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WHEN GREATNESS COLLIDES: ASHLAND TOMCAT THROWBACK

Father’s Day special: 65 Tomcats defeat 96 Tomcats, 81-80

(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. – It was father-son day at the ol’ Ashland High School gym on Lexington Avenue as the 1965 Tomcats tangled with the 1996 Tomcats.

And it turned out to be a barnburner with 65 Tomcat Benny Spears’ buzzer-beating 15-footer from the corner ending the high-scoring battle, 81-80, in front of a jam-packed crowd. They had to prop open the big windows near the top of the gym to let in some cool air.

There was nothing cold about the shooting of either team.

Before the game, the fathers and sons were honorary captains – Jerry (65) and Kyle Umberger (96) and Bill (65) and Chris Lynch (96). The four of them played well for their respective teams.

Chris and Bill Lynch.

Chris Lynch led all scorers with 30 points and 11 rebounds while his father had six points, five rebounds and four assists. Kyle Umberger scored 14 with six rebounds and four assists and his father had 12 points and eight rebounds.

Four of the 65 team’s five starters were in double figures led by Tim Jackson with 18 points, Spears with 16, Randy Williams with 15 points and five assists and Umberger’s 12. Center Clint Wheeler, the tallest player in the game, claimed 10 rebounds but was only 1-for-6 shooting.

Tate Tolbert’s 12 points and 10 assists was a nice complement to Lynch and Umberger’s scoring outputs. Many of Tolbert’s passes found their hands and the fathers and sons were banging each other hard inside.

One collision between the Umbergers ended up with both players going down hard on the floor. They both laughed as they got up (Kyle a little faster than Jerry).

“That was fun,” said Jerry Umberger of his battle with Kyle while rubbing his hip. “I used to be able to push him around a lot more than I could tonight.”

Kyle Umberger, noted for his good footwork, spun around his father for a basket that put the 96 Tomcats in front 79-76 with 2:26 remaining. Williams made a driving layup and was fouled. He swished the free throw to make it 79-79. Chris Lynch made one of two free throws to put the 96 Tomcats ahead 80-79 with 53 seconds to play.

The teams traded turnovers, including a steal from the quick-handed Williams. The 65 Tomcats patiently worked the ball around until calling a timeout with 10 seconds remaining so coach Bob Wright could set up the last-second strategy. It involved setting a double-screen for Spears, who took a pass from a driving Williams and confidently swished the game-winning shot.

Once everybody left the gym the fathers and sons met underneath one basket for a private game of 2-on-2. Results were not made known to the public.

“Well, you know how I hate to lose,” said 96 coach Wayne Breeden. “But how can you say this wasn’t a fun game? The competitor in me wants to play them again but, let me tell you, that’s one heck of a ballclub.”

Wright said the same about the 96 Tomcats, calling them a “well-coached bunch of ballplayers who play the game well.”

“Lynch’s son almost beat us single-handedly,” he said. “He’s got a nice variety of shots and he made his dad look bad a couple of times.”

The game featured 11 lead changes and 10 ties. The 65 Tomcats held an eight-point lead and the 96 Tomcats once held a nine-point advantage.

Real life

1965 Ashland Tomcats finished 28-3 and were ranked fourth in the state. Mt. Sterling stunned the Tomcats 56-53 in the region semifinals, ending Bob Wright’s reign as head coach.

1996 Ashland Tomcats were 27-9 and state runners-up after losing to Paintsville in the championship game. It was the first all-mountain championship in Sweet 16 history.

1965 ASHLAND (81) – Williams 7-13 1-2 15, Spears 7-18 2-2 16, Umberger 6-13 0-0 12, Jackson 6-14 6-10 18, Wheeler 1-6 2-2 4, Lynch 2-4 2-2 6, Greene 1-2 0-0 2, Hilton 3-5 0-0 6, Carr 1-1 0-0 2, Lett 0-0 0-0 0. FG: 34-76. FT: 12-17. 3-point FG: 0-6 (Spears 0-6). Rebounds: 37 (Williams 2, Spears 1, Umberger 8, Jackson 6, Wheeler 10, Lynch 5, Greene 1, Hilton 4). Assists: 21 (Williams 5, Spears 4, Umberger 1, Jackson 3, Wheeler 1, Lynch 4, Greene 2, Carr 1). PF: 18. Turnovers: 12.

1996 ASHLAND (80) – Tolbert 5-11 0-0 12, Umberger 6-10 2-6 14, Barrow 2-6 1-2 5, Curtis 4-8 0-2 9, Lynch 12-21 6-7 30, Strader 1-2 3-4 5, Estep 0-0 3-3 3, Daniels 1-2 0-0 2. FG: 31-60. FT: 15-24. 3-point FG: 3-8 (Tolbert 2-4, Curtis 1-4). Rebounds: 31 (Tolbert 1, Umberger 6, Barrow 6, Curtis 4, Lynch 11, Strader 2, Estep 1). Assists: 20 (Tolbert 10, Umberger 4, Barrow 1, Lynch 3, Estep 2). PF: 15. Turnovers: 20.

1965 ASHLAND           15     26     13          27     –        81    

1996 ASHLAND           20     17     22            21     –      80

 

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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