District 7-3A GIRLS TOURNAMENT: Livingston, White County Advance To 7-3A Championships

By Michael Lindsay


The District 7-3A girls tournament will crown a new champion on Monday as Livingston Academy and White County won their respective semifinal matchups Saturday night.

Livingston opened the evening with a 46-38 victory over #2 seed and defending champion Upperman followed by a 60-48 victory by the #1-seeded Warriorettes over #5 Stone Memorial.

“We feel like any of our six teams in this district could be a great final four in the TSSAA state tournament,” said Livingston head coach Lesley Riddle. “We made shots better than the last couple times we played Upperman. It was a really great game.”

Lady Wildcat junior Ellie Butler scored 20 points in her team’s victory over Upperman, who swept LA during the regular season. Keely Mullins scored 14 points for Livingston while Gracie Butler led Upperman with 20.

“Everybody played well; even the kids that came in for 30 seconds,” said Riddle. “They’re playing really well together. Keely Mullins is playing well rebounding and playing defense. Mallie-Gene has been massive on offense and sometimes we take for granted Ellie’s ability to score.”

Livingston jumped out to an 18-8 lead after one quarter before Upperman stormed back to take a 25-23 lead at halftime.

“We forced up some bad shots in the second quarter due to Upperman’s defense,” said Riddle. “We had to make more runs than they did in the second half.”

The Lady Wildcats took control in the second half as they held the Lady Bees to only two points in the third quarter as LA took a 35-27 lead into the fourth quarter. Livingston extended their lead to double digits before Upperman cut it to 6 with less than a minute remaining, but the Lady Wildcats held on from there to win 46-38.

“I was afraid we were trying to pull the ball out too early,” said Riddle. “I told them if they’re going to trap us, we need to be scoring layups. We got open shots, but they didn’t go in. Our defense did a good job at making them run the clock.”

Livingston will face #1 seed White County on Monday at 9 p.m. in the district championship game while Upperman will face Stone Memorial in the consolation game at 7:30.

“We had an up-and-down season with injuries and we had a tough time trying to find our identity,” said Riddle. “Halle Ledbetter and Aleah Melton were important cogs in our machine last year.”

Livingston’s championship game opponent, White County, defeated Stone Memorial in the second semifinal 60-48.

“Once we relaxed in the first quarter, the second and third quarters we were better defensively than we were to start,” said White County head coach Michael Dodgen. “We got comfortable offensively and handled some things better.”

Junior Ava Jones led White County with 17 points along with 15 by Celeste Reed and 12 from Gracie Clark. Kortney Headrick led Stone Memorial with 17 points, followed by Adison Howard with 10.

“Everybody that went in played well,” said Dodgen. “We got very good minutes off the bench from Piper Price, Kyra Fox and Ashlyn Selby. You’re going to have to have that in the postseason.”

The Lady Panthers opened the game on a 7-0 run and held a 9-3 lead midway through the first quarter. White County settled in and closed the opening frame on a 10-1 run to lead 13-10 entering the second.

Stone Memorial held a 25-21 lead via a Kailee Waldo basket with 2:45 remaining until halftime, but the Warriorettes again closed the quarter strong as a Jones three-pointer put her team ahead 26-25 with 1:54 left in the period. Bella Winningham tacked on a layup with 1:18 left to give White County a 28-26 lead at halftime.

“We made some shots and got to the rim,” said Dodgen. “We settled too much in the first quarter. We have to be a little better defensively.”

The Warriorettes extended their lead to 37-28 via a Clark basket less than 3 minutes into the second half. White County outscored Stone Memorial 18-6 in the third quarter to take a 46-32 lead before closing out to win by a 60-48 final score.

White County is set to face Livingston Academy in Monday’s District 7-3A championship at 9 p.m. at Hooper Eblen Center.

“It’ll be a war,” said Dodgen. “That’s what you want; an opportunity to play for a championship. We have to come in ready to go. Livingston is very well coached and they’re playing well right now.”