By Rick Hall
Okay, so my fantasy of the Patriots winning the State Championship was a wash, but they did play well in Lexington. I as proud as a peacock to be an alumnus of KCC. As young as this team is, I think they have a bright future in front of them and who knows, maybe next year or the year after that, we just might win it all. That’s my hope at least.
Jim Rose took the Patriots three consecutive times to the tournament. I remember all the talk about three-peat when this happened. I would love for the Patriots to have a “quad-squad” and win the 14th Region four, five (penta-team) six (hex-a-champ) or even seven (sept- a-gone to the state) wins. I don’t expect that to happen, but a man can dream, can’t he? With the talent this bunch has, you never know.
My hat goes off to the Patriots who proved themselves well down here in Central Kentucky. I would like to give a special shout out to Simon Christon, who, in my opinion, really sparked the Patriots comeback over Clay County. I know the rest of the boys played well and you could credit (especially Evan, who is family) them all, but as I was listening on the radio, it seemed that the initial spark that started the comeback was created by Simon. To him, I would like to say, “Well done, young man!”
The great news about a sophomore-laden team is that they become juniors. With the exception of three seniors, Blake Shrum, Chance Little, and Corey Short and one junior, Cheyne Miller, this is a very young team primarily made up of sophomores, freshmen and an eighth grader. I think this team can get better and better over the next two years assuming noth- ing drastic happens to the core of the team B. B. will have next year and the year after that. The students in the lower grades can be expected to grow and mature a little more over the next couple of years. They will have much more experience playing together as a group and they can expect the team to grow and bond as they face other teams during the next couple of years.
I know I was looking ahead, but I would now like to focus on this year’s team. Those seniors have experienced, not once, but twice, a dream that the vast majority of people can only dream about. In this state, every kid who ever played basketball for any school has had one main dream and one side dream. The main dream for every kid who plays basketball in this state is to get to the Sweet Sixteen Tournament. The secondary dream, which is almost as powerful, is to win the thing.
There is something magical about it. If you doubt me, then just get a group of people of various ages together in a room and I’ll bet that more times than not, basketball will be one of the main subjects being discussed. I remember being at home talking to people and you had firsthand accounts of the rich tradition of basketball in Eastern Kentucky. At this event, you had people who went to school with Kelly Coleman or the 1956 Carr Creek team; those that had gone to school with Herbie Stamper when he led KCC to the State Tournament during its first year in existence, and those, like myself, who were there when Ricky Robinson sank two free throws to give the Patriots a win over the fa- vored Hazard Bulldogs. Also, present were students at KCC when Jim Rose had the three-peat years and those who went to school with the players on the past two years. We really cover the sport over the last six decades.
High school basketball is like a religion in our area. I know people who still have statistical documents, or copies of these documents, from games played nearly 60 years ago. I’ve seen kids talk about players as though those players were world famous. Therefore, Blake, Corey, and Chance, even though you are just beginning your lives, know that what you have accomplished will follow you for the rest of your lives. Your grandkids will be talking about you fellows when you are 75 years old. I tip my hat to you and pray that you have as much success in your futures as you have accomplished in your past. God Bless You All!