SPARTA- Matt Rigsby should not have a difficult time getting his team focused for the Region 4-AA opener at Chattanooga Notre Dame Saturday.
At the least, Rigsby should not have to worry about his Lions dwelling on the past after giving up the highest point total of the season in an 86-69 loss to Livingston Academy in the consolation game of the District 8-AA Tournament at White County High School Tuesday.
"We lacked defensive presence in this game," Rigsby said. "We got back to ball watching and getting slipped back door, and just watching and leaving shooters open. I know that is not us so we need to put it behind us, move on and start getting ready for Notre Dame."
The Lions (20-12) are the No. 4 seed from District 8-AA and will travel to Notre Dame (14-12), the top seed from 7-AA after winning the district tournament.
"That's where the focus is now," said senior Jared Nave, who poured in a game-high 27 points and pulled 10 rebounds. "We have to put this game, and this tournament, behind us and get ready for the Region. Everything we want to accomplish is still there for us. We just have to go get it done."
Nave and teammate Justin Davenport were each named to the All-District 8-AA Tournament team. They combined for 49 of Cannon County's 69 points against Livingston Academy. Nave was stellar with his ninth double double of the season. He shot 11-of-14 from the field. Davenport tallied 22 points.
The game pitted the top two seeds after each were upset in the semifinals. The game had the feel of two top-ranked teams throughout the first half. The Wildcats lead 35-33 at the half but the Lions left their defensive mindset in the locker room at the half.
Livingston Academy shot 67 percent (32-of-48) from the field, including 18-of-28 in the second half. It was led by Mason Ramsey's 24 points and 18 from Logan Ramsey. The 81 points were the most allowed by Cannon County this season and was shocking considering the Lions had held four straight opponents to 60 points or fewer down the stretch.
"We just let down defensively in the second half and that was the game," Rigsby said. "We are better than that and we will learn from it."
Despite its porous defense, Cannon County stayed in the game with a 21-point third quarter and trailed 63-54 entering the final stanza. The Lions 28 points in the quarter and followed that up by allowing 23 more in the fourth quarter.
Cannon County trailed 58-53 following Davenport's 18-footer with 1:07 remaining in the third quarter, but Livingston went on a 14-4 run and extended the lead to 72-56 early in the fourth quarter. Cannon County went without a field goal for more than four minutes to start the final frame.
The four winning teams from the first round of the Region 4-AA Tournament will meet at White County High School for the semifinals and finals, Monday and Wednesday, respectively.