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Survive and advance

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IMG 4868BRIAN BESCH | PCE Adrian Thompson (3) of Big Sandy shoots a jumper in the lane.

By Brian Besch

The Big Sandy Wildcats left Kirbyville Monday night with the promise of another game, after holding on to beat Shelbyville 55-53 in the bi-district round of the UIL playoffs. 

Down for much of the first half, the pace of the game appeared too quick in for the 'Cats in the opening period. Down 19-12 after the opening eight minutes, they settled in and took better care of the ball. 

"Obviously, we got off to a shaky start and the pressure hurt us especially," Big Sandy coach Kevin Foster said. "I don't know if it was playoff jitters or what. (Shelbyville is) real athletic, but I felt like if we could ever really settle down, we would be OK. Right before the half, we took the lead, but we had a few mistakes that weren't real smart on our part."

With 2:18 to go in the second quarter, Big Sandy pulled ahead at 26-25. The Dragons ended the half with a few buckets to go back up, 31-28.

"Every team out there is in the same boat," Foster said. "We haven't played in nine days. We practiced a little bit last week. Their district was very tough and there are a lot of good teams in it. That helps a team like them coming in."

A turning point in the contest was a six-point swing, as Adrian Thompson hit a shot under the hoop and received two technical shots after he was shoved to the floor. The Wildcats inbounded after and Thompson hit a jumper in the lane.
 


The Dragons were held to eight points in the third and fourth quarters. Big Sandy forced Shelbyville to settle for many outside shots over the final three periods, outscoring the Dragons in each.

"They stretched it out again and we just kept telling the kids to chip away at it the best you can," the Wildcat coach said. "We didn't do great down the stretch, but we did just enough and made just enough free throws. We turned it over too much and they made some big shots late."

Seth Beene-Williams led with 15 points, Kaden Foster scored 14 and Thompson had 13. Brayden Hand led the Dragons with a dozen and Jakivian Calhoun had 10. 

Big Sandy moves on to challenge the victor of the Mount Union/Woden contest. Foster believes his team's next game will occur Thursday.
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Leggett basketball in postseason once again (VIDEO)

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IMG 4685BRIAN BESCH | PCE Varian Flournoy fights through traffic to the rim.

By Brian Besch

The Leggett Pirates punched their ticket to the playoffs Saturday night with a 78-69 triumph over Burkeville at The Summit in Woodville. 

The neutral-site game was for the third seed of District 28-1A. 

Leggett began the contest on a 7-0 run and held a 26-8 lead after the first period.

However, the Mustangs regrouped, pouring in 24 second-quarter points. The difference was just three at 30-27 with 2:30 in the second quarter.

Leggett extended that seven at 39-32 at the half and would hold a lead from the first bucket to the final buzzer.

"We got hot -- real hot -- and everything was good," Leggett coach Sean Edwards said of the first period. "They came back in the second quarter. I liked how we hustled and we played team ball. We grabbed the ball a little more and played with effort and heart."
 

Edwards said he felt like the team did not play with the same intensity in the second and third quarter.

"We just let the crowd get to us and everything. We've got to be ready for a playoff atmosphere with Kennard (the next opponent) being tougher."

Chase Parrish led all scores with 28 points, Varian Flournoy had 21, Josh Perkins had 12 and JaColby Sells had 11.

The win pushes the Pirates into a Tuesday night bi-district matchup with Kennard, the champions of District 27-1A. 

"It's been a weird season with Covid and the weather. But, if we just take it day by day and game by game, we can make it to regionals and eventually state," Edwards said. "We just have to take it game by game. There is a tough test that we are going to have with Kennard though, they are pretty good and have a 6-4 guard and a good slasher. They are pretty good and have a good coach over there that just came from Latexo. He knows what he's doing."
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Leggett tackles state-ranked Kennard

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IMG 4923BRIAN BESCH | PCE

By Brian Besch

The bi-district round of the playoffs was not easy, but the Leggett Pirates outlasted state-ranked Kennard 39-36 in Huntington Tuesday.

Down 30-26 in the fourth, Kennard received contributions from five different players and outscored Leggett 10-9. However, a heave from behind the arc in the final second did not fall and allowed the Pirates and their fans to celebrate.

Leggett coach Sean Edwards felt that Tuesday's performance over the No. 17 team in 1A was the most complete of the year.

"I told the kids that you have to think about 10 years down the road -- any regrets or what you should've, could've, would've (done)," he said. "It is just representing your school, your family and everybody that was at Leggett before you. It is starting to jell and they know it is playoff time. I see serious on their face."

The game was the first competition in over a week for Kennard.

"We were very rusty," Tiger coach Cory Carden said. "We came off of almost a week and a half of no basketball. It really kind of put a dent in what we're doing. They got to play on Saturday and we could say excuses for all of that, but it came down to who wanted it more. I think they got more loose balls and they were scrapping too. They came out and won the first couple of minutes and I think that's kind of what kept their momentum the rest of the game."

Leggett established an early lead, but the Tigers would quickly recover. Hitting a 3-pointer to close the first quarter, Kennard held an 8-7 advantage.

Down 20-15 at the half, the Pirates went to work in the third. They began a 15-3 run to go up 12 until a Tiger 3-pointer from Dylan Cole ended the period.

"We got in foul trouble and we had to slow it down and play a half-court game," Leggett coach Sean Edwards said. (Our plan) was to press and run them. They broke it and they were banging us inside and they were physical at first. We had to change some stuff up in the second half and come with it."

Edwards agreed that the offense was able to relax a bit after ditching the full-court press.

"We play different types and different styles. We can play slow or fast, but we have to go with what gets us the win that night."

Leggett's JaColby Sells finished with 18 points, tops on the night. Teammate Chase Parrish added eight and Garrett Francois hit an important bucket and free throws in the final quarter. Kennard's Cole led the Tigers with eight points, while Jacob Catoe and Okoye Smotherman each had seven.

The Tigers finish the 2020-21 season with a district championship and plenty of individual accolades.

"We had a great year and I hate that it went down this way," Carden said. "We've played a lot better than this. We came out tonight, I think a little overconfident and rusty, but we had a great season. We topped at 17th in the state and I'm going to have an all-district MVP and I'm going to have first team all-district players. We had a great year, it is just that tonight was not our night. Games like this when it is playoff time, that one night is going to cost you. The playoffs are not forgiving at all."

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Livingston Lions trending in right direction

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Lead Photo

by Brian Besch

Lion basketball kept playoff hopes alive Friday, downing the Wildcats of Splendora 66-49 Friday in Livingston.

The home team led throughout the match and was never really challenged after going up 17-7 after the first quarter.  

Assistant coach Stephen Seaback has taken over much of the coaching load the past two weeks, as head coach Calvin Phillips took time away with a death in the family. 

“The kids are playing real well,” Phillips said following the win. “We had a big win over Shepherd in overtime and it has transitioned over into tonight. If we can put those two games together as one against Hardin-Jefferson, we've got a chance. Coach (Seaback) has done a good job with them since I have been out.”

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Seaback said he is humbled by the opportunity Phillips has given to lead the team. That stretch includes a double-overtime victory versus Shepherd earlier in the week. Coming back from down 19 points and a buzzer beater to force the game into overtime were the highlights in that district contest.

“They could have rolled over on me really quick, but they didn't,” Seaback said. “They just stayed with me and kept believing and we came back. I think we were down 19 and we came back and won in double-overtime in spectacular fashion with multiple buzzer beaters in the game. That was big time. It gives us a glimmer of hope. If we win out and get (Hardin-Jefferson) and Liberty, we have an opportunity to get in.”

The coach said the team has struggled to maintain large leads. He felt that Friday was one of their better showings with an advantage. At the half, the Lions were up by 18, which increased by a point after three periods.

Chris Washington led the team with 15 points and Jeston Kowis had 12. Izzy Enard scored 11 and Jamari Green added 10.

The Lions must collect wins in the last two contests to have a shot at postseason play. A home game with the state’s No. 11 team Tuesday promises to be a steep challenge, but Seaback believes his group will provide plenty of competition. 

“I'm going to always believe in my kids. Basketball is a wonky sport and you can beat anybody on any given night. Who is to say that we can't go out there and win? They have to believe and I think they are believing. We are definitely trending in the right direction. Maybe we are peaking at the right time.”

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Coming back to win

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IMG 4067BRIAN BESCH | PCE

By Brian Besch

The Goodrich Lady Hornets staged a fourth-quarter comeback to pull off a 49-41 upset over rival Leggett Tuesday night. 

Leggett had an impressive shooting performance in the third quarter. The visiting Lady Pirates hit five shots from behind the arc to take a 34-25 advantage going into the final period. 

"We had to go man because we were letting them shoot too many threes," Goodrich coach Khadijah Carter said. "I told them that we have to play tight defense. Once we get the ball on offense, get the ball inside and just go."

They Lady Hornets did just that. The defense never let up, and the team used a size advantage to rebound and collect points near the rim.

"Size made a huge difference," Carter said. "I told them if we could get the ball inside, they cannot stop us. No team can really stop us inside, but we've got to get the ball inside first."

Goodrich went on a 12-1 run to open the fourth quarter and take their first lead of the contest at 37-35 with 3:55 remaining. 



"In the second half, we got too relaxed and there was a big swing," Lady Pirate coach Terri Barlow said. "Goodrich wanted it more than us. We had too many turnovers and we really weren't in it.

"Rebounding killed us, it gets us every time with the inside game. We really can't stop the inside game."

Goodrich was led by Brionna Passmore, who was tops in the game with 24 points. Latrina Morgan had 11. Erika Hansen was the high point for Leggett, scoring 20. Kylie Valderez had nine points on three long-range jumpers.

This marks the third district win for Goodrich, with the first two coming over Burkeville. The first-year coach said it is the biggest win of her young career to this point.

The loss knocks Leggett down to fourth place in district. The Lady pirates we'll need to win their in their final three games over Chester, Burkeville and High Island to have a shot at the postseason.

"When we got down going into the fourth, that kind of made me nervous," Carter said. "Even though we missed a lot of free throws and a few careless passes, I feel like this may be our best game."

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