By Michael Lindsay
The biggest matchup in Class 3A boys basketball was held in Crossville Tuesday evening where the AP #5-ranked Stone Memorial Panthers defeated the #1 Livingston Academy Wildcats in emphatic fashion, 82-38.
“Tonight, we came out and played for each other,” said SMHS head coach Neil Capps. “We were moving the basketball well and had four in double figures. We didn’t hit a ton of threes; we played a well-rounded game and defended well.”
Stone Memorial (16-3, 3-0) never trailed as they gave Livingston Academy (17-1, 5-1) their first loss of the season. The Panthers shot 60% from the field and recorded 23 assists.
“Coach Jimmy Miller does a great job and they have a great team,” Capps said. “Our guys were really locked in and ready to go. We try to play a really tough schedule to prepare us. After taking that whipping from Webb Thursday, that helped focus us. That humbles you on your home court. We had a lot of good talking points, and it was very easy to coach these past couple of days.”
Stone Memorial was balanced offensively as four Panthers hit double figures. Preston Mayberry led SMHS with 18 points off the bench, followed by Cade Capps with 17, Matthew Bilbrey with 16 and Brady Lane with 13 points and 6 offensive rebounds.
“We are fortunate to have Brady Lane, and he’s willing to get after it,” coach Capps said. “The kid is relentless and does his job.”
Stone Memorial led from the beginning as they jumped out to a 7-0 lead on a Blake Holt 3-pointer less than 3 minutes into the game. SMHS led 19-11 after the first period.
The Panthers took control early in the second quarter as they went on a 15-3 run to lead 36-13 with 4:03 remaining until halftime. Stone led 42-19 at the break.
The Panthers showed no signs of stopping in the second half as they outscored Livingston 27-17 in the third quarter to lead 69-36 going into the fourth.
In the final period, Stone Memorial pushed their lead over the #1-ranked Wildcats out to 40 points as they won by an 82-38 final.
The 44-point win gives Stone Memorial sole possession of first place in District 7AAA.
“We have a lot of competitors and understand that, and they like big moments,” Capps said. “Obviously, Livingston is the #1 team in the state. It’s easy to get up for that. That’s our first time through the district, and one of the things we’ve talked about is maturity. A mature team can celebrate this for 24 hours and then be ready to get back at it.”
Up next for Stone Memorial is a road trip to Smithville as the Panthers travel to district foe DeKalb County on Friday.
Livingston takes the court next on Thursday as they host rival Pickett County.
Stone Memorial (82): Preston Mayberry 18, Cade Capps 17, Matthew Bilbrey 16, Brady Lane 13, Wyatt Grothe 6, Blake Holt 5, Jordan Manis 3, Jayden Eldridge 2, Tyler Mutchler 2
Livingston Academy (38): Wyatt Hargis 11, Tucker Miller 9, Daniel Bilbrey 6, Isaac Story 4, Easton Goodpasture 4, Brody Coffee 2, Cole Harris 2