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WHEN GREATNESS COLLIDES: ASHLAND TOMCAT THROWBACK

1969 Tomcats pile it on, then hang on against 93 Cats

ASHLAND, Ky. – Ashland’s 1993 team held the trump card in Tomcat scoring king Marty Thomas.

But the 1969 Tomcats countered with not just four of a kind, but five. It was a winning hand any way you looked at it.

Ray Kleykamp led five players in double figures and the 69 Tomcats withstood a fierce rally in the fourth quarter to record a 90-83 victory at Anderson gym.

The 93 Tomcats trailed 80-61 with 7:25 remaining and it looked like the rout was on. But Thomas, who finished with 27 points, had other ideas. He began to take over the game, scoring 10 points during a surge that pulled them within 84-81 with a minute remaining.

1969 Ashland Tomcats used balance to win.

“It was getting tight and we weren’t sure how to handle him,” said Roger Baldridge of the 69 Tomcats. “The guy is strong and knows his way to the basket. Me and Ray bumped on him all night. He didn’t budge. Tough kid.”

It didn’t help the 69 Tomcats that they made only 18 of 35 free throws. It left the door open for a comeback.

“Our defense wasn’t good tonight,” said 93 Tomcat coach Wayne Breeden. “My teams don’t give up 90 points. I don’t know where these guys’ heads were. It was a sad showing, that’s all.”

But the 93 Tomcats still had a chance to make a remarkable comeback. They had the opportunity to tie the game but a 3-pointer from Thomas spun out and Kleykamp corralled his 10th rebound. He also scored 19 points, leading five in double figures. Fred Leibee collected 14 points and five assists, Jerry Owens had 13 and Johnny Mullins scored 10.

The 69 Tomcats closed it out with six consecutive free throws.

It was an uphill battle for the 93 Cats, who trailed 47-32 at the half. It looked like it was going to be another routine win for the 69 team that was good at winning.

“Proud of my guys for holding them off at the end,” said 69 Tomcat Coach Harold Cole. “Thomas is a great player who gave us fits, but he wasn’t the only one. That team can play with anybody.”

Thomas actually had plenty of scoring help: Ryan Robinson had 16 points and eight assists, Austin Young scored 15 and Michael Lynch 10.

“I’m disappointed in myself,” Breeden said. “We had some opportunities and almost had it figured out.”

The 69 Tomcats held a significant 35-25 advantage in rebounding with Kleykamp and Baldridge combining for 17.

“Those guys were a couple of hoss-cats,” Breeden said. “I’m not sure what anybody does with them. We sure couldn’t handle them.”

They also connected on 8 of 16 from 3-point range with Leibee and Baldridge going a combined 7-for-9 behind the arc.

“I kinda like that shot,” Baldridge said. “They just kept going in.”

Real life

1993 Ashland won the regional title and advanced to the Sweet 16 behind high-scoring Marty Thomas, the all-time leading scorer in school history. They captured the region in a double-overtime 80-70 thriller against Russell.

1969 Ashland came oh so close to reaching the state championship game. The Tomcats won 25 games in all, including two narrow ones in the Sweet 16 before falling to Ohio County 82-80 in a semifinal heartbreaker when a last-second jumper was off the mark.

1993 ASHLAND (83) – Hammond 1-3 3-4 5, Lynch 4-11 0-0 10, Thomas 10-20 3-3 27, Young 7-7 1-2 15, Robinson 5-6 6-9 16, Reed 0-1 0-0 0, Vaughn 2-3 0-0 4, Jackson 1-1 2-2 4, Adams 0-3 0-0 0, Henry 0-1 0-0 0, Lewis 1-1 0-0 2, Diamond 0-3 0-0 0. FG: 31-60. FT: 15-20. 3FG: 6-18 (Lynch 2-7, Thomas 4-11). Rebounds: 25 (Hammond 1, Lynch 1, Thomas 5, Young 2, Robinson 2, Vaughn 2, Reed 2, Jackson 3, Adams 6, Diamond 1). Assists: 19 (Robinson 8, Thomas 4, Young 1, Hammond 1, Reed 1, Vaughn 1, Jackson 1, Diamond 1, Henry 1). PF: 28. Turnovers: 15.

1969 ASHLAND (90) – Leibee 4-7 3-4 14, Baldridge 4-9 4-6 15, Kleykamp 8-17 2-4 19, Mullins 4-10 2-4 10, Owens 5-6 3-9 13, Staten 3-6 2-5 8, Cooksey 1-2 0-1 3, Carter 1-4 2-2 4, Hagaman 1-3 0-0 2, Hixson 1-1 0-0 2. FG: 32-65. FT: 18-35. 3FG: 8-16 (Leibee 3-3, Baldridge 4-6, Kleykamp 1-6, Cooksey 0-1). Rebounds: 35 (Leibee 1, Baldridge 7, Kleykamp 10, Mullins 3, Owens 5, Staten 6, Carter 3. Assists: 15 (Leibee 5, Baldridge 2, Kleykamp 2, Mullins 1, Staten 1, Carter 3, Hagaman 1). PF: 21. Turnovers: 14.

1993 ASHLAND       20       12       25       26            –           83

1969 ASHLAND       24       23       26       17            –           90

 

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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