From ‘Now or Never’ to ‘Uptown Funk,’ it’s going to be an epic championship game

ASHLAND, Ky. – Around town they were referring to it as Larry’s Legends against The Kids.

The final two teams of the Tomcat Shootout simulation tournament were playing for a championship and everybody was talking about it.

Jason Mays, the coach of the 2015-20 Tomcats, was losing sleep over it. He’d been up all night watching 16 mm video of Larry Conley dominating team after team for the 1960-64 Tomcats.

Nobody had stopped him yet and Mays wasn’t sure they could either.

Dicky Martin was fired up for this one.

“We have to figure out something else,” he said. “Larry is going to get his, but we have to make it hard on him. We have a lot of fouls to give and we’re going to use them. He may be shooting a lot of free throws.”

Even though the 2015-20 Tomcats were known for their high-scoring offense, it was the defense that predicated everything.

“We win with defense,” Mays said. “That’s where it starts.”

On the other bench, coach Bob Wright was devising a strategy to limit the 3-point looks of the 2015-20 Tomcats and deciding how to defend the Villers’ brothers. Christian, Chase and Cole had become a dominating force.

“It’s like looking at three clones the way those guys can shoot,” Wright said. “This game might be first one to 120 wins!”

On the eve of the championship game, everybody was looking for tickets. It was already a sellout at James A. Anderson Gymnasium. They brought a closed circuit television for the lobby where chairs were set up so another 800 could at least see it that way.

Giovanni’s on Blackburn Avenue was not only bringing the game in via My Town TV, but also piped in Dicky Martin and his father’s call of the game. Dicky was on the FM signal and his father, Dick Martin, was going to be on the AM signal. Headphones at the tables allowed guests to listen to either call.

People were choosing sides and some bets were going down from what insiders were saying.

This game had all the trappings and it may have been the biggest sporting event Ashland had ever witnessed.

Young and old, they all wanted to watch this game unfold.

The players arrived at the gym a couple of hours early and it was already packed. Cathy Goble was lecturing her cheerleaders (making sure they stayed off the playing floor) and Marie Hamm was getting her cheerleaders together. There was even a bit of competition between the squads although they tried not to show it.

Dicky and his father were testing the broadcasting equipment and the fans from both sides were already finding their seats. They brought signs, noise-makers and a lot of Tomcat spirit.

Chuck Rist was lining up a song list – one for the 1960s and one for today’s songs. It was going to be a nice collection. Nobody was anymore prepared or jacked up than him.

Well, maybe the Martins, who were practically giddy tuning their radio dials to make sure everything was going to work correctly. Pete Wonn was with Dick Martin and Dirk Payne with Dicky. It was a sight to behold!

Donna Childers Suttle loves her Tomcats, but she had chosen who she was rooting for just the same. It was the 2015-2020 Tomcats.

“I just love those boys!” she said.

Dave Kouns and Scott Walter were trying to talk AD Mark Swift into letting them bring extra hot dogs and popcorn into the gym (they had bottles of water in their hoodie pockets). There was a good-faith negotiating and it looked like Swift was going to allow it because of the superfan status of Kouns and Walter.

“We don’t want to miss a second of this game,” Walter said.

The teams were in their respective locker rooms and it was sounding like thunder in the gym. Everybody was saying it had never been louder in Anderson gym. They were about to blow the lid off the place.

Rist had the music blaring with the volume on number 9 of 10. First it was “It’s Now or Never” from Elvis Presley and then to “Uptown Funk” with Bruno Mars, and a lot more to come. The atmosphere was electric and it was still 30 minutes before tipoff … Larry’s Legends vs. The Kids.

Come back Friday evening for the results.

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