goals by Samantha Maya and Mackenzie Sells. A three-pointer by Tori Stocking at the buzzer gave the Lady Cats a 17-12 first period lead.

When the second period got underway, the Lady Lions seemed to start taking control of the boards, limiting the Lady Cats to only one shot at the goal, but still LA led at the intermission, thanks to another three-pointer by Stocking with less than 20 seconds showing. LA led at the half, 27-24.

In the second half, things got closer and closer and after the Lady Cats led 38-32, it looked as if they would be able to hold off the determined Lionettes.

With 6:10 showing on the clock in the final frame, Sells drove in for a layup and LA was on top by 10, 42-32. Then the lid slammed shut on the Livingston basket. From that mark to the end of regulation play, LA would only get free throws and the Lady Cats didn’t make all of them either. They had six tries and only made three. Had they made just one more, four, the game would have ended in LA’s favor.

As it turned out, the game ended in a 46 tie and with only 16 seconds remaining in the game, Sells would make Livingston’s first field goal in over 10 minutes. It was too little too late.

Sells would lead LA in scoring with 16 points while Maya would add 12, Miller 10, Stocking 6, and Chezeny Hammock and Allison 2 each.

Sells, Maya, and Miller would all be named to the 9-member All-Region Team that would include Taylor Randolph and Kayla Biles from Upperman, Lindsey Reed, Taylor King, Emily Sissom, and Chelsey Payne from Cannon.

With the sub-state games now set, Livingston’s girls, every player on the team, would get their first chance to play at the noted McMinn Central gym. By the time they left, it would be imprinted on their minds that this is not where you want to play when all the marbles are on the line.

In recent years the two powers in 2A basketball in the state of Tennessee have clashed three times with LA winning in the opening round of the state tournament in 2009, winning in the sub-state in 2007 and losing in the same game in 2006. For coaches and fans, there wasn’t much new.

McMinn brought a 31-1 record into the game and the state’s number 1 ranking in 2AA girls basketball. Livingston was close at 29-5 and ranked 4th. Shortly after the opening tip, much of that would change.

Taller and stronger inside, the Lady Chargers raced out to a quick 5-0 lead. Maya connected on a field goal and Stocking nailed a three-pointer to tie the score at 5 then the race was on.

Missing few shots and getting most of the rebounds, the home team raced away to a 16-5 lead at the end of the first period and an almost insurmountable 36-15 halftime advantage. Livingston simply couldn’t get inside and the outside shooting was for the most part, off the mark.

By the end of the third period McMinn led by 30, 54-24. In the final 8 minutes Sells was able to start hitting, but it was far too little far too late. The Miss Basketball nominee had 13 points in the last frame and ended the game with 22. Stocking put up 11 for LA followed by 2 points each from Maya, Miller, Mallory Mahaney, and Dailey.

With the loss, Livingston saw its season end at 29-6.



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Wildcats take Region Championship

Mac McLeod photo
Three Livingston Academy players, from left, Logan Ramsey, Kailen Melton, and Mason Ramsey were named to the Region 4-AA All-Tournament Team. Mason Ramsey was also named the Most Valuable Player for the second straight year.

Mac McLeod photo
LA’s Brock McCoin, #4, goes high to pull down a rebound against Cannon County in the Region 4 championship game.

Mac McLeod photo
Sometimes it gets awkward under the basket as LA’s Mason Ramsey and a Cannon County player can verify. The two were going after a missed shot and neither got to it.

By Mac McLeod,
OCN Sports

While his teammates were celebrating their fourth straight Region 4, 2AA basketball championship Thursday night, Livingston Academy’s junior guard Colby Reeder was sitting on the floor with his head in his lap. Reeder was whipped.

“I am so tired I can hardly hold my head up,” Reeder confessed. “Not necessarily physically tired but certainly mentally whipped. We have had to work so hard to get here that is has just taken so much out of me. What a season. We have gone through just about everything you can imagine, good and bad, and we are here with the region championship for the fourth straight time. It’s a testament to what you can do if you really want to and this team, in the worst way, wanted to prove it could do it.”
With a 70-61 victory over Cannon County for the title and a trip to the sub-state

round Monday night at home against Tyner of Chattanooga in their pocket, the Wildcats now have a few days to reflect on where they have been and how hard it was to get here. It has truly been a season that could easily wear a body down.

After losing six of their first nine games, the Wildcats went through a coaching change shortly after Christmas and at the start of the district schedule. Could the players handle the change and challenge of winning a sixth straight league title?

In their next 8 games, the Cats won 6 and lost 2 then went on the road to face their old foe Upperman. In that game, the Bees simply blew the Cats out of the building 62-44 and now it was time for a little soul searching.

The next time the two tangled, LA responded with a 51-43 win then proceeded to win the remainder of its game for the regular season title.

In the first district tournament game, the Cats took a 64-54 defeat on the chin from DeKalb County and again questions popped up. In the consolation game, LA regrouped and pounded Cannon County for the third time this season. This time it was 86-69.

The third place finish in the tournament forced the Wildcats to go on the road for the opening round in the region and they headed for Dunlap and a meeting with Sequatchie County. On the road, the Cats had to rally to take a 55-47 win. That set the stage for a third meeting with Upperman in the region semi-finals. It took a double overtime, but the inspired Wildcats were not to be denied and came away with a thrilling 72-69 win.

In that game, Livingston saw the hot shooting of Daniel Taylor as the Bees raced out to a 21-11 first period lead. Logan Ramsey was about the only bright spot for LA as he scored six of the 11 points.

Taylor opened the second period with a three, but now Kailen Melton found the range and answered with a three. Logan Beaty nailed a three with 4 minutes remaining in the half and a basket by Logan Ramsey and two free throws by Brock McCoin found the Bees leading by only 5, 32-27, at the half.

Third period action saw the Wildcats slowly close the gap, and at the 5:36 mark, Reeder hit a basket that finally put LA on top, 38-36. From that point on the game would stay close.

Trailing by one, 49-48, to start the final frame, Livingston fell four points behind, then recovered. Huitt hit a field goal with 16 seconds to go to get the game even at 62, and with only 3 seconds remaining, Mason Ramsey could seal the win with a pair of free throws.

He missed them both.

In the overtime, the two powers slugged it out, and with only seconds to go, the game was heading to a second overtime. But not quite.

Mason Ramsey pulled down a missed shot under the Upperman basket, got it to Melton racing down the court. The senior barely crossed the mid-court mark when he released his shot that slid through the net so cleanly it hardly moved the cords.

“I knew it was good as soon as I released it,” Melton would later confess.

Mason Ramsey had 20 points to lead LA in scoring while Melton had 12, Huitt 11, Reeder and Logan Ramsey 10 each, McCoin 8, and Beaty 3.

And all that led to a fourth meeting of the year against Cannon County. In the previous encounters, LA had won three with ease and got away with a 4-point regular season win at Woodbury.

The championship game was just that – a game between two champs. The first four baskets were three-pointers and Justin Davenport, the smallest player on the floor, continued to light up the scoreboard with amazing shots, inside and way outside, to pop in 26 points.

But Livingston managed to counter each time. LA led 15-10 in the first period and 30-27 at intermission. Heading into the final eight minutes, the Wildcats held a 47-44 lead and it looked as if either of the two could claim the win, depending on who had the last shot.

But in the final period, the strength and size of the Cats took its toll on the much smaller Lions. Davenport tied the game with a three at 54 with a little over 2:30 remaining then Huitt answered with a three and LA never looked back. Down the stretch the Lions were forced to foul in hopes of getting a missed shot and the Wildcats simply nailed 11 of 14 to clinch the win.

“They are just so big inside,” Davenport would later say. “You just can’t get in there and make a good clean shot. Good luck to them.”

“There was a lot of beating and banging inside,” Mason Ramsey confessed after the game, “and Davenport is a real shooter. Tonight we decided we didn’t want to go to Chattanooga (for the sub-state) so we played a little harder. It was a good game.”

LA head coach Jimmy Miller had nothing but praise for his team and good words for Cannon County.

“That was two good teams out there tonight,” Miller said. “I think we wore them down in the end, but they get a lot of credit. Our team has overcome so much this year and our hearts were in it tonight. I told the team in the dressing room that three months ago that there was something special about them and tonight it came out. This is a very team orientated group and it was team play that got us here. I’m so proud of them.”

Mason Ramsey had 23 points to lead LA. Huitt added 14, McCoin 13, Logan Ramsey 12, and Melton 8.

The Ramsey brothers, Logan and Mason along with Melton were named to the All-Tournament Team and Mason Ramsey was named MVP for the second straight year.

 

 


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LWildcats headed to State Tournament
By Mac McLeod,
OCN Sports

“I knew we were going to win with four minutes left in the game,” Livingston Academy senior Jake Huitt explained moments after he and his Wildcats teammates had defeated Tyner of Chattanooga 71-60 to advance to the state finals next week.

“Actually, I felt when we came out to start the second half we could win if we just continued to do what we had been doing. They (Tyner) wasn’t doing anything we couldn’t stop.”

More than half the packed house at the LA gym sure would have felt easier had Huitt been about to share his confidence. Unlike Huitt’s view, most felt they were witnessing a nailbiter at least until the final 1:20 seconds.

“And another thing,” the likeable senior added, “this will be the third trip to the state finals in four years for the three seniors on the team, me, Kailen (Melton) and Hayden (Hill). That’s really something to be proud of.”

“And this time we want to go down there (Murfreesboro) and win a game,” Melton added. “We’ve been twice and lost in the opening round both times, but this year there’s something different. This team wants to prove something and winning there will do it.”

Indeed there is something different and by the time head coach Jimmy Miller reached the dressing room after hugs, handshakes, and slaps on the back, the likeable coach was down to his tee shirt, no tie, and some big words for his team.

“You are the best,” he started out. “We don’t have the best individuals that ever played here and this may not be the best team that has ever played here but you are by far the best team that has played as a team I can ever remember.

“From the beginning we’ve been questioned about our ability, our effort, our everything, but tonight you put our critics behind us. You have overcome more than most teams could ever envision and nobody has done a better job of scratching and clawing to get to where we are tonight.”

And that was about as good a description of the game as could be made. After falling behind early, the Cats clawed their way back to knot the score at 13 at the end of the first period. Logan Ramsey put the home team on the boards first with 4:50 showing on the clock, then Huitt added two field goals, Melton nailed a three-pointer and Logan Ramsey took a pass inside from brother Mason with 15 seconds remaining to tie the game.

In the second period, the Rams raced out to a six point lead at 21-15 on four quick baskets, but the Wildcats scratched their way back into it. Brock McCoin came off the bench with 3:30 to go and took a pass from Mason Ramsey and went the length of the court to close the gap by two. Huitt then nailed a three-pointer and a field goal to tighten things up to 26-24. When Mason Ramsey hit a three with 1:17 to go to put LA up by one, 29-28, it would mark the last time the Rams would be able to keep the Wildcats down.

Things started rolling the Wildcats’ way early in the second half and after Mason Ramsey nailed his second three-pointer of the night to give his team a 32-31 lead with six minutes the home team never looked back. Colby Reeder followed with a pair of free throws, then Logan Ramsey put on one of his best efforts of the season, scoring 8 points in the span of four minutes to move the Cats out to a 46-41 lead going into the final period.

“I had to play hard,” the junior Ramsey later recalled, “but I had to keep going. It was a physical game and I think this was my toughest game of the season. I’m tired, but happy. I never doubted what this team could do if and when it played like a team.”

The final period was an all out team effort for the winning Wildcats. McCoin scored the first four points of the period, then Reeder scored from the lane, Melton drove inside for two then McCoin scored again. With 1:20 remaining in the game, McCoin went to the foul line, hit both shots and Livingston had a 58-50 lead.

From that point on, it was a parade to the foul line as the Rams were forced to send the Cats to the line in hopes of getting a missed shot. That plan didn’t work. In the final minutes and 20 seconds, LA took 14 free throws and made 10. Melton made two with 12 seconds remaining to ice the win at 69-60 then Huitt added insult to injury with two more with less than 8 seconds left.

“We’ve done it the hard way all season and tonight we didn’t change,” Miller added.
LA principal Lesley Riddle gave the team a few words to think about when she took to the floor after the game.

“There were times this season when everybody felt you may go under, you know it, but this was all about you. You stepped up and answered all the questions. Now go out and play one game at a time and we are behind you 100 percent.”

Mason Ramsey led the Livingston scoring attack with 15 points. He also had 7 rebounds. Logan Ramsey and Huitt each had 14 points and Ramsey had 7 rebounds.
Melton added 12 points as did McCoin, and Reeder rounded out the scoring with 4.

Livingston, now boasting a 23-11 record that includes a district and region championship, will next be in action either next Wednesday or Thursday in the state playoff in Murfreesboro.

In the other substate game of interest to local fans, Howard of Chattanooga toppled District 8, 2AA runners-up Cannon County by 18 points, 65-47. Howard will advance to Murfreesboro

 

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