There was an ample supply of heroes in Letcher County Central’s 72-69 district win January 16 over the visiting Crusaders of June Buchanan School.
In avenging their 35-34 loss at JBS on Jan. 6, the Cougars evened their district record at 2-2 and tied with the Crusaders for the important second spot behind Knott County Central in the district standings.
The Crusaders, with four starters over 6’4” — including Idris Akinyemi (6’8”) and Prince Anosike (6’7”) — caused the vertically challenged Cougars (one starter, Tyler Collins over 6’1”) early problems with their 1-2-2 zone defense.
The Cougars, who could not buy a basket early, trailed 11-1 at the end of the first quarter but hit the reset button early in the second quarter behind the outside shooting of hero number one, sophomore guard Austin Banks. Banks, who finished with a career high 19 points — including 6/8 from behind the arc — made back-to-back treys early in the second quarter to fuel a 17-0 run that gave the Cougars an 18-11 lead with 3:26 left in the first half.
The Crusaders battled back behind forward Matt Kidd and reclaimed the lead at 26-21 at the half.
Austin Banks’s back-toback treys midway of third quarter pushed the Cougars back in front 35-34. Junior guard Jordan Gregory’s short jumper gave the Cougars the lead at 41-39 heading into the final quarter. Gregory finished with seven points, four rebounds and four assists.
Torell Carter, a 6’1” guard who kept the Cougars in the game in the first half with seven points, seven rebounds and four assists, became hero number two in the second half. By taking the ball to the basket in the second half, Carter forced both Anosike and Akinyemi to foul out by midway of the fourth period. Carter, who finished with a double/ double of 33 points and 11 rebounds, converted 11/12 free throws in the final quarter including a pair that tied the game at 59-59 with 11 seconds left.
Carter cooled off in the overtime period — making just 6/8 from the charity line. His free throw with 1:01 left in overtime tied the game at 65-65, setting the scene for hero number three, senior forward Hunter Hall.
With the Crusaders milking the clock, Hall, who finished with four points and three rebounds, stole the ball and went nearly the length for a lay-up to give LCCHS the lead at 67-65 with 44 seconds left. After Matt Kidd’s short jumper tied the score with 32 seconds left, Carter nailed a pair of free throws with 25 seconds left.
Luka Stojicevic tied the game with 15 seconds left, setting the scene for hero number four, sophomore guard Austin Caudill. With JBS double teaming Carter, Caudill found himself open with the ball in his hands in the final seconds and he buried the trey to give the Cougars the victory.
Caudill finished with three points. Tyler Collins added six points and eight rebounds for the 12-6 Cougars.
Lika Stojicevic wound up with 16 points for the 12-6 Crusaders. Idris Akinyemi finished with seven points but a game high 18 rebounds. Prince Anosike added seven points and 11 rebounds as the Crusaders outrebounded LCCHS 42-34.
The Cougars recovered from their horrendous early shooting to finish a respectable 20/49 for 41 percent. JBS made 20/58 field goal attempts for 35 percent.
Knott Central 71
Letcher Central 37
The highly-ranked host Patriots pulled away from the visiting Cougars in the second half in winning easily 71-37 on January 13 in Hindman.
Vanderbilt University signee Cameron Justice led the 17-1 Patriots with a game-high 19 points in limited action. Sophomore Austin Combs chipped in with 15 points and Isaac Caudill added 11. Seniors Evan Hall and Chance Cornett finished with eight points each and seven rebounds each.
Torell Carter’s 17 points and six rebounds led 11-16 LCCHS. Austin Banks and Isiah Wallace added four points each. Dylan Caudill and Tyler Collins wound up with three points each. Austin Caudill, Jordan Gregory and Hunter Hall finished with two points each.
The Cougars visit Perry County tomorrow night, January 22, and then travel to Estill County on January 24 for a 2:30 Saturday afternoon game. LCC hosts Knott County Central on January 27 and then visits Jenkins on January 29.