Livingston wins, advances to title game on Saturday
By By Tony Krausz / assistant sports editor
March 4, 2004
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. Livingston center Roland Fitch was not ready for his team's basketball season to end Wednesday night.
So the 6-foot-6 sophomore did something about it in the opening minutes of the third quarter against the Jacksonville Golden Eagles in the AHSAA Boys 4A State Championship semifinals.
Fitch tallied his team's first seven points of the second half, and Livingston (21-12) went on to take a 55-49 win over Jacksonville (20-8).
The Cougars will meet the Central-Coosa Cougars for the 4A State crown at noon on Saturday.
Central-Coosa (23-6) advanced to the championship game with a 49-43 win over the Deshler Tigers (25-8)
Fitch's performance in the third was needed, after the Cougars watched a double-digit lead disappear in the second quarter.
The Cougars center's one-man show put the team up 37-29 with 4:37 to play in the third, but the Eagles came charging back.
On the strength of a pair of three-pointers, Jacksonville closed the third quarter on a 10-6 run to cut Livingston's lead to 43-39.
Livingston opened the final period scoring four unanswered points to take a 47-39 advantage with 5:51 left in the game, but Jacksonville came back again midway through the fourth.
The Eagles scored six unanswered points to cut their deficit to 47-45 with 2:38 to play.
Livingston hit 7-of-10 free throws in the game's closing minutes to seal the win.
After taking a 16-11 lead at the end of the first quarter, Livingston came out even stronger in the second.
The Cougars went on a 9-2 run in the opening five minutes of the second quarter to take a 25-13 lead, but the Eagles wouldn't go down without a fight.
Jacksonville closed the final three minutes of the first half on a 12-3 run to knock its deficit down to 28-25 at the break.
The Cougars' final basket of the first half was a three-pointer by Peter Miller with 2:23 left to play in the second half.
Though the first half didn't end well for Livingston, it did control most of the game's opening 16 minutes.
Speights paced Livingston's offense with 19 points, and Fitch chipped in 12.