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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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Lady Hornets get second-day win

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Breya Passmore shoots in traffic.Breya Passmore shoots in traffic.Brian Besch

The Goodrich Lady Hornets received a win in the consolation bracket Friday, defeating the Lufkin sophomore team 57-19.

Goodrich began the game on a 16-0 run and the contest would never be close.

The coach agreed that her team looked well in Friday’s performance, but still feels her young students have a lot of growing to do.

“We’re still having a hard time trying to keep up in man-to-man,” Goodrich coach Pinellafie Johnson said. “We need to stay between them and the basket. We get on them, but forget where the ball is. We also have to work on running our zone offense. We had opportunities to run it today, but they did it maybe three times. I told him that we have to learn to run the zone offense, because once we get into district and the further you go, it is going to get tougher. You have to know how to run it. I was pleased with the effort and they did a good job.”

Latrina Morgan was the high point with 24, Breya Passmore had 15 points and Aralyn Angel had 14. Marisa Olivares and Arly Balbuena each added a bucket.

The night before, Goodrich dropped a 40-30 contest to Spurger. A Lady Hornet fouled out and there were continuing problems maintaining a man-to-man defense, according to Johnson. The Lady Pirates were able to secure the win in the final period, outscoring the Lady Hornets 18-6 in that time.

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Plenty of buzz

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Jesus Salazar drives to the bucket.Brian Besch

Tournament hosts Goodrich fell in the opening round of their tournament 77-12 to the Hardin Hornets in a contest that was never close.

The visiting Hornets took a 19-1 lead in the first quarter and never looked back. Hardin led 37-3 at the half.

“It got a little better in the second half; we’re still trying to get there,” Goodrich coach Lester King said of his young group. “The kids our freshman and still getting in shape and this is new to them. They’ve never played any varsity basketball. We’re getting better every time we play. We’re playing good competition. We have played Hardin and Shepherd, Colmesneil and Onalaska. By the time we get into district none of them (schools much larger in size) are going to be there.”

Going through the growing pains combined with playing the larger schools, like Class 3A Hardin, will serve Goodrich well once they reach district play. A better effort in the second half showed plenty of fight in the team.

Tilde Guzman scored six points for the home team, while A’mareion Bookman added five.

“We are just trying to get there. They were better in the second half at getting to the rim. It was one of those deer in headlights look, like they were scared to go to the rim. I want them to see if their man can guard them. If they can, maybe they will back off and you can get a shot. But, we are getting experience.”

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Defeating larger schools

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Alexis Thompson finds an opening for the shot.Alexis Thompson finds an opening for the shot.By Brian Besch

The Big Sandy girls came from behind in the second half to gain an opening-round 40-36 win over Jasper in their tournament Thursday.

“They looked pretty good,” Big Sandy coach Ryan Alec said of Jasper. “They're very athletic and very quick. We’ve set this tournament up to where we are able to see teams like that. We want to play against teams that do that to us. Hopefully, if we get into district and into the playoffs, we're probably going to see some of that. They are a very good team and I was proud of our kids.”

Having a bit of trouble in the half-court offense, the Lady Cats utilized improved shooting in the third and fourth quarters to overcome an 18-14 deficit at the half. They had fallen behind with a poor performance at the free throw line, going 1-for-6 in the second quarter alone. For the game, Big Sandy carried a 40 percent success rate at the charity stripe.

However, the game was put out of reach by shooting free throws when Savanna Poncho sank a couple with five seconds remaining. She would also be the game’s leading scorer with 18 points. Alexis Thompson added a dozen, while Briana Miles, Faith Geller, Corynn Kaleh and Lauren Hulin also contributed.

“We moved the ball like we are supposed to. I think a few times, turnovers hurt us a little bit and our inability to make some free throws down the stretch,” Alec said. “Overall, we got down and we bounced back in, so there was a lot of factors in the game where we gave them chances to pull it out. We fought back into it and grinded and won the game. it is hard for us, because we can't match up with their athleticism at times. We have to be able to move the ball. We have to take care of the basketball with our guards up front and be able to see the floor. I thought our guards did a really good job of finding open people underneath the basket. It is a testament of them being able to see the floor well.”

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Coldspring edges Big Sandy

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Kaden Foster lunges for the layup.Kaden Foster lunges for the layup.By Brian Besch

The marquee game of the Big Sandy tournament did not disappoint, as Coldspring and the tournament hosts battled to a 53-51 finish Thursday in the opening round.

The Trojans used their length and quickness to press the Wildcats and cause several turnovers. Big Sandy countered with tough defense and timely passing to keep pace.

“Coach (Kevin Foster, Big Sandy) and I talked about how this was the championship game of the tournament,” Coldspring coach Greg Devers said. “My kids came out disorganized. My freshman, Bryan Douglas hit the two big 3’s (one with a free throw) for seven points. With three freshmen and a sophomore out of eight players, I thought we did pretty good. Big Sandy -- we have been averaging 89 points a game and they held us to 53. That is unusual.

“Like I said, I think that it was the championship game. I hope it was. Our quickness and our defense got us there at the end. We’ve got to do a better job blocking out, but we will get there. We are going to learn. We are 4-0 right now. Tomorrow we play Groveton and we have already beaten them 86-22. I knew this was going to be our first real test of a game. The first three games I knew were games that we should have won. I was hoping to play Big Sandy on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. (championship game).”

The Wildcats and Trojans traded leads and the game was tied at 51 until Luke Monroe got a defender in the air and dumped a pass to Chris Harden, who hit a five-foot jumper with just 10 seconds to go. Coldspring was able to force a difficult shot at the elbow in the final seconds to preserve the win.

“We didn’t deserve to win. I am pretty much brutally honest with the kids,” Foster said. “Sometimes you don’t do enough. We turned the ball over too much, we couldn’t get stops when we needed to and we had a lot of opportunities. We battled back and kind of got ourselves into a hole. I was proud of the kids for how we fought back, but we just kept shooting ourselves in the foot with mistakes that we shouldn’t be making.”

Monroe led the Trojans with 17 points and Cam Shaw-Rucker had 13. The ‘Cats Seth Beene-Williams had 17 points as well, Thompson had 13, Criswell had 11 and Kaden Foster had eight.

“This was a tough one,” Foster said. “We’re trying to figure some things out position-wise with who can play what. When you play those pressing teams, you find out a lot about your team. It is good to play teams like that, because it gets you better and prepares you for what you’re going to see down the road. We definitely have a lot of room for improvement.”

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