Larry Legend does it again for 1960-64 Tomcats

ASHLAND, Ky. – Larry Conley’s encore performance was enough to drop the curtain on the 1965-69 Tomcat All-Stars in Friday night’s Tomcat Shootout.

Coming off a 40-point performance in a Game 2 loss, the star of the 1960-64 Tomcat All-Stars put up 43 points in a 111-106 victory at the old Ashland High School.

The game belonged to the 1960-64 Tomcats from opening tip to final buzzer. They held a lead of 19 points and were never seriously threatened despite the game coming down to a five-point margin.

The 1961 Tomcats, one of the greatest in state history.

“That’s a load of talent on our roster,” said 60-64 coach Bob Wright. “When you have Larry, you have enough, but we had a lot more than just him. His teammates also saw he was still hot, so they fed him the ball. They did that well. At times, he was just unstoppable.”

Ditto Sparks scored 22 and Harold Sergent collected 19 points, 11 assists and six rebounds in a complete effort.

“Sarge is a floor leader,” Wright said. “Best in the business.”

Conley was remarkable for the third consecutive game in the series, this time making 18 of 23 attempts from the floor and 7 of 10 free throws. His performance upstaged 65-69 big man Clint Wheeler, who collected 27 points and 16 rebounds.

Bobby Lynch, coming off a 50-point outburst in Game 2, scored 19 and never got back in the groove, making only 8-of-26 attempts.

Harold Cole, coach of the 65-69 Tomcats, said he was proud of how his team hung with the ultra-talented 1960-64 Tomcats.

“I tell you what, I’m not sure who is going to beat them two out of three,” he said. “I think our Game 2 took a lot out of us. We had dead legs and they were all over Bobby. They weren’t going to let him go off for 50 again.”

But Ashland’s own “Larry Legend” wrote another chapter in his championship book. When the 60-64 Tomcats needed a basket, they looked to Conley. He scored from inside and outside, using his long arms to great advantage. No defensive matchup seemed to work against him.

“I didn’t do anything special, my teammates put me in good position to be successful,” Conley said. “I love getting the chance to play with these guys again. Those guys are tremendous and this 65-69 team is fabulous. Bobby Lynch is one of the most pure shooters I’ve ever been around and what a game for Clint Wheeler.”

A fast start by the 60-64 Tomcats put the 65-69 team in a big hole from which they could never recover. Conley scored eight during a 22-14 start to the game. They had piled up a 36-23 lead at the end of a high-scoring first quarter.

It looked like they were going to coast in for the victory, leading 85-66 after three quarters. A late burst from the 65-69 Tomcats cut the deficit under double figures with four minutes to play. Wheeler’s hook shot over Gene Smith made it 109-106 with seven seconds remaining but they never got the ball back. Sergent sank a pair of free throws with 1.3 seconds to play to set the final margin.

“We ran out of time,” Cole said. “I’d love to have had about 45 seconds more to play. But we didn’t get the job done earlier. Good luck to those guys moving forward.”

Five players scored in double figures for the 60-64 Tomcats, including 11 apiece from Parkie Beam and Smith.

Benny Spears scored 17 with 10 rebounds and Tim Jackson had 16 points.

“We were fortunate to come away with the win and look forward to representing the 1960s,” Wright said. “I don’t think there’s any doubt in my mind that the 1960s is the best era of Ashland Tomcat basketball. I realize I’m a little biased, but it’s hard to imagine anybody being much better or having anyone quite like Larry. How great was it to have Larry going against Bobby? This could have easily been the championship round.”

1965-69 TOMCAT ALL-STARS (106) – Lynch 8-26 2-2 19, Spears 8-16 0-0 17, Baldridge 1-3 4-4 6, Wheeler 13-15 1-2 27, Jackson 6-10 4-4 16, M.Griffith 2-6 0-0 4, Williams 3-4 0-0 6, Kleykamp 3-4 1-1 7, Owens 2-3 0-0 4, Conley 0-2 0-0 0. FG: 46-89. FT: 11-12. 3FGs: 3-10 (Lynch 1-4, Spears 1-4, Jackson 0-1, Kleykamp 1-1). Rebounds: 43 (Lynch 2, Spears 10, Baldridge 7, Wheeler 16, Jackson 1, M.Griffith 1, Williams 3, Owens 2, Conley 1). Assists: 24 (Lynch 4, Spears 2, Baldridge 4, Wheeler 2, Jackson 2, M.Griffith 5, Williams 1, Kleykamp 1, Owens 2, Conley 1). PF: 20. Turnovers: 22.

1960-64 TOMCAT ALL-STARS (111) – Sergent 5-11 7-7 18, Smith 5-11 1-2 11, Sparks 1-19 9-9 22, Beam 5-7 1-4 11, Conley 18-23 7-10 43, Cram 2-3 0-0 4, Wright 0-4 0-0 0, McKenzie 0-1 0-0 0, Branham 0-1 0-0 0, Hilton 1-2 0-0 2. FG: 47-82. FT: 16-23. 3FGs: 1-8 (Sergent 1-4, Sparks 0-3, Wright 0-1). Rebounds: 28 (Sergent 6, Spears 5, Beam 6, Conley 4, Cram 4, Branham 1, Hilton 2). Assists: 28 (Sergent 11, Smith 5, Spears 2, Conley 3, Cram 1,  McKenzie 4, Branham 1, Hilton 1). PF: 18. Turnovers: 22.

1965-69 TOMCATS       23       29       14         40          –        106

1960-64 TOMCATS       36       24       25        26          –         111

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