The Letcher Central Cougars take a surprising 15-10 record into the final week and a half of the regular season with a real chance to post a 20-win season for the first time in several years.
More importantly, the Cougars have the coveted second seed in the upcoming 53rd District Tournament, hosted by the Cougars, that begins the week of February 23.
The Cougars host three of their final four games beginning with Thursday’s visit by 7-14 Breathitt County. The 9-16 South Floyd Raiders visit LCC Friday night. The 10-14 Leslie County Eagles visit next February, and the Cougars end their regular season with their visit to 15-10 Pike County Central on February 19.
Letcher Central 58
Buckhorn used its potent junior guard combination of Josh Crank and Connor Hoskins to key a second half rally that carried the host Wildcats to the 64-58 win over the Cougars February 7 in the Scott Blank Classic hosted by Buckhorn.
The Cougars, led by sophomore guard Torell Carter, jumped in front early and led 17-7 after the first quarter and 30-25 at the half. Buckhorn outscored LCCHS 20-9 in the third quarter to claim a 45- 39 lead going into the last quarter and then held on down the stretch for the victory.
Josh Crank’s 22 points led the 17-7 Wildcats. Connor Hoskins finished with 18 and Ryan Boggs wound up with 11 points.
Torell Carter’s game-high 23 points led 14-10 LCCHS. Junior forward Tyler Collins added 11 and junior guard Jordan Gregory finished with 10 points. Hunter Hall and Austin Banks scored six points each and Isaiah Wallace chipped in with two points.
Letcher Central 59
The host Letcher Central Cougars opened their matchup with the Hazard Bulldogs with an 8-0 run and forced the Bulldogs to play, unsuccessfully, catch-up all evening in winning their third straight, 59-54, February 3.
The game featured four lead changes and was tied twice.
The Bulldogs closed to within 8-5 by the end of the first quarter, but the combination of sophomore guard Torell Carter and junior forward Tyler Collins led the Cougars’ response that kept LCCHS in front 22-19 at the half. Carter scored a team- high 23 points and Collins finished with a double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds.
Despite the Cougars’ huge rebounding edge, 38-18, the Bulldogs, behind the scoring of Griffin Wells and Hunter Hardy, managed to hang around. Wells finished with a game-high 25 points and Hardy wound up with 17.
Hazard, which had 11 more field goal attempts, made just 18/50 for 36 percent. LCCHS, with nearly half its baskets coming in the paint, converted 19/38 for 50 percent. The Cougars made 18/28 free throws while Hazard made 9/10 — the difference in the game.
The Cougars went into the final quarter up 37-35 and hung on down the stretch for the victory and raised their record to 14-8. The Bulldogs dipped to 10-13.
Senior forward Hunter Hall scored nine points for the Cougars and pulled down 10 rebounds. Sophomore Austin Banks scored eight points and junior Jordan Gregory finished with two points.