By Mac McLeod,
Recently, two veteran Livingston Academy basketball followers were talking about the current season when one offered: “Did you realize the season is over half over?” The other retorted: ”Can’t be, I’ve only seen two games.”
Both were right. In the regular season, roughly 26 games are played, and as of this morning (Tuesday), the LA boys are sporting an 8-7 record and the Lady Wildcats are at in impressive 14-2. Of those games, only two have been played at home, (1) December 4th against Lighthouse Christian, and (2) December 16th against Pickett County.
With 12 games remaining in the regular season, only seven are scheduled at home, making a total of 9 home games for Livingston Academy. Things will change a little when district and regional tournaments begin in mid-February, with winning teams playing host to some events.
“We have been on the road for what seems like forever,” one parent of a Livingston player pointed out, “and we’ve spent the entire holidays on the road. Can’t wait ‘til we start playing some games at home.”
Well, with all the travel and the good showings by both the LA boys and girls, things were set to play at home this past Friday, but Mother Nature decided to move that date until another time with a 6-inch snowfall and extremely cold temperatures.
“We were really looking forward to playing Friday night,” LA head coach Jimmy Miller explained last week. “I thought we played really well at DeKalb last week, probably the best game we’ve played this season, and I wanted to keep it rolling.”
Miller was referring to the Wildcats’ 63-61 win over the Tigers in a game that went back and forth from the very start to the very finish.
“That was a good test for us, and the results were great,” the coach continued. “We still miss Isaac (Story), although he’ll be back next week, and with Nick (Choate) still not completely well, I told the kids they were just going to have to step up, and they did. We got some really good play from some of our younger players, and we never quit. That was the key to winning.”
In the early going, Brodey Coffee kept the Wildcats in the game with two field goals, then Daniel Bilbrey nailed a three-pointer followed by another three from Wyatt Hargis, and at the end of the first quarter, Livingston led by a slight two, 19-17.
Bilbrey had a second three-pointer early in the second quarter, and Brodey Coffee had a three to keep things close. A field goal from Ayden Coffee and one by Hayden Ledbetter kept things close, but this time, DeKalb was on top by a single point, 38-37.
When things got underway in the fourth quarter, the home team moved out to a 3-point, 40-37 lead, the largest so far on the night. Ledbetter closed the gap to one, then moments later, a field goal by Choate and a three-pointer by Ledbetter moved LA to a 45-41 led. From that point on, it was one point either way until Hargis hit a three that gave LA a 54-52 lead with 10 seconds showing in regulation.
A last-second shot from the Tigers knotted the score at 54, and the game went to overtime.
Brodey Coffee got the Wildcats off to a good start with a three-pointer, Bilbrey added a pair of free throws, and Ledbetter walked to the line with 9 seconds remaining to hit one of two free throws for a 2-point lead.
Livingston won 63-61.
“I should have hit both those free throws,” Ledbetter confessed after the game, “but as it turned out, one was enough. It was a tough game, and we had to play one of our better ones to win. Can’t wait to get home this Friday and play in front of our fans. Seems like we’ve been gone forever.”
Livingston upped its season record to 8-7 and 1-0 in district play. Five Wildcats hit double figures, led by Ledbetter with 15. He was followed closely by Brodey Coffee with 14, Hargis with13, and Bilbrey with 12. Ayden Coffee was good for 4, Choate had 3, and Dawson Simmons rounded out the scoring with 2.
With the snowed out game last Friday, Livingston will again be on the road this week, traveling to Sparta to take on a very strong White County team.
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.