The Licking Junior High Lady ‘Cats started their season on Oct. 20, 2020, hosting the Frisco League Junior High girls tournament. This year’s eighth grade team members are: Aubrey Gorman, Kinley Keaton, Halee Clayton, Josie Wells, Allie Medlock, Allie Hock, Linzie Wallace and Zoey Dawson.
After one short week of preparation, they took the floor to face the Stoutland Tigers. Stoutland started the game with a stall offense, catching the Wildcats off guard. The ‘Cats struggled with the slow paced game, as well as with converting offensively each possession. Half-time score was 10-9, in favor of the Tigers. Adjustments were made at half-time, and the Lady ‘Cats came out ready to score, holding the Tigers to just two more points the remainder of the game, picking up the win, 23-12.
Thursday, Oct. 22, the ‘Cats faced off against the second seeded Iberia Lady Rangers. Both teams started off slowly on the offensive end, scoring just nine points combined, 5-4, in favor of the Rangers. The second quarter ended with Licking down 11-6. Being down for the second night in a row at half-time was a wake up call for the Lady ‘Cats, and they came out with some fire and fought back in the second half, outscoring the Rangers 9-0 and taking a 15-11 lead into the final quarter of the game. In the last three minutes, the Rangers scored while being fouled and converted on their free throws, allowing them to take the lead and the win, 22-17.
The following week would have been the start of regular season games, but the ‘Cats lost all three games as other teams were not able to put enough players on the court.
“While games allow us coaches to see areas needed to focus on, this week was nice to get the girls into basketball shape after just coming from volleyball. “This is just what the team needed.” Coach Smith
On Tuesday, Nov. 10, the ladies traveled to West Plains to take on the Zizzers. The Zizzer zone defense slowed our scoring down, but it didn’t take long after applying full court defense for the Wildcats to get started, taking a 27-3 half time lead. Second half fast breaks and quick shots off half court offensive sets allowed the Lady ‘Cats to increase the lead for the win, 43-6.
Thursday, Nov. 12, the Willow Springs Lady Bears came to the town and the ‘Cats wasted no time getting on the board with quick layups by Gorman, Keaton, Hock and Wallace. Clayton, Wells, Dawson and Medlock were pivotal on defense, creating turnovers leading to fast breaks all night for the second win in a row, 38-14 Wildcats.
Up next for the Lady ‘Cats, was the Mtn. View-Liberty Eagles, who came to town November 17.
“We knew this would be a dog fight to the end. This is the only team to hand this group a loss as seventh graders.” Coach Smith
Once again, the zone defense proved to be a nemesis for the ‘Cats. They struggled getting shots off and penetrating the holes of the 2-3 zone as the Eagles took their fast break away. Half-time score 14-6, Eagles. Trading basket for basket in the third quarter gave the Wildcats some motivation for the fourth. The ‘Cats came within three before the Eagles put it out of reach in the last two minutes with several fast breaks of their own, taking the game 27-15.
“This loss lit a fire under our girls, as they knew they didn’t perform and shoot as well as they are capable.” Coach Smith
With a week and half of practice and Thanksgiving break, they were revived and refocused to finish the season. Their hard work and re-focus was apparent when the girls faced off against the Houston Lady Tigers on Monday, Nov. 30, in the Licking FEMA gym. Five of the eight players scored in the first quarter and the remaining three didn’t waste any time when they entered the game. Wildcats win 44-15.
“The addition of a new look to our fast break opened up more opportunities for a very unselfish group.” Coach Smith
On Friday, Dec. 4, the Lady Yellowjackets from Lebanon came to town and the Lady ‘Cats once again wasted no time letting the Yellowjackets know they were on a mission. And once again all eight players were involved offensively.
“Our offensive would not be able to score as well as they do if weren’t for the aggressive focus defensively. We push ourselves everyday at defensive being our number one offensive. And it pays off with this group.” Coach Smith
Tuesday, Dec. 8, the JH Lady Wildcats hosted the Waynesville Tigers. With full court pressure in the first quarter, the ladies built a comfortable lead and never looked back. The focus of the ‘Cats allowed them to move their record to 6-2, with three games left in the season.
“This gave us time to work on our 1-3-1 defense as well as a new offensive set the girls just learned. All eight players were involved in the scoring column which is exactly what our new offense brought to the team.” Coach Smith
To end the week, on Friday, Dec. 11, the Lady ‘Cats traveled to Ava to take on the Lady Bears. Allie Hock controlled tip-off by tipping the ball to Kinley Keaton, who then took it strong to the basket for the first score of the game and the ‘Cats never looked back, pulling out the win 51-4. Along with Hock, Linzie Wallace, Zoey Dawson and Halee Clayton took control of the rebounding, which allowed for multiple fast breaks. The ladies were able to get quick outlet passes to Kinley Keaton and Josie Wells, who pushed the ball up the court, finding Aubrey Gorman for the score. Allie Medlock was instrumental in rebounding as well as running the court to help in fast break situations. This pushes the Lady ‘Cats to 7-2 going into their final week of the season.