2020 Tomcats defeat 1977 Cats in bruising battle

(This is a computer simulation matching  great Ashland Tomcat teams of the past against each other. All game results are computer-generated but the quotes and enhanced play-by-play are on me.)

ASHLAND, Ky. – The 2020 Ashland Tomcats are known more for finesse than physicalness.

But a rugged 58-55 victory over the 1977 Tomcats showed they could play that style too.

Ethan Hudson scored 18 points, including the last six from the foul line in the last 90 seconds, for the hard-fought win against a team that prides itself on defense and showed why from buzzer to buzzer.

Ethan Hudson scored 18 against the 77 Tomcats. (Kimberly Phillips photo)

Baskets were hard to come by for both teams and the 3-point shot – new to the 1977 team – was nobody’s friend.

The 20 Tomcats were 7 of 23 and the 77 Tomcats 4 of 18 from behind the arc.

Coach Paul Patterson said the 2020 Tomcats gave his team fits despite being undersized. “A well-coached team that passes the ball as well as any we saw,” he said. “They’re a tough bunch too. I like that about them.”

The 20 Tomcats were knocked to the floor while battling for rebounds on several occasions. Point guard Colin Porter for the 20 Tomcats and Greg Swift for the 77 Tomcats was the best battle of the night.

Porter had 12 points and five assists and Swift collected eight points and eight assists. His older brother Mark Swift scored 11 with six rebounds.

Cole Villers went up against the 6-7 Jeff Kovach and scored a dozen. Kovach led the 77 Tomcats with 15 points and seven rebounds.

“I couldn’t do much with him, he is so strong,” Villers said.

The 77 Tomcats jumped ahead 15-8 before the 20 Tomcats rallied and eventually took the lead for good at 25-23 when Hudson scored inside for his 12th point of the first half.

“Huddy came through for us in a big way,” said Ashland coach Jason Mays. “I’ve coached in a lot of basketball games in college and high school and that game was as physical as any of them. No wonder those guys made it to the semifinals. What a tremendous team.”

Darryl Smith scored on a putback to bring the 77 Tomcats within 56-55 at the 18-second mark, but Hudson made a pair of free throws with 5.3 seconds to play to set the final margin. A halfcourt shot from Mark Swift that would have tied the game glanced off the front of the rim.

Real life

1977 Ashland went 30-2 and reached the state semifinals before losing to Louisville Valley. Patterson never lost to a 16th Region opponent in his four years as head coach.

2020 Ashland finished 33-0 but didn’t get to play in the Sweet 16 because of the coronavirus. The Tomcats had three seniors in the history-making season.


1977 ASHLAND (55) – G.Swift 3-10 0-0 8, M.Swift 4-7 2-4 11, Dummit 0-5 0-0 0, Kovach 7-8 0-0 14, Harkins 2-5 6-8 10, Smith 2-5 0-0 4, Allen 2-5 0-0 4, Henderson 1-4 1-2 3, Welch 0-0 1-2 1. FG: 21-49. FT: 9-14. 3-point FGs: 4-18 (M.Swift 2-5, G.Swift 1-2, Dummit 0-5, Harkins 0-1, Smith 0-1, Henderson 1-4). Rebounds: 29 (G.Swift 1, M.Swift 6, Kovach 7, Dummit 3, Harkins 4, Smith 1, Allen 3, Welch 4). Assists: 16 (G.Swift 8, M.Swift 4, Smith 1, Henderson 3). PF: 23. Turnovers: 13.

2020 ASHLAND (58) – Porter 3-12 3-7 12, Bradley 2-6 2-2 6, Villers 4-7 2-3 12, Hudson 5-11 7-9 18, Sellars 3-6 3-4 9, Gillum 0-4 0-0 0, Phillips 1-2 0-0 1, Adkins 0-1 0-0 0. FGs: 17-47. FT: 17-26. 3-point FGs: 7-23 (Porter 3-8, Gillum 0-3, Villers 3-6, Hudson 1-4, Sellars 0-2). Rebounds: 28 (Porter 1, Gillum 2, Villers 4, Hudson 7, Bradley 3, Sellars 6, Phillips 4, Adkins 1). Assists: 9 (Porter 5, Villers 1, Hudson 2, Phillips 1). PF: 14. Turnovers: 9.

1977 ASHLAND       17       8          18       12            –           55

2020 ASHLAND       11       9          23       15            –           58

By Mark Maynard

Managing editor of Kentucky Today, the digital newspaper of the Kentucky Baptist Convention, since July 2017. Worked 42 years for The Daily Independent in Ashland, Kentucky, the last 12 as managing editor and editor and the previous 30 before that in the sports department, including 17 years as sports editor. I have been in the business since 1975 with more than 75 writing awards from the Kentucky Press Association. I have also have written eight books, used to run fast but now look more like I have a piano on my back. President of Amy For Africa, a faith-based Christian ministry serving Uganda. I'm a husband to Beth and father to Stephen and Sally, grandfather to Brooks and human to Opie!

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