Senior guard C.J. Charleston went for 31 points as Gilmour Academy held off a late rally to defeat Buchtel 77-67 at the NEO Youth Elite Christmas Classic. Buchtel freshman Chris Livingston finished the contest with 28 points, 10 rebounds and 3 blocks in the loss.
Heading into Friday’s matchup, Buchtel was coming off a big 84-40 victory over Youngstown East on Dec. 18th. In that particular game, Livingston was extremely active defensively as he has been all season. He finished with 15 points as the Griffins overwhelmed their opponent.
Fast-forward by one week and the Griffins found themselves in a battle against a Gilmour Academy squad hoping to get back on track after a tough loss at home in their previous outing.
The game was close after the first period as Buchtel had a 16-15 lead after the first period. By the halftime break, Gilmour had claimed a 35-30 lead which was capped by a buzzer beating three by C.J. Charleston— part of his 20 first half points.
It was clear from the start that Gilmour wanted to make Buchtel uncomfortable by applying pressure defensively. Buchtel head coach Matt Futch placed the ball in the hands of his freshman guard as Livingston did the majority of the ball handling. Earlier in the season, Livingston was primarily used as a wing player with a large amount of his touches coming off-ball. On this night though, Livingston showed the ability to make the proper pass in pick-and-roll situations as well as when to attack.
Defensively, Livingston was switched over to guarding Charleston after his hot start in the first half. Livingston held Charleston to 11 points in the second half. As a lengthy defender, Livingston stalked his opponents to create long possessions and force guards into picking up their dribble.
The game began to get out of hand in the fourth quarter as Gilmour forced several turnovers leading to extra shot opportunities. That’s when Chris Livingston came alive. Recognizing that his team would need him to be aggressive, Livingston attacked the rim, blocked shots, turned defense into offense with layups, threes and a powerful dunk that left the feeling that a player has truly arrived.
Sometimes, these are the type of games that are indicators of things to come. If this holds true for Livingston, just watch out. I certainly will be.