The Letcher Central Cougar boys’ basketball team, with a record of 1-2, played its first district game last week against the Patriots of Knott County Central (2-2). Both teams are extremely young and the Cougars are just starting to adjust to having Charlie Banks back after football season.
The Cougars are led in scoring by Devon Blair, who came into the game averaging 17 points a game, followed by Eric Ison, who is averaging 12 points and 6 rebounds. Josh Profitt is also in double figures with 11 points a game.
The Patriots trailed most of the half, but they went on a 14-4 run to pull out front by 5 points. The Cougars held for the last shot of the half, but the Patriots fouled Charlie Banks. He converted both free throws and the Cougars trailed at the half 37-34.
The Cougars had led by as many as seven in the half but could not hold the lead. Knott Central’s Stewart Stamper had 11 points at the break as he continues to be one of the best players in the region.
The Cougars opened the third and went up by three points early in the quarter. The teams went back and forth. With 6’8″ Eric Ison on the bench for the Cougars with three fouls, Knott County scored 6 points inside to lead 50-47. Stamper nailed a three-pointer near the end of the third quarter and drew a foul on the shot to give the Patriots a 7- point cushion. The Cougars’ Devon Blair dribbled the length of the floor and hit a trey just as the buzzer sounded to pull the Cougars back to within 4 after three quarters, 54-50.
The game stayed tight and very physical. Fouls mounted up in the fourth quarter for both teams. Jordon Reynolds tied game for the Cougars at 57 on a free throw, but Stamper would sneak inside for an easy bucket and the Patriots pulled back in front by 2 with 2 minutes left. They lead by 3 at 62-59 after Stamper hit a pair of free throws following Charlie Banks making his free throws on the Cougars’ end.
Stewart Stamper fouled out for the Patriots and without their leader things looked good for the Cougars. Josh Profitt hit 1 of 2 free throws to pull the Cougars within 2 at 62-60. The Cougars fouled Mullins for the Patriots and he missed both free throws. Charlie Banks drove inside and was fouled with 15 seconds left. He made both and the score was tied at 62.
With 12 seconds left, the Patriots called timeout. After setting up their play they threw the ball to Bartrum and as he leaned into the Cougar defender he nailed a three-pointer as the horn sounded and the Patriots had pulled it out 65-62. The Cougars were stunned as they fell to 1-3 and the Patriots improved to 3-2.
The Cougars will continue to improve. They hit 52 percent for the game as well as 6-11 three pointers. They were led by Charlie Banks with 16 points followed by Devon Blair with 12. Malachi Longworth and Josh Profitt each had 9 and Eric Ison had 8. Jordon Reynolds and Cole Cornett each came up with 2 points.
On Saturday night the Cougars traveled and took on North Laurel. The Jaguars came in at 2-1 and the Cougars were 1-3.
This game went down to wire just as the Knott County game did, but this game went into double overtime. The Jaguars’ Josh Tiller hit 2 free throws with under a second to go in the first overtime to send the game to a second overtime. The Jaguars outscored the Cougars 13-10 in the second overtime to win 91- 88 in a thriller.
It was another heartbreaker for the Cougars but believe me, this will only help the Cougars later on. These close games will turn into victories.
Junior guard Josh Seidel was on fire for the Jaguars as he poured in 40 points to lead everyone in scoring. The Cougars’ big guns did their part as Charlie Banks came up huge with 26 points followed closely by Devon Blair with 21. Josh Profitt hit for 15 points followed in double figures by Jordon Reynolds with 10. Other scoring had Ison with 5, Brock with 4, Longworth with 3, and Gose and Cornett with 2 each.
The Cougars fell to 1-4 on the season but they will continue to improve and they will be fine once everyone figures out his role.
Lady Bobcats 56
Lady Cougars 48
The Lady Cougars saw their record also slip to 1-4 as they fell to region powerhouse Breathitt County 56-48 at home.
The Lady Bobcats used an 18- 4 run to close out the game. The Lady Cougars are an extremely young team. They fell behind 10- 0 to start the game and trailed by five at the half. They outscored the Lady Bobcats by 8 in the third to lead by 3 after three quarters, but Breathitt was too tough down the stretch and the Lady Cougars had no answer.
The Lady Cougars were led by sophomore Brittany Sexton with 18 points followed by junior Sharaye Kincer with 13 points. With so many new faces in the lineup it will just take time and patience for the Lady Cougars, but they will be okay by tournament time.