The Letcher County Central Lady Cougars continued their late season surge by beating June Buchanan and Knott County Central to claim last week’s 53rd District championship. With last week’s pair of victories, the Lady Cougars will enter this week’s 14th Region Tournament riding not only a 14-game winning streak, but also occupying the region’s top ranking with a record of 26-5.
The Lady Cougars, who finished 26th in Dave Cantrell’s final Top 25 Poll in the Lexington Herald Leader, meet 16-11 Breathitt County in Wednesday’s opening round of the 14th Regional Tournament at Perry County Central High School. Dark horse Leslie County, 24-7, plays 24-8 Powell County in tonight’s opening game.
Defending regional champion Perry County Central, 17-8, meets 20-6 Knott County Central in tomorrow night’s second game in the opening round. Girls’ semifinals are scheduled Tuesday, March 5, with the championship slated to tip off at 7 p.m. the following night.
The girls’ Sweet Sixteen begins on Wednesday, March 13, in Bowling Green. The 14th Region champion plays the 1st Region champion on March 14 at 7:30 p.m.
Letcher Central 74
Knott Central 62
After splitting their two regular season games, the Lady Cougars won the game that mattered Feb. 23 in the finals of the 53rd District in Hindman. LCCHS struggled early before rallying behind a strong second-half defensive effort and a sizzling offensive performance to pull away at the end for the victory.
With its shots not dropping in the first half (8/21 for 38 percent), LCCHS trailed the homestanding Lady Patriots 12-8 at the end of the first quarter and 23-20 at the half. However, despite shooting 50 percent in the first half, the Lady Patriots could not put any distance between themselves and the Lady Cougars.
LCCHS rallied in the third quarter by challenging the KCCHS shooters and hitting the boards to claim the lead 38-36 after three quarters. LCCHS took care of the basketball down the stretch, drove to the basket, picked up the foul and cashed in at the charity line to pull away.
Kelah Eldridge’s game-high 22 points led the Lady Cougars. Eldridge was 8/9 from the charity line and pulled down six rebounds. Julie Cornett chipped in with 13 points and a game-high eight rebounds. She was 5/5 from the charity line. Keisha Collins added 11 points and seven rebounds.
For the game, LCCHS converted 22/26 free throws — a percentage that will win a lot of tournament games. The Lady Cougars also out-rebounded the Lady Patriots 28-19.
LCCHS finished with 20/39 field goal attempts for 51 percent, while cooling KCCHS off to 43 percent on 18/42 from the floor.
Paige Slone led the Lady Patriots with 21 points. Reagan King chipped in with 10 points, and Kennedy King finished with eight.
Letcher Central 76
June Buchanan 37
As expected, the Lady Cougars had little trouble with the Lady Crusaders in the semi-finals of the 53rd District Tournament Feb. 20 in Hindman at Knott County Central High School.
LCCHS led 28-13 at the end of the first quarter and extended the margin to 39-14 on Vannah Breeding’s trey with 3:21 left in the first half. Breeding finished with 17 points including four treys.
LCCHS led 44-23 at the break. Kelah Eldridge’s steal and lay-up pushed LCCHS’s lead to 57-28 with 4:07 left in the third quarter. Eldridge, who scored only three points in the first half, finished with a game-high 18.
LCCHS’s lead was 69-32 after three quarters.
Alexis Likens’s 15 points led 15- 13 JBS. Jackie Henderson finished with 14 points and Reanna Cox added 12 points.
Julie Cornett finished with 12 points for LCCHS. Keisha Collins, Cheyanne Stidham and Kristina Bentley wound up with eight points each. Emily Blair scored three points while Kelli Quillen and Kim Meade added two points each.
For the game, LCCHS made 33/64 field goal attempts, including 5/14 from behind the arc for 58 percent. JBS made 13/39 field goat attempts for 33 percent. LCCHS out-rebounded JBS 38-25, and forced the Lady Crusaders in 15 turnovers while committing only seven.