Peyton Dixon fired in 35 points and pulled down 14 rebounds as the Letcher County Central Cougars picked up a season-opening road win over the Prestonsburg Blackcats, 79-72, in overtime on Monday.
In a close game throughout, the Cougars took a slim 15-12 advantage after the first period of play. The two teams continued to trade blows throughout the second period, but Letcher County Central held a slim 30-29 lead at the half, thanks in part to 11 first half turnovers from the Blackcats.
Letcher Central extended the lead a bit in the third period, outscoring Prestonsburg, 21-16, in the quarter to take a 51-45 lead into the final frame.
The Blackcats clawed back in the fourth quarter and found themselves down, 65-64, in the final seconds. Junior Jaxon Estridge, who had been putting in strong effort on the defensive end down the stretch, pulled down an offensive rebound and was fouled on a shot attempt with 12.4 seconds to go. Estridge went to the line and sank the first of two free throw attempts to tie the score at 65-65. The game then went into overtime.
The extra period was tight early, but the Cougars finished the game on a 10-2 run to pick up the win.
“I thought we went into a hostile environment opening night on the road in a rival region, with a team that only had one person with varsity playing time and played with intensity, focus and effort,” said Letcher County Central head coach Matthew Taylor. “That led to us being able to come out on top. Prestonsburg is a well coached team with a lot of talent and a bright future in the 15th.”
Following Dixon for the Cougars, Cameron Hayes had 14 points. Gavin Hamilton had 8 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists. Jason McCool and Luke Slone fired in 6 points each. Terry Delaney scored 8 points and pulled down 8 rebounds. Toj Higgins scored 2 points and grabbed 5 boards. Cooper Bailey chipped in 2 points.
For the Blackcats, Braxton Keathley had a great game, firing in 27 points. Connor Napier scored 13 points. Ethan Ferrell scored 12 points. Mason Stidham added 6 points. Estridge finished with 5 points.
The Cougars will next be in action on Thursday when they travel to Buckhorn for a 7:30 pm contest. Prestonsburg travels to Shelby Valley on Wednesday to face the Wildcats. The opening tip is set for 7:30 pm.