The Letcher County Central Cougars, who played only two home games last year in the first month of the season, are living on their own court in the early weeks of this season.
After last night’s game up the road at district rival Jenkins, the Cougars host Phelps tomorrow night (December 6) and then take on Powell County Saturday evening in the one-day 10-team/ five games Whitaker Bank Cougar Classic.
In Saturday’s match-ups, Buckhorn plays Paintsville at noon; followed by Jenkins vs. Lee County at 2 p.m.; North Laurel vs. East Ridge at 4 p.m.; and Breathitt County vs. East Jessamine at 6 p.m.
The Cougars will be looking for some revenge when they take on Powell County in the final game at 8 p.m., after losing to the Pirates 68-57 in the opening round of the 14th Region Tournament in Hindman last March. However, the Pirates lost four starters off last year’s 20-13 team and, like the Cougars, will be a different team this season.
The Cougars remain home next week to host South Floyd on Tuesday and Wolfe County on Friday. Then after a game at Perry County Central on December 18, the Cougars will be playing Gate City on December 21 in the Border Clash Invitational Christmas Tournament at UVA-Wise and Wise Central on Dec. 22.
Letcher Central 75
East Ridge 67 (OT)
The Letcher County Central Cougars weathered some rough spots in both halves of their season opener November 29 against visiting East Ridge but managed to rally at the end to edge the Warriors in overtime.
The Cougars trailed early before Sam Robinson took over and scored nine of LCCHS’s 13 first-quarter points. After trailing 16-13 at the end of the first quarter, Robinson’s lay up midway of the second quarter pushed the Cougars in front, and they extended their margin to 37-29 at the break.
Mistake prone LCCHS fell behind in the third quarter and trailed 53-49 heading into the final quarter. However, the Cougars’ defense was the difference down the stretch. Trailing 61-56 with four minutes left, Dylan Kincer and Zane Blair hit short jumpers setting up Sam Robinson’s gametying trey from the head of the circle with 53 seconds remaining. After forcing a turnover, Cody Gregory hit a short jumper to put LCCHS in front 65-63, but Patrick Coleman tied the game in the final seconds and forced the overtime.
In the overtime, the patient Cougars ran their offense, forced the Warriors to foul, and then converted 10 of 14 from the charity line to pull away for the victory.
Sophomore guard Johnny Miller’s team-high 19 points led the 1-1 Warriors, but he fouled out with 2:31 left in overtime and with him went the Warriors’ outside shooting.
Sophomore Michael Fields finished with 14 points and sophomore Jacob Skeens added 10 points. Senior Dillon Adkins wound up with a double/double of 12 points and a game-high 13 rebounds as the Warriors out-rebounded the Cougars 38-34.
East Ridge shot 45 percent (28/62) from the floor while LCCHS shot 49 percent (26/53). The difference was at the charity line with the Cougars converting 13 of 21 for 68%, while the Warriors had fewer opportunities and managed just 8 of 13 free throws.
Robinson, a junior guard, led the Cougars with a double/ double of his own — a game-high 23 points and a team-high 10 rebounds. Senior guard Cody Gregory chipped in with 19 points, including five-of-six from the charity line in the final minute of overtime.
Junior forward Josh Owens added 15 points and six rebounds while sophomore forward Zane Blair finished with 10 points and six rebounds. Max Hall came off of the bench to add four points and Dylan Kincer finished with three points. Chippy Frazier, who has been battling the flu, finished with one point, but applied outstanding defense on the Warriors’ Johnny Miller down the stretch.
Jackson City 68
The visiting Jenkins Cavaliers played even with the host Tigers for much of the first half of this November 30 game, but an offensive spurt late in the second quarter allowed Jackson City to take control and push to a 40-27 lead at the half. The Cavs trailed 51-48 after three quarters and cut Jackson City’s lead into single digits several times in the final quarter, but could not get over the hump.
The 1-2 Tigers were led by freshman John Turner’s game-high 19 points. Senior George McIntosh added 13.
The 0-2 Cavaliers were led in scoring by senior Koty Sexton’s 13 points. Sophomore Randy Potter added 11 points, and senior Josh Collins chipped in with nine points. Casey Hall finished with seven points and Donald Quillen with five. Jordan Bentley wound up with four points and Jacob Campbell, three points. Adkins scored two points and Oliver added one point.