By James Cook, Times Editor
The Powell County Lady Pirates had a rough start to the Christmas holiday, but ended up being pretty merry about it as they took part in the Letcher Central Lady Cougars Christmas Classic last week. Powell fell to the host team in the first round, but rebounded with wins the next two games.
The tournament opened with Powell and Letcher Central kicking it off. But the Lady Cougars took advantage of some missed open shots by Powell to open a 10 point lead. Letcher led 24-14 after one quarter and never looked back. The Lady Cougars rolled on to a 75-57 win. Powell was led by Stevie Rogers with 16 points. Senior Kendra McFarland and eighth grader Keeley Rogers each added 10 points to the cause.
“The first quarter a disaster, we missed five or six wide open layups to start the game and let their freshman point guard Kelah Eldridge get 14 points on us,” Coach Ken Jones said. “After that first quarter, we adjusted and played pretty even with them the rest of the way. We pulled to within six late, but then a couple of turnovers let them pull away again. One bright spot was our bench scoring, this was the first time that an opponent’s reserves outscored the Lady Cougars,” he added, “We got them by 27-16.”
The next matchup pitted Powell against June Buchanan. Powell jumped out to a 40-27 halftime lead, but then had to hold on for the victory. The Lady Pirates had to overcome some serious foul trouble, with four starters getting at least four fouls called on them. The Lady Crusaders tied the game at 50-50 late in the third quarter, but a spark provided by Keeley Rogers helped to push Powell to a win.
Rogers scored 10 of her 12 points in the final frame. Powell was able to hold on, despite being an underdog in the contest, to win 77-73. McFarland led Powell scorers with 20 points and Stevie Rogers added 17. Nine Lady Pirates scored in the game.
“It was a good thing we got the big lead early (13 point advantage at the half),” Jones remarked about the June Buchanan game. “Our foul trouble, four starters with four fouls each, forced us to change a few things on what we wanted to do defensively and they tied us at 50-50 just before the end of the third. Eighth grader Keeley Rogers scored 10 points in the fourth quarter to help us keep the upset win over the Lady Crusaders.”
June Buchanan was rated above Powell in the pre-season rankings and were a “20 point favorite according to some internet ‘experts’,” Jones said. “Their 6’1” forward Maris Hovee is rated the second-best player in the 14th Region, and she burned us for 31 points, 22 coming in the second half. Their free throws also kept the game close, as they hit 29 of their 44 attempts. We had an off night at the line, making only 14 of 24. Kendra McFarland was six of six on free throws to give her 20 points and 10 rebounds on the night. Stevie Rogers also had a good scoring night, with her 17.”
The final game of the tournament for Powell placed them against a 15th Region perennial powerhouse in Shelby Valley. Powell trailed only once in the game, when Shelby Valley’s Brooke Coleman hit a three pointer from the mid-court line at the horn to go up 17-15 at the end of the first quarter. From there it was all Powell, as the Lady Pirates cruised to 72-59 victory.
Powell was led by Stevie Rogers with 30 points and 10 boards. McFarland tossed in 26 and grabbed eight rebounds in the game. As Powell improved to 4-2 on the season.
“Stevie and Kendra went to war in the second quarter, with Rogers scoring 10 and McFarland nine to give us a six point lead at the half,” Jones said. “We stretched that to 17 in the fourth quarter and held on for the second upset in as many nights to take second place in the tournament. Shelby Valley is rated third in the 15th Region. We had a good night inside as Stevie had 30 points and 10 rebounds, while Kendra had 26 points and eight rebounds.”
The point guard play of Taylor Atkinson, earned her a spot on the all-tournament team. McFarland and Stevie Rogers were also named to the team. Jones knows that the team and those three played exceptionally hard, but he is also clear on who the most valuable player for his team was during the tournament.
“Our most valuable player was our bench, the reserves scored 59 points in 3 nights,” Jones beamed. We could well have finished fourth without them.”
The Lady Pirates will take part in the Villa Madonna Tournament this week, before hosting Lee County on Monday (Jan. 4). Powell will then travel to Estill County next Thursday for another district showdown. They will then host Bath County next Saturday night.