After opening its season with victories on the road last week at Harlan County and Owsley County, Letcher County Central High School suffered its first loss of the season, 59-55, Saturday against highly regarded Franklin County in the Battle of the Bluegrass in Frankfort.
The Lady Cougars will finally get to play at home when they host 2-2 Belfry Friday night. Traditionrich Belfry stumbled to a 6-21 record last year but returned everyone — including 5-7 junior guard J.J. Bevins who averaged 17 points per game last year.
“That should be a good basketball game against a much improved team,” said Lady Cougar coach Dickie Adams. “It’ll be nice to play a basketball game and not have to get on the bus. They’ve got a nice point guard in (J.J.) Bevins and they played Sheldon Clark pretty close.
“Then we’ve got a good Betsy Layne team coming in here next week before we go back on the road to Cordia (Dec. 17) and then we come back and host our tournament the week before Christmas. We’ve got a stretch here where we need to pla y well, tha t’s for sure. We need to decide how we’re going to play and to grow a little in this time before we go back on the road and play Henry Clay, Montgomery County and Breathitt County (in January). This stretch here will be a good time for us to find out if we can play a little better.”
The Lady Cougars will host highly regarded Betsy Layne Monday, December 14. The Lady Bobcats, picked in the preseason to battle Sheldon Clark for the 15th Region title come March, are led by two of the top players in the 15th Region in guards Taylor Holt and Megan Hamilton. Both are 5- 9 and good shooters. Holt, a junior, and Hamilton, a senior, averaged 17 ppg each last year in leading Betsy Layne to a 16-9 record.
The LCCHS Christmas Classic begins on Monday, Dec. 21, and is a three-day, four-team round robin invitational with June Buchanan, Shelby Valley and Powell County participating.
Franklin County 59
Letcher County Central 55
The host Lady Flyers, ranked 25th in the latest Herald-Leader state poll, took advantage of some easy baskets in the first quarter and again in the third quarter to build 10-point leads, and then went to the free throw line late to hold on for the victory.
LCCHS trailed 16-6 at the end of the first quarter but rallied and tied the game 24-24 at the half. In the third quarter, Franklin County took advantage of some more LCCHS mistakes for another offensive spurt for a 46-36 lead heading into the final quarter and the Lady Cougars could never catch back up.
“We gave them some easy runouts and let them build 10-point leads twice,” said LCCHS’s Dickie Adams, “and we could just never get back even after that and wound up losing by four. We had some bright spots but we saw some things we need to work on.”
Senior 5-10 post player Chelsia Craig led Franklin County with a game-high 16 points and 10 rebounds. Senior Andrea Howard added 12 points and forward Ashli Mayes finished with 10 points.
With senior forward Shannon Bays in foul trouble, coach Adams went to his bench and brought in 5-10 freshman forward Julie Cornett who contributed 11 points. “Julie played very well for us during some times when we weren’t playing very well,” said Adams.
“It wasn’t our turnovers that put us in the hole. The worse thing was we gave up too many easy baskets from offensive rebounds and defensive break-downs. And, they shot too many free throws (because) we fouled so much. They shot 34 free throws and you can’t give a team 34 free throws — not in a 59-point game. We didn’t make a lot of mistakes, and we came back from 10 points down twice, but you can’t make that many mistakes on the road against a quality opponent and expect to win.”
Despite her foul troubles, Shannon Bays and freshman Kelah Eldridge led 2-1 LCCHS with 13 points each. Brittany Sexton added seven points and Erica Meade chipped in with six points. Haley Whitaker finished with three points.
Letcher Central 74
Owsley County 50
The visiting Lady Cougars used a huge second quarter offensive explosion to win their second straight game Dec. 4 in Booneville.
Owsley County, 18-11 last year and 56th District runner-up, returned two pre-season 14th Region top- 10 players in 5-7 senior forward Micah Turner and 5-9 sophomore guard Peyton Wright, and trailed LCCHS just 16-14 at the end of the first quarter. Owsley County would get no closer as sophomore guard Erica Meade fueled the Lady Cougars’ second-quarter offensive eruption. Meade, a defensive whiz, totally disrupted the Lady Owls as LCCHS outscored Owsley County 30-7 in the second quarter for a comfortable 46-21 half-time advantage.
The teams played on even terms in the second half with LCCHS holding a 59-33 lead heading into the final quarter.
Meade led everyone with 22 points. Freshman guard Kelah Eldridge added 14 points.