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Lady Cougars rebound

With convincing victories last week over county rival Jenkins as well as regional powers Breathitt County and Knott County Central, the Letcher County Central Lady Cougars moved back into Dave Cantrall’s statewide poll in the Lexington Herald-Leader at the 23rd spot after a one-week absence.

The Lady Cougars, now 17-3 overall and 3-0 in district action, have won 10 of their last 11 games.

The Lady Cougars host highly regarded Leslie County on Friday night in the first game of a girl/ boy doubleheader. The tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.

LCCHS is off a week before hosting Cordia on Feb. 3, and then traveling to dangerous Estill County for a Saturday afternoon game on Feb. 4.

Letcher Central 65

Knott Central 55

The invading Lady Patriots were looking for a measure of revenge this past Sunday afternoon at LCCHS after having lost 58-50 to the Lady Cougars in Hindman on Jan. 7. The effort may have been there, but the Lady Cougars made their free throws in the final minute and the Lady Patriots simply ran out of energy and time.

In a fast paced first quarter that featured both teams making shots, LCCHS broke away from a 10-10 tie at the 5:04 mark to forge a slim 19-17 lead at the end of the opening period.

The junior combination of Kelah Eldridge and Julie Cornett led the Lady Cougars in the first half. Eldridge, who finished with a game-high 23 points, had 11 in the first half. She also dished out four assists. Cornett finished with nine points — all in the first half — as she battled foul trouble the rest of the game. Cornett also pulled down eight rebounds.

Eldridge’s free throw with 2:02 left in the first half pushed LCCHS’s advantage to 30-24 and freshman Cheyanne Stidham’s lay-up at the buzzer gave LCCHS its biggest lead of the first half at 36-26.

Knott County Central, which earned a tiring victory at Estill County on Saturday afternoon, rallied in the third quarter behind Paige Slone to cut LCCHS’s lead to 36-31 before LCCHS pushed back behind junior Keisha Collins to go back in front 50-39 at the end of the third quarter. Collins finished with 14 points and a game-high 10 rebounds.

Slone, a 5’8” junior averaging nearly 22 points per game, had been limited to five first half points but she broke loose after the intermission and led the Lady Patriots’ effort. Slone’s lay-up with 1:03 remaining cut LCCHS’s lead to 57-55, but LCCHS calmly made nine-of-10 from the charity line down the stretch to pull away for the victory.

Slone led the 12-8 Lady Patriots with 18 points and four assists. Senior Kelsie Jacobs finished with 16 points and junior Regan King wound up with 10 points.

Erica Meade finished with seven points for LCCHS. Haley Whitaker and Cheyanne Stidham chipped in with six points each.

Letcher Central 65

Breathitt County 40

Strong offensive and defensive efforts by juniors Kelah Eldridge and Julie Cornett led LCCHS to a dominating victory at home Jan. 20 over the Lady ‘Cats.

The Lady Cougars’ first half full- court defensive pressure resulted in easy baskets and an early lead. Eldridge’s back- to- back treys extended LCCHS’s lead to 11-2 at the 5:08 mark and the Lady Cougars never looked back. Eldridge finished with a game- high 25 points and five treys. She also pulled down five rebounds.

Cornett, who battled foul trouble most of the last three quarters, finished with 17 points and seven rebounds.

LCCHS, with excellent ball movement (20 assists), rushed out to a commanding 24-9 lead by the end of the opening quarter and then extended its margin to 38-20 by the half.

The first half was a shootout between Eldridge and Breathitt County’s 5’ 10” senior Lori Spencer, who scored 14 of her team’s first half points and finished with 20.

After the break, Breathitt County refused to quit and used a 6-0 run to start the third quarter. LCCHS struggled offensively for the first three minutes before back- to- back baskets by Cornett jumpstarted the Lady Cougars and LCCHS pushed back and extended its margin to 47-32 by the end of the third quarter.

Breathitt County beat the Lady Cougars’ defense for some easy baskets to start the final quarter and closed to within 51-38 with 3:41 left. A pair of baskets by junior Keisha Collins keyed a 10-0 run and the Lady Cougars’ lead grew to 61-38 and LCCHS coasted the final two minutes. Collins finished with eight points and a team-high eight rebounds.

Senior Erica Meade chipped in with four points and seven rebounds. Haley Whitaker added five points, Kelly Adams four and Cheyanne Stidham two points.

The Lady Cougars, now 16-3, survived a cold-shooting spell in the third quarter and still managed 48 percent field goal shooting on 28-of-58 attempts. LCCHS was six-of-12 from behind the arc.

Letcher Central 82

Jenkins 49

The Lady Cougars raised their overall record to 15-3 and their district record to 3-0 with an easy win over the visiting Lady Cavaliers on Jan. 16, behind a game-high 31 points from junior guard Kelah Eldridge — including a game-high five treys.

LCCHS raced out to a commanding 26-9 by the end of the opening quarter and then expanded the margin to 48-17 by the intermission.

The Lady Cavaliers, led by eighth-grader Whitney Creech’s team- high 28 points, continued to play in the second half and trailed 66-37 after three quarters.

Senior Kayla Stambaugh added 11 points for the 6-11 Lady Cavs. Freshman Brittany Sexton scored five points, sophomore Baylee Rose three points and senior Blake Caudill finished with two points.

Julie Cornett scored 11 points for LCCHS and Keisha Collins finished with nine points. Vannah Breeding added eight points and Haley Whitaker five points. Kristina Bentley and Cheyanne Stidham wound up with four points each while Courtney Brock tossed in three points. Erica Meade, Kim Meade and Emily Blair finished with two points each. Kelli Quillen added one point.

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