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Kaden Foster puts up a shot after a collision on the baseline. Photos by Brian BeschKaden Foster puts up a shot after a collision on the baseline. Photos by Brian Besch

By Brian Besch
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Big Sandy basketball used a seven-point difference in two quarters to survive Union Grove 54-45 in the area round Friday night in Woden.

“It was a very close game, and we made just a few more plays down the stretch and made some free throws,” Big Sandy coach Kevin Foster said. “That is the way close games go.”

A slow start to the game saw the Wildcats fall behind 11-6, as Union Grove hit a few buckets late in the period.

Seth Beene-Williams and Elias Bullock carried most of the Wildcat scoring. Beene-Williams had nine in the first half, while Bullock had eight points in the second quarter alone. The Lions continued to hit a few outside shots in the second quarter, but were held to just eight.

“We knew they were going to be athletic,” Foster said. “We knew they could shoot the ball. It did take us a little time to adjust to the physicality of the game. I thought we had tons of good looks early, we just couldn’t make a shot. We settled in the second quarter and outscored them by seven. I told the kids (at halftime) let’s just try to continue that.”

Both teams would put up 17 points in the third quarter. The game was played at a faster pace over the final two periods. Big Sandy had an advantage in ball handling and running a half-court offense, but struggled to keep the Lions off the boards.

“We were able to get a little separation in the second half, but just not rebounding the ball and them making big shots, we had to adjust some things defensively. We always give a lot of help on the drive because we want to protect the paint. We had to change what we do in the second half and lock in to their shooters more and just trust that we were going to do a good enough job of keeping the ball handlers in front of us.”

 Aubrey Woodard, who led the Lions with 17 points for the game, had seven in the final eight minutes of action. He would receive just one bucket of help in the fourth. Meanwhile, Bullock and Beene-Williams continued to lift the ‘Cats, with eight and five points, respectively.

Foster said Union Grove’s athleticism and how they would match up was a few of the concerns going into the contest.

“They’ve got guys that can shoot the ball, and I think the biggest thing was if we were going to keep their dribble penetration out of the lane and were we going to keep ourselves from having to help and then them kick to shooters. They space the floor so well and were knocking shots down, and they pass the ball extremely well.”

Beene-Williams led the Wildcats with 20 points for the game, one more point than Bullock. Adrian Thompson added eight, with a couple of 3-pointers. 

Timpson, the state’s No. 4 team in Class 2A, will be the next opponent in the regional quarterfinals. The Polk County Enterprise Facebook page will have the time and site once it is announced. It is also where highlights of this game can also be found.

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‘Cats climb to area round

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Adrian Thompson puts up a shot under the bucket. He led the Wildcats with 16 points.Adrian Thompson puts up a shot under the bucket. He led the Wildcats with 16 points.

By Brian Besch

Big Sandy hoops began its journey in the postseason with a 67-51 win over Martinsville Tuesday at Hudson High School. The bi-district round promised to be a stronger challenge than some playoff openers, with a Pirate team from a competitive District 23-2A.

“We kind of got off to a slow start and I told the kids before we played that Martinsville is not your typical fourth-place team,” Wildcat coach Kevin Foster said. “There is a lot of districts they might even win or finish second in. We talked about that going into this game, that they come from a really tough district and have played a lot of great competition, especially recently.”

The ‘Cats led 37-24 at the half and would stretch that to 48-32 by the end of the third.

“It took us a while to get going and I thought we made a really goo run there at the end of the second quarter to get some separation from them,” Foster said. “We continued that in the second half to extend it. The Wildcats were up as much as 60-38 in the second half. The Pirates continued to fight, cutting the Big Sandy lead down to 13 points with 1:29 remaining in the contest.

“They made some outside shots and we didn’t do a good job of clock management late, but we were in control of the game from there on out. The first one is hard to get sometimes and I am glad we were able to get that one. I thought we played good defense, not great defense, and I thought we let them have too many rhythm threes. We were able to get good shots. Rebounding was not good early, but we were able to clea that up in the second half.”

Seven ‘Cats tallied at least five points on the night, led by Adrian Thompson with 16, Seth Beene-Williams with 14 and Eli Bullock with 13. Martinsville’s Jhon Sequeda topped the Pirates with 18 points.

Big Sandy will next challenge the winner of Woden and Union Grove in the area round, to likely be played Friday.

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State-ranked Silsbee ends Livingston season

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Jacob Byrd scored eight points in his final game as a Lion. Photo by Brian BeschJacob Byrd scored eight points in his final game as a Lion. Photo by Brian Besch

By Brian Besch

Livingston basketball ended Monday in the bi-district round, as the state’s No. 2 team begins their march through the playoffs. Silsbee defeated the Lions 101-51, ending Livingston’s season at East Chambers High School, just as the girls’ season ended the week prior.

Livingston held a few early leads after the tip, with their last a 6-4 advantage. The Tigers rolled off 13 consecutive points after that and went on a similar run to end the first half. At halftime, the Lions were down 58-30.

Silsbee’s press was relentless, and the Tigers used all 14 players to attack, consistently rotating multiple players off the bench. Long, quick athletes that can handle the ball challenged every Livingston pass, creating turnovers and fast breaks all night.

“We came out playing pretty good,” Livingston coach Calvin Phillips said. “We told them that they are going to have to come meet the ball and we can’t throw lob passes, because that wasn’t going to get it done. Everything that we told them, they did it.

“(Silsbee gets) to the bucket really good and they don’t miss the three ball too much, either. They’ve got a good outside game and we played them pretty good in the first quarter. They started tipping the ball and taking off in transition. The next thing you know, we are down. If you’ll just be patient — we told them that we don’t even mind them getting a five-second count, because then you have a chance to go back and play defense. To let them take it and go into transition, that is what hurts.”

A minimum of 20 points was scored in each quarter by the Tigers, topping out at 36 in the second quarter.

Livingston played well in the game, but was simply outmatched. The Lions had good showings from William Dault and Jayden Randolph, who each scored 13 points. Randolph was 5-for-5 from the field and pulled down nine rebounds. 

The Tigers were led by Dre’lon Miller and Jared Harris, each with 22 points. Miller had seven rebounds and four assists, but may have been outplayed by Harris, who nabbed 10 steals. Harris played in only 15 minutes of the game. LaMarcus Bottley also contributed big, with 20 points and four steals.

Silsbee likely still has a long time to play this year, but figures to be even stronger next season, with only two seniors on the team.

For Livingston, Julian Gardner, Jacob Byrd, Brian O’Neal and Brandon Lyons were all contributors in their final game wearing a Lion uniform.

“I told them that no one even thought we would get this far,” Phillips said. “I still say that we are overachievers. We played hard tonight, but they were just better athletes than we were. We beat Hamshire-Fannett, we beat Huffman at home and we almost had Hardin-Jefferson at their place. It was all on just pure effort and hustle. 

“I think we got a little bit away from team ball toward the end. It started to be a little more individualized ball and that hurt us a bit. I don’t really have anything else negative to say about those kids. They played hard. I stayed on their butt consistently, but as a coach, you are going to try to get the most out of them. They are overachievers and I am happy for them. I think we have a good chance to win district next year. Everybody in district is losing a lot (players) and we bring a lot back.”

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Complete domination

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The team stops for a group shot after the game. The 2021-22 Big Sandy Lady Cats include (standing, left to right) Samantha White, Briana Miles, Lauren Hulin, Kalyssa Dickens, Savanna Poncho, Corynn Kaleh, Ryan Alec, (kneeling, left to right) Faith Geller, Alexis Thompson and Kamryn Mayer. Photos by Brian BeschThe team stops for a group shot after the game. The 2021-22 Big Sandy Lady Cats include (standing, left to right) Samantha White, Briana Miles, Lauren Hulin, Kalyssa Dickens, Savanna Poncho, Corynn Kaleh, Ryan Alec, (kneeling, left to right) Faith Geller, Alexis Thompson and Kamryn Mayer. Photos by Brian Besch

By Brian Besch
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Big Sandy dictated every aspect of Friday’s area playoff game in Lufkin, coasting to a 73-9 rout over Cushing. The Galkats were third-place finishers of District 22-2A, but provided little resistance in Big Sandy’s advancement to the regional quarterfinals.

To say that everything went right in the first quarter of Big Sandy’s game Friday night could be an understatement. The girls erupted for 26 points over the opening eight minutes, while holding Cushing scoreless. Once the second quarter began, the game was decided.

It would take another minute into the second quarter before Cushing secured its first field goal of the match. It would also be their only of the first half.

“We played really well in this game,” Big Sandy coach Ryan Alec said. “Credit to them, they are a well-coached team and did a great job defensively on us. The thing that got us started was playing well early. That kind of sets the tone for the rest of the game for us. We were knocking down shots and playing good defense. We held them to two points in the first half and zero in the first quarter, which our defense deserves a lot of credit for that. I was pretty happy with the outcome.

“We talked a lot about securing the ball and making sure we hold onto possessions. Turnover ratio is always big for us, and the past two games, our defense has stepped up big for us. Against San Augustine we had to make some changes and play a sagging man in the second half. Here, we came up a little bit more. I thought we adjusted well in both games and our defense was a big factor.”

A full-court press was too much for the Galkats to overcome. The few shots Cushing got off in the first and second quarters were not quality attempts.

Going into halftime, the Lady Cats had built the lead to 43-2.

Alec said when the team went into the locker room up 41 points, he told them they would be treating it as if a new game was beginning.

“We have played some good games this year. Every game is important, but of course this one has a lot of importance here,” Alec said. “I vthink our trajectory is going up, in my opinion. That is what you want to do. You want to be playing right at the right time. I think for us, it is yet to be seen, but I think we are clicking at the right time. We are going to have a tough matchup ahead of us in the next round whoever we face.”

Four different Ladycats outscored Cushing in the game. Savanna Poncho led all scores with 22 points, Faith Geller had 18, Alexis Thompson had 12 and Kalyssa Dickens added 10.

The next game will be the Woden versus Tenaha winner, to likely be played on Tuesday.

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