14th Region Boys Championship: Estill County defeats Knott County Central 44-40 capturing the School’s first Regional Basketball Championship in program history. / David Leveridge- Bluegrass Sports Nation High School Basketball Beat Reporter. / March 6,2018- John C. Combs Arena Perry County Central
Hazard, KY- The 14th Region will crown the Regional Championship in tonight’s game between The Knott County Central Patriots, Runner up of the 53rd district taking on the Estill County Engineers Champions of the 56th district. Entering tonight’s Regional Championship yearly favorite Knott Central had an overall record of 27-6 and 20-1 in Region Play. Knott County has a rich tradition in 14th Region Competition and provides a daunting challenge for any team facing them. Knott County Central last Sweet 16 appearance happened in the 2014-2015 Basketball season with 3 consecutive Sweet 16 appearances led by Mr. Basketball Cameron Justice. Estill County entered tonight’s contest with a 25-7 record overall and 20-1 in Region Play. While Knott Central has grown accustomed to going to the State Tournament, Estill has never been. Since Estill County joined the 14th Region the team has competed in several semi- final games of the region Tournament, but hasn’t made a Regional Championship Appearance since 1955. This Year’s Estill County team is considered one of the best teams in the school’s history led by 14th Region Player of the Year # 22 Caleb Bonny. This year’s Estill County team have realistic expectations on not only competing with the best of the 14th Region Knott County Central, Perry County Central, etc, but has a genuine chance of making the school’s first ever Sweet 16 appearance.
First Quarter- Two of the premiere players in the Region Isaac Caudill of Knott County Central and Caleb Bonny of Estill County were needed to have a great game in order for their teams to win tonight’s Regional Championship. The John C. Combs arena is packed with two amped up crowds and standing room only as the two teams took the court. Perry County Central is one of the largest gyms in the Region and the arena was packed to capacity with fans expecting to see a great game. Knott Central gets the tip and was the first to score as the team made a free throw early in the quarter taking a one- point lead over Estill County. Caleb Bonny responds putting the team on his back scoring the next seven points Estill County leads seven to one midway through the first quarter. Estill County sets the tone of the game, slowing down the ball settling for good shots and not allowing Knott Central to get easy baskets in transition. Knott County couldn’t get any flow to the game, as the game is slowed down to favor the style of Estill County. At the end of the first quarter Estill County leads 7-4 over Knott County Central in a very low scoring quarter.
Second Quarter- Estill County’s Caleb Bonny continued being aggressive with the ball and attacking the basket, scoring on several possessions. Estill County continued to play a 2-3 zone, frustrating the Knott Central Patriots. Fouls are starting to become an issue as the two stars of each team Caleb Bonny of Estill County and Isaac Caudill of Knott County Central each picked up their second personal foul. Estill County continues to build on the lead with stellar play from Caleb Bonny and point guard Joe Benton. Knott Central continues to struggle scoring the ball and the typical high scoring Patriots were limited to eight points in the quarter and only had twelve points at the half. At intermission Estill County leads 23-12 over the Knott County Central Patriots.
Third Quarter- Knott County Central starts the second half playing the way most people expected the Patriots to play. Knott County was aggressive with the ball, pushing the tempo and allowing the guards to make plays on the smaller Estill County defenders. Knott scores first in the second half, and immediately installed the full court press. The press really frustrates Estill County who struggled getting the ball up the court. Estill County keeps the ball in guards Bonny and Benton hands, with Bonny being double teamed every time he touched the ball. Knott Central starts to cut the lead as Isaac Caudill connects with a 3 Pt basket, and the Patriots are able to force turnovers allowing baskets in transition. With Bonny being double teamed, Estill has to rely on other players for scoring as the smothering Knott Central Defense makes it difficult for Bonny to get a good look at the basket. Estill County Senior Twins Andrew Doty and Lane Doty each contributed with critical rebounds and scored for the Engineers with post moves and put back rebounds. Knott Central outscores Estill County in the quarter 17- 9. The game is going in Knott County Central’s favor only trailing Estill County by two points 31-29 at the end of the third quarter.
4th Quarter- Estill County sensed the game is starting to slip away responds in a critical way connecting with a 3 PT basket by Bonny, increasing the lead back to four points. Knott County Central would respond with a scoring basket on the opposite end. The Energy of the building raised in the 4th quarter with fans on both sides standing up, cheering and the bands played in the background each schools fight song. Knott County stops Estill County from scoring and ties the game at 37 with a made 3 Pt basket. Knott County continues to apply the full court press on the Estill County Engineers, but Estill is able to score at the free throw line with Bonny connecting on consecutive free throws. During the play Knott Central star player #21 Isaac Caudill picks up his fourth personal foul and is in danger of fouling out of the game, Knott Central needs Caudill on the court as he is the best shooter and ball handler on the team. Knott Central ties the game on the next possession at 39. Estill County takes back the lead with a ten foot floater in the lane. Estill County stops Knott Central from scoring on the next possession and have the ball in transition. Estill finishes the play with a 2 Pt scoring possession on the opposite end. Estill leads 44-39 in the closing moments off the game. Knott Central is fouled and makes the first free throw but misses the second attempt. Estill County grabs the critical rebound and is fouled with under fifteen seconds remaining. Knott Central is in desperation mode and the game will be decided soon. Knott Central adds one point with a made free throw, and begins to press the Engineers. The ball goes out of bounds in front of the Estill County Bench, with Estill County regaining possession. Three Seconds remain in the game and Estill County knew the dream of going to Rupp Arena is now a reality as Estill County Defeats Knott County Central 44-40, capturing the Schools first ever Regional Basketball Championship. The Arena goes into pandemonium as the ecstatic Estill County Engineer team and fans are overcome with joy as tears of joy fell on the court and the team celebrated at center court.
Stats- Stats have been provided by the official score keepers of the Regional tournament
Estill County Engineers 44
- #4 Joe Benton 4 pts( All Tournament Team)
- # 22 Caleb Bonny 21 pts ( Tournament MVP, All Tournament Team)
- #5 Kevin Richardson 2 pts
- #40 Andrew Doty 8 pts ( All Tournament Team)
- #34 Lane Doty 6 pts( All tournament Team)
- #11 JT O’Hair 5 pts
Knott County Central Patriots 40
- #3 Kahil Slone 4 pts (All Tournament team)
- #20 Colby Napier 3 pts
- #21 Isaac Caudill 14 pts ( All Tournament team)
- #24 Branson Couch 5 pts ( All Tournament team)
- #25 Gannon Couch 7 pts
- #24 Kolton Hofsess 7 pts ( All Tournament Team)
Estill County dream season continues as the Engineers advance to the KHSAA Sweet 16 Basketball Tournament, representing the 14th Region. Estill County improves with a record of 26 and 7 overall. Estill County will play in the opening game of the State Tournament taking on the 13th Region Champions the Corbin Red hounds on March 14,2018 twelve pm at Rupp Arena. Knott County Central Season is now over as the team finishes another impressive season with an overall record of 27 and 7. Congratulations to Knott County Central on a great season, unfortunately only one team can compete in the KHSAA Sweet 16 and this is a moment Estill County and their fans have been dreaming of for a long time. Good Luck to the Estill County Engineers in your quest of capturing the KHSAA State Basketball Championship.
14th Region Girls Championship. Knott County Central Lady Patriots hold off a late rally from the Hazard Lady Bulldogs 48-45. Knott Central repeats as Regional Champs / David Leveridge- BSN High School Basketball beat writer / March 3,2018- Estill County High School
Irvine, Kentucky- Two of the best girl’s programs in the mountains took the court to battle for the 14th Regional Championship. The Hazard Lady Bulldogs are the girl’s champions from the 54th district took on the reigning 14th Region Champions the Knott County Central Lady Patriots the champion from the 53rd District. Both teams enter tonight’s contest with very convincing wins throughout the district and Regional play. The Lady Bulldogs were dominant in the post season with convincing wins over the Buckhorn Lady Wildcats 66-43 in the opening game of district play. In the District Championship Hazard defeated the Leslie County Lady Eagles by 26 points 65-39. Hazard continued their run to the Regional Championship with a win over the Letcher County Central 62-58 in the Regional Quarter finals. Hazard cruised to a 24- point victory over the Lee County Lady Kats 74-50 in the Regional Semi- Finals. The path for the Reigning 14th Region Champs the Knott County Central Lady Patriots resembled Hazard and dominated almost every team in their path to the regional Championship. Knott Central began post season play in the 53rd district, Knott Central defeated Cordia 82-21 in the opening game, and defeated Letcher County Central 68-62 in the district championship. Knott County played Leslie County in the opening round of the Regional Championship and won the game by 18 points 76-58. The Lady Patriots faced the Powell County Lady Pirates in the Regional Semi- finals, defeating the Pirates by 33 points, 69-36.
1st Quarter- The First Quarter began with Knott Central getting the tip but was unable to score on the opening possession. Knott Stopped Hazard from scoring on the Bulldogs opening possession and soon the Lady Patriots were the first to get on the scoreboard with 2 made Free throws by #4 Allie O’Hair. The Lady Bulldogs tied the game on the next possession as # 4 Hayley Caudill scored 2 pts with a jumper in the lane. 6:08 remained in the quarter Knott 2-Hazard 2. The teams were playing tight and trying to get an offensive flow, resulting in both teams struggling to score the ball on the next couple of possessions. Knott Central started to force turnovers resulting in transition baskets by #14 Jada Higgins. Knott Central leads Hazard 8-4 with 3:54 remaining in the quarter. Hazard cuts the lead to 1 PT on the next possession as #21 Hayley Turner scores 2 pts with a post move, Turner is fouled connecting on the FT. The last 40 seconds of the game saw the scoring pick up by both teams. Knott Central is leading 10-7 and continue to build on the lead as Emily Mullins scores 2 pts with a jumper from the key. Hazard counters on the next possession with a 3 PT Basket by #2 Hayley Caudill connects from the top of the key. Knott Central’s #14 Higgins makes 2 FT in the closing moments of the quarter. Knott Central leads Hazard 14-10 at the end of the first quarter.
2nd Quarter- Jada Higgins opens the second quarter with the first seven points. Knott Central starts to establish a comfortable lead, leading by eleven points 21-10 with 5:30 remaining in the quarter. Hazard breaks the scoring drought with #21 Turner connecting with consecutive FT on the next possession. Hazard is finally able to prevent the speedy Higgins from Knott Central from scoring and the Bulldogs offense looked for #21 to score the ball. Turner continues to score the ball in the post and cut into the Knott Central lead. Through Turner’s play the Lady Bulldogs cut the lead to seven points with 4:03 remaining in the quarter. Knott Central 23- Hazard 16. The Bulldog fans are now heavily involved in the game, cheering the team. Knott scores 2 pts on the next possession, increasing the lead to nine points. Hazard begins to pressure the ball with a full court press, taking the ball out of the point guard Jada Higgins hands, resulting in turnovers and baskets in transition. Hazard cuts the lead to six points as #2 Hayley Caudill scores 2 pts with a layup in transition. Knott Central 28- Hazard 22 1:22 remaining in the first half. The teams trade baskets on the next two possessions with Knott Central maintaining a six- point lead. At the Half Knott Central leads Hazard 30- 24.
3rd quarter- The tempo changed in the third quarter as the defensive intensity picked up by both teams in the quarter. Hazard is the first to score in the third quarter as Hayley Turner scores 2 pts on the post move. 7:15 remains in the quarter Knott Central 30- Hazard 26. Knott County Central finds #3 Kamryn Thornsberry scores 2 pts with a jumper in the lane. Hazard counters on the next possession as #2 Hayley Caudill scores 2 pts with a 15’ running floater in the lane. Hazard cuts the lead to four points, Knott 32- Hazard 28. Knott Central # 3 Thornsberry adds to the lead with 2 made FT. Hazard counters on the next possession as #2 Caudill scores 2 pts on the layup, cutting the lead to 4 pts 34-30 with 3:00 remaining in the quarter. Knott has the ball in Point Guard Higgins hands, the Lady Patriots are comfortable with a lead and settle for the last shot of the quarter. Jada Higgins makes her move to the basket scoring 2 pts with a driving layup as time expires in the third quarter. Knott Central maintains a six- point lead at the end of the end of the third quarter, Knott Central 36- Hazard 30.
4th Quarter- Knott Central adds to the lead to start the fourth quarter with a strong post move by #4 Allie O’Hair. The Patriots regain an eight- point lead 38-30 with 7:22 remaining in the quarter. Hazard answers with a 7-0 run, cutting the lead to one point 38-37 with 6:04 remaining in the game. Hazard’s #2 Hayley Caudill shows the heart of a champion and scores all seven points in the comeback, making shots from both the field and free throw line. The fans on both sides are engaged in the game with nearly every spectator in the building standing up cheering on their respective teams. Knott Central scores 2 pts on the next possession, only to be countered with a scoring play on the opposite end by Hazard. Hazard takes the lead with 4:16 remaining in the game, the First Bulldog lead of the game. Hazard 41- Knott Central 40. Hazard has the momentum, resulting in Knott Central Head Coach Jeff Honeycutt to take a time out and settle down his team. Knott Central comes out of the timeout refocused and scores the next 4 points in the game, retaking a 3 Pt lead with 3:27 remaining in the game. Hazard goes cold from the field missing on several scoring possessions from close range. Hazard continued to battle and forces Knott Central into a turnover allowing Caudill to score the ball with a layup in transition. On the next possession Knott Central has the ball and after a loose ball going out of bounds, regain the ball under the Knott Central Basket. The Witty Point Guard Jada Higgins inbounds the ball, with the Hazard defender’s back to her. Higgins bounces the ball of the Bulldog defender, regains possession and scores 2 pts with a bank shot off the glass. 1:50 remains in the game Knott Central 46- 43. Knott Stops Hazard from scoring the ball on the next possession, and again uses the clock to the Lady Patriots advantage. Hazard is forced to foul, sending Jada Higgins to the line. Higgins misses the free throw and Hazard regains possession with an opportunity to push the ball into transition. Hazard scores 2 pts with a layup in transition, reducing the lead to one point 46-45 with forty seconds remaining in the game. Knott Central continues to hold the ball, again forcing Hazard to foul. Higgins redeems herself with consecutive FT. Knott Central leads 48- 45 with 17.5 seconds remaining in the game. Hazard has the ball and gets the last shot of the game. The Bulldogs shoot a 3 Pt basket from the top of the key, but narrowly misses the rim as time is expiring in the game. Knott Central holds off a strong rally from the Hazard Lady Bulldogs and wins the 14th Regional Girls Championship 48-45.
Scoring- stats have been provided by the official score keepers of the game.
Knott Central 48
- #14 Jada Higgins- 19 pts (Tournament MVP)
- #4 Allie O’Hair 13 pts (All Region Team)
- #20 Breanna Harrington 6 pts
- #3 Kamryn Thornsberry 6 pts
- #2 Keara Mullins 4 pts
- #2 Hayley Caudill 25 pts (All Region Team)
- #5 Desiree Sturgill 9 pts
- #20 Olivia Holland 2 pts
- #21 Hayley Turner 6 pts (All Region Team)
- #12 Destiny Walker 3 pts
Hazard’s season is now over. The Lady Bulldogs finish the season with a 24 and 8 record. This years Bulldog team is one of the best Lady Bulldog teams in recent years. The Lady Bulldogs will loose six seniors from this year team and may be looked at as having a rebuilding year with next years team. Knott Central wins the 14th Region Girls Championship. Knott County Central improves on the season with a record of 24 and 9. Knott Central advances to the KHSAA Girls Sweet 16 taking on the Mercy Jaguars Champions of the 6th Region on March, 8th, 2018 12 pm @ the BB&T Arena in Northern, Kentucky. Good luck to the Knott County Central Lady Patriots on your quest of capturing the Girls KHSAA State Championship.