Submitted by Cole Roark
The Licking Wildcats began play in the West Plains Tournament on Monday, taking on Ava. Licking jumped out to an early lead in the first half thanks to some tough defense and some great interior scoring from Adam Hunter. Hunter scored 14 of his 16 points in the first two quarters. Malachi Antle also had a big first half, dropping in 9 points. Every member of the 8th grade team made an appearance on the floor, helping to seal the Wildcat victory, with a final score of 35-16.
The second round matchup on Tuesday featured a battle between the #3 seeded Wildcats and the #2 seeded Mtn. View Liberty Eagles. The Wildcats started the game in a full-court press, hampering the Eagles in the backcourt and forcing turnovers that turned into quick baskets. Key 3-pointers kept the Eagles close despite their early struggles, and the tough Eagle defense was able to hold the Wildcats to just 5 points in the 2nd quarter. At the end of the half, The Eagles led the Wildcats 26-17. After some adjustments during halftime, the Wildcats came out on fire. With a balanced scoring attack from Cole Wallace, Dalen Clayton, and Malachi Antle, Licking was able to cut the Liberty lead down and tie the game. Action was fast paced in the 4th quarter, and some big play from Dante Decker, including two huge free throws, allowed the Wildcats to tie the game with time running out, force overtime. The Wildcats scored 4 points in the minute-long overtime period, and held on for the victory, 43-42. Leading scorer for the Wildcats was Cole Wallace with 15 points.
In the tournament championship, Licking went to work against the #1 seeded Mtn. Grove Panthers. The teams were evenly matched in the first half. The Wildcats were leading after the first quarter, 10-9. The second quarter was just as even, and key defense from Brent Shepherd and Adam Hunter slowed the offensive attack from the Panthers, and the first half ended with the score tied, 16-16. As the third quarter began, Mtn. Grove found some rhythm offensively, and two 3 point field goals was the difference in the third, stretching the Panther lead to 5. Knowing they had to make up some ground, the Wildcats went to a full-court press, forcing the tempo to increase, but the Panthers found a way to continue scoring right with them. As time expired, the Wildcats were not able to hold on, and lost 34-41, giving them the 2nd place finish in the tournament. Leading scorers were Malachi Antle with 12, Dante Decker with 11, and Cole Wallace with 7. Wildcats will be back in action at Green Forest on Monday, November 12.