Livingston Academy eliminates Loudon, 45-31

MURFREESBORO — Neutral site. Livingston Academy. Tournament basketball.

Wednesday’s matchup for Loudon was eerily familiar to an earlier meeting with the Lady Wildcats, and unfortunately for the Lady Redskins, another similarity followed them to Murfreesboro — poor shooting.

Livingston Academy scored a 45-31 victory as the teams met in a TSSAA Class AA quarterfinal game at Middle Tennessee’s Murphy Center. Loudon (28-5), making its first state tournament appearance since 1977, shot 20 percent from the field.

The Lady Wildcats (33-3) will play Christ Presbyterian Academy — 69-52 winners over Manassas in the semifinals Friday.

On Wednesday, Loudon collected just eight field goals (8-of-40). It was nearly a replicate of a Dec. 30 tournament game at Knox Catholic in which the Lady Redskins were held to 26 percent shooting (9-of-35) in a 36-28 loss.

“They’ve got a great defense and it’s hard to get open shots,” Loudon coach Bryant Collins said. “We’re a pretty good shooting team and we couldn’t get open.

“I think we came out a little nervous — we hadn’t been here in 35 years. Once we settled down it was a little better, but we didn’t shoot the ball well. But it was not because of us, they’ve got a great defense.”

Chelsey Moore paced the Lady Redskins with a game-high 15 points. The senior was the only Loudon player to reach double figures.

“It was a real struggle,” Moore said. “Their defense is really good and we didn’t shoot well.”

Loudon’s defense forced 16 turnovers through three quarters, but managed just seven points off of them and trailed 35-17 entering the final quarter — the largest deficit of the game.

Livingston Academy seemed more than willing to let Loudon back in the game through the first six minutes of the fourth quarter. It coughed up 12 turnovers, attempted no shots and made no free throws during that stretch. But the Lady Redskins scored just six points off of the turnovers, turned the ball over four times and shot 2-of-7 themselves during that six-minute span.

“We average about 14 turnovers a game and you shouldn’t win if you turn it over that much,” Lady Wildcats coach Lesley Riddle said of Wednesday’s 27 turnovers. “I felt like they were the aggressors and we were playing not to lose.”

The Lady Redskins finished 3-of-21 from beyond the arc as they could not bust up Livingston Academy’s zone defense. They had already attempted 10 by halftime.

“In the first quarter we realized we couldn’t break it up,” Loudon senior guard Savannah Berry, who was 1-of-8 from 3-point range, said of trying to get past the zone. “We’re used to splitting the defenses and being able to work the holes and we couldn’t. They defended it really well. By the fourth quarter, we realized we needed to shoot any open look we had.”

Livingston Academy was led by Heather Cravens’ 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting.