Big Sandy's exciting season ends in Regional Quarterfinals


Big Sandy’s season has ended, as the local Area champions did not have an answer for the speed and defense of the Italy Gladiators in a 56-37 game at Centerville’s Tiger Gymnasium.

“I thought their quickness really hurt us,” Big Sandy coach Kevin Foster said after the game. “The pace of the game was honestly how he wanted it, with the exception of the times we turned it over, we struggled to score more than I thought we would. I thought we would be able to score more in the half-court against them and we missed a lot of easy ones and played uncharacteristic of how we’re capable. I think their quickness had a lot to do with that.”

The Wildcats left with shooting hands a little warm the last time they were in Tiger Gymnasium about a month ago, having made 17 3-pointers in a district match with Centerville.

Their fortunes seemed to have run out, as the rims were not as kind Tuesday. Getting back on defense and setting up full-court pressure left Big Sandy without a transition game and playing half-court basketball. Italy took away big chunks of momentum and points from the Big Sandy attack.

A sloppy game early, the Wildcats did not get a shot off for two minutes. Neither team could control the ball with several turnovers by both.

Down 7-2, Cole Foster entered off the bench and drilled a three from the wing with 2:38 to go in the first. An Aaron Thompson free throw would be all the scoring the rest of the period. After one, the ‘Cats trailed 7-6. Keith Davis II scored all seven for the Gladiators.

Two Italy 3-pointers to begin the second had Kevin Foster calling for time out with 6:46 to play in the half. Another from long range had them up 16-6.

Aaron Thompson and Britton Dickens hit layups, but Italy seemed throw the press at Big Sandy in waves. The small, but quick guards were no larger than 5’8” and all four maintained pressure on the ball, waiting for errant passes — of which the Wildcats had more than usual. Fundamental lapses and getting out-hustled for balls — what is normally seen from Big Sandy opponents — allowed Italy to command the second quarter. A three in the waning seconds from Samuel Richard brought the game to 27-16 at the locker room break.

“I think some of it was nerves but we were not smooth tonight,” the coach said. “We never got in any sort of rhythm offensively and I attribute that to their quickness. They did a good job and they disrupted everything we wanted to do offensively.”

At half, Davis II had 12 points and Kevin Johnson had eight (all second quarter). Richard was tops on the Wildcats with five.

Down 33-19, the Thompsons — Isaiah and Aaron — each hit a 3-pointer and Richard converted a three-point play to help bring Big Sandy back. The Wildcats held their opponents to just 10 points in the quarter, scoring 14 themselves. At the end of three quarters, Italy led 37-30, but it was a contested game once more.

Unfortunately for the Dallardsville group, the fourth quarter was their toughest. Shots were scarce, as the Gladiators held the ball to drain the clock. As had been the case most of the game, shots were not falling for the ‘Cats. Italy took advantage of a team that could not get into a flow on offense or start their transition game because of the on-ball pressure.

Davis II scored seven of his 21 in the quarter and Tylan Wallace emerged to get six of his 10 for the game, matching teammate Johnson’s 10 points.

Richard, who had 15 points for the game, attempted to carry Big Sandy with ball handling, penetration and shooting. But team turnovers and Italy pressure were again the Wildcats’ downfall. Aaron Thompson was second on the team with nine points.

“To lose 10 seniors, basically have only one guy back, have JV and junior high kids, and to make it to the third round — if you would have told me that, I’m not so sure I would have believed you. But I would have taken it. It hurts to get to this point, because you’re so close to a regional tournament, but it is experience you can’t get anywhere else.

“We have everybody back next year and even though we didn’t play well, maybe we can learn from it. I was disappointed in the result, but overall, I am proud of them. Hopefully we can take this and because we have everybody back, we have a chance to be really good next year. We need to take how this feels and use it as a motivation for next year. We need to remember this feeling and commit ourselves to working. Life is full of disappointments and it is how you react to it that makes you who you are.”

Basketball Playoff Updates

LEGGETT AND BIG SANDY PLAYOFF ACTION: The Leggett Pirates will play against the Waelder Wildcats, Tuesday at Navasota, starting at 6 p.m. The Big Sandy Wildcats will face the Italy Gladiators, Tuesday at Centerville, starting at 7:30 p.m.

Youthful Wildcats beginning to mature in postseason


The Big Sandy Wildcats used a strong fourth quarter to shake off a pesky Riesel Indian squad 73-58 Friday at Bryan Rudder High School.
The team without a senior found a way to win, despite not playing at their best.

“It wasn’t pretty, but we’ll take it. Riesel did a good job tonight and give them credit, they gave us a lot of problems. We really didn’t play well until the fourth quarter and our foul trouble had something to do with that.”

The opponent just southeast of Waco was a four seed coming out of District 18-2A, but defeated a district champion in the bi-district round in Crawford.

Big Sandy wasted no time building a 7-0 lead and appeared too quick for a Riesel team that settled for tough shots. However with just two minutes off the clock, Aaron Thompson picked up his second foul on a questionable reaching call. At 9-3, Indian coach Blake Doughty asked for time.

A three by Brooks Embry and layup from Mike Ruiz had the Indians within one. A Jase Little jumper from a foot away had Riesel in front. It wouldn’t last long, as Cole Foster got a long three to fall.

Britton Dickens had two baskets underneath the rim to extend the lead to six. Riesel had one more run of five points to bring the score to 16-15 after one.

Samuel Richard scored the first two buckets of the second, but the Indians kept working. With 3:20 left in the second, they took another one-point lead at 24-23. The lead would build to six at 31-25 as Big Sandy continued its carelessness with the ball.

But just like Riesel in the first quarter, the Wildcats had a five-point run, bringing the score to a one-point difference at 31-30.

Aaron Thompson’s absence in the first quarter seemed to impact a Wildcat team that was not as sharp in transition as it was Tuesday versus Kerens. His second-quarter performance wasn’t quite on par with recent showings.

That was quickly rectified in the third, as the Wildcats were behind for 11 seconds into the period. Aaron had five points just two minutes into the quarter, as opposed to just one in the first half. But it was his ball handling and igniting fast breaks where he was most valuable.

“He gets us set in our offense so well,” Foster said. “A good point guard is like the quarterback of your team — he gets everybody where they need to be. He has been in foul trouble before, but we were a little shaky when it happened tonight.”

The Wildcats’ 9-0 run to begin the half was a needed boost, energizing the team in purple. The two traded buckets, the rest of the stanza, but the Indians collected seven fouls, meaning the Wildcats could spend much of the fourth at the charity stripe.

After three, Big Sandy had the lead at 48-40.

A passing clinic was put on by Aaron Thompson in the fourth, while Dickens controlled the boards.

“The last two games he has been outstanding rebounding the ball for us and doing a good job in the middle of that 2-3 (zone). We’ve had to get out on the shooters and they are attacking the gap on the zone,” Foster said. “We have been funneling them to him and he has done a great job of holding his ground, getting his hand up, and affecting a lot of those shots.”

The ‘Cats were running and opened an 18-point advantage midway through the quarter at 63-45. Riesel closed the gap to 65-53 and Richard fouled out on a technical with just under three minutes to play.

The free throw line played a part down the stretch for both teams with each in the double bonus. The ‘Cats went 9-13 from the line in the fourth quarter alone.

“We had been playing so well since district started, but I also think Riesel did a good job,” the Big Sandy coach said. “We didn’t respond very well and we let them take us out of our offense. We really lacked execution, but it is a learning process. But I learned a long time ago that an ugly win is better than a loss.”

Mikey Ruiz led the Indians with 16 points, Brooks Embry had 14, and Little had 11. For the Wildcats, Richard led all with 18, Dickens and Jackson Mayer had 13, and Aaron Thompson had 11.

The Big Sandy playoff journey will next be in the Regional Quarterfinals Tuesday versus Italy, runners up from District 19-2A.

The Gladiators have defeated Mart 70-39 and Lovelady 65-60 in the postseason.

Click for information on playoff times and sites.

big-sandy-1Samuel Richard (21) led all scores with 18 points.

big-sandy-2Isaiah Thompson scored eight points in the first three quarters, when the Wildcat offense was not at its best.

Big Sandy and Leggett Playoff Basketball

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The Big Sandy Wildcats are scheduled for Area action Friday at 7 p.m. versus the Riesel Indians at Bryan Rudder High School.

The Leggett Pirates will also play Friday versus the Angoras of Rocksprings. The 6 p.m. Area game will be Friday at Manor High School.


Lions soccer player links with Howard Payne


Livingston Lion soccer standout Kaela Marberry signed to attend school and play for Howard Payne University Wednesday at DeWalt Fieldhouse in a ceremony that included friends, coaches and family.

The Livingston defender said her initial interest in the school came when browsing through recruiting websites.

“(The school) had (re)searched me, so I was kind of interested in them. I went to a soccer game and it just felt like it was right for me to play with them. I toured the school and it went really good. They made it feel like home, so I applied and here I am.”

Marberry said Brownwood, where she will make her home for the next four years, seemed much like Livingston.

“It's kind of a small town, but I like it. It's nice. I like the campus and the overall feel.”

Howard Payne coach Brandon Badgeley joined the Howard Payne athletic department as the head women's coach in the spring of 2016.

Before HPU, the 2009 Howard Payne grad spent two seasons as head girls coach at Cedar Hill High School, increasing the team’s win total by seven games and achieving the first double-digit win season for the school in the last four years. He and the team will look to improve upon a 5-11-1 record from 2016.

“He's very nice and he made me feel like a part of the team even before I was accepted,” Marberry said of her new coach.

Though she was unaware before making her decision the Yellow Jacket signee and Livingston athletic director Brian Broussard now have a connection through the university.

“I actually did not find out that he was an alumni until after, so I thought that was really neat,” Marberry said.

In addition to soccer, Marberry is a varsity cheerleading co-captain, athletic trainer, and part of the student council. The daughter of John and Tamara Marberry plans to major in athletic training at Howard Payne with future aspirations of a doctorate in physical therapy.

Kaela-MarberryPictured Left to right: Mike Field, Head Athletic Trainer, Nikki Oldham, Assistant Athletic Trainer, Head Soccer Coach - Don Ledesma, Tamara Marberry, Suzanne Witherspoon, (seated) Kaela Marberry, John Marberry, Nida Marberry, Dietrich Heyer, Asst. Soccer Coach, Coach Brian Broussard, LISD Athletic Director.

Livingston lineman signs with Kansas JUCO


The opportunity to play at the college level is rare, with only six percent participating in football after high school.

When Livingston’s Kedar Gordon received the chance, he signed to play ball for the next two years at Independence Community College. Family, coaches and teammates attended a signing ceremony in support of the Lion lineman Wednesday morning.

Independence coaches have told Gordon they envision him slotting in at left guard on the Pirate offensive line. Gordon, who played on both sides of the line for the Lions, said it does not matter to him where he lines up and just wants the chance to play.

Though he has yet to visit the school, he plans to visit as soon as he possible.

Gordon said he has a good relationship with the coaches and speaks daily with his new offensive line coach.

“Anytime you have someone go play at the next level, it is great for them individually, but as a program as well,” Livingston football coach and athletic director Brian Broussard said. “We had a little part in it, but mom and dad play the biggest part of all. We can't coach 6’3” or 6’4”, but we were fortunate to be able to coach him.

“One thing about Kedar is he always has a smile on his face and when somebody else is in a bad mood, he picks them up. He's got a good sense of humor, he is a great athlete for a big guy, and he was almost up to (weighing) 270 before he lost some weight playing basketball. He has good feet, good hands, is strong, and has the ability to continue to do a lot of good things at the next level.”

Coaches of Independence have told Gordon they would like to see him come to Kansas at a weight of around 285. They have sent a weight program that he will begin once basketball season concludes.

With players advancing to the next level for two consecutive years from the Livingston football program and another strong possibility for next year, Broussard said college coaches will know the way to Livingston, helping to exposure for others.

Established in 1925, Independence Community College plays its games in the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference. The Pirates are one of eight schools that participate in football, along with Butler, Coffeyville, Dodge City, Fort Scott, Garden City, Hutchinson and Highland.

Former football stars from the conference include 1972 NFL MVP Larry Brown of the Washington Redskins, and New York Giants stars Brandon Jacobs and Jason Pierre-Paul.

Independence, Kansas is located about 80 miles north of Tulsa and just over 100 miles east of Wichita. The Pirates were 5-4 in 2016, winning their final four contests.

Kedar-Gordon-046Pictured left to right: Coach Brian Broussard - LISD Athletic Director, Mark Hooper, Felix Gordon, Kedar Gordon (seated), Telisa Gordon, Coach Jacob Rae and Coach Brian Coffman.


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