Livingston Academy and Pickett County split their basketball matchups on Monday night in Byrdstown, with the Lady Wildcats earning a 44-37 win, and the Wildcats falling 57-43.
Lady Wildcats 44 – Lady Bobcats 37
The Lady Wildcats overcame a slow start as they secured the season sweep over the Lady Bobcats.
“We played gutsy,” said LA head coach Lesley Riddle. “Pickett County really outplayed us the entire game until right down the stretch. They defended us extremely well. This group’s been playing together for a long time. They’ve learned how to finish games.”
The Lady Bobcats raced out to a 7-0 lead as LA was held scoreless through the first four minutes of the game. The Lady Wildcats changed their defensive strategy to change the tide as they tallied nine points in the second half of the frame, trailing 16-9 at the end of the first.
“I thought we might be able to press them, and it changed the tempo of the game to a tempo we don’t want to play at,” said Riddle. “That was my mistake. Once we got into the defense we needed to be in, we were able to control it a little bit better.”
Aleah Melton opened the second quarter with a basket to cut the deficit to five. The Lady Wildcats ended the quarter on a 6-2 run to cut the deficit to 22-19 at halftime.
Melton scored four straight points in the third quarter to give LA its first lead of the game. Keaton Webb scored after a steal late in the quarter, then Melton made a three with one second remaining to give LA a 34-30 lead after three.
The Lady Bobcats opened the final frame with a 7-2 run to regain the lead, but Melton, Allie Qualls and Hailey Cronk all made free throws in the final moments to give the Lady Wildcats the seven point win.
Melton led the way with 14 points. Cronk, Mallie Coleman and Alexis Phipps each added six.
“(Melton’s performance) was the difference,” said Riddle. “She carried us on her shoulders.”
The Lady Wildcats (9-3) will return to the court Tuesday night when they host district-rival Upperman (14-0). Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. live on the UCR Facebook page.
“Defensively, the way (Upperman) plays is similar to Pickett,” said Riddle. “They try to disrupt everything. Hopefully (tonight) will be good preparation for us.”
Wildcats 43 – Bobcats 57
The Wildcats struggled to overcome adversity as they dropped their fifth straight contest.
“I think we did well until we saw them pull away by eight or nine,” said LA head coach Jimmy Miller. “After that, I think we rolled over. I don’t feel like we’re handling adversity well during the game. We’re preparing well, the kids play super hard. When the adversity hits during the game, we’re young and we’re not handling it very well.”
The Wildcats started fast, scoring the first seven points of the game, but the Bobcats responded with a 16-2 run to end the third quarter and take a 19-6 lead.
Matthew Sells made two baskets early in the second to cut the deficit to 16-20. Eli Melton then hit two three pointers to tie the game at 22, with the Bobcats ultimately taking a 27-25 lead into halftime.
PCHS largely dominated the third quarter, outscoring the Wildcats 12-5, including seven straight to end the quarter. They then hit several key free throws in the final quarter to pull away and secure the 14 point win.
“They’re going to have to learn to compete when the adversity hits,” said Miller. “This team is young, and they’ve not learned how to handle that well. We’ve got to learn to push past that.”
Sells led the way for LA with 15 points. Melton added 11.
The Wildcats (5-6) will be back in action Tuesday when they host Upperman (8-3). Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m. live on the UCR Facebook page.
“If you come in and have a good win against Upperman, it changes everything overnight,” said Miller.
Photos by Noah McKay: