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Lady Cougars voted second in region




Oh, the difference a year makes.

Last March, the Letcher County Central Lady Cougars, depleted both by graduation losses and defections, stumbled home with a 9-18 record after losing to Jenkins in the opening round of the 53rd District tournament in Hindman.

“(Last year) was a very tough year,” said LCCHS coach Dickie Adams. “We graduated some good players off a team that lost to Perry County Central in the regional semifinals (March 2007) and then we had a number of upper class girls to decide not to play last year and we also had several elementary girls who decided to stay back in the eighth grade and that just left us very shorthanded. However, those girls that stuck with it last year gained valuable experience and made a lot of improvements and we have the ability to be a pretty good team this year.”

In fact, all five starters return from last year and that experience will be supported this season by some of the best young talent to come along in several years: sophomores Micca Boggs and Lauren Thomas, freshmen Haley Whitaker and Erica Meade, and eighth-graders Auberny Campbell, Keisha Collins and Kelah Eldridge.

The returning starters are led by lone senior Sharaye Kincer, a rugged 5-8 forward, along with juniors Shannon Bays and Brittany Sexton and sophomores Myrika Begley and Chloe Wynn.

In the preseason coaches’ regional poll, Letcher County Central was voted second in the 14th Region behind defending champion, Breathitt County, with Knott County Central and Leslie County tying for third and Perry County Central rounding out the top five.

“That coaches’ poll may be a little ambitious for a team that went 9-18 last year,” said coach Adams. “For us to live up to that early ranking and be a good team, we have to blend in new players and they have to have time to get comfortable and learn how to cooperate with each other.”

Powell County, Hazard, June Buchanan, Jenkins and Cordia complete the top 10.

Breathitt County, 27-5 last year, returns the region’s top player in 5-10 freshman guard Kendall Noble, a starter for the past two years. Joining her is 5- 10 senior forward Brittany Haddix.

Letcher County Central’s Sharaye Kincer was chosen in the preseason poll as the returning third best player in the 14th Region and teammate, Brittany Sexton, a 5-10 junior guard, was selected as the fourth best returning player.

Joining the five returning experienced players for coach Adams is a group of eighth graders, freshmen and sophomores that swept the state junior varsity AAU title last June in Lexington.

“Only the final game in that tournament was close — a threepoint win over Louisville Sacred Heart in the championship,” said coach Adams. “Six girls off that AAU team will be on the varsity this year — including two (Begley and Wynn) who were starters last year. I think two or three more have the potential to become starters.”

Last year’s team was very young, inexperienced and lacked depth but not this year’s team, according to coach Adams. “Depth will be a strong suit,” he said. “We have pretty good size — not great size — and we are very athletic. We’re much improved talent-wise especially in the backcourt where there is a lot of talent and depth as well as some inexperience but they are very athletic.”

Before their season-opener at newly consolidated Harlan County High School on Monday, December 1, the Lady Cougars will have a couple of preseason scrimmages.

The Lady Cougars will scrimmage Betsy Layne on Saturday, November 23, at 4 p.m. following scrimmages between Jenkins and Leslie County (12 p.m.) and Knott County Central vs. Harlan County at 2 p.m.

The Letcher County Central boys will scrimmage Appalachia (Va.) in the final scrimmage at 6 p.m.

Betsy Layne, 18-10 last year, was voted sixth in the preseason 15th Region coaches’ poll. “They’re a veteran group, athletic and well coached,” said coach Adams, ” and this scrimmage should be very competitive.”

The Lady Cougars’ second scrimmage will be on Tuesday, November 25, at Alice Lloyd College as part of a high school/ college triple header. The Lady Cougars will scrimmage Lawrence County at 5:15 p.m. prior to the men’s and women’s games. The Lady Bulldogs were 7-20 last year including an early season loss to Letcher County Central in the Knott County Central Invitational Tournament last December.

The Lady Cougars’ home opener will be against Phelps on Thursday, December 4.


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