Letcher County Central High School will host both the boys’ and girls’ 53rd District tournaments next week, using a boy/ girl doubleheader the first three nights.
On Monday, Feb. 22, the Jenkins Lady Cavaliers take on Cordia at 6 p.m. with the LCCHS Cougars taking on Jenkins in the nightcap.
On Tuesday, Feb. 23, June Buchanan meets the Cordia Lions in the first game followed by the Lady Cougars versus the JBS Lady Crusaders.
On Wednesday, Feb. 24, the Knott County Central High School Lady Patriots play the JHS/Cordia winner followed by the KCCHS Patriots versus the JHS/LCCHS winner.
The 53rd District girls’ championship is on Friday, Feb. 26, with the tip-off at 7 p.m.
The boys’ 53rd District championship tips off at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 27.
LCCHS will host the girls’ 14th Region tournament beginning on Monday, March 1. The boys’ 14th Region is hosted by Breathitt County and begins on Wednesday, March 3.
Letcher Central 62
Knott Central 59
The host Lady Cougars had to rally from 15 points down early in the second half to edge district rival Knott County Central Sunday afternoon in a game that had to rescheduled twice due to inclement weather.
A very physical bunch of Lady Patriots woman-handled LCCHS in the first half, leading 15-11 after the first quarter and 36-23 at the half. Senior guard Sammy King led the Lady Patriots with 16 points, but took only one shot in the second half.
LCCHS improved its record to 19-4 with the second-half comeback.
“I think we would have been even further behind if two of our freshmen, Kelah (Eldridge) and Vannah (Breeding), hadn’t scored 19 of our first 23 points,” explained LCCHS coach Dickie Adams. “Those two kept us in the game until the rest of the team decided to play.” Eldridge had 12 first-half points and Breeding had seven.
And play the rest of the team did in the second half.
After 5’ 6” sophomore forward Kelsie Jacobs’s drive pushed KCCHS’s lead to 40-25 with 6:54 left in the third quarter, the momentum changed when the Lady Patriots appeared content to stand around and rest on the off ensive end. LCCHS’s full-court defensive pressure began to force some turnovers and senior forward Shannon Bays’s pair of free throws midway of the third quarter cut KCCHS’s lead to 41-33 and the Lady Cougars were clearly back in the game.
Coach Adams said he was surprised that KCCHS chose to slow down its off ensive pressure early in the third quarter.
“I was surprised when they backed it out but that gave us a chance to get after them on defense. Teams don’t shift gears easily from playing very fast to playing deliberate and then going back to fast. We’ve found that when you try do that, you risk not being able to go back to playing fast later when you want to.”
With Kelah Eldridge combining with senior forward Brittany Sexton in the second half, LCCHS closed to within 45-42 to start the fourth quarter.
Eldridge’s layup and then steal and pair of free throws gave the Lady Cougars their first lead of the game at 46-45 with 7:38 left to play.
KCCHS kept hanging around and it took a pair of Eldridge free throws with six seconds left to provide the final margin.
Eldridge finished with a gamehigh 26 points — including nineof 10 from the charity line in the second half. As a team, LCCHS converted 21-of-26 from the charity line. KCCHS finished with just eight-of-16 from the free throw line.
Sexton finished with 11 points and nine rebounds — all in the second half.
KCCHS dominated the boards 20-13 in the first half but not in the second as LCCHS out-rebounded the Lady Patriots 22-6.
“We changed defense in the second half and got them out of their rhythm,” said Adams. “We decided to play in the second half and our effort was there to rebound and to take the ball to the basket and the results were diff erent.”
Sophomore forward Erica Meade, perhaps the team’s best defender, struggled in the first half with no points but finished with eight points and a fine defensive job on Sammy King. Shannon Bays added six points and pulled down a game-high seven rebounds before fouling out in the final minutes. Haley Whitaker finished with four points and four assists.
Kelsie Jacobs led the 19-5 Lady Patriots with 20 points and freshman Paige Slone added eight points. However, since KCCHS defeated LCCHS by a greater victory margin (five points) in Hindman on Jan. 23, the Lady Patriots earned the top seed in next week’s 53rd District tournament hosted by LCCHS.