With four victories over the past week, the Letcher County Central High School Lady Cougars improved their record to 15-8 — including a six-game winning streak. But perhaps more importantly, it seems that the Lady Cougars are improving in leaps and bounds after recovering from the rash of injuries this season that has cost them their leading scorer, Kelah Eldridge, and senior Chloe Wynn, and has limited the play at times of Erica Meade, Vannah Breeding and Haley Whitaker.
With the loss of Eldridge and her 17 points per game average back on Jan. 10, other players have stepped up and, as coach Dickie Adams pointed out last week, the team’s overall offensive stats are nearly the same as before Eldridge’s injury. Also, during this span, the Lady Cougars are 8-2 — with the losses to 10th-ranked Perry County Central and to Knott County Central.
LCCHS hosts Owsley County Thursday night, Feb. 10, and then closes its regular season at Breathitt County on Wednesday, Feb. 16.
The 53rd District tournament begins at Knott County Central on Feb. 20.
Letcher Central 66
Visiting Hazard battled LCCHS evenly through the opening quarter despite junior Erica Meade’s hot hand. Meade, who scored 10 of her 16 points in the first quarter, helped the Lady Cougars take an 18-14 lead by the end of the first quarter.
LCCHS took control of the game in the second quarter with its defensive intensity that limited Hazard’s perimeter game and then with efforts on the offensive boards in sticking back missed shots. LCCHS’s defense limited Hazard to just two points from the end of the first quarter until Brooke Sharpie’s trey at the 5:16 mark of the third quarter cut LCCHS’s lead to 42-19.
Led by senior Lauren Thomas, who enjoyed a career night in posting a double-double of 17 points and 11 rebounds, the Lady Cougars outscored Hazard 14-2 in the second quarter to lead the Lady Bulldogs 32-16 at the intermission.
In the first half, LCCHS managed just 12-of-39 from the floor for 31 percent, but made up for poor shooting by dominating the glass and outrebounding Hazard 27-16. LCCHS’s defense forced Hazard into 12 turnovers — nine in the critical second quarter — while making only three turnovers.
In the third quarter, sophomore center Keisha Collins picked up the Lady Cougars on both ends of the floor. Collins’s offensive stickback with 5:49 left in the third quarter pushed LCCHS’s lead to 42-16. LCCHS led 44-27 after three quarters.
Collins, who had just two points in the first half, turned in a second straight remarkable effort. Collins came off the bench to post her second consecutive double-double and finished with 14 points and 13 rebounds.
For the game, LCCHS’s field goal shooting may have been less than desired (making 25-of-72 field goal attempts for 35 percent) but the Lady Cougars offset their subpar shooting by dominating the glass on both ends of the floor in winning the rebounding battle 54-37.
Hazard finished with 33 percent shooting on 16-of-49 from the floor, including just 2-of-22 from behind the arc.
Hazard, now 11-9, was led by Monica Caldwell’s 14 points and Mary Katherine Breashear’s nine points.
Vannah Breeding finished with eight points for the Lady Cougars and Haley Whitaker with seven. Julie Cornett and Rachel Baker added two points each.
Letcher Central 82
Estill County 42
This past weekend was not a good weekend for the Lady Engineers. After falling at Jenkins on Friday, Feb. 4, Estill County was hammered Saturday afternoon by LCCHS as three Lady Cougars came up with double-doubles.
Estill County, 12-10 overall, led once early. Julie Cornett’s lay-up midway of the opening quarter began an 11-0 run, capped by Erica Meade’s short jumper and LCCHS led 18-9 by the end of the first quarter.
Cornett, who had a doubledouble (17 points/11 rebounds) in just the first half, finished with a game-high 22 points and 14 rebounds.
LCCHS struggled early in the second quarter with short shots not going in, which allowed Estill County to close to within 21-16 with 4:35 left before the intermission. The Lady Cougars then exploded and ran off nine unanswered points. Vannah Breeding’s trey pushed the LCCHS lead to 32-18 with 2:05 left in the first half. Breeding finished with 19 points on 12-of-18 from the floor including five-of-eight from behind the arc.
Haley Whitaker scored the final baskets as LCCHS pushed its margin to 38-18 at the half. Whitaker finished with a double-double of 11 points and 12 assists.
Sophomore center Keisha Collins came off the bench and posted a double-double of her own — 12 points and a game-high 17 rebounds.
LCCHS led 65-31 after three quarters with the substitutes playing the final quarter.
Lauren Thomas contributed 10 points and eight rebounds. Erica Meade finished with four points and six rebounds. Rachel Baker scored two points and Emily Blair and Kelli Quillen added one point each.
For the game, the Lady Cougars made 30 of 64 (47 percent) field goal attempts and outrebounded the smaller Lady Engineers 69-22.
Chelsea Alexander led Estill County with 13 points. Kennedy Flynn added 10.
Letcher Central 83
The Lady Cougars had little trouble in defeating the Lady Lions during last Friday night’s senior night, sending seniors Chloe Wynn, who has been injured since early December, and Lauren Thomas, Rachel Baker and Kristen Phipps off in style.
The Lady Cougars scored the first 25 points to open the game and led 25-0 at the end of the first quarter. All starters were removed for the second quarter and LCCHS led 40-0 before center Tabitha Slone’s scored Cordia’s first points at the 3:20 mark of the second quarter. Tonya Taylor led Cordia with 14 points. Cordia made just 11-of-55 field goal attempts for 21 percent.
LCCHS led 50-9 at the break and 71-15 after three quarters.
All 10 LCCHS players scored — led by sophomore center Keisha Collins’s game-high double-double of 14 points and 16 rebounds. Julie Cornett added 13 points and Kristen Phipps 12. Vannah Breeding scored 10 points and Rachel Baker chipped in with nine. Haley Whitaker finished with seven points. Erica Meade and Lauren Thomas wound up with five points each and Emily Blair contributed three points and six assists.
For the game, LCCHS converted 36-of-77 field goal attempts for 47 percent and outrebounded Cordia 61-35.
Letcher Central 79
June Buchanan School 33
The visiting Lady Cougars placed four players in double figure scoring in their easy win at JBS on Jan. 31.
LCCHS jumped in front early — leading 16-5 at the end of the opening quarter — and then broke the game open by outscoring the Lady Crusaders 30-12 in the second quarter to take a comfortable 46-17 lead by the intermission and 60-18 after three quarters.
Kelsey Long led JBS with 11 points. Megan Griffie added seven points and Kristin Handshoe finished with six.
Sophomore Vannah Breeding led 12-8 LCCHS with a gamehigh 18 points. Haley Whitaker and Erica Meade chipped in with 16 points each and Julie Cornett wound up with 10 points.
Rachel Baker scored nine points and Keisha Collins added five points. Emily Blair finished with three points while Lauren Thomas and Kelli Quillen scored one point each.