Finding a Way: Livingston back in title game

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 5, 2004

There is one thing that Livingston head coach Kenneth Threadgill has learned over the years and that’s how to play smart basketball.

The 4A defending state champion Cougars entered the last two minutes of Wednesday night’s Final Four pairing with the Jacksonville golden Eagles shooting a disastrous 12-of-32 (37 percent) from the floor, two Eagles team fouls and only a three-point lead, but still managed to pull out the 43-39 win.

Cougars leading scorer Cory Speights was four shy of his average 23-points per game, as he hit 7-of-20 from the floor and 5-of-10 from the line to collect 19 points on the night and for once had to give up the spot light to teammate Roland Fitch.

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“I was just off all night,” Speights said. “I couldn’t find any rhythm, but thankfully my boy Roland had my back.”

The Cougars went into the half clinging to a three-point 28-25 lead. After going 0-for-5 in the first half, Fitch came to life in the second half, hitting 4-for-4 from the floor in the third period to help expand the Cougars lead to 35-29.

Though Fitch finished the night with 12 points, second to Speights’ 19-total points, it was this run in the third period that helped put the Cougars in position to capture the win.

From there the game belonged to Threadgill, who guided his Cougars to a safe landing despite all the damages they had sustained throughout the dogfight.

The Eagles may ask themselves for years to come, how is it that we lost that game?

The Eagles held all the cards in the final minutes, but in the end looked like a rookie poker player who was bluffed out of the pot by a man that knows when to fold them, when to hold them, when to walk away and when to run.

The Eagles had only collected two team fouls at the 2:39 mark, but quickly felt the need to foul the Cougars in order to regain possession of the ball. The Eagles then went on a fouling rampage striking like rattle snake at every Cougar who touched the ball.

But sadly the Cougars had become immuned to the poison and only extended their lead with their performance at the line.

With the win the Cougars will attempt to repeat as the 4A state champions on Saturday when they take on the Central-Coosa Cougars at the Birmingham Jefferson Civic Center. Tipp off is set for high noon.