By Blain Click
CV&T Sports Reporter
Coach John Bentley continues to preach hanging tough to this year’s extremely young Engineers as they continue to struggle finishing games. Estill County has held the lead or been very close in nearly every game at halftime but seems to run out of gas down the stretch.
Estill County traveled to Bath County after Christmas for a holiday tournament that they played in consistently for many years back in the 80’s. The first game was against Lewis County from the 16th region who came into the game with a 7-4 record. The game was close early as Joe Benton and Kamden Powell connected on 2 buckets each and Lewis county lead 12-11 after one. The Lions pushed ahead in the second and third quarter as the Engineer zone struggled to find the Lewis Co. shooters, and by the end of 3 the Neers trailed 52-41. Despite a strong rally in the second half, Lewis County pushed ahead down the stretch to win 82-59. Joe Benton led the engineers in scoring with 21 while Dillon Long contributed a strong 16 points. Cobbe Click had 7, Kamden “KP” Powell and Landon Napier each had 4 points, Logan Napier and Micah Adams both had 3, and Will Isfort, who injured his arm in the game, knocked down one charity shot.
The second game had Estill County squared off against the host Bath Co. Estill took a 25-18 lead to the half with some hot shooting from both Long and Benton. Each player had 10 in the half, and Estill County’s man to man defense was solid. Freshman Landon Napier, getting his first start of the year, wasn’t shy as he got hot in the second half, including going 8-8 at the free throw line as he attacked the rim hard.
The Wildcats, however, came out with a lot more intensity in the third, including a diamond press speeding up the Engineers. Estill County continued to score easily but had trouble defending the three as Bath County knocked 8 threes in the second half and went on to win by a score of 70-59. While the Engineer shooting percentage was up, the defensive FG percentage was down, and Neers lost their 10th game of the season. Joe Benton scored a season high 25 points and Dillon Long added 15. Landon Napier tossed in 12, Kamden Powell 4, Cobbe Click 2 and Micah Adams added a free throw.
The final game pitted Estill County against 5th region foe, Adair County. This is one of the few games Estill County has not been outsized as the Indians relied on their quickness and three point shooting. The Engineers once again took a lead into the half 30-29.
Estill County then went to the junk defense in the third, taking away the best 2 scorers from Indians, but the other 3 players seemed to find their range and Adair co-surged ahead 49-40 after 3 and went on to win by a score of 68-61.
Joe Benton once gain lead the Neers in scoring with 16, freshman Landon Napier had a great game adding 14. Landon’s big brother Logan scored a shifty 11 points around the hoop and Dillon Long added 10. Cobbe Click added two and Micah Adams one, to round out the scoring. The Neers fall to 2-11 on the year.