It’s hard to believe, but the regular season is now in the books and it is tournament time for the Letcher Central Cougars. They really have become a solid team and are definitely a dark horse in the region, winning 15 of their last 20 games and fourth in the state in three-point shooting. The Cougars lost in overtime to June Buchanan and beat Cordia in their last meeting. These are the top two teams in the 53rd District.
The Cougars took on Jenkins on Monday night in the first round of the district tournament at Knott County Central. They had defeated the Cavaliers 60-28 at Ermine and 61-44 at Jenkins earlier in the season, but this is tournament time and it is hard to beat a team three times.
The Cavaliers were 9-16 entering the game, led by All- Region player Chris Puckett. He leads the Cavaliers in scoring and has totaled over 1,500 points for his career.
The Cougars were looking to move a step closer to a district title. The Cavaliers would slow the game down early on, but Josh Profitt put the Cougars on the board with a big trey that was quickly answered by Chris Puckett and it was 3-3. Charlie Banks scored inside and Nathaniel Wilder answered for the Cavs and it was 5-5. Jordon Reynolds and Malachi Longworth each scored and then Longworth would get a steal and score again.
The Cavaliers stayed close and then Devon Blair nailed a long trey and was fouled on the shot. He made the free throw and it was 15-9. Longworth got another bucket for the Cougars and Puckett hit a trey as the quarter ended at 17-12 Cougars.
The Cavs scored first in the second quarter, but Charlie Banks answered for the Cougars with a trey. Jenkins answered and Banks scored another bucket inside. Puckett hit his third trey of the half, and then his fourth to tie the score at 22.
Banks converted for the Cougars and Josh Proffitt hit his second trey to give the Cougars a five-point lead at 27-22. Malachi Longworth got a steal and the Cougars converted on a bucket by Jordon Reynolds. The Cavaliers turned the ball over and Devon Blair hit a shot at the buzzer to give the Cougars a 35- 24 lead at the break.
The Cougars had eight steals at the break and hit 15-27 field goals including 4-10 from downtown.
The Cougars opened the sec- ond half with a free throw by Reynolds. Wilder hit a trey to pull Jenkins closer at 36-27. The Cougars took over on the boards, but Jenkins scored 5 straight on a trey and a steal and lay-up by Puckett to pull even closer at 38- 32. Another Cavalier steal brought a foul by the Cougars and the Cavaliers made both to pull within 4 at 38-34. The quarter would end at 43-37 to set up the fourth quarter.
The Cougars really played well down the stretch as they made 12 free throws in the quarter to pull out the win 61-53. Jenkins fought hard, but it wasn’t enough as the Cougars improved to 17-10 and advance to play June Buchanan tonight (Wednesday).
The Cavaliers finish the season at 9-17 and will say goodbye to eight seniors. Chris Puckett will be sorely missed by anyone that saw him play. He finished the game with 17 points and hit four treys.
The Cougars were led by Charlie Banks with 19 points followed by Devon Blair with 16. Malachi Longworth had another big game with 14. Josh Proffitt had a solid game with 7 points and Jordon Reynolds had 5 points.
The Cougars did not get any scoring from the bench and that is something that will have to change before they meet the Crusaders. The Cougars lost twice to June Buchanan this season, but they were both games in which the Cougars had led by double figures. The last game was lost in overtime. The Cougars must win to advance to the 14th Region tournament. They are on a roll..
Letcher County Central 89
Powell County 76
It was senior night this past Friday and the Cougars hosted Powell County. It was time to say good-bye to the only senior on the team and that is Mr. Malachi Longworth. Malachi has been one of the Cougars’ main weapons on defense as he creates havoc with his speed and forces turnovers on opposing teams. But this was senior night and it would be the last time he would play in front of the home crowd. The Cougars brought a record of 15-10 into the game while Powell County was 14-12.
The game started at a blazing pace for the Cougars. Longworth opened the scoring on a little shot in the lane and the Cougars were off and running. Devon Blair nailed a trey and Charlie Banks scored inside and then got a steal and an assist to Longworth. It was quickly 10-5, but Banks hit two free throws and Blair got a steal and a lay-up before finally Longworth hit two free throws to put the Cougars up 18-5. He would then score twice more after a trey by Josh Proffitt and another by Devon Blair.
It was 28-14 and the Cougars could do no wrong. Jordon Reynolds posted up inside and scored on an assist from James Gose, and then Reynolds got a steal and Devon Blair was fouled on his shot attempt. He made both shots and just before the end of the quarter Longworth hit a trey to make the score 35-19 after one quarter. It was Longworth’s 16th point of the quarter and the senior was unstoppable.
Jordon Reynolds scored twice early in the second quarter to make the score 40-24. Longworth scored 6 points in the second quarter to give him 22 at the half. Blair hit his third trey in the second, and Josh Proffitt hit two late in the quarter as the Cougars led by 22 at 57-35. It was the seventh trey of the half for the Cougars.
Charlie Banks was in foul trouble much of the night, but the Cougars picked up the slack. The score at the half was 59-41 as the Cougars blistered the nets on 7- 11 from behind the arc, and on defense where they forced 17 Powell County turnovers and came up with 12 steals.
After the offensive show in the first half, the Cougars would hit a wall in the third quarter. After scoring 35 in the first and 24 in the second quarters the Cougars managed only 6 in the third as Powell County started its comeback and scored the first 9 points of the quarter.
Devon Blair finally put the Cougars on the board in the third as he scored 4 points in the quarter and Jordon Reynolds got the other two. The lead was 65-58 at the end of three and the pressure was on as Powell had all the momentum going into the fourth quarter.
The Cougars got a big lift off the bench as McKenzie Smith scored twice early in the fourth to push the lead out to 10. Longworth got his first points of the second half on a lay-up. After a Powell free throw, Devon Blair took it coast to coast for a lay-up and a 13-point Cougar lead.
Charlie Banks came off the bench with four fouls as Powell cut the lead back to 7. He quickly scored inside and was fouled. The free throw pushed the lead back to 10. Powell cut the lead to 6, but Josh Proffitt hit his fourth trey to push the lead back to 9.
Banks fouled out at the 1:45 mark of the fourth quarter. A steal by Powell and a lay-up cut the lead back to 7. Longworth went to the line and nailed both free throws and the lead was 9. Powell County hit a quick trey and it was back to 6. Then it was foul city as Powell put Devon Blair on the line and he hit both and then Longworth got a steal and was fouled and he hit both and finally Proffitt was fouled and he hit both. The Cougars hit 10-11 free throws in the fourth to close out the game and win 89-76.
The Cougars fought hard in this game and hit their free throws when they had to late in the game. They improved to 16- 10 on the season. They finished the game hitting 8-19 treys and 24-27 free throws. They also had 17 steals. They shot 52 percent from the field, hitting 28-53. Powell placed five players in double figures in the loss and fell to 14-13.
The Cougars were led on this night by Mr. Malachi Longworth as he torched the nets for 28 points. It was an unforgettable senior night for him and his family. Way to go, Malachi. He hit 9-12 from the field and 9-9 from the free throw line. He also had four steals. Devon Blair hit three treys and finished with 22 points in a big game for him. Josh Proffitt hit four treys including the big shot in the fourth quarter that put the lead back to 9 and finished with 16 points.
Jordon Reynolds had another good game inside and on the boards as he finished with 8. Charlie Banks was forced to watch most of the game on the bench in foul trouble, but he finished with 7. Malachi Smith would get 4, Ryan Brock would get 2 and James Gose would get 1 to round out the scoring.