BY TONY STINNETT/ Courier Sports Editor
COOKEVILLE - Madison Walkup has enjoyed some strong performances during a breakout junior campaign but she came up with her best all-around game in one of the biggest contests of the season.
Walkup came off of the bench with a team-high 18 points to lead the Lionettes against Livingston Academy in the championship of the District 8-AA Tournament.
It was her strongest performance to date but it wasn’t enough as the Lady Wildcats outlasted Cannon County, 52-45, in overtime to capture the tournament title.
No. 7 Cannon County (25-5) had defeated No. 5 Livingston Academy twice during the regular season to capture the top seed entering the tournament. The tourney title game was another epic battle between the two 8-AA powers.
Walkup, Abbey Sissom and Abby Jakes earned All-District Tournament honors after nearly leading the Lionettes to the district tournament title for the first time in 22 years.
“Livingston Academy came up with the winning plays down the stretch,” Cannon County Head Coach Michael Dodgen said. “We knew what kind of game it was going to be and it was. Livingston Academy made a strong run at us there and it was a typical postseason game between these two teams.
“(Walkup) gave us a big lift and played an outstanding game. It just wasn’t enough in this one but the good thing is we know we are still playing and our goals and dreams are still alive.”
Tournament MVP Marlee Sells scored 10 of her game-high 20 points in the fourth quarter and overtime to lead Livingston Academy.
The Lionettes led most of the game and owned an early advantage; however, they went cold from the field in the second half and eventually trailed 36-31 with 4:16 remaining. They picked the wrong time to quit hitting shots.
The Lionettes were 3-of-19 from the field in the fourth quarter and overtime and missed their first eight attempts from the field in the fourth quarter.
Walkup scored five straight points, including three pressure-packed free throws that tied the game 39-39 with 2:54 remaining in regulation.
Sissom’s two free throws with 1:24 remaining in regulation provided the Lionettes a 41-39 lead but Sells’ power layup with 30 seconds remaining tied the game once again.
Sissom’s running jumper was off the mark as time expired and the game reached overtime.
Livingston Academy jumped out to the early lead in overtime and never allowed Cannon County to get even or ahead.
The Lionettes were 2-of-8 from the field in overtime as Livingston Academy built a 52-45 advantage and held on for the tournament title.
“It’s a tough loss but it’s not the end of the season,” Walkup said. “We have to regroup and be ready for the region tournament. It’s never easy in our district and the region will be no different. We put together a good effort but the shots didn’t fall at the end. We will be OK.”