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Winning on the last shot - Onalaska over Big Sandy 47-45

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Big Sandy Vs Onalaska 11 23 2020

by Brian Beusch

Onalaska scored in the final seconds to take a two-point advantage and eventually the game over Big Sandy 47-45 in a Monday matinee by the lake.

With a 45-43 lead, Onalaska held a possession for over a minute draining it to 1:30. Once Big Sandy regained the basketball, sophomore Alexis Thompson was fouled and made two free throws to tie the game at 45. 

Onalaska (3-3) made their final opportunity count, as Kierra Anstee’s missed layup was followed by Maddie Stelck with eight seconds to go for the game winner. 

After being down for the majority of the game, Onalaska took a one-point lead with 4:20 remaining in the third quarter at 29-28. The lead would change hands a few more times before the final whistle.

“Honestly, we are just looking for some consistency,” Onalaska coach Ashley Sustaita said. “We have been pushing and asking for some consistency in their play. I kind of took some roles away from some kids in the first half to kind of prove some points. We went back to our original substitution for our third quarter, so we saw some things that we were used to. They have definitely formed some bonds with their groups, as far as subbing. They looked a little more comfortable in the second half. We know what they can do, I just want them to believe they can do the same thing.”

The catalyst in starting the Onalaska offense was the press, which began to create points off of turnovers in the second half.

“Our biggest thing is starting to adjust, based off of what teams give us,” Sustaita said. “I thought that we did a good job finally today of adjusting our press to fit what they had. That is something they're going to have to do every single night. That is our bread and butter and what we want to do.”

Leading for a large portion of the game, a lack of depth for the visitors seemed to begin taking its toll. The Lady Cats had just seven suited up in purple for the contest, with a handful of players out for various reasons.

“We should have gotten a stop at the end, but they (Onalaska) are a good team and they work hard,” Big Sandy coach Ryan Alec said. “I knew coming into the game that they were going to do a good job defensively. It is always a battle when you come to Onalaska and they are going to get after us and play hard and work hard. We had to earn all the points that we had with the players we had on the floor.”

Onalaska’s Anstee led all scores with 17 points, Kylie Sisk and Stelck each had eight, and Jordyn Shutter scored six. Savannah Hoffman led Big Sandy with 15 points, Faith Geller had 11, Thompson had nine and Baili Mitchell added eight.

For Big Sandy (3-1), the loss Monday was the first of their season.

“We've played really well over the past three games,” Alec said. “We played at Coldspring and then we played at home versus East Chambers and on Saturday we played at Kirbyville. We won all three games by a pretty good margin and in those three games, we played extremely well. In this game, points were hard to come by and we didn't score as many as we did over there. We shot the ball really well in those games and didn't execuWinning on last shot

Onalaska scored in the final seconds to take a two-point advantage and eventually the game over Big Sandy 47-45 in a Monday matinee by the lake.

With a 45-43 lead, Onalaska held a possession for over a minute draining it to 1:30. Once Big Sandy regained the basketball, sophomore Alexis Thompson was fouled and made two free throws to tie the game at 45. 

Onalaska (3-3) made their final opportunity count, as Kierra Anstee’s missed layup was followed by Maddie Stelck with eight seconds to go for the game winner. 

After being down for the majority of the game, Onalaska took a one-point lead with 4:20 remaining in the third quarter at 29-28. The lead would change hands a few more times before the final whistle.

“Honestly, we are just looking for some consistency,” Onalaska coach Ashley Sustaita said. “We have been pushing and asking for some consistency in their play. I kind of took some roles away from some kids in the first half to kind of prove some points. We went back to our original substitution for our third quarter, so we saw some things that we were used to. They have definitely formed some bonds with their groups, as far as subbing. They looked a little more comfortable in the second half. We know what they can do, I just want them to believe they can do the same thing.”

The catalyst in starting the Onalaska offense was the press, which began to create points off of turnovers in the second half.

“Our biggest thing is starting to adjust, based off of what teams give us,” Sustaita said. “I thought that we did a good job finally today of adjusting our press to fit what they had. That is something they're going to have to do every single night. That is our bread and butter and what we want to do.”

Leading for a large portion of the game, a lack of depth for the visitors seemed to begin taking its toll. The Lady Cats had just seven suited up in purple for the contest, with a handful of players out for various reasons.

“We should have gotten a stop at the end, but they (Onalaska) are a good team and they work hard,” Big Sandy coach Ryan Alec said. “I knew coming into the game that they were going to do a good job defensively. It is always a battle when you come to Onalaska and they are going to get after us and play hard and work hard. We had to earn all the points that we had with the players we had on the floor.”

Onalaska’s Anstee led all scores with 17 points, Kylie Sisk and Stelck each had eight, and Jordyn Shutter scored six. Savannah Hoffman led Big Sandy with 15 points, Faith Geller had 11, Thompson had nine and Baili Mitchell added eight.

For Big Sandy (3-1), the loss Monday was the first of their season.

“We've played really well over the past three games,” Alec said. “We played at Coldspring and then we played at home versus East Chambers and on Saturday we played at Kirbyville. We won all three games by a pretty good margin and in those three games, we played extremely well. In this game, points were hard to come by and we didn't score as many as we did over there. We shot the ball really well in those games and didn't execte quite as well today.”

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Wildcat Fight

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BSvsOna 11 20 2020

by Brian Buesch

Big Sandy won a battle of turnovers 41-30 on the road Friday night over Onalaska to notch their second win of the young season.

Both offenses struggled to put the ball in the hole in the first half, but each team was aggressive on defense to create new possessions. It led to a halftime score of 16-15, with the road team taking the slim advantage into the locker room.  

“Two things stick out to me,” Big Sandy coach Kevin Foster said. “We turned the ball over way too much. The first two games, I think we had 11 in each of those games. We had 20-something tonight. Our decision making was very poor tonight. One of the things that we've done well this year so far is rebound the ball. We also rebounded poorly tonight. 

“We didn't shoot it well, but I don't worry about that as much, because I thought we were getting good looks. I would be more concerned if we weren't executing our offense. I thought when we weren't turning it over, we actually executed. Basketball comes down to making shots and we have to make more of them. We tried to change the pace a little bit and extend and get a little pressure, and those types of things opened up the game for us a little bit.”

After getting just two buckets in the first quarter, Big Sandy scored in double digits in the following three frames. Onalaska was held to a high of eight in the first and fourth. 

Elias Bullock led all scores with 11 points for Big Sandy. Dante Williams had 10 points and Kaden Foster added nine. Bryan Wyatt was the top Onalaska scorer with seven points, while Ryan Kratz and Chase Fletcher each put in six.


Big Sandy is now 2-1 with a loss to Orangefield and a win over Warren. They will next face Splendora Monday at 1 p.m.

Foster said there are players filling different roles from last year. If Friday was any indication, the Wildcats in purple will be able to generate offense in transition when shots aren’t falling. It is also something the opposing coach pointed out.

“Most of their points — after I stat it — I'd be shocked if more than half of them weren’t off of our turnovers,” Onalaska coach Nick Tyerman said. “That is beating ourselves. Some of that is inexperience and youth and some of it is we have to be more patient and execute.”


Early in the season and especially after everyone has missed some time with the pandemic, the offenses may need a few weeks to catch up in the 2020-21 season.

Both coaches saw plenty from their defense to like.

“I saw a lot of growth out of them after the first couple of games,” Tyerman said. “Our defense is really good. As long as we keep getting better, we'll be fine. I'm proud of our defense and I think this is probably our best defense since I have been here. We have to get the offense to start going with it.”Onalaska opened the season with large and talented teams in Lumberton and College Station, dropping both.“I always schedule tough,” Tyerman said. “I'm trying to get us ready for district, because in district, I can't replicate the speed in practice that we see. It is a learning experience for them. Coldspring is just as athletic as those big schools, so it is us getting used to that sort of thing.” 

Tyerman said his group is a good mix of both veterans and youth. he likes his team's aggressiveness and wants them to stay composed when things don't go their way.“Athletically, I think we are as good as we were two years ago when we missed the playoffs by one game. It is just about getting that confidence in themselves. We have a lot of kids who have been role players and now they have to accept the fact that it is on them to start doing everything. They're not the secondary option anymore.” 

Kountze has had to drop Onalaska from their scheduled game Saturday. However, the school by the lake has been able to add a home tip for that day, when they will host La Poynor.

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Leggett, Livingston face off to begin schedule (VIDEO)

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legg and livBRIAN BESCH | PCE Livingston took a 60-44 home win over the 1A powerhouse.

By Brian Besch

LIVINGSTON - The Leggett Pirates and Livingston Lions did not exactly ease into the season with cupcake games. The two Polk County schools squared off against each other Saturday, with Livingston taking a 60-44 home win over the 1A powerhouse.

Leggett actually began the contest with a 7-0 lead, as the Lions needed a few minutes to adjust to the game's speed.

"It started out real good, but we just have to do a better job of protecting the paint and matching up with other teams," Leggett head coach Sean Edwards said. "Coach (Calvin) Phillips knows what he is doing over there and they are going to be OK. Livingston is going to be competitive this year. He even has three guys that he is missing, so he is even going to be better.”

Even though the Lions were missing a few due to football, they were able to show off a deep bench. Eight of the nine players dressed for the game contributed points.

Jeston Kowis led all scores with 16 points for Livingston, newcomer Adyn Stewart had a dozen and Gage Morris had nine. For Leggett, Varian Flournoy had 12, Chase Parrish had 10. Both Jacoby Sells and freshman Josh Perkins finished with seven points.

Just as last year’s team, Livingston possesses plenty of size, even adding some for the latest version.

That proved to be a difficult task for the smaller Pirates.

“We are small this year and my 6-5 post got hurt, and for medical reasons, he can't come back and play," Edwards said. "We had another guy move to Splendora, but it is what it is. We are small this year and we are going to have to out-quick them, but sometimes you run out of gas.”

State-ranked Leggett may not have the offensive firepower as they have the past few years, but the team will still be able to collect plenty of wins on the 1A level.

“It is going to be defense,” Edwards said of keys to success. “We have to control the tempo, it is simple and easy. We are not going to be scoring 95 or 100 this year. We have to play defense and take it possession by possession. Of course, I'm
going to coach to what I have, so that's what we have to do.”

The Lions may have a few different ways to earn victories in the 2020-21 season. Their size should prove to be an asset both on defense and in rebounding, but they will also receive an injection of speed now that football season has come to an end.

"It's going to let us do what we want to do," new Lion head coach Calvin Phillips said. "The press with Julian (Gardner) and Izzy (Enard), that is going to be our quicks up front. We can play a lot more man-to-man in full court like I want, but it all depends on what we see, how we break down film and see what works best for us. I'm not trying to be a big entertainer; we just have to get some wins. (The additional players) will give us some more shooters too."

Phillips said aggression has been a big key and something emphasized in practices. Once the team regained its footing Saturday, aggression made the difference in the outcome.

“We started off kind of slow and we were a little bit soft and backing off, but once the aggression came around and we started hitting the floor and started getting turnovers, I thought that was the difference in the game right there," Phillips said. "We got some breakaway shots and Coach (Stephen) Seaback works transition every day. Overall, every phase of the game was OK, but we still have a lot of work to do. I was impressed with the half-court game. We went to a zone, which really helped us a lot. It wasn't bad for the first game, considering who they (Leggett) are, because they play hard.”

After allowing 16 points in the first quarter, the Lions held Leggett to single digits in both the second and third period to slowly distance themselves.

Livingston was consistent on offense each quarter and outscored the Pirates in all four frames.

"Seaback and I both are always working something as far as some kind of
shooting drill," the Lion coach said. "Our pet peeve is defense and we have to stop people. It isn't going to do any good to go out there and score 100 points and
let them score 100 points. I like the fast game and I like the man-to-man defense, but you have to pick your poison. We had to fall back and play more zone than I wanted to play, but it worked out for us. All I want is a victory and get that first victory in my belt."

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Onalaska Lady Cats defeat Goodrich (VIDEO)

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IMG 1824BRIAN BESCH | PCE The Onalaska Lady Cats leave Goodrich with a 71-15 victory Friday over the Lady Hornets.

 
By Brian Besch

The Onalaska Lady Cats used a few different presses to leave Goodrich with a 71-15 victory Friday over the Lady Hornets.

Behind 23 points from Kierra Anstee, 14 from Kylie Sisk, and 12 by Jordyn Shutter, the Lady Cats won a game that was never in doubt.

Onalaska opened the contest with an 18-0 advantage, picking off passes and tipping the ball away from Goodrich dribblers. By halftime, the Lady Cats were on the positive side of a 38-4 lead.

“We are 2-1. We've lost a heartbreaker at Pineywoods (Christian Academy),” Onalaska head coach Ashley Sustaita said. “We were up with 20 seconds to go and turned the ball over twice to let them tie it and then let them take the lead. To be in a game this year with a great opponent — it's a good feeling. It's one of those losses you're not even mad at because, looking at last year, we weren't even supposed to be in a game like that. We have a deep bench and a lot of good talent.”

Sustaita has 11 players to deploy at any point, and was able to rotate five new faces in at a time, while Goodrich was forced to play its same five the entire game.

The Lady Cats should rely on defense and a few different looks defensively in the 2020-21 season. On Friday, both a full-court and half-court press gave the opponent trouble.

“We want to run and we want to press. We've been working really hard on the rotation and we have a couple of other things we've been throwing in as far as the press,” Sustaita said. “I think our speed is going to kill. We've been able to run teams into the ground pretty good, so I'm excited.”

The Onalaska coach believes small details such as transition defense, blocking out and consistently putting the ball in the basket will be what the team needs to work on before district play.

“We put in a lot of specific drills that I think are paying off now,” Sustaita said. “They are able to knock it down and do a good job of not getting down on themselves when things aren’t falling early.”

Goodrich was led by Breya Passmore, who scored seven of her team’s 15 points. Jamya Garrett and Aralyn Angel each added three points. The team played its best basketball in the fourth quarter, where a winded bunch was able to score in double digits.

“We have to keep working and it is a whole different level now from junior high,” Goodrich coach Khadijah Carter said of her baby bees. “We have to learn that.”

Carter has a monumental task of developing four freshmen, a sophomore and, as of now, no bench. The team just ended a successful cross country season and has yet to practice with all five team members.

“Really, we're just working on offensive plays and we are running a 2-3 zone,” Carter said. “We have to stretch that zone as much as we can, and I am thinking about going to man. It is a little difficult right now and not being able to practice with a full team has been tough. Once I get at least a full week with full-team practices, we should be OK.”

Playing every minute, the Lady Hornets will be in good shape quickly. Those who may not have participated in cross country before are getting the same impact now.

“If anything, we are going to be in shape and a fit team. By the end of December — and we start district in December now — I think by then we will have it,” the Goodrich coach said. “We have to. I will have it right and we will be a more developed team.”

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Livingston outlasted in bi-district

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Livingston Lions vs Chapel Hill BulldogsLivingston Lions vs Chapel Hill Bulldogs

by Brian Besch

The first playoff trip in eight years for the Livingston Lions was a short one, as they were outscored 49-37 by the Tyler Chapel Hill Bulldogs Saturday night in New Caney.

The fourth seed in 9-4A Div. I found a way to score more points over the district champions from 10-4A than anyone else in 2020. It was the type of game that the district to the north has played all season — high scoring with defenses struggling to keep up. 

“Too many big plays,” Livingston coach Finis Vanover said. “They shredded us on the quarterback run and the little guy (Kevin Brooks, 6-71, 2 TDs) popped it on us a couple of times — the back. Then they started using him as a lead blocker and we couldn't handle the big boy (quarterback Cameron Ford, 22-210, 5 total TDs). He made plays on us. The quarterback is a tremendous athlete and we knew we had to stop the quarterback. We couldn't protect the corner and everybody has said if you can't stop the quarterback from running, you are going to be in trouble. And we couldn't.”

The Bulldog offense was contained in the first half, with only two scores. The first was giftwrapped after a failed fake punt allowed the ‘Dogs to take possession at the Lion 25.

But the big plays began with the first snap of the second half. A tipped pass that looked to be intercepted by Lion defensive back Julian Gardner fell into enemy hands. The 93-yard scoring strike tied the game at 21.

“We thought we had the interception and then it was like we handed it to them,” Vanover said. “Instead of an interception and turnover and we're fixing to get a two-score lead, he's going down the sidelines and tied it back up. It was just crazy big plays and we made some big ones too. They are very talented, very athletic and they've got a good scheme. They survived a big test.” 

The game was tied on five different occasions and both schools had opportunities to take control. Chapel Hill finally did, but it wasn’t until late in the fourth quarter.

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A slow start, combined with turnovers allowed the Bulldogs to remain in the game when it looked at any time Livingston could swing momentum.

“In a playoff game like this, you can't do that. We were just blowing our foot off by making bad decisions, bad throws, weren't covering, weren't tackling and just kind of looked like robots going through the motions. Once we got in the groove, we were back to our old selves again. That first seven minutes kills you when you are high-performance team like we are.”

Livingston’s Ja’Marri Green ran for 85 yards and two scores on 15 carries, Tank Johnson had 60 yards on 17 totes and Damian Ruiz led the team with 139 yards in just 10 attempts. Ruiz scored once on the ground and threw for two more, one to Izzy Enard and the other to Chris Washington. 

Chapel Hill took their final lead with seven minutes left in the game on a 46-yard pass from Ford to Ilonzo McGregor. They solidified the advantage with just over two minutes remaining on a Ford scamper from 45 yards out. On the next Lion offensive play, McGregor struck again with an interception. 

“We had an incredible year and we knew it was going to end sometime,” the Lion coach said. “We didn't think it was going to be this week and I truly thought we were going to win this game. Once we got in a scoring contest with them, I thought we still could. We started giving up those huge plays that we haven't been giving up this year. It's the playoffs. We go home with what might have been.”

Vanover said he was proud of his seniors for building what he hopes will be sustained success.

“What an unbelievable accomplishment. It did not end like we expected, planned, wanted, desired or prepared for. At some point in time, it's going to. There's only one team that is happy at the end of the season; everybody else is disappointed. But what they've accomplished is second to none in three or four decades. They played their hearts out. The seniors had a hand in it all year and tonight too. It has been a great year for those seniors and I couldn't be prouder for them, like Chris (Washington) who is been through all four years of the bitter wars and the horrors. They stuck to it and helped be a leader and kept everybody together.”

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