The Licking Wildcats basketball team was on the road last week for two games. They started the week on Tuesday, January 4, at Willow Springs, and brought home a narrow victory, 71-68. The week ended in Mountain View on Friday, January 6, with another close game, this one a loss, 65-73, to the Liberty Eagles.
Licking outscored Willow Springs in the first three quarters of play to compile a 52-45 lead. Willow closed the gap in the fourth, but it wasn’t enough to overtake the Wildcats.
Keyton Cook scored 27 points with 8 rebounds; Austin James joined him in double figures with 17 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists. Roston Stockard had 8 points and 6 rebounds; Cole Wallace 6 points, 2 rebounds and 6 assists; Garrett Gorman 6 points and 3 assists; Kannon Buckner 4 points; and Kenny Ramsey 3 points and 2 rebounds.
Licking shot 13/23 from two-point range; 11/16 from three-point land, and 12/19 from the free throw line. The Wildcats gathered 24 rebounds, with 16 assists, 11 turnovers and 3 steals.
“We shot well tonight and the defense communicated well. We still aren’t jumping to the ball on the pass, but that’s an easy fix with a few practices. We were short handed with some sickness running through our team lately. Hopefully we can get back to full strength soon to help us through this hard stretch of the schedule. Really proud of the boys for the last couple of weeks. We are getting better offensively and defensively. This is a fun bunch to watch.” ~ Coach Mike Phillips
The JV Wildcats also came out on top, 57-42, with a lopsided, 20-8 third quarter making a difference in the game. Their record rose to 6-1 (3-0 conference).
In double figures were Lake Wade, with 18 points, and Kale Cook, with 10 points. Nate Gambill scored 9 points, Kannon Buckner 8, Karson Walker 6, Brently Morris 4 and Riley Edgar 2 points.
“Our JV team is improving throughout the season. Tonight was a testament to that. They haven’t played a game since December 20, so we showed a little rust early. They really moved the ball well in the second half. Defensively, we put out a couple of different line-ups tonight that did a good job of talking and taking away any easy scores. We will expect a lot of these guys in the next few months.” ~ Coach Mike Phillips
Tied at 53 at the end of the third quarter in Mountain View, the Wildcats fell in the fourth to a tough Liberty team, dropping their record to 11-4 (3-0).
Three players scored in double figures: James with 21 points and 3 rebounds; Stockard with 16 points, 2 rebounds and 2 assists; and Keyton Cook with 12 points and 9 rebounds. Wallace added 6 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists; Gorman 3 points and 2 assists; Buckner 3 points; Carter Sullins 2 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists; and Gaige Nicholson 2 points and 3 rebounds.
Licking shot 15/33 two-pointers, 9/22 three-pointers, and 8/13 free throws; had 29 rebounds, 13 assists, 10 turnovers and 5 steals.
“It was a fun game that just didn’t turn out the way we wanted in the end. They killed us on the boards and shot great from the free throw line and we had four turnovers in the fourth quarter compared to zero for them. Those three stats usually will be a deciding factor in close games. We couldn’t seem to get a call to go our way and we just made a couple of bad decisions at crucial times. I hope we get to see them again in our district at the end of the year. I think playing them at a neutral site with what we learned will give us a good shot at beating them next time. ~ Coach Mike Phillips