The Powell County Pirates upset favored Letcher County Central High School, 68-57, in the opening round of the boys’ 14th Regional tournament last week in Hindman.
The Pirates, who won just three games three seasons ago, were 7-4 after the first month of this season and 14- 9 at the end of January. Powell County won the 56th District championship game over Estill County and entered regional play with a 19-12 mark.
Powell County jumped in front 4- 0 on back- toback baskets by senior point guard Austin Monet and never looked back.
With LCCHS struggling early to overcome both mistakes (eight turnovers) and missed close shots in the paint, the Pirates were able to push their lead out to 17-7 by the end of the first quarter.
The Pirates’ early fullcourt pressure really bothered
LCCHS and accounted for many of the Cougars’ 15 first-half turnovers. The Pirates’ largest lead of the game was 33-17 with two minutes left in the first half. An offensive stick-back by Trenton Whitaker and a pair of free throws by Koree Stewart in the final minute cut the Pirates’ lead to 33-21 at the break.
A pair of baskets by Koree Stewart and a short jumper by Trenton Whitaker cut the Pirates’ lead to 35-27 with 6:23 left in the third quarter, but Stewart then picked up his third and fourth fouls in a span of seconds and sat out until returning with1:35 left in the third quarter and LCCHS trailing 48-33.
LCCHS entered the final quarter down 50- 38 but could get no closer than 9 points down the stretch at 66-57 on Whitaker’s trey with 28 seconds left.
Both teams shot the basketball very well. LCCHS finished with 26-of-53 from the floor for 49 percent but was charged with 25 turnovers.
The Pirates, who made 23-of-45 field goal attempts (51 percent), were guilty of just 11 turnovers but won this game at the charity line — converting 19-of-27 opportunities.
LCCHS was just 2-of-5 from the charity line.
The Pirates had five players score 9 or more points — led by senior Zack Dennis’s game-high tying 16 points. Jacob Connor added 12 points and Matt Pelfry 11.
The Cougars, which finished the season with an excellent 19-14 record against top competition, placed four players in double figures scoring. The Cougars were led in scoring by four seniors: Koree Stewart finished with16 points and Logan Johnson added 14. Trenton Whitaker and Kendall Ballou finished with 12 points each. Cody Gregory, a junior, scored two points.