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Speights set regional record in Livingston win

MOBILE &110; In one of the closest Southwest Regional games thus far, the 4A defending state champion Livingston High Cougars found life in overtime to advance over Hillcrest-Evergreen 55-49.

Experience proved to be the Cougars most lethal weapon against the Jaguars as they remained calm and cool as the temperature rose at the Mitchell Center in the last few seconds. The Cougars may have been aggravated with their overall shooting performance throughout the game, but it didn’t stop them from making the shots they needed to send the game into overtime.

The Cougars couldn’t even buy a basket through much of the first half, shooting 10-of-34 (29 percent) from the field and could only muster four points in the first period before Cory Speights hit a last second three-point buzzer beater to cut the Hillcrest-Evergreen lead to 11-7.

The shooting problems continued for the Cougars into the second, third and fourth periods as they shot a stunning 14-of-52 (38 percent) from the floor on the night.

But oddly enough the Cougars heard the beat loud and clear in overtime and were able to sink 3-of-6 from the field to outscore the Jaguars 11-5.

But it was truly the Cougars performance at the free throw line that made the difference.

The Cougars hit 11-of-18 (61 percent) from the line in the second half with Speights shooting 10-of-16 from the line.

But clearly his best shot of the night came in the second period when he hit regional record 52 footer (his longest ever) at the buzzer to pull the Cougars to within two points headed into the second half.

But luck or not, it was enough to set the mood for the second half and give the Cougars an edge over the Jaguars, not to mention put Speights in the record books.

Leading the way for the Cougars was none other than Mr. Record Holder himself with 24 points, seven steals and 12 rebounds. "Speights is a tremendous athlete and an extremely exciting ball player," Dukes said.

With the win the Cougars advance to play in a semi-final showdown with the Choctaw County Tigers today and the Cougars don’t have any plans of not returning to Birmingham, but unlike Choctaw County head coach Clinton Thomas, coach Threadgill won’t have to dance his way there.