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State-ranked H-J claims narrow win

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Julian Gardner gets two of his six points in the first half. PHOTOS BY BRIAN BESCHJulian Gardner gets two of his six points in the first half. PHOTOS BY BRIAN BESCHBy Brian Besch

In a game for the District 21-4A lead, the Livingston Lions fell a couple of buckets short of Hardin-Jefferson 62-56 Friday night in Sour Lake.

After a small lead to start the game, the Lions fell behind by 10 and seemed to fight all night around that deficit. A traditional power, the Hawks have another solid squad with several contributors and a deep bench.

Getting many of their points off turnovers, the Hawks scored 22 and 17 in the first two quarters, respectively. The Lions adjusted and held them to 10 and 13 in the second half. A furious comeback effort in the fourth quarter that included more pressing produced 21 points for the Lions, their best offensive showing.

“The main thing that hurt us was the pressure,” Livingston coach Calvin Phillips said. “We didn’t handle that very well until we started to settle down and started to make a comeback. We hit a few baskets seeing the open man. We kind of beat ourselves because we wouldn’t take our time. That’s what they want to do, is rush us. We played their game rushing for maybe eight minutes or more and that is how they got the push on us. We have to be content and be patient, and then we might have pulled it out.

Hardin-Jefferson had contributions from seven scorers, led by Jonathan Melvo with 21, Micah Brown 11 and R.J. Sears with nine. Livingston’s Tae McNeal led the Lions with a dozen, Terrance Gray had 11, Jayden Randolph 10 and Brian O’Neal with seven.

“We’ve just got to go get Liberty on Tuesday,” Phillips said. “It is one of the things that we talked about where we have to be patient in order to beat these guys. Randolph had a pretty good game, but they beat us inside getting rebounds, because we weren’t doing a good job of boxing out. That is one of the things that we should have taken care of. It is small, but it didn’t happen.”

Even with the loss, confidence should be very high going into the second round of district. A six-point loss could have been much different with a few breaks going the other way. There are adjustments to be made and the Lions can hope that the 28 fouls called against them compared to 10 on the Hawks is an aberration.

“That is what they (Lion players) were saying to me in the dressing room – that if we played them this close at their place, we should be able to get them at home. I think they were a little surprised themselves, but we were playing good ball. When we play our ball, we do a pretty good job. I don’t feel bad about it at all. The kids competed and did what we wanted to do. We just kind of fell short.”

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Still in the race

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Ayden Sowders shoots a jumper in the paint. (Below) Bryce Lawrence gets to the rim.Ayden Sowders shoots a jumper in the paint. (Below) Bryce Lawrence gets to the rim.By Brian Besch

Needing a win in district play, the Corrigan-Camden Bulldogs pulled off a 62-56 victory over the Pineywoods Christian Academy Timberwolves Friday on the north side of Polk County.

The competition was a tight one throughout and the Timberwolves held a few different leads in the game. However, the Bulldogs answered every time.

Each team was down a few players and both would need others to step into bigger roles.

“It was a good win. Both teams were down (a few players), so I knew it was going to be a battle,” Corrigan coach Andrew Kirkindoff said. “You could tell the inexperience in some places, but I told them that mistakes are going to happen during the game, but you have to continue to keep pushing. I think they did that and I told them in the locker room that this is nothing but a learning experience for us. I am just happy that we got the win.”

Corrigan-Camden’s offense moved the ball well in the first half, and especially in the first quarter, when they scored 19 points. The team played unselfish, patient ball, resulting in some easier buckets.

“We did and I think we went away from it,” Kirkindoff said. “My message to them before the game was that your main focus is to remain focused. I think we lost focus within that time (in the second half). In order for us to be a good team, we can’t do that.”

Fouls were a large influence on the outcome, as the Bulldogs went to the line for 15 attempts in the fourth period alone.

Tra Thomas led the game with 28 points, doing the most damage in the fourth quarter with 10. Michael Kenney scored 10 and Javarion Williams did the same, but Williams was equally impactful disrupting Timberwolves’ ball handlers. Bryce Lawrence had seven points after coming up from the junior varsity.

The win is the first in league play for the ‘Dogs, but Kirkindoff believes his team will improve in the second half of district to become a postseason factor.

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Livingston streaking through district

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Jacob Byrd shoots in traffic near the basket.Jacob Byrd shoots in traffic near the basket.By Brian Besch

The Livingston Lions secured an important district win Tuesday, defeating Huffman Hargrave 59-43 to remain unbeaten in District 21-4A.

The game didn’t start as the Lions would have liked, collecting five fouls in the first two minutes after the tip. Yet, they stayed aggressive on defense holding the Falcons to 19 points in the first half. The Lions scored 17 and 16 in the first two quarters, respectively.

“The guys played real well. I don't know what has happened,” Livingston coach Calvin Phillips said. “When we first started off, I

told these guys that we d dn't have the talent level that we had last year. But I told them that they had heart and that if they played with effort, I guaranteed that they would win some ball games. That is what has happened. These guys – the chemistry is there and they are more together. That is what is making a difference.”

The Lions created fast breaks off steals, found the open man under the bucket, and beat defenders off the dribble. Huffman was a flustered team at times that could not get into a consistent offensive rhythm versus the green swarm.

“We are beating people on just basic stuff – boxing out, playing good defense, moving your feet and active hands,” Phillips said. “That is what is getting us in right now. We hit shots, but our shots are coming off of layups and steals. We hit a couple of threes, but it is just being competitive. They are believing in each other and playing well together.”

After playing to a 9-9 draw in the third period, the Lions outscored Huffman 17-15 in the fourth, making it three of four quarters they would do so.

William Dault had 15 points for the Lions in the win, Jonathan McNeal had a dozen and Jayden Randolph had 10. Ridge Thomas led the Falcons

with 15 points. 

The Lions are now 3-0 in district play, tied with league favorite Hardin-Jefferson. A quick road trip to Shepherd Friday is next on the schedule. Livingston then returns home Tuesday for a match withSplendora.

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Fourth-quarter sting

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Breya Passmore pulls down the rebound.Breya Passmore pulls down the rebound.By Brian Besch

The Goodrich-Leggett rivalry was as tough as ever for three quarters Friday night, but the Lady Hornets finished the game in a big way to take a 64-37 home victory.

Goodrich held just a four-point difference at halftime, but doubled that by the end of the third quarter at 36-28. The last few minutes of the third would foreshadow what was to come. The lady Hornets erupted for 28 points in that last quarter, while holding Leggett to nine.

“At the beginning, we just wanted to play wild ball,” Goodrich coac Pinellafie Johnson said. “They wanted to play their game and I kept telling them that we aren’t going to do that. We’ve got girls that are wide open and all we have to do is pass the ball around and lay it off the glass. In the second half, that is what they did, because the first half was horrible. They were just rushing. We only passed the ball inside in the first half two times, because everything was just running down the court and putting it up. I told them that we have to play team ball to win this game.”

The Lady Hornet inside game made a large difference, as Latrina Morgan and Breya Passmore were able to find enough room in the paint versus the Leggett zone. Each collected 22 points to lead the team. Aralyn Angel added eight points for the home team and Arly Balbuena had six.

For Leggett, the outside shot kept the game close until the final eight minutes. Makelah Reeves-Nesmith had 11, Tamaera Henderson had 10 and Kylie Valderez nine. All but 10 of the Lady Pirate points came by way of the 3-pointer.

“We are standing around on offense at the 3-point line,” Leggett coach Terri Barlow said. “I only had one in trying to get a rebound. Everybody wants to sit outside. We especially didn’t take care of the ball like we should have. We played a totally different game from what we did Tuesday night. We just plain and simple got outhustled. We were down by four at halftime and lost by almost 30 points. We didn’t hustle and we kept throwing the ball away.”

On Tuesday, Leggett played Burkeville and took home a victory. The are now 1-4 in league play.

Goodrich improves to 2-2 in district, with Zavala and Chireno occupying first and second in 28-1A, respectively. Johnson feels as though her team is improving and that the second half of district will be “a different ballgame.”

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Raided

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acolby Sells goes for two of his 49 points Friday.acolby Sells goes for two of his 49 points Friday.By Brian Besch

 The game was never really in doubt and the biggest cheer from the visiting Pirate section Friday was when their team hit the 100-point mark. Led by 49 points from Jacolby Sells, Leggett walloped the Hornets 106-27, improving to 2-1 in District 28-1A.

After a 19-5 first quarter, the Pirates rolled off totals of 31, 26 and 30 in the three remaining stanzas to reach triple digits.

“We came out and played better team ball today,” Leggett coach Ra’Shod Jefferson said. “I was able to have everybody back. In the first district game, I didn’t have everybody back and in the second district game, we were missing some players. It was due to the holidays and

some being sick. We got out and played good defense, but started slacking up a bit in the late third. if we keep working as a team, we will get better day by day.”

The first-year Leggett coach said the win could boost his squad as high as second in the district, depending on other league games Friday.

“We are playing hard and playing together and playing tough. We are physical and getting in and rebounding. At first, we were watching like we were at the AMC theater, but now they are getting in and rebounding the ball more on offense and defense.”

Prior to Friday, the Pirates lost in Zavala and defeated Burkeville by two Tuesday night.

Goodrich found ball handling difficult versus a tenacious press and rushed the offense when they could advance beyond half court. Most of the Leggett points were off turnovers.

“We are terrible and don’t seem to mind losing,” Goodrich coach Lester King said. “We are not doing anything about it. You would think that kids would stay after practice and shoot a little bit or work on dribbling, but there is  othing extra. They are satisfied with losing. I hate to lose; I don’t care what it is. Even if it is a game of marbles, I hate to lose. They don’t have that in them. I haven’t had a boy this year stay in and do anything (after practice) – I have had a couple of girls, but no boys.”

The team did play inspired ball over the final eight minutes, turning in 14 points for the quarter.

Sells was able to spread his points over four quarters. His 10 points in the second period was the lowest and 14 in the fourth was the peak.

 Adding to the total for Leggett was Jesse Calderas with 21, Joshua Perkins with 18 and Andres Diosdado with 10. For the Hornets, A’mareion Bookman had a 20-point night. He scored 11 of those in the fourth.

A trip to Chireno is up next for the Hornets Tuesday, while the Pirates return home for a match with Chester.

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