By Dick Ham
Friday was the third day of the KHSAA Sweet 12 boys basketball tournament, and at the end of the day the four teams who will play in the semifinals had emerged.
The day began with our Madison Central Indians playing Covington Holmes.
It was a tough game from the beginning to the end. Early on, shots just would not fall for our kids, but they kept battling and finally were able to pull out a 65-61 win in overtime.
Holmes was a tough opponent. This was only their third loss of the season, two of those were in overtime, and the other was by only one point.
Once again, the Central crowd far outnumbered the crowd from the other team. Our cheerleaders and band never were silent, but kept encouraging the team.
This was by far the largest crowd during this tournament. The lower arena was almost completely full and the upper appeared to be nearly half full.
The day began with the singing of the national anthem by a mixed quartet from Campbellsville High School. It was beautifully and appropriately done.
The second game was between Hopkinsville and Graves County.
Hopkinsville had a smaller cheering section, but a much larger band than Graves County.
The Graves County kids were the only ones in the tournament who chanted things that were inappropriate, actually nasty. That is always a disappointment to me.
Hopkinsville won the game, 50-34, and they were to be our opponents in the semifinals.
I observed a bit of good sportsmanship in that game, things such as assisting an opposing player to his feet, etc.
The overall crowd was smaller than the earlier one and got even smaller as the game progressed.
Montgomery County and John Hardin played the third game before a large crowd, though not quite as large as the one for Central’s game.
Both schools had great cheering sections, good bands and cheerleaders.
During half-time of this game, awards were given to cheerleading squads, based on their work during their first game. First place went to Clay County, and our Madison Central girls won the third-place trophy. Third out of 16 is a wonderful accomplishment.
This was a day when I was able to talk and visit with a number of special people.
Doug Flynn is someone many of you either know or know about. He is a Lexingtonian who played Major League baseball with the Cincinnati Reds.
I first got to know Doug when he came to First Baptist Church in Richmond several years ago with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Derek Anderson, former Kentucky Wildcat, was there again Friday. Derek is a strong supporter of high school basketball.
I shared space at the press table and conversation with some men whom I have watched on TV and listened to on radio but had never met: Dick Gabriel, Brian Milam and Tom Leach, the Voice of the Kentucky Wildcats.
I found each one of them to be as nice and friendly in person as they appear to be on TV or radio.
The final game of the day was between Ballard and Knott County Central.
Ballard, with an enrollment of 1,937 is the largest school in the tournament. Knott County Central, with an enrollment of 606, is the smallest.
There was not nearly as much difference in the numbers they had in their cheering sections as that might suggest, and Knott County Central matched Ballad in enthusiasm.
As was expected, however, Ballard won very easily.
The semifinals will match Madison Central against Hopkinsville on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. with Ballard and Montgomery County to follow.
The final will be on Sunday at 2 p.m.. It would certainly be tremendous if we could bring that championship trophy to Richmond.