After Knott County Central lost in the semi-finals of the All ‘A’ State Tournament last weekend in Frankfort, the Patriots still had a record of 20-4. Knott remains unbeaten in the district, and by virtue of a pair of wins over Cordia and one over Letcher County Central this month, the Patriots will have the top seed in the district tourney.
The Cougars host Cordia this Friday night and no matter the outcome, LCC and Cordia will go head-to-head in the opening round of district tourney play. The fourth- and fifth-place teams will meet to settle which team takes on Knott County Central in the second round.
With two weeks left in the regular season, LCC takes on 5-15 Bourbon County Saturday night in the Kentucky Prep Showcase Classic at Breathitt County High School in Jackson.
Next Tuesday, the Cougars host dangerous Pikeville, and then visit another dangerous team in Breathitt County on Feb. 7.
Letcher Central 62
Estill County 51
Down by five at the half against visiting 11-11 Estill County, the Cougars rallied in the second half behind junior forward Josh Owens and a strong defensive effort to derail the Engineers on January 26.
Estill County, one of the most improved teams in this region, returned four starters from last year, and that experience showed early. Led by the deadly outside shooting of 6’2” junior guard Trevor Jenkins, the Engineers led 17-16 by the end of the first quarter and then pushed their margin out to 32-27 by the break. Jenkins finished with a game-high 24 points, but 18 came in the first half when he connected on 7/8 field goal attempts — including 4/4 from behind the arc.
In the third quarter with junior guard Chippy Frazier hounding Jenkins from the time he came out of the locker room, Jenkins was limited to just four shots, making a pair of treys. With Jenkins effectively denied the basketball, the Engineers’ offense sputtered and stalled.
With Josh Owens on the inside and Sam Robinson and Cody Gregory on the perimeter, the Cougars came roaring back. Owens’s 10-footer tied the game 35- 35 with 5:47 left in the third, and Robinson’s trey gave the Cougars the lead for good at the 5:16 mark.
Jenkins’s trey with 1:05 left in the third, cut LCCHS’s lead to 46- 44 heading into the final quarter.
LCCHS cranked up the defensive pressure another notch to start the fourth quarter and held the Engineers scoreless for nearly six minutes.
First, Robinson sank a pair of free throws, then the Cougars came up with a steal and Owens tipped in a miss for a 52-46 lead. Estill County followed with turnovers on its next two possessions before another tip-in by Owens pushed LCCHS’s lead to 54-46 with 2:55 left to play. Estill County broke its six minute scoring drought on senior forward Brandon Morris’s lay-up off of a rare second-half LCCHS turnover to cut the Cougars’ lead to 54-48 with 1:20 left to play. Cody Gregory’s free throws extended LCCHS’s lead to 56-48 with 1:05 left to play. Jenkins’s final trey cut LCCHS’s lead to 56-51 with 50 seconds left, but Owens scored on a lay-up, Gregory then sank a pair of free throws, and Owens put the final spike in the win with a twohanded slam with 15 seconds left.
Owens, who had five points and five rebounds in the first half, finished with 21 points and nine rebounds, both team highs. He was 10/13 in field goal attempts. Sam Robinson finished with 18 points, five rebounds, two steals and two assists. Cody Gregory chipped in with 12 points, four assists and two steals. Chippy Frazier and Max Hall finished with four points each and Dylan Kincer finished with three points.
For the game, LCCHS, now 13-7, made 23/41 field goal attempts for 56 percent — including 12/19 in the second half. The Engineers converted 18/44 field goal attempts for 41 percent, and were out-rebounded 30-18 by the Cougars. Estill County was forced into eight second-half turnovers, while LCCHS made just five.
Letcher Central 62
The new and improved Cordia Lions held off visiting LCC early last week for a huge district win. Of the eight players to score in the Lions’ victory, only two — junior Derek Combs and senior Zachary Owens — were on Cordia’s roster last March.
Combs scored six points and Owens finished with five.
Two of the remaining six players, Marlon King and Emanuel Owootoah, recently obtained court injunctions against the Kentucky High School Athletic Association in order to get on the court after the KHSAA had previously ruled both ineligible. Both players are considered Division I prospects. King and Owootoah scored 15 points each. The remaining four players combined for 39 points with Warren finishing with a team-high 17 for the 12-7 Lions.
Despite all the imported talent, the Cougars, with four players scoring in double figures, battled the reconstituted Lions until the final minutes. Cordia led LCCHS 14-13 after the opening quarter, 32-31 at the half, and then extended its margin out to a 54-46 lead heading into the final frame before the Cougars forced this one down to the wire.
Senior Cody Gregory led the 13-7 Cougars with a game-high 18 points. Sam Robinson and Chippy Frazier finished with 12 points each and Josh Owens added 10. Zane Blair chipped in with eight points and Max Hall wound up with two points.