With the high school basketball season now at the halfway point, the 10-4 Letcher Central Cougars are ranked second in the 14th Region behind Perry County Central this week in the Lexington Herald-Leader’s Cantrell boys’ basketball poll.
The Cougars began the first of a four-game home stand Tuesday night against the defending 14th Region champion Knott County Central. The Patriots, who were hit hard by graduation losses, entered last night’s game with a record of 7-7.
Two of the Cougars’ four losses this season were to South Laurel and Harlan County who are ranked first and third, respectively, in the 13th Region this week.
The Cougars host dangerous June Buchanan School this Friday night. The 11-4 Crusaders have two of the best inside players in the area in 6-7 Princewell Anosike and 6-8 Idris Akinyemi.
LCC has a rematch with 6-10 Buckhorn January 19, and then closes out this home stand with a game against the WYMT Classic champion Perry County Central. The Commodores are 13-3 and currently top rated in this region.
Letcher Central 61 Buckhorn 51 O/T
The Letcher Central Cougars, led by junior guard Torell Carter’s game-high 28 points and nine rebounds, withstood a late rally by Buckhorn before edging the Wildcats 61-51, in overtime Jan. 7 in the consolation round of the WYMT Classic at Knott County Central High School.
This game featured eight lead changes in regulation before the Cougars outscored the Wildcats 12-2 in overtime for the victory.
The Cougars led 14-13 after the first quarter but trailed 28-26 at the half. Back-to-back-to-back treys by junior guard Austin Banks and a trey by Carter to open the third quarter keyed an 11-2 run by the Cougars and gave them a 37-30 lead with 4:09 left in the third quarter.
LCC led 42-40 entering the final period and Carter’s layup with 1:52 left in regulation gave the Cougars a 49-45 lead, however Buckhorn closed to within 49-48, with 1:40 left in regulation. After LCC senior guard Jordan Gregory missed the front end of the bonus with 1:32 left in regulation, Buckhorn’s Shannon Blank tied the game at 49-49 with a free throw but then missed the bonus free throw. However, Blank rebounded his miss and the Wildcats had two short field goal attempts for the win but Carter blocked the first attempt and Blank then missed a wide open layup at the buzzer, forcing the game into overtime.
After Buckhorn led 50-49 early in overtime, Jordan Gregory redeemed himself with a steal and layup to give LCC the lead at 51-50 with 2:29 left in overtime. Torell Carter took over the game by scoring eight consecutive points to allow the Cougars to pull away for the victory.
Austin Banks finished with 14 points and three assists for the 10-4 Cougars. Gregory wound up with nine points, three rebounds and three assists. Tyler Collins added six points and three rebounds and Jonathon Potter and Elijah Raglin chipped in with two points each.
Connor Hoskins led the 6-10 Wildcats with 21 points and six rebounds. Josh Crank finished with 14 points and Blank wound up with seven points.
The Cougars were guilty of just seven turnovers while making 22/41 field goal attempts for 54 percent.
Buckhorn committed just eight turnovers and managed to make 19/49 field goal attempts for 39 percent.
LCC won the battle of the boards, outrebounding the Wildcats 29-27.
South Laurel 55 Letcher Central 47
The Letcher Central Cougars lost 55-47 to highly regarded South Laurel January 5 in the opening round of the WYMT Classic at Knott County Central High School.
The underdog Cougars battled hard and had their chances for the upset, but they would have had to play a perfect game to overcome South Laurel’s huge size, depth and experience and come away with the victory.
Despite their decided advantages, the Cardinals were harassed and plagued by the hustling Cougars’ defense. The Cardinals made just 13/41 field goal attempts for 32 percent, but their size inside limited the Cougars to perimeter shots for the most part and, even with junior Torell Carter holding up his part of the offense, the absence of outside scoring was critical for the Cougars. Carter, who scored 27 points, was 13/19 from the charity line but had just one field goal outside the paint.
LCC trailed 17-11 after the first quarter, 28-22 at the half and 40-31 entering the final quarter.
LCC made 19/44 field goal attempts for 43 percent and converted 12/18 from the free throw line.
South Laurel, now 11-2, was led by senior guard Jared Grubb’s 18 points. Caleb Taylor, a 6-8 senior, finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Andrew Griffith, a 6-4 senior, added 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Despite the size differences, the Cougars battled on the boards and claimed 29 rebounds to 32 by the Cardinals.
Senior Tyler Collins scored six points and his six rebounds led LCC. Senior Jordan Gregory scored nine points; however, both players combined to commit seven of the Cougars 11 turnovers.
Junior guard Austin Banks scored three points and freshman Gregory Kincer wound up with two points for the Cougars.