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Livingston routs Demopolis Times

It’s official: the Livingston Cougars are back.

Coach George Hale’s team avenged a 40-37 loss to Demopolis Dec. 20 by routing the visiting Tigers 72-48 Friday night in Livingston. The loss was the worst of the season for Demopolis and drops them into a second-place tie in 4A Area 5 with the Cougars. Both teams have two losses in area play.

After struggling through the first two months of the season (the Cougars remain well under .500 at 6-12 overall), the Cougars have put together back-to-back solid performances with the Demopolis win and the previous Saturday’s two-point loss to 3A No. 1 Sumter County. Depending on results in this week’s area play–Livingston travels to Greene County Friday night–the Cougars could still finish as the area’s top seed.

“It meant a lot to us,” said Hale of the Demopolis victory. “It was an area game. We’ve only lost two. And now we’re going to Greene County, and if we can topple them, we could host the area tournament.”

Their first step towards that goal came much easier than expected. Behind 13 first-half points from guard Jeremy Yates, the Cougars jumped out to a 20-13 lead after the first quarter and two Montrell Farmer free throws with 4:05 remaining in the half gave the home team a 31-17 edge.

A Patrick Robertson basket in the final minute of the half brought Demopolis within 10 at the half, 35-25, and twice in the early stages of the third quarter the Tigers cut the deficit to eight.

But the Cougars’ lead was never seriously threatened as Livingston repeatedly broke the Demopolis full-court press for easy baskets, going up 55-37 at the end of three and pulling even further away in the fourth.

Hale says several factors contributed to the dramatic turnaround from the teams’ first meeting.

“For one thing we’re more focused,” he says. “We have some players back on the roster that didn’t play first semester. We played much better defensively and that helped us play better offensively as well.”

The opposite was true of Demopolis, says head coach Jesse Bell. The Tigers turned the ball over 25 times and continued their season-long struggles from the free-throw line, shooting 1-of-8 in the first quarter.

“It’s a matter of execution. We didn’t execute,” he said. “We weren’t focused. Kids think if they beat a team once, they can come back and just do it again. After 17 games, there’s no reason for us to play the way we played. We need to be consistent each night. We’ve been very inconsistent, but that’s something we can correct. We’ll start by working on our half-court sets.”

Yates led Livingston with 24 points, followed by Roland Fitch with 13, Farmer with 8, Lamarcus Bell with 7, James Bell with 6, Brock Williams and Ronald James with 4, and Tavaris Gholston and Tony Harris with 3.

Casey Cantey had 18 for Demopolis in the losing effort. Dontrell Miller scored 9, Willie Blount and MacArthur Johnson 8, Willie Gracey 3, and Robertson 2.

The loss drops Demopolis to 11-5 overall. The Tigers’ biggest game of the season is Monday night, at home against area favorite Greene County. Demopolis must win to keep their chances of hosting the area tournament alive. Coverage is available now at www.demopolistimes.com.

Demopolis girls 60, Livingston 46

Demopolis stretched their winning streak in Area 5 play to five straight games with a comfortable victory over the homestanding Lady Cougars.

The contest was closer than the teams’ first meeting, won by Demopolis 70-26. But after a tight first quarter that produced a 15-12 Demopolis lead, the Lady Tigers pushed their advantage to 33-22 at halftime and 52-32 after three quarters before winning by 14.

Senior Shawnese Armstead led the Lady Tigers with 22 points while freshman Aleshia Arnold scored a career-high 8. Katerria Johnson also chipped in 8 for Demopolis, followed by Jasmine Simmons with 6, Kierra Plaskett with 6, Krystal Walker and Kelli Johnson with 4, and Shay Smith with 2.

Livingston was led by Consuela Rice, who poured in 18 points. Shaninkia Maye added 9, Sherita Dunigan 8, Brittany Washington 6, Shaquisha Speight 4, and Shanita Parker 1.