The Letcher County Central High School Cougars finished fourth in last week’s eight-team WYMT Classic to drop their record to 8-6.
The Cougars edged defending state champion Shelby Valley 54- 46 in upper bracket opening round action on Jan. 4 at Perry County Central in Hazard. Clay County (9-4) defeated (6-5) Knott County Central 61-54 in the other upper bracket opening-round game.
Hazard (8-4) squeaked past (5-2) Bell County 49-48 and (7-3) Perry County Central defeated (5- 4) Betsy Layne 53-42 in the lower bracket opening round on Jan. 5.
In the semi-finals on Friday, Jan. 7, Hazard rallied in the second half to edge LCCHS 49-44 and Clay County rallied in the second half to down Perry County Central.
In the consolation game on Jan. 8, the host Commodores downed the Cougars 58-42 and Clay County defeated Hazard 57- 45 for the championship.
The Cougars are in action at home this week — hosting district foe Jenkins tomorrow night, Jan. 13, and Powell Valley, Va., on Saturday night, Jan. 15. LCCHS then visits district foe Cordia on Jan. 18.
Letcher Central 54
Shelby Valley 46
On Jan. 5, the Cougars struggled early and trailed the Wildcats. Shelby Valley, which graduated a ton of talent (seven seniors) off last year’s state championship team, is in the midst of a major rebuilding year. Shelby Valley captured its second straight All A Classic title last February, and then capped off a 32-4 campaign with its first Sweet Sixteen state championship last March.
LCCHS trailed 18-14 after the first quarter, but the Cougars rallied behind juniors Koree Stewart and Logan Johnson and reclaimed the lead at 28-25 by the break. LCCHS pushed its advantage out to 45-36 heading into the final quarter, and then held on down the stretch for the victory.
Stewart’s team-high 18 points led LCCHS. Johnson finished with 12 points. Senior Brian Roark wound up with nine points and sophomore Cody Gregory chipped in with eight points. Trenton Whitaker added four points and Matt Neace two points. Matt Boggs wound with one point.
Letcher Central 44
On Jan. 7, the Cougars struggled early offensively for the second straight game and trailed the Bulldogs11-8 at the end of the first quarter. In the second quarter, LCCHS, behind a strong half-court defense that limited Hazard’s B.J. Combs to a pair of free throws, led 23-12 at the half. Brian Roark led LCCHS with seven points in the first half and finished with 11.
In the third quarter, Combs, a 6-2 junior, got back on track, scoring10 points in the third quarter and rallying Hazard to within 33-30 entering the fourth quarter. Down the stretch, LCCHS’s Logan Johnson matched Combs basket for basket, but Combs had more offensive help.
Combs finished with a gamehigh 20 points.
Johnson led the Cougars with 14 points. Cody Gregory and Koree Stewart chipped in with eight points each. Matt Boggs scored two points and Matt Neace finished with one point.
Perry Central 58
Letcher Central 42
In the consolation game on Jan. 8, LCCHS, behind the scoring of Logan Johnson and Matt Neace, managed to stay within striking distance of the Commodores before fading in the final quarter.
With 6-5 junior center Koree Stewart not playing, Perry Central’s massive 6’ 7” senior center Dillon Cornett proved to be a matchup nightmare inside. Cornett led the ‘Dores with a gamehigh 13 points.
LCCHS trailed Perry Central 12-10 at the end of the first quarter, 21-16 at the half and 39-30 heading into the fourth quarter.
Johnson and Neace led LCC with 12 points each. Brian Roark finished with 10 points. Cody Gregory wound up with six points and Matt Boggs added two points.