By Shari Harris, Publisher
Licking’s opening round in the St. James Tournament Tuesday, Jan. 18, was against the St. James Tigers. The Tigers came out ahead, 78-44, in the contest, moving Licking to the consolation bracket of the tournament. Licking’s record fell to 8-8, with 4-0 in the conference.
With the Wildcats keeping within striking range, down four at the half, St. James’ 31 points in the third quarter were countered by 12 for Licking and put the Tigers in the driver’s seat. Things didn’t improve in the fourth, as St. James scored 15 to Licking’s four.
Keyton Cook led scoring for Licking with 16 points, 6 rebounds and 2 assists; Austin James also scored in double figures with 10, 2 rebounds and 3 assists. Chris Bartling added 5 points, 2 rebounds and 3 steals; JB Huff 4 points and 3 rebounds; Austin Stephens 2 points and 3 rebounds; Connor McLeod 2 points and 1 assist; Nicky Hood 2 points and 3 rebounds; Eli Shepard 2 points; Carter Sullins 1 point, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists; and Cade Richards 3 rebounds.
“We were missing our starting point guard and a couple of other guys with the flu. You could see our lack of discipline against their pressure with our guys out. We felt good after the first half and if we would have made a couple of missed lay-ups, we would have had the lead at halftime. St. James did a good job of hitting some important shots to start the third quarter and that seemed to get them rolling.” – Coach Mike Phillips
In the Consolation semi-finals Thursday, in a Big Cat preliminary matchup, Licking faced the Salem Tigers. The Wildcats led scoring through the first three quarters, taking a 61-45 lead into the fourth. The Tigers closed the gap by six at the end but Licking emerged victorious with a 79-69 win. Licking’s record goes to 9-8, 4-0 conference.
Bartling led scoring with 23 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists and 4 steals. Also in double figures were Cook with 13 points, 9 rebounds and 4 steals; Huff with 11 points and 5 rebounds; and Roston Stockard with 10 points and 2 rebounds. Cole Wallace added 9 points and 6 assists; Stephens 4 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists; Sullins 4 points and 2 rebounds; Hood 4 points and 3 rebounds; Shepard 1 point; and McLeod 7 rebounds and 2 assists.
“We got a couple of sick kids back and added a couple to the sick list. It just seems like it’s one of those weeks. We did a good job of getting a lot of people to contribute in a lot of different ways tonight. I’m proud of the guys. A lot of our guys are learning to play different spots with people out. I think that will help us out in the future. I’m proud of working hard and getting to play for a trophy.” – Coach Mike Phillips
The consolation game Saturday against Sullivan was a close contest. Licking took a 19-11 lead in the first, and was able to carry a 29-27 advantage into halftime. The third quarter was a tough one, with Sullivan pulling ahead 47-36. Licking was able to close the gap only slightly in the fourth, and fell 50-59. Their record returns to .500, 9-9, with 4-0 in the conference.
Both teams connected with 13 shots from two point range and six from three point land, with the difference in free throws, where Licking hit 6-9 and Sullivan 15-18.
Wildcat scorers included Cook with 17 points and 9 rebounds; Stephens with 14 points and 6 rebounds; Bartling with 7 points and 2 rebounds; Wallace with 5 points, 3 rebounds and 6 assists; Stockard and Hood with 3 points each; Huff with 1 point and 6 rebounds; and James with 3 rebounds.
“It felt like we should have won that game. We played good enough except for the third quarter. We didn’t change much except personnel when we got into foul trouble. If we can stay out of foul trouble and play with the same intensity that we showed throughout the game, I think some big wins are coming our way in the next few weeks. I think when we get everyone back and healthy, we should be fun to watch for the rest of the season.” – Coach Mike Phillips
The next game is the Big Cat Classic at Salem on Friday, January 28.