Stone boys fend off LA rally for win

Feb. 6—The Stone Memorial Panthers picked up a big district win Friday night when they went on the road and took down Livingston Academy, 90-80.

The Panthers started the game on fire, scoring 24 points in each of the first two quarters to lead 48-33 at halftime.

Livingston Academy came charging back in the final two periods, but Stone held on for the win

"I knew with as many new guys we would have this season stepping into new roles for us, it was going to take some time," said Stone Memorial coach Neil Capps.

"But this is the time of the year when you better be playing some of your best basketball, if you plan on being ready for the postseason.

"I am pleased with how we're playing right now, how the guys have found their roles and are getting better and better at those roles. We've helped ourselves quite a bit over the last few games."

The win puts Stone Memorial at 16-8 for the season and 6-2 in Class 3A, District 7 play. The loss drops Livingston Academy to 16-11 overall and 4-4 in league play.

The game started with a fast pace from both teams. Stone was getting baskets from Cade Capps, Brady Lane and Preston Mayberry and the offensive surge allowed the Panthers to lead 24-17 after one period.

But Livingston Academy came right back in the second period, on jumpers from Daniel Bilbrey, Wyatt Hargis and Tucker Miller, to keep pace. Stone led 48-33 going into the intermission.

"In the first half, we had some really nice ball movement. We were making shots and we had a lot of guys contributing," coach Neil Capps said. "When you see shots go in, it is contagious. I also think we were strong defensively, and we rebounded well."

The coach added, "I told the guys at halftime, Congratulations, you've won 16 minutes [one half of action]. You've got to put that behind you and move on. Sometimes you wonder how kids will react to pressure, but we came out and we didn't get uptight, didn't get worried. We continued to fight."

Stone widened its lead in the third period to as much as 20 points, but Livingston wasn't finished.

Bilbrey and Hargis caught fire for the Wildcats. Brody Coffee had two jumpers in the paint, and Miller nailed a 3-pointer from way downtown. LA cut the lead to as low as nine before settling on the final 90-80 decision.

"Livingston Academy started making shots," coach Capps said. "Early on, we were getting our hands on things. But, they started seeing the ball go in the basket and everyone started getting excited."

He continued, "You knew when they cut it to nine points, it was going to be a ballgame. However, we continued to compete, and we made our free throws down the stretch."

Cade Capps led Stone Memorial with 40 points. Lane contributed 17 points and Mayberry had 15. Jayden Eldridge tallied 9 points, while Braiden Elliott scored 6, and Jordan Manis and Wyatt Grothe scored 2 each.

Bilbrey led the way for Livingston Academy with 32 points overall.

"We had guys off the bench step up and make plays tonight," coach Capps said. "People like Spencer Bowman, Braiden Elliott. We had a lot of guys come off the bench, and I am so proud of the their contributions.

"When you can't key on one person, it makes you difficult to guard for opponents.

"As a coach that's what you want from a player, you want them to just go make plays. Hopefully we can continue that."

Stone Memorial will close out the regular season Feb. 8. with a visit from DeKalb County. Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m.