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Breathitt upsets LCC in tourney semifinal

The Perry County Central Lady Commodores successfully defended their 14th Region title Sunday with a 73-54 win over the Breathitt County Lady Bobcats in Jackson.

The Lady Bobcats ( 23- 12) scored a 33-31 upset win over Letcher County Central in Saturday night’s semifinals to earn the trip to the title game against Perry County Central, which easily defeated Knott County Central.

The fourth-ranked Lady Commodores (30-2) won the right to meet top-ranked Louisville Manual in the opening round of the girls’ Sweet Sixteen tournament in Bowling Green. The winner of Wednesday’s match-up could be considered the tournament favorite and face an unranked opponent — either Muhlenberg County or Montgomery County — in Friday afternoon’s quarterfi- nals. The semifinals will be played Saturday morning and afternoon, with the state championship game scheduled for 9 p.m. Saturday.

Breathitt County 33

Letcher Central 31

After a pair of convincing regular season wins against the Lady ‘Cats — 58-42 in Jackson on Dec. 30 and 65-40 at home on Jan. 20 — LCC’s offense sputtered all game and finally expired in the final minutes of the disappointing loss in Saturday night’s semifinals.

Error-prone LCC committed three straight turnovers to start the game and had seven by the end of the first quarter but still managed a 6-2 advantage by the end of the opening quarter.

The very deliberate passing offense of the Lady ‘Cats shortened the game and limited the Lady Cougars to usually one shot on their offensive end. Kaci Cox’s trey with 2:15 left in the second quarter gave the Lady ‘Cats their first lead at 8-6. Julie Cornett’s layup seconds later gave LCC the lead until the final seconds when Lori Spencer’s pair of free throws put the Lady ‘Cats ahead 11-10 at the half.

LCC’s 10 first-half turnovers and Breathitt County’s poor field goal shooting (4-of-20 for 20 percent) were the leading contributors to the low scoring first half.

Lori Spencer’s trey extended the Lady ‘Cats’ lead to 14-10 in the opening seconds of the third quarter.

Despite seven third-quarter turnovers, LCCHS managed to tie the game 15-15 on Julie Cornett’s offensive stick-back with 6 minutes left.

Over the next three minutes, Lori Spencer made three straight baskets and pushed the Lady ‘Cats’ lead to 21-15. Spencer added a pair of layups inside the final two minutes, and the Lady ‘Cats’ were able to hang on to a 25-22 lead after three quarters.

Keisha Collins’s layup cut Breathitt County’s lead to 28-27 with 3:20 left to play. Kaci Cox answered with her second trey of the game, but Haley Whitaker’s jumper brought the Lady Cougars to within 31-29 with 2:40 left to play.

With Breathitt County taking time off the clock, LCC forced a turnover with 50 seconds left to play, but Kelah Eldridge couldn’t connect on a short jumper to tie with 25 seconds left.

Lori Spencer’s pair of free throws with 21 second remaining extended Breathitt County’s lead to 33-29. With 9 seconds left, Julie Cornett missed a pair of free throws, but Erica Meade rebounded the last miss and scored to pull LCC to within 33-31.

LCC still had a chance at the end. After Kaci Cox’s miss on the front end of the bonus with 5 seconds left, LCC’s Cheyanne Stidham missed from long range. Kelah Eldridge grabbed the rebound, but also missed.

Despite being limited by LCC’s defense to just 28 percent shooting and being outrebounded 42-22, the Lady ‘Cats rode the biggame scoring of senior forward Lori Spencer’s gamehigh 20 points and Kaci Cox’s long-range shooting to the upset. Cox finished with 6 points.

LCC’s 33 percent shooting from the floor — including

0- for- 9 from behind the arc — could not offset its sloppy play. The Lady Cougars were guilty of18 turnovers and gave up 10 steals to the Lady Bobcats’ defense. Breathitt County committed just nine turnovers.

Julie Cornett’s 12 points led LCC, which finished the season with an excellent 24-6 record and a Top 25 ranking in the state.

Haley Whitaker and Kelah Eldridge chipped in with 6 points each. Keisha Collins wound up with 4 points and Erica Meade added two points. Cheyanne Stidham scored one point.

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