Lady Cats hold on for 54-45 win at DeKalb

Mac McLeod/OCN file photo

Keaton Webb stepped up for Livingston Academy last week against DeKalb County.

By Mac McLeod,

OCN Sports

“Coach told us before the game, if we could keep Kadee Ferrell to 10 points or less, we win, and if she got her normal 30, we lose,” Livingston Academy senior Alexis Phipps explained after a big win last Tuesday night. “I guarded her and I didn’t remember how many points she got, but I guess it was less than 30.”

Indeed, it was. Phipps held DeKalb’s leading scorer to just 10 points and that was a big factor in Livingston coming away with its 14th win of the season. This time it was a 9-point, 54-45, win in the first district game for the Lady Cats.

“And a big one, as well,” explained LA head coach Lesley Riddle. “We were confident if we could hold Ferrell to a low number, it would increase our chances of winning. We were confident we could win, but that would certainly be a key factor in winning. We put Alexis (Phipps) on her and she did an outstanding job. I think I told them if we could hold her to 10, we would win, and Alexis did her part and we got some really good work from everybody on that floor.

“It was a really good win and also a strong performance from several players who had really worked hard to get their games back in shape and they did.”

“Making all those comebacks in the tournament in South Carolina last week really boosted our confidence,” Phipps included. “We played three really good teams, and we had to come back in all three. We did in all three but lost the last one in overtime. It really showed us we were never out of a game as long as we thought we could come back and win.”

Against DeKalb last week, it was never a matter of “coming back” but more of an issue of “can we stop them from coming back?”

After leading 25-10 at the intermission, Riddle told her team in the dressing room that they were playing “outstanding defense” and keep it up. The coach pointed out that Ellie Butler wasn’t on the floor, so her points would have to come from somewhere else.

“It wasn’t that we couldn’t make up those points,” the coach continued, “it was ‘who’ would step up and do it, and sure enough, Keaton (Webb) and Aleah (Melton) came forward, and before the night was over were in double figures. Those two knew it was on their shoulders, and they have really been working hard to get back in the form they were earlier in the season.

“It was so good to see them playing like they can play. I was proud of the way they came through, how Alexis played defense, and how we played overall. It was a good team win, and we need to keep in that frame of mind because now most of our games will be district games, and we are in a very strong district. We travel to probably the number one team Tuesday night, then are at home with always tough Upperman on Friday. We’ll know a lot more about ourselves next Saturday morning.”

Baskets came hard for the Lady Cats in the early going in Smithville last Tuesday night, Jan. 4. The Lady Tigers took a quick 4-0 lead and it took almost 3 minutes before Aleah Melton hit one of two free throws to get her team on the scoreboard.

It might have been a slow start, but once it was started, the Lady Cats hit the floor running. Leah Kate Clark hit a field goal, then Allie Qualls followed. Webb then hit a field goal and found the range for a three-pointer. Halle Ledbetter closed out the 12-0 run to end the quarter and Livingston led 12-6.

Ledbetter opened the second quarter with a three-pointer and the Cats were off and running again. When it was over, Livingston had added 13 points to its side of the board and a great defensive effort held the home team to a mere 4 points.

It was 25-10 going to the third frame.

To start the second half, DeKalb County made three 3-pointers to cut into the LA lead, but baskets by Melton, Phipps, Webb, and Hannah Westmoreland put cold water on the DeKalb fire and Livingston led by 13, 42-29, headed for the final quarter.

“We were never worried there in the fourth quarter when they made several threes,” Phipps added. “We knew to play defense and we had confidence we could come back if we had to, so it was just a matter of everybody keeping cool and getting the job done. This week, we have two tough games, one at White County and the second when Upperman comes to our place. Really looking forward to both those games.”

Webb found her scoring range for 16 points to lead LA while Melton got back in good form with 11. Ledbetter came through with 7, Phipps had 6, Westmoreland added 5, Qualls was good for 4, Clark had 3, and Mallie Coleman added 2.

“We’ve had some time off over the New Year’s,” Riddle concluded, “and we were a little out of shape in practice Saturday, but this team wants to play and this team wants to win and knows it can win. They have proven that. This next week is very important, and I think they all know if they do their job, they can make a point.”

The home game against Cumberland County that was scheduled for last Friday was postponed by the winter storm and will be played January 22, replacing the scheduled game against Middle Tennessee Christian.