HOGEYE Moves On, LA Defeats Greeneville 63-60

By Noah McKay

MURFREESBORO – The Livingston Academy Lady Wildcats advanced to the semifinal round of the Class 3A state tournament in dramatic fashion with a 63-60 comeback win over Greeneville.

The Lady Wildcats erased a 16-point first half deficit to punch their ticket to the final four.

“They say you have to be here to feel it and get comfortable, and this group hasn’t been here,” said LA head coach Lesley Riddle. “So I think it took them a little while to get comfortable.”

The Lady Greene Devils capitalized on two early LA turnovers to take a 6-0 lead, prompting a timeout by Riddle.

Mallie Gene Coleman scored the first basket for Livingston in a state tournament since 2014 with a layup to cut the early deficit to 8-2. The Lady Devils went on another run to end the frame and take an 18-5 lead into the second quarter.

“There was a little panic, but we try to not show it to each other,” said Riddle. “Between quarters I told them ‘There’s nobody in this gym that thinks we’re going to win besides the people on this bench’, but we felt like we could come back at that point because we knew how terribly we had played in that first quarter.

The strong play for GHS continued into the second quarter, taking a 14-point lead before Halle Ledbetter buried a three to make it 24-13. Later in the frame, Aleah Melton hit a midrange jumper to cut the deficit to 28-18. Ledbetter then made a transition layup to cut it to eight. Greeneville took a 32-22 lead into halftime.

“It is the state tournament, and you can say it’s just another game, but it’s not,” said Riddle. “We had a great fanbase out there to support us and you try to represent for those people and we felt a little pressure.”

The Hogeye offense roared to life in the second half, as LA went on a 7-0 run to cut the deficit to 36-34 with 2:30 to play in the third quarter. Coleman then tied the game on a contested layup inside, sending the LA fans in the Murphy Center into a frenzy before Ledbetter gave them the lead with a jumper.

Livingston outscored the Lady Devils 18-4 in the quarter as they took a 40-36 lead into the final frame.

Melton hit a turnaround jumper three minutes into the fourth quarter to stretch the lead to five. The teams then traded points, with Greeneville taking a timeout trailing 51-47 with 3:35 remaining.

The Lady Devils played the foul game in the final minutes, but LA made their first 14 free throws in the quarter to maintain the lead. The second miss at the line in the quarter opened the door for Greeneville with less than 30-seconds remaining as they cut the deficit to 61-60 with 9.5 seconds remaining. Butler then went 1-2 at the line. A shot in the final second fell short for Greeneville, and Coleman added one more free throw to secure the 63-60 win.

Coleman led the Lady Wildcats with 15 points, five rebounds and three assists.

“It was huge,” said Riddle on Coleman’s performance particularly in the first quarter. “Had she not done that I think the others would have stayed tight. They were giving her some lanes and she hasn’t seen that a whole lot this year but she did a good job taking advantage of it.”

Melton scored 14 points and added five rebounds. Butler also added 14 points. Ledbetter tallied a double-double with 12 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks.

The win marked LA’s first win in the state tournament since 2012. They will take on the winner of South Gibson vs Dyer County on Thursday with tipoff set for 4:30 p.m.

Highlights by Rusty Ellis:

Photos by Michael Lindsay: