The host Knott County Central Patriots successfully defended their 53rd District crown with convincing wins over Cordia and Letcher County Central last week.
The 17-9 Patriots take on 16-11 Hazard in the opening round of the 14th Regional tournament tomorrow night, March 3, in Hazard.
The 20-11 LCCHS Cougars take on 13-15 Lee County in tonight’s (Wednesday’s) second game.
The semifinals and finals are scheduled for next Monday and Tuesday, March 7 and 8.
Knott County Central 47
Letcher County Central 38
Foul-plagued LCCHS led early but with so many Cougar starters sitting on the sidelines, KCCHS rallied in the second half to down the Cougars in the 53rd District championship last Saturday night in Hindman.
Senior guard Brian Roark’s three-point play gave LCCHS a 3-0 lead — a lead that held up through three quarters. Roark’s second basket midway of the opening quarter pushed LCCHS’s lead to 7-2 before the Patriots, taking advantage of several LCCHS turnovers and Roark’s second foul, closed to within 9-7 at the end of the first quarter.
Six straight points by Logan Johnson gave LCCHS a 15-7 lead early in the second quarter. The Cougars appeared to be in control after Johnson’s second trey with 2:10 left extended LCCHS’s lead to 20-11. Johnson scored nine points of his game-high 13 points in the second quarter with Roark and Koree Stewart on the bench. Junior forward Kendall Ballou’s free throws inside the final minute, gave LCCHS its largest lead of the game at 22-11. Ballou finished with four points.
Sophomore Blake Shrum’s trey in the final seconds cut LCCHS’s lead to 22-14 at the half. Shrum, who came off the bench to spark the Patriots with seven first half points, finished with 13 points to lead the 17-9 Patriots.
LCCHS made 8-of-18 field goal attempts (44 percent) in the first half but managed only 6-of-23 in the second half (26 percent).
KCCHS had its shooting woes in the first half, making just 6-of- 21 for 28 percent, but recovered to shoot a blistering 66 percent (8-of-12) in the second half.
Back-to-back baskets by Stewart and sophomore guard Cody Gregory,t with 4:10 left in the third quarter pushed LCCHS’s lead to 28-18. LCCHS then went scoreless for the next 6 minutes.
Eighth-grader Evan Hall’s free throws completed a 12-0 run and gave the Patriots their first lead at 30-28 with 7:46 left to play.
Roark’s free throws tied the game a minute later to end LCCHS’s 6-minute scoring drought. After Johnson’s 19-footer tied the game at 32-32 with 5:01 left, KCCHS ran off 7 unanswered points for a 39-32 lead with 3:07 left. Stewart’s post-up cut the Cougars’ deficit to 41-38 with 1:45 left, but guard Evan Potter made 6 straight free throws down the stretch to preserve the Patriots’ lead.
Despite foul trouble, Stewart finished with 12 points and Gregory with 2 for the 20-11 Cougars. Matt Neace was scoreless and fouled out in the third quarter.
Letcher Central 69
The LCCHS Cougars took control from the opening tip and rolled to an easy win over Jenkins in the 53rd District tournament semi-final action at Knott County Central Feb. 22.
The Cougars’ defense forced Jenkins into 8 turnovers in 10 possessions in the game’s opening 6 minutes, which LCCHS converted into easy points in building a huge early lead.
LCCHS forced Jenkins in 18 first half turnovers and 29 for the game. Jenkins made just 3-of-11 first half field goal attempts but recovered after the break to make 14-of-24 attempts and finished the game 17-of-35 for 49 percent.
A pair of dunks off back-to-back steals by junior forward Kendall Ballou and 5 consecutive points by junior guard Logan Johnson fueled the Cougars’ 17-0 run before Rusty Lewis’s layup in the final seconds cut the Cavs’ deficit to 17-2 at the end of the first quarter. Lewis finished with 10 points and six rebounds.
Johnson led 20-10 LCCHS with a game-high 18 points — 13 in the first half — and Ballou wound up with 10. Koree Stewart chipped in with 10 points and a game-high 8 rebounds. Brian Roark added 7 points for the 20-10 Cougars.
LCCHS’s initial offensive onslaught slowed some, but the Cougars maintained a 20-point lead throughout the second quarter and led comfortably 31-8 at the half.
The Cavaliers played the Cougars pretty much even in the second half. Sophomore Koty Sexton, who had 4 first-half points, led the Cavs in the third quarter by scoring 11 of Jenkins’s 17 points. Sexton wound up with a teamhigh 15 points.
Cody Sexton’s trey with 6:50 left to play extended LCCHS’s lead to 52-29 and Jenkins never got closer after that. Sexton finished with 7 points off the bench. Dylan Kincer contributed 6 points. Matt Neace tossed in 4 points and Willie Smith finished with 1 point. Dewey Baker, Sam Robinson and Dalton Sizemore scored 2 points each.
Tim Seals scored 8 points for the 7-18 Cavs with Jordan Bentley contributing 4 points. Chris Ramey and Casey Hall scored 2 points each and Josh Collins finished with 1 point.