‘That ‘70’s Show’ starts with ejections, ends with bang

ASHLAND, Ky. – Elimination games always leave players on edge.

The 1970-74 and 1975-79 Ashland Tomcat All-Star teams, knowing the stakes were high in Game 3 of the best-of-3 series, were both determined to set the tone with a fast start.

But referee Foster “Sid” Meade did it for them when he tossed Donnie Allen and Jeff Cooksey two minutes into the game. They were scuffling under the basket after Allen had fought through two hard screens from Johnny Mullins and Dale Lynch.

Ronnie Griffith, left, was series MVP and Steve Gilmore the winning coach.

Nearly knocked off his feet by the double-punch from Mullins and Lynch, Allen fell backwards into Cooksey, who retaliated by pushing him the rest of the way to the floor.

Meade blew his whistle and gave each player an emphatic technical foul and proceeded to give them the ol heave-ho, too.

“We’re not tolerating any of this nonsense tonight,” said Meade, who made the call that 70-74 Tomcat Danny Evans’ toe was on the 3-point line in a last-second buzzer-beater the previous night.

The boos were coming down so hard that coaches Paul Patterson and Steve Gilmore had to settle their fans down.

The score was 4-4 when play was stopped but the 70-74 Tomcats scored seven in a row for an 11-4 advantage. They stretched it to 25-15 when Paul Hixson did a head fake and drove in for a basket.

The 10-point margin turned out to be decisive as the 1970-74 Tomcats defeated the 1975-79 Tomcats, 85-78.

Much like in the first game of the series, the 70-74 Tomcats built a huge lead in the first half. It swelled to 42-22 with 4:19 remaining in the half. They led 48-35 at intermission.

“Our guys were ready,” Gilmore said. “I think Sid made the right call there to settle things down even though we hated losing Jeff. He’s such a fierce rebounder and garbage man.”

David Smith took up the scoring slack with 16 points on 6-of-14 shooting. Series MVP Ronnie Griffith had 21 points, 11 rebounds and six assists in another solid game. Mullins had 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Smith, though, was the difference after being fairly quiet in the first two games.

“David isn’t afraid to shoot, that’s for sure,” Gilmore said. “When he got it going though, he became tough to defend.”

While Allen wasn’t much of an offensive threat, the 75-79 Tomcats missed him on defense. Patterson said ejecting Allen for getting banged around like a pinball was not right.

“They were targeting him and he’s the one who gets ejected,” Patterson said. “I know what Sid was trying to do, to defuse a situation before it happened, but Donnie didn’t do anything wrong. If anything he was fouled three times himself.”

It seemed to take the life out of the 75-79 Tomcats although they did get within 72-67 with 7:23 remaining in the third quarter when Dale Dummit hit from 15 feet. However, they never got any closer as Smith scored half of his 16 points the rest of the way.

Jim Harkins scored 20 points with five rebounds, Jeff Kovach collected 18 points and seven rebounds and Jimmy Mann pulled down 14 rebounds.

“When didn’t get enough offensive production from our guards,” Patterson said. “Our defense was better but still bad.”

Mark Swift scored 11 and Mark Collins added 11.

Evans, still stunned from the loss in Game 2, was only 3-for-11 shooting for four points. “I kept looking down at the floor before shooting and it got in my head,” he said. “That shot just kept coming back to me.”

Gilmore said he was looking forward to taking the 70-74 Tomcats to the quarterfinal round.

“I think these guys have a shot to win it all,” he said. “We beat a good team in this series. There aren’t many duos better than Harkins and Kovach.”

1975-79 ASHLAND (78) – Harkins 9-19 2-4 20, Kovach 7-11 4-5 18, M.Swift 3-11 5-6 11, Mann 2-2 0-0 4 4, Collins 5-9 0-0 10, Welch 0-5 1-2 1, G.Swift 1-4 3-6 5, Dummit 3-3 1-2 7, Allen 1-1 0-0 2, Smith 0-4 0-2 0. FG: 31-70. FT: 16-27. 3FG: 0-4 (Harkins 0-2, Collins 0-1, Welch 0-1). Rebounds: 45 (Harkins 4, Kovach 7, M.Swift 4, Mann 14, Collins 8, Welch 1, G.Swift 2, Dummit 2, Allen 1). Assists: 13 (G.Swift 5, Kovach 2, M.Swift 1, Mann 1, Collins 1, Welch 2, Dummit 1). PF: 21. Turnovers: 24.

1970-74 ASHLAND (85) – Farrow 2-8 1-2 5, Evans 2-11 0-0 4, Smith 6-14 4-5 16, Griffith 9-20 3-5 21, Mullins 5-10 2-3 12, Lynch 4-6 0-0 8, Dodd 2-7 3-6 7, Cooksey 2-2 0-0 4, Williams 1-4 0-0 2, Hixson 3-4 0-0 6. FG: 36-86. FT: 13-21. 3FG: 0-3 (Evans 0-1, Smith 0-1, Lynch 0-1). Rebounds: 43 (Evans 4, Smith 4, Griffith 11, Mullins 10, Lynch 5, Dodd 3, Williams 5, Hixson 1). Assists: 21 (Farrow 4, Evans 2, Smith 1, Griffith 5, Mullins 3, Lynch 3, Dodd 4). PF: 19. Turnovers: 17.

1975-79 ASHLAND 15       20       21       22            –           78

1970-74 ASHLAND 25       23       19       18            –           85


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