The Letcher County Central High School Cougars bounced back from last week’s district loss at Knott County Central, a loss that snapped a six-game winning streak, to post back-to-back wins at home last weekend over Cordia and Powell County and raise their record to 15-9.
Despite the loss at Knott County Central, the Cougars clinched the top seed in the 53rd District tournament with their win over Cordia. The district tournament, hosted by Cordia, begins on Feb. 20, in Hindman.
Cordia, now 9-12, wound up as the third seed and will meet county rival, and second seed Knott County Central in the opening round. Top seed LCCHS will take on fourth seed Jenkins.
The Cougars visit Harlan County on Friday night, Feb. 11 and then take on Lexington Sayre at Hazard High School on Saturday night.
Letcher Central 79
Powell County 55
The host Cougars, led the combination of junior guard Logan Johnson and senior guard Brian Roark, jumped on the Pirates early and never looked back in winning easily last Saturday night, Feb. 5.
Johnson, who entered the game averaging 12 points per game, shot the lights out (13-for-18 field goal attempts) and finished with a game-high 30 points.
Roark, who leads the Cougars with an average of 15 points per game, wound up with 26.
The Cougars jumped out to a commanding 23-11 lead by the end of the first quarter and led by 46-31 at the half and 61-45 after three quarters.
Koree Stewart, the only other double figure scorer (10 points per game) finished with 10. Kendall Ballou chipped in with six points. Max Hall finished with four points and Matt Neace with three.
Austin Marcum’s 14 points led 7-10 Powell County. Carlisle Creech added 11.
Letcher Central 66
Fittingly, on senior night, the Cougars’ lone senior, Brian Roark, scored a game-high 22 points last Friday night in leading LCCHS to a workmanlike victory over visiting Cordia that clinched the top seed for the Cougars in the 53rd District tournament.
LCCHS trailed very early, but the Cougars then went on a 10-0 run — ended by junior forward Kendall Ballou’s reverse layup from behind the glass — that gave LCCHS a 14-3 lead with 2:58 left in the first quarter. Ballou finished with seven points.
Despite some uninspired and sloppy play at times that resulted in missed close-in shots, the Cougars managed an eight-to-10 point margin throughout the second quarter. The Cougars made seven turnovers in the first half but only three in the second half.
Roark’s trey at the 4:32 mark of the second quarter pushed LCCHS’s lead to 25-14. The trey was Roark’s 12th point of the game. For the game, Roark also claimed four rebounds and came up with four steals.
Junior guard Marcus Sumner’s layup cut LCCHS’s lead to 31-20 at the break, but the Lions never got closer than 12 points the rest of the way. Marcus Sumner led the Lions with 16 points and Rick Sumner added 11.
Matt Neace’s trey, his only points of the game, and another jumper by Roark pushed LCCHS’s lead to 50-30 by the end of the third quarter.
Cougar coach Robert Hammonds was back in the dressing room serving a two-game suspension after being tossed out of the Cougars’ loss on Tuesday, Feb, 1, at Knott County Central. KHSAA rules now require any coach who receives two technicals during a game to be tossed followed by a two-game suspension.
Despite sitting much of the second half after picking up his fourth foul at the 5:32 mark in the third quarter, LCCHS’s Logan Johnson finished with a double-double of 11 points and 14 rebounds — eight in the first half. Junior center Koree Stewart contributed a double-double of 10 points and 12 rebounds. Stewart also blocked six shots.
Matt Boggs chipped in with five points and Cody Gregory contributed four points and seven rebounds. Cory Brock and Willie Smith scored two points each.
The 14- 10 Cougars shot 42 percent for the game on 26-of-62 and outrebounded the shorter Lions 53-28.
The Cougars’ defense forced the long distance shooting Lions into just 31 percent shooting on 17-0f-55 field goal attempts.
Knott Central 50
Letcher Central 43
In a showdown in Hindman on Feb. 1 for the top seed in the upcoming 53rd District tournament, the host Patriots, who lost 55-45 at LCCHS on Jan. 19, had to win by 11 points or more to claim the top seed.
Six-four senior center Nason Robert scored eight of his gamehigh 26 points to get the Patriots roaring out of the gate. The Cougars were led offensively by junior guard Logan Johnson’s 11 first -quarter points. Johnson scored two more baskets and a pair of free throws to finish with a team-high 17 points.
Guard Seth Adams hit a couple of treys and short jumper and KCCHS led the Cougars 20-15 at the end of the first quarter. Adams finished with 18 points.
LCCHS could manage just two baskets in the second quarter and trailed 31-19 at the half.
Sophomore guard Cody Gregory, who was scoreless in the first half, led the Cougars’ rally in the third quarter, scoring five of his nine points as LCCHS shut everybody down but Roberts and closed to within 37-30 by the end of the quarter.
Down the stretch, the Patriots protected the basketball and went to the charity line and converted seven- of- eight to hold off the Cougars.
Junior center Koree Steward finished with 13 points for LCCHS. Brian Roark added nine points — all in the second half. Junior forward Kendall Ballou wound up with four points.