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Third quarter lifts Livingston

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Julian Gardner puts up a shot as he is fouled.Julian Gardner puts up a shot as he is fouled.Brian Besch

The Livingston Lions erased a disappointing first half in the third quarter to claim the district opener 45-35 Friday over the Liberty Panthers.

A second quarter to forget put the Lions down nine points at the half, scoring just one long-range bucket in the eight-minute span.

“The first half, we didn’t play with much energy,” Livingston coach Calvin Phillips said. “Some of them got (mad) at me at halftime. I told them, ‘I told you guys that you had to take this thing seriously, because these guys will come out and play. These guys are better than us right now, just from the way we played the first half.’ They got upset and whatever I said got those claws to come out.

“I really don’t know what it was that had the energy level so low. I couldn’t figure it out. We weren’t hitting any shots. We weren’t patient enough – that was something else we were doing – and we didn’t have a good shot selection. We have to be patient, we have to have good spacing, and we need a good shot selection and to manage the clock. That’s the only way we are going to win.”

Thefts by the Lion defense kept the margin within reach and allowed for a comeback. The third quarter was a 22-7 Livingston advantage filled with steals, good passing, getting to the rim and deadly outside shooting by William Dault. The tall shooter had three 3-pointers in the quarter, finishing the game with 17 to lead everyone. Livingston took the lead for good at 29-28 at 4:14 in the third period.

“Being that they showed some resilience in the second half and fought through some adversity and played like they had to play, it meant a lot to me,” Phillips said. “I knew Liberty was going to be pretty tough. They play hard too and they have some pretty good shooters.”

The coach said there may have been some rust from not playing a game Tuesday. A game scheduled with New Waverly had to be cancelled. Last week, the Lions were playing their best basketball of the year, defeating both Coldspring and Aldine.

Adding to the Lions’ total was Jayden Randolph with eight points, Jacob Byrd with six, and Jontavian McNeal and Brian O’Neal with five each. Kaden Nolan was the top Panther with 13 points.

The Lions will be in Woodville next and return home Jan. 7 for an important district match with Hamshire-Fannett.

“If we play as we are capable of playing and like smart teams are supposed to play, we can play with anybody on the schedule. If we don’t, we’re going to have problems. We just have to play smart basketball and don’t beat ourselves.”

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UIL realignment cutoff numbers announced

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uil logoTexas schools found out which athletic classifications they will be competing in the next two school years, but they will have to wait until February to learn their district assignments from the University Interscholastic League. 

All five Houston County schools will remain in their current classifications, according to the cutoff numbers announced Wednesday, Dec. 8.

Crockett will remain in Class 3A with a high school enrollment of 386, an increase over 357 reported two years ago.

In football, the Bulldogs will stay in class 3A Division I, which consists of schools with enrollments of 360-544.

The Bulldogs know they will lose two of their current district football opponents. Trinity and Elkhart are both dropping to class 3A DII since their enrollments have dipped to 355 and 307, respectively. Enrollments for the other schools in Crockett’s current district are Diboll (533), Coldspring (492), Huntington (489) and  Palestine Westwood (401).

Grapeland will remain in Class 2A DI football, which includes enrollments of 164.5 to 249. Grapeland reported its enrollment at 170, down from 190 two years ago. One school in the Sandies’ current football district – Alto – is dropping to class 2A DII with an enrollment of 163.

The other schools in Grapeland’s current district remaining in class 2A DI are Groveton (223), Centerville (219), Normangee (200) and Jewett Leon (205).

Lovelady will continue to compete in Class 2A DII for football with an enrollment of 148, an increase of two over the previous realignments. Class 2A DII includes enrollments of 105 to 164.4.

One school in Lovelady’s current seven-team football district is moving up to class 2A DI. Pineland West Sabine was just one student over the cutoff with an enrollment of 165.

The Lions’ other current district rivals who will remain in 2A DII are Cushing (157), Tenaha (152), Mt. Enterprise (130), Colmesneil (126) and Overton (120).

Latexo does not compete in football but will remain in class 2A for all other sports. Latexo’s enrollment is 138, an increase of 14 over two years ago.

Kennard will remain in Class 1A athletics with an enrollment of 65, which is down 13 from the previous reclassification 

The new conference cutoff numbers are as follows: 

6A: 2226 and above -- 249 schools: 249 (Basketball); 249 (Football); 247 (Volleyball) 

5A: 1300 – 2224 -- 253 schools: 252 (basketball), 251 (football), 253 (volleyball)

4A: 545-1299 -- 214 schools: 213 (basketball), 193 (football), 209 (volleyball)

3A: 250-544 -- 233 schools: 230 (basketball), 204 (football), 220 (volleyball)

2A: 105-249 -- 219 schools: 217 (basketball), 208 (football), 157 (volleyball) 

1A: 104.9 and below -- 220 schools: 218 (basketball), 148 (football), 121 (volleyball)

The 2022-24 alignments will be released Feb. 3 at 9 a.m. for football, basketball, and volleyball. District alignments for other activities will be released by the middle of March, 2022. 

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Final non-district tune up

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final district lineupJosh Perkins tries to put up a shot in traffic. He had 19 points Tuesday.By Brian Besch

The Leggett Pirates survived a late scare Tuesday in Dudley Dickens Gym to come away with a 61-57 win over the Pirates from Wells.

Leggett had a comfortable advantage midway through the fourth period at 16 points, but Wells worked its way back into the contest. They outscored the home Pirates 21-14 in the final   quarter.

“We got out and played good defense and got the lead, but slacked up,” Ra’Shod Jefferson said. “I tell them at all time that it is all in ornothing. We start district Friday, and we have a lot to work on. On defense, we have to stop playing lazy and need to go all out. We just have a lot of work before Friday, so these next two days will be nothing but hard work.”

Up just three points with 1:15 remaining, Andres Diosdado hit a 3-pointer at the top of the key that rattled in off the backboard.

Wells continued to close in, getting the margin to 59-57. JaColby Sells hit two free throws with four ticks left on the clock to put the game out of reach.

“Since the beginning of the season, we have improved,” Jefferson said.

“Not having one of our key players at the beginning, the guys know how to step up without someone. With him being back, our team has tremendously improved. If we expect to go deep into the playoffs, we have to work as a team.

“We need to work on help defense, finding the open spots and how to communicate with one another. If we have the lead, we have to know how to pull it back instead of rushing shots and letting shots come to you.”

JaColby Sells led his team with 24 points, Josh Perkins had 19, Jesse Calderas had 11. Cole Turner led Wells and the game with 27 points.

A district contest at Zavalla is next on the Leggett schedule. They will return home Jan. 4 for a contest with Burkeville.

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Livingston roars in Lions’ den

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Jayden Randolph gets his shot under the rim.Jayden Randolph gets his shot under the rim.By Brian Besch

Livingston hoops controlled the second half of Friday night’s contest to come away with a convincing 61-38 victory over Aldine in LionGymnasium.

The Mustangs are a bigger school, both in physical stature and enrollment, but Livingston shut the Class 6A team down in the third and fourth quarters, outscoring them a combined 35-7 in the half.

“That is the best that we have played all year,” Livingston coach Calvin Phillips said. “If we had played that way against some other teams, we would be undefeated. Last year, I told you that they were going to be better, because they are going to play more together. That is what they are doing right now.”

It took a few minutes for the home team to match Aldine’s intensity, as the Mustangs came out and took an early lead on four long-distance jumpers. A change from zone to man defense helped the Lions, but they would trail 31-26 going into halftime.

The Lions would go on a 23-2 run from halftime into the early minutes of the fourth quarter, taking the lead for good. Defensive intensity picked up in the second  alf, as well as rebounding on both ends.

“If you come to a practice, you can see the rebounding drills that we do. It is like football,” Phillips said. “We put the dummies out there, and they hit those dummies and box them out. Those drills now are coming into play.”

With a comfortable advantage, the Lions were able to slow the pace and work in a half-court offense effectively. Each player shared the ball, passes were sharp and outside shots began to fall.

“We’ve got to do it and not make mistakes. We also have to find the open man. That is what they did good tonight. I don’t know how many points we got on that, but we had a lot of people open that kept their heads up.”

William Dault led the Lions with 21 points; he had five makes from behind the arc. Jontavian McNeal had 15 points, Jordan Bush had 10, and Julian Gardner added nine.

The coach said some of the athletes coming over from football are starting to develop in the winter sport.

“They play together. They talked to each other on the floor and that makes a lot of difference. We had a good practice yesterday and they were focused. I didn’t know how they were going to come out, but sure enough, it all transitioned into tonight. I’m ecstatic because I justdidn’t expect that type of play. Not against Aldine, because Aldine plays against Beaumont United and other big schools. They’ve got some athletes, but we were scrappy.”

Next week, district play begins, as the Lions will host Liberty on Friday.

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Lions triumph over Trojans

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William Dault blocks a shot in the lane. He also led the Lions with 30 points. Photos by Brian BeschWilliam Dault blocks a shot in the lane. He also led the Lions with 30 points. Photos by Brian BeschBy Brian Besch
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Livingston basketball built a large lead of more than 20 points in a non-district tip at Lion Gym and cruised to a 73-61 win over the previously unbeaten Coldspring Trojans.

Livingston coach Calvin Phillips said Tuesday was the best game his squad has played this year. The Lions broke the menacing Coldspring press enough to get several advantageous breaks to the bucket and shot the ball well all night. The home crowd enjoyed a 22-point advantage midway through the second  quarter that grew slightly into the third.

Leading the attack was William Dault, who scored 30 points, with 22 of them before halftime. Dault moved to Polk County and has added help, but had something extra versus the Trojans.

“The kid from Austin, Dault, he hasn't been on fire like that. I didn’t realize he had that many points,” Phillips said. “Hopefully, he is out of his slump, because the first four or five games we played, he wasn’t even shooting like that. He was getting frustrated because he knew he was a better shooter.”

Coldspring coach Greg Devers was also impressed with the performance.

“(Dault) just shot the lights out tonight. (Dault and Jordan Bush) — they hit some big threes. I think in those first seven games, we only allowed seven threes. We are going to be successful with up-tempo and the press. We did in the second half, but I needed about eight more minutes.”

The Lions would have eight 3-pointers for the game. Dault provided six of those, while Bush had two. Jontavian McNeal totaled 13 points, Bush had 10 and Julian Gardner added nine with his tight defense.

The Trojans did not throw in the towel in the final period, and instead amassed 27 points. Most of the damage was caused by Luke Monroe, who poured in 18 points in the quarter. He led all scores in the contest with 31. Helping him was Chris Harden with 14 and K.D. Bookman with nine.

“We talked about being patient and limiting our dribbles,” Phillips pointed out as keys to the win. “With everything that we do, we have to pass, pass, pass and cut, cut, cut. We were open all night in the middle. When they got a turnover, it was because of a long pass or a lazy pass with nothing on it and they came up and got it. We had to not let them beat us with our dribble. The kids played really good as far as not giving up the ball and just passing it around.”

The competition does not get easier for Livingston, playing host Friday to the Class 6A Aldine Mustangs. Next week, district begins with Liberty.

Up next for Coldspring is another tournament, this time in Huntington.

They will eventually return home for a game Dec. 17 versus Jasper, and Orangefield three days later.

“I have a couple of guys out right now and have been playing with eight all year,” Devers said. “We just played four games over three days, but Livingston did a great job today. Calvin had his team ready for our press. I think it came down to them making threes and free throws, and we didn't. We didn't start hitting threes until the fourth quarter. Sometimes it is good to have a loss like this and maybe we can rebound from it. With this team being so young and inexperienced, it is a good time for them to learn. They have to understand that they have to get up for everybody; they can’t just pick their opponents.”

Devers said his team played well in the recent Big Sandy tournament, taking the championship over Splendora Saturday. He is hopeful to get a couple of starters back soon to offer some depth for the long season.

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