The Varsity Wildcats defeated the Mountain View/Liberty Eagles in the first round of the Mountain Grove Tournament on Monday, January 23.
Varsity score was 67-65, with a three-point shot at the buzzer to go ahead of the Eagles.
Licking scorers were led by Austin James with 17 points; 14 points apiece were scored by Carter Sullins (4 rebounds and 2 assists) and Roston Stockard (3 rebounds). Keyton Cook had 8 points with 14 rebounds; Cole Wallace also had 8 points, with 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals; and 2 points apiece were scored by Garrett Gorman (2 assists), Gaige Nicholson (3 rebounds); and Kannon Buckner (2 rebounds and 2 assists).
Liberty’s Drew Ripko scored 25 points and Terrell Gaines 22 points in the contest.
An outstanding night at the free throw line was essential for this win, with the Wildcats hitting 11/12 from the line.
“It was a very exciting game with both teams having multiple leads throughout. We didn’t shoot as well as we had been shooting the previous games, but we attacked the basket as well as we have all year. I liked our effort and even though we had a couple of bad decisions at important times, we drew up a play and executed it. We were down one with six seconds left and were able to set up a play for Cole Wallace to pass to Roston Stockard for a three-point shot at the buzzer. We had lost a couple of close games to them the last two times we played, so it was nice to get some revenge. It was a great team win. Keyton led us in rebounds again, Austin led us in scoring, Carter helped us have the lead at halftime with 14 points, and as a team we only missed one free throw. I still love watching these guys play.” ~ Coach Mike Phillips
On Friday, the Varsity Wildcats faced the Panthers of Forsyth in the semi-final round of the Mountain Grove Varsity Boys Tournament. Licking fell to number one seed Forsyth, 57-70.
The Wildcats kept the game close in the first quarter, trailing by four going into the second, where Forsyth took a commanding 48-26 lead. Licking battled in the second half, scoring 31 to Forsyth’s 32 points, but were unable to gain the upper hand.
Stockard led scoring with 20 points and 4 rebounds; Cook had 16 points with 3 rebounds. Sullins scored 10 points with 2 rebounds and 3 assists; James had 4 points, 2 rebounds and 3 assists; Kenny Ramsey 3 points; Nicholson 2 points; Buckner 2 points and 4 rebounds; Gorman 3 rebounds and 3 assists; and Wallace 3 assists.
“We gave them a great battle. They started some tall guys that we didn’t have an answer for so we thought we would just try to get up a lot of shots. We did that, we just didn’t hit enough of them. We did handle the ball pretty good against their big 1-3-1 and I felt like we played pretty good defense. We just couldn’t guard their 6’11, 6’8 and 6’7 guys inside around the basket. We learned some things tonight that will hopefully help us get ready for districts.” ~ Coach Phillips
The Mountain Grove Varsity Tournament wrapped up Saturday, with Licking playing third seed Norwood for third place. Number five seed Licking narrowly missed an upset, falling in overtime, 79-74, to the Pirates.
Licking trailed by three after a quarter, but led by three at the half, 41-38. The three point lead switched to Norwood at the end of the third, and the game was all tied up at 70 apiece at the end of the fourth. Overtime belonged to Norwood, who outscored the Wildcats 9-4.
Licking finished the week with a record of 15-6, 5-0 conference. Next week they go to Dixon on Friday for a big conference matchup.
Cook scored 20 points with 12 rebounds and 3 steals; Stockard had 16 points with 4 rebounds and 2 assists; James had 14 points with 4 rebounds and Wallace connected for 11 points, with 3 rebounds and 7 assists. Sullins had 8 points with 4 assists; Buckner had 3 points; Gorman had 2 points, and Nicholson pulled in 5 rebounds.
“We did a great job of attacking the basket and were able to get to the free throw line regularly. We shot a good percentage from the line and from 2s and 3s. It came down to making plays at important times. We were down two with six seconds left and Carter Sullins was able to drive and flip up a shot at the buzzer to send the game into overtime. In overtime, we turned the ball over three times and got behind, and had to foul to try to extend the game. It’s fun to play teams that are similar to us and see who has the guys who want to win. We hopefully will learn from our mistakes and get ready for the last few games of the regular season.” ~ Coach Mike Phillips