After losing its first four league games this season, the Campbell County High School boy’s basketball team appeared to be a non-factor in the District 3-AAA regular season championship race.
During a recent four-game stretch, however, the Cougars were no less than spectacular as they played their way back into the hunt for a top 4 seeding in the upcoming league tournament.
Campbell County (4-4 district, 10-8 overall) came within one game of tying last year’s team total for wins with a 75-73 overtime triumph Friday night over homecoming foe Hardin Valley.
Nick Litton, the 6-foot-4 junior forward that has sparked Campbell County’s resurgence, led all scorers with 25 points, 11 of which came during the fourth quarter and overtime.
Litton scored 24 points in each of his previous two games, including an 80-73 win at Hardin Valley on Jan. 13 that helped him win PrepXtra Boy’s Basketball Player of the Week honors.
“Nick is getting better and better, and that helps us as a team,” said Campbell County coach Barry Jones.
“He was our go-to player earlier this season, he just didn’t know it.
“He’s never been in this position before. When he first came up here (CCHS), we fussed at him because he wouldn’t shoot the ball. He said he’d never been allowed to.”
Litton now has the green light to shoot anytime he wants, but has been just as dangerous with his passing, rebounding and defensive abilities.
During the overtime period Friday night, Litton blocked Hardin Valley’s last-second shot to preserve the victory.
The Cougars trailed 33-32 at halftime and 51-48 at the end of the third quarter before rallying in the fourth. Campbell County scored 20 points in the final 8 minutes of regulation to force overtime.
Litton and teammate Lucas Nelson combined to score all 7 of the Cougars’ points in OT.
Nelson finished with 18 points, followed by Dylan Stanfield and Ethan Simpson with 8 each, Corey Poteet 6, Jordan Kindred 4, Brandon Lee and Gunner St. John 3 each.
The Hawks had four scorers in double figures: Zak Carter with 18, Tevin Gunn 17, Sherrius Smith and Micah Gross 10 each.
“I can point to about five different plays at the end of the game that were absolutely crucial to our victory. We ended regulation and overtime with two consecutive (defensive) stops. Right before the end of regulation, Nick made a free throw.
“And (Litton’s block) was a heady play.
Now that the Cougars have swept Hardin Valley and beaten Knox Halls and Clinton, they appear ready to make a late season run. Campbell County has three district games scheduled this week against Powell (Tues. at home), at Anderson County (Thurs.) and at Oak Ridge (Fri.).
“We lost our first four district games by a total of 12 points, and two of those were against the district leaders,” said Jones.
“It’s a log jam in the middle of the district standings. We’ve got an opportunity this week to climb over some people.
“I feel like we’re taking the steps to get to where we want to be.”