Zornes’ first and last regional champions fight to finish

SUMMIT, Ky. – It seemed fitting to match Boyd County’s first and last 16th Region championship teams under coach Roger Zornes.

The 1984 and 2000 Lions were both special to Boyd County’s coach who claimed seven regional titles in his tenure.

Instead of having to coach against himself, though, Zornes turned over the reins to the 1984 Lions to longtime assistants Phil Pratt and Bobby Sparks.

That would allow Roger Zornes to coach his son, Tyler, one more time and with good reason. His son was one of the most prolific scorers in region history and the top scorer in Boyd County history along with hitting one of the biggest game-winning shots in region tournament history with a 3-point bomb that defeated rival Ashland at the buzzer in 1999.

There was a lot of buzz around this game beyond Tyler Zornes though. Some of Boyd County’s greatest athletes were part of these teams in Caleb Stewart, Brad Taylor, Pete Fraley and Zach Fugeman.

“Seems right to have these teams play each other but I don’t like going against Brad Taylor,” coach Zornes said. “He won a lot of games for us in 1984 and the rest of that bunch is special to me because that was my first team that won the region. A great bunch.”

It shaped up to be a dandy and the crowd arrived early. Mike Tussey and Dicky Tiller were going to combine on the radio broadcast and the game was being televised on MyTown with closed circuit viewing in the Boyd County Middle School auditorium.

The game was expected to be a sellout. It was that and more a few minutes before tipoff as the teams went through a similar pregame.

“It’s what they know under coach Zornes and I didn’t see any reason to change it,” Pratt said. “I don’t know how this is going to go. Bobby and I are over our heads coaching against him.”

The game, of course, would be heavy on the defense with both teams trying to establish themselves as the Big Dog. Jim Moore knocked Tyler Borders hard to the floor on one rebound, grabbing the basketball and then throwing a hip into his opponent.

The referees were letting them play and both teams seemed to understand how it was going to be.

Borders was helped up after the knockdown and pointed at Moore, as if to say, “I’ll remember that.”

Meanwhile, the game was played tight until Zornes sparked a late surge that gave 2000 Boyd County the lead at 26-16 after scoring eight points.

It got much more defensive in the second quarter with baskets being hard to come by for both teams. The coaches were getting pure pleasure out of watching the teams go at it on defense. Nobody was safe with plenty of banging inside and outside.

The 2000 Lions maintained the 10-point lead at the half, 39-29, but the 84 Lions weren’t done. They rallied to within 54-50 going into the last eight minutes.

“I tell you what, both of these teams were gassed going into that fourth quarter because of how physical the game was being played,” Pratt said. “I’m glad the refs led them play, I’m just glad everybody kept their cool. These guys have a lot of respect for each other.”

The 3-point shot was working well for both teams with the 2000 Lions making 10 of 23 and the 84 Lions connecting on 9 of 20.

Before the game is over, the 3-point shot will play a more pivotal role.

Consecutive 3-pointers from Pete Fraley and Brad Taylor put the 1984 Lions in front 56-54 for the first time since the first quarter. The last six minutes of the fourth quarter would be a wild ride with the lead exchanging hands several times.

Two free throws from Bill Nipp took the lead to 61-57 for the 1984 Lions but Zornes and Fugeman combined for seven consecutive points and the 2000 Lions were back ahead 64-61 with only three minutes to play.

Moore’s steal-and-score made it 64-63 and Adam Young answered to stretch the lead to 66-63. But just went it looked like the 2000 Lions were ready to lock up the win, Jeff Lowe scored on a driving layup and some fullcourt pressure forced an errant pass.

With 29 seconds to play, Moore found himself open on the baseline and swished a 15-footer to put the 1984 Lions ahead 67-66. That four-point lead had disappeared in an instant.

“We had the game under control,” Coach Zornes said. “I knew those guy wouldn’t quit.”

And neither would the 2000 Lions. Zornes called a timeout to discuss strategy and everybody knew where it was going. The play was going to be designed for Tyler Zornes to shoot it.

“Oh yeah, we knew, too,” Pratt said. “We countered that as best we could.”

Stewart was the inbounder and Zornes came off a screen but Moore stepped into the passing line. Stewart, an outstanding baseball player later signed by the New York Mets organization, saw it too. He threw a laser to Borders, who had popped out behind the arc.

Borders gathered in the fastball and fired up the shot as the clock wound down. It was nothing but net and the 2000 Lions survived 69-67.

“Great shot from Borders,” coach Zornes said. “He was the second option on the play. We couldn’t shake Jimmy (Moore) but they made the mistake of not getting out on Tyler (Borders).”

Pratt said the defense was concentrating on taking an opportunity away from Tyler Zornes. “But the other Tyler got us,” he said. “It was a great game between some of Boyd County’s best players and an honor to coach these guys again. I know Roger feels the same way.”

Tyler Zornes scored 23, Stewart had 12 and Borders 11 for the 2000 Lions. Zornes made 5 of 11 from 3-point range.

Taylor’s 21 points led the 1984 Lions. Brian Vanhoose collected 12 points and six rebounds, Fraley scored a dozen with four assists and Nipp added 11 points. Moore had seven points and seven rebounds.

Real life

 Boyd County’s 2000 team finished 22-8 and won the last of Roger Zornes’ regional championships for the Lions in a brilliant coaching career. Boyd County droppeda  52-50 heartbreaker to Elizabethtown in the Sweet Sixteen.

Boyd County’s 1984 team was the first regional title for Zornes in his second year as head coach. The Lions were 23-7, defeating Ashland 60-58 in the regional final and then falling to Ballard 47-46 in the Sweet Sixteen opener.

2000 BOYD COUNTY (69) – Zornes 6-19 6-7 23, Rose 4-6 0-0 8, Borders 4-8 1-2 11, Young 3-3 1-3 7, Fugeman 0-1 3-4 3, Stewart 4-10 2-6 12, Lange 0-1 0-0 0, Chaney 1-2 0-0 3, Evans 1-2 0-0 2. FG: 23-52. FT: 13-22. 3FG: 10-23 (Zornes 5-11, Fugeman 0-1, Rose 0-1, Borders 2-5, Stewart 2-4, Chaney 1-1). Rebounds: 30 (Zornes 5, Fugeman 3, Rose 8, Borders 2, Young 4, Stewart 7, Chaney 1). Assists: 7 (Zornes 3, Fugeman 1, Stewart 3). PF: 21. Turnovers: 13.

1984 BOYD COUNTY (67) – Nipp 4-5 2-2 11, Fraley 3-10 3-5 12, Moore 3-4 1-4 7, Taylor 4-8 8-11 21, Vanhoose 5-6 2-2 12, Lowe 1-3 0-0 2, Todd 0-3 2-2 2, Evans 0-1 0-0 0, Trimble 0-1 0-0 0. FG: 20-41. FT: 18-26. 3FG: 9-20 (Nipp 1-1, Fraley 3-9, Taylor 5-6, Vanhoose 0-1, Lowe 0-1, Todd 0-1, Trimble 0-1). Rebounds: 27 (Nipp 2, Fraley 1, Moore 7, Taylor 3, Vanhoose 6, Lowe 3, Todd 3, Trimble 2). Assists: 10 (Nipp 1, Fraley 5, Vanhoose 1, Todd 1, Trimble 2). PF: 22. Turnovers: 13.

2000 BOYD COUNTY  26      13      15           15      –         69

1984 BOYD COUNTY  16      13      21           17      –         67



Dodd’s revenge or more of the same in 2007 vs. 1972 Russell battle?

RUSSELL, Ky. – Steve Dodd, the coach of Russell’s 2007 basketball team, was almost salivating at the idea of getting another crack at the 1972 Red Devils.

It has been nearly 50 years since Dodd was a member of the top-ranked Ashland Tomcats when Russell shocked them in the 16th Region championship game.

Dodd hasn’t forgotten the moment and never dreamed that he’d have the chance for revenge, even if it was as a coach in a simulation game.

But the opportunity has come: It will be two of the Red Devils’ best going at each other in a game that’s sure to be a thriller.

“That game haunts me and sticks in my crawl,” Dodd said of the Red Devils win over the Tomcats in 1972. “We could have won it all.”

Dodd had one more year with the Tomcats but they lost in the regional finals again in 1973 to Boyd County – the first regional championship for the Lions and only their second-ever win over Ashland.

“A lot of heartbreak,” Dodd said.

He made it back to the 16th Region as a coach of the Red Devils and was coming off a regional championship season in 2006 – the first for Russell since that 1972 season. So a matchup of this magnitude was dripping with irony.

“Irony, shimery, we just want to beat them,” Dodd said of the Red Devil showdown.

As expected, it was a tightly contested battle with eight lead changes and was tied nine different times. Defense was the name of the game with neither team able to even shoot 40 percent from the field.

Some stars emerged though. Rick Hensley scored 27 points with nine rebounds for 72 Russell and Jonathan VanHoose had 20 points and six rebounds for 07 Russell.

Those were almost expected. What wasn’t expected was how physical the game was played.

“We were hoping for a more wide open game because that’s how we liked to play,” said 72 Russell coach Marvin Meredith. “But we sure don’t mind playing defense. In fact, these guys trapped out of the 1-3-1 as well as any team I ever had.”

Russell’s 72 team also held a 37-32 rebounding advantage with Hensley and Jack Savage combing for 16 boards.

However, the 2007 Red Devils bounced out to the halftime lead after outscoring 72 Russell, 22-15, in the second quarter. Mark Thiery rolled an ankle and missed the rest of the game for the 72 Red Devils.

“We were kind of out of sync after that,” Meredith said. “It shook us a little bit in the second quarter.”

72 Russell fought back in the third quarter and the teams were tied at 53 going into the final eight minutes.

Hensley made a pair of free throws to put 72 Russell ahead 55-53 and Austin Blair drilled a 3-pointer to put 2007 Red Devils back in front 56-55 on the next possession.

The game remained tight until Hensley scored on a fastbreak and was fouled. He sank the free throw to complete the three-point play and give 72 Russell a 65-59 advantage with 4 ½ minutes to play.

“Big play from Jim Ward on the steal and long pass to Hensley for the fast break,” Meredith said. “That’s the 1-3-1 in action. The trap was perfectly set and led to a huge basket for us. If I smoked, I’d have lit up a victory cigar after that play. It took it out of them.”

True enough. The 2007 Red Devils never seemed to recover and drew no closer than four points the rest of the way. Hensley, meanwhile, scored 10 points in the last four minutes including four free throws. 72 Russell made 29 of 33 free throws.

“Two things that don’t last long are dogs who chase cars and teams that miss free throws,” Meredith said. “We made almost every one of them.”

Dodd was hard to console after yet another heartbreaking defeat against 1972 Russell.

“Disappointed with how we shot the ball,” he said. “Our defense wasn’t as good as it seemed considering how many times we put them on the foul line. That’s a good team but they’re my nightmare and I guess they’ll continue to be.”

For 2007 Russell, Scott Gill collected 11 points and seven rebounds and Austin Robinson scored 15.

Ward scored 17 and Savage 14 to complement Hensley’s game-high 27. Tony Elam had nine points and five assists for 72 Russell.

Real life

 2007 Russell had a 27-5 record and bowed out in the 16th Region semifinals. Leading scorer Jonathan VanHoose didn’t get to play in the postseason because of a knee injury. The Red Devils won the region with basically the same team the previous season.

1972 Russell stunned No. 1 Ashland in the 16th Region finals and finished 26-7 after an 89-87 loss to Elizabethtown in the Sweet Sixteen quarterfinals. It was the last regional championship until 2006.

2007 RUSSELL (65) – Gill 4-11 2-2 11, Frazier 1-4, 0-0 3, Turnover 1-3 2-3 5, Robinson 4-9 7-12 15, Vanhoose 7-19 3-4 20, Blair 2-7 0-0 5, Harvey 1-1 1-2 4. FG: 20-55. FT: 17-25. 3FG: 8-21 (Gill 1-3, Frazier 1-3, Turner 1-2, Vanhoose 3-6, Blair 1-6, Harvey 1-1). Rebounds: 32 (Gill 7, Frazier 4, Turner 3, Ferguson 7, Vanhoose 6, Blair 3, Harvey 2). Assists: 8 (Gill 3, Robinson 1, Vanhoose 2, Blair 2). PF: 25. Turnovers: 14.

1972 RUSSELL (72) – Savage 3-6 7-7 14, Elam 3-9 3-5 9, Hensley 6-9 11-12 27, Ward 5-11 7-8 17, Thiery 1-6 0-0 2, Hillman 0-3 1-2 1, Branham 1-2 0-0 2, Sargent 0-0 0-0 0. FG: 19-46. FT: 29-33. 3FG: 5-10 (Savage 1-1, Elam 0-1, Hensley 4-5, Thiery 0-1, Hillman 0-1, Branham 0-1). Rebounds: 37 (Savage 7, Elam 3, Hensley 9, Ward 10, Thiery 4, Hillman 2, Branham 2). Assists: 10 (Savage 1, Elam 5, Hensley 1, Ward 1, Thiery 1, Hillman 1). PF: 20. Turnovers: 22.

2007 RUSSELL            17     22     14          12     –        65

1972 RUSSELL            20     15     18          19     –        72


Mighty Mickey and 57 Red Devils try to measure up with 68 Red Devils

RUSSELL, Ky. – Russell’s 1957 basketball team had the top gun in its battle with the 1968 Red Devils, who displayed the kind of balance that made them champions.

Mickey Syndenstricker was hard to stop, collecting 30 points and 11 rebounds, but the 57 Red Devils never led – not even for one possession – in a 77-70 loss to the 68 Red Devils.

Coach Marvin Meredith had the pleasure of sitting at midcourt and directing both teams. He said it was a hoot watching his Red Devil teams try to fight through his devastating 1-3-1 defenses that won him so many games.

“They knew what was going to happen and still fell into the traps,” he said, grinning. “It was great watching Mickey again. That boy could score from anywhere against anybody.”

But he also loved the balance of the 68 team that won the 16th Region championship. Tom Roberts, a 6-8 center, was dynamite inside with 17 points and 12 rebounds. Tookie Helton had 14 points and nine assists and Roger Vanover also had a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Lanny Miller was the fourth in double figures with 13 points.

“Those guys were so fun to watch and they ran that 1-3-1 better than anybody,” Meredith said.

Even though the 68 Red Devils led the entire way, they never could completely shake the 57 team. The biggest lead was 13 points. The game got extremely tight and was tied at 44 midway through the third quarter after Syndenstricker scored five consecutive points. It was tied again at 46 and 48.

“What a ballgame and I had the best seat in the house,” Meredith said.

Sydenstricker pulled 57 Russell within 68-64 with four minutes to play but they would get no closer.

“We never could put together a run like we needed,” Syndenstricker said. “Those guys were good inside. Roberts was a horse and Vanover was a bull. It was very physical. I tried to hold my own.”

Russell 57 also had four in double figures led by Syndenstricker, who connected on 11-of-21 attempts and made the team’s only two 3-pointers. They were 2-for-15 from behind the arc.

“I told those guys not to fall in love with that shot,” Meredith said. “Mickey hit a couple but two robins don’t make spring.”

His other team, however, made 8-for-19 from 3-point range led by Helton, who hit 3 of 7 triples.

Neither team was too rattled by the 1-3-1 but the 57 Red Devils made only 12 of 20 free throws compared to 17 of 22 by the 68 Red Devils.

“I was proud of both these teams and I loved all these boys,” Meredith said. “Like I told both of them later though, ‘A hundred million Chinese didn’t even know we played tonight.’ So don’t get too high over the win or too low over the loss.”

Real life

Russell’s 1957 team finished the season 28-5 and fell to Clark County in the regional finals. Syndenstricker, in his only season with the Red Devils, scored 885 points and averaged 27.7 per game. He scored 46 against McKell and 41 against Ashland in the district tournament.

Russell’s 1968 team finished 25-6 and defeated Ashland in the regional finals. They bowed out against Clark County, which had moved to the 10th Region, in the opening round of the Sweet 16 in Louisville.

1957 RUSSELL (70) – R.McKenzie 2-8 0-0 4, Gallion 6-7 1-3 13, L.McKenzie 3-10 4-4 10, Williams 3-7 0-1 6, Syndenstricker 11-21 6-10 30, Short 0-1 0-0 0, Howes 1-1 0-0 2, Willis 1-3 0-0 2, McSurley 1-3 1-2 3. FG: 28-61. FT: 12-20. 3FG: 2-15 (R.McKenzie 0-1, Gallion 0-1, L.McKenzie 0-4, Williams 0-1, Syndenstricker 2-7, McSurley 0-1). Rebounds: 32 (R.Meknzie 1, Gallion 2, L.McKenzie 5, Williams 6, Syndenstricker 13, Howes 3, Willis 1, McSurley 1). Assists: 12 (L.McKenzie 5, Gallion 1, R.McKenzie 3, Sydenstricker 1, Short 1, Willis 1). PF: 22. Turnovers: 8.

1968 RUSSELL (77) – Miller 2-4 7-8 13, McCain 3-5 0-0 7, Helton 4-9 3-3 14, Vanover 5-9 4-4 16, Roberts 7-13 3-6 17, Conley 2-5 0-1 4, Hollan 0-2 0-0 4, Fosson 2-2 0-0 4, Faulkner 1-1 0-0 2. FG: 26-50. FT: 17-22. 3FG: 8-19 (Miller 2-3, McCain 1-2, Helton 3-7, Vanover 2-6, Hollan 0-1). Rebounds: 34 (Miller 3, McCain 2, Helton 3, Vanover 11, Roberts 12, Fosson 2, Faulkner 1). Assists: 17 (Miller 2, Helton 9, Vanover 2, Hollan 2, Fosson 1, Faulkner 1). PF: 17. Turnovers: 17.

1957 RUSSELL           12        22        19          17        –           70

1968 RUSSELL           19        25        15          18        –           77










Did 82 Lions go to Well(s) too often against 95 Lions?

SUMMIT, Ky. – Brock Walter, Boyd County’s ultimate defender in 1982, had his hands full with the assignment against the 1995 Lions.

Say hello to Frank Lee, one of the Lions’ all-time great offensive players.

It was a dream matchup of offense vs. defense.

Walter was up for the task, said he even looked forward to it. Careful what you wish for, it might come true – at least in simulation.

Like most Boyd County teams during the Jeep Clark and Roger Zornes eras, it was defense and rebounding that made them both tough to beat. That was certainly true with in 82 and 95, who were both 16th Region champions.

Lee was an explosive offensive player and so was his backcourt mate Casey Sparks, who was a do-it-all point guard. Chad Stevens was another pure shooter that year for the Lions.

So how did the measure up against the likes of 6-6 Joey Wells and 6-6 Mark Vanhoose inside? Those twin towers were difficult for anybody to match up against under the basket.

Both the 82 and 95 Lions repeated their feat of winning the regional title the year prior.

“It was always nice to look out on the court and have Joey and Mark in the lane for two years,” Clark said. “It gave me some comfort that everything was going to be OK. And I always felt kind of sorry for anybody who Brock was guarding. He could make life miserable for you.”

Lee and Sparks had a way of making opponents miserable too. They could both shoot and rebound, drive to the basket or drill the 3-pointer.

“Man, I loved having those two guys in the backcourt,” Zornes said. “But just like Jeep’s team, it all started with defense.”

The game was as good as advertised with 13 lead changes and five ties. The game was tight throughout with the 82 team’s biggest advantage at eight points and the 95 team’s biggest lead at seven points.

The first quarter was more of a feeling out time for both of them and the 82 Lions led 16-14. But in the second quarter, Walter picked up his second foul – a charging call that the normally mild-mannered Clark greatly objected to with the officials – and that opened the gate for Lee in the last four minutes of the first half.

He went so far as to even getting a technical foul, something that seldom happen.

Finding some breathing room for the first time, Lee scored 10 of his 12 first-half points with Walter – and Clark – seething on the bench.

With that boost, the 95 Lions outscored the 82 Lions, 24-16, in the second quarter and led 38-32 at the half.

“We had a good first half but Wells and Vanhoose were starting to wear us down a little,” Zornes said. “I wasn’t sure how we were going to stop them.”

Wells, who also picked up two early fouls, had scored only two points in the first half but his fortunes were about to change. The 95 Lions had no answer for him in the third quarter and even more trouble in the fourth quarter.

The 95 Lions held onto the lead until Jeff Sisler drilled a 15-footer for a 49-48 lead with two minutes left in the third quarter. Wells was fouled on a dunk and he completed a three-point play with only seconds remining in the third quarter to build a 53-50 lead.

“Joey came to life and I knew he would,” Clark said. “Brock did a great job of locking down Frank and he found Joey and Mark inside time after time.”

Wells, who finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds, scored 11 in the fourth quarter alone. Vanhoose had 13 points with most of that coming on the foul line, making 10 of 12.

“We had to keep fouling him to keep him from getting baskets but he kept making free throws,” Zornes said. “Give him credit.”

The 95 Lions fought back and took a 54-53 lead when Jerome Salyers scored on an offensive rebound, muscling his way between Wells and Vanhoose.

But then it was Wells who ignited a 9-2 run with seven points for a 62-56 advantage with only four minutes remaining. The 82 Lions finished it off with steady play down the stretch to record a hard-fought 71-66 victory.

“I wish Phil (Pratt) and me had never shown Joey and Mark some of our secrets,” Zornes said with a smile. “Joey is a good one. He’s a horse in there and we couldn’t match up with him.”

Lee scored 19 but only seven in the second half against Walter, who played his typical bulldog style. He tipped passes away on several occasions and stayed tight with Lee, who was several inches taller.

“I like a good challenge,” Walter said. “Frank is so strong, definitely one of the better players I ever had to defend. The charge call was unfortunate and I kind of lost my head a little there. Of course, so did Coach Clark so guess it was OK.”

“Man, Brock is a killer on defense,” Lee said. “I never had anybody play defense like that guy. Every one of my shots were contested and most of the time he just kept it away from me. Everybody always talked about him. Now I know why.”

Walter had 10 points and four assists and Todd Stai scored 11, making 3 of 6 from 3-point range. Sisler added eight points.

“Great balance on offense and that’s what we did, how we won,” Clark said.

Sparks collected 13 points, nine assists and three rebounds and Chad Stevens scored 12 on 6-for-7 shooting.

The 82 Lions held a 29-23 rebounding advantage in the physically played game.

Real life

 1982 Boyd County won 28 games and the second consecutive 16th Region title for coach Jeep Clark. The Lions fell to Owensboro in the Sweet Sixteen, 60-56.

1995 Boyd County went 23-9 and captured the regional title, beating rival Ashland for the third time in four games. The Lions lost to University Heights in the Sweet Sixteen, 64-60.

1982 BOYD COUNTY (71) – Clarke 1-5 4-4 6, Vanhoose 1-3 10-12 13, Stai 3-9 2-2 11, Walter 3-5 4-4 10, Wells 7-11 5-7 19, Griffith 1-2 0-0 2, Nipp 0-3 0-0 0, Sisler 4-5 0-2 8, Short 1-3 0-0 2. FG: 21-46. FT: 25-31. 3FG: 4-15 (Clarke 0-1, Vanhoose 1-3, Stai 3e6, Walter 0-1, Wells 0-1, Nipp 0-2, Sisler 0-1). Rebounds: 29 (Clark 2, Vanhoose 3, Stai 1, Walter 3, Wells 13, Nipp 2, Sisler 4, Short 1). Assists: 11 (Clarke 1, Stai 2, Walter 7, Sisler 1). PF: 15. Turnovers: 12.

1995 BOYD COUNTY (66) – Cyrus 3-9 0-0 6, Lee 7-12 3-3 19, Sparks 4-11 5-6 13, Stevens 6-7 0-0 12, Ison 1-2 2-2 4, Salyers 4-6 1-1 9, McLain 1-2 0-0 3, Taylor 0-0 0-0 0, Vipperman 0-0 0-0 0. FG: 26-49. FT: 11-12. 3FG: 3-15 (Cyrus 0-3, Lee 2-5, Sparks 0-3, Ison 0-1, Stevens 0-1, McLain 1-2). Rebounds: 23 (Cyrus 4, Lee 3, Sparks 6, Stevens 5, Ison 1, Salyers 4). Assists: 12 (Cyrus 2, Lee 1, Sparks 9). PF: 20. Turnovers: 11.

1982 BOYD COUNTY       16      16         21      18      –         71

1995 BOYD COUNTY        14      24         12      16      –         66