ASHLAND, Ky. – Before 1952 Holy Family and 1958 Booker T. Washington laced it up for a simulation basketball game in the tiny Irish gym, they were introduced to the 3-point line.
“You mean if I shoot behind that circle you’re going to give me three points?” asked Holy Family scoring star Fred Simpson. “My man, you might as well start counting by three! This is where I shoot from all the time.”
Simpson picked up a basketball, made sure he was behind the stripe, and swish!
BTW players liked the look of the 3-point stripe, too. Marshall Banks and Wilbert Barrow immediately started trying to find the range from there.
“Oh man!” said Marshall Banks. “I love this 3-point shot!”
“Me too,” Barrow said. “Just make sure you save some shots for me, Marshall. Now don’t forget. Pass the ball!”
He proceeded to connect on three consecutive from behind the arc
Coaches Father Edward Haney and Wilmer West were briefed about the 3-point rule so they didn’t have time to draw up any new strategy. But it wouldn’t matter much for these two freewheeling offensive teams. This game promised to have some scoring.
Simpson and Tom Fitzsimmons were two of the best scorers in Holy Family history and BTW’s 58 team won 23 games that season with a high-scoring offense led by Marshall Banks, Barrow, Jack Smith, James Keeton and James Banks.
True to form, the game started out with a lot of offense and not much defense. The Irish, behind Simpson and Fitzsimmons, jumped ahead 24-16. Simpson made four triples and he was just getting warmed up.
BTW rallied a little but trailed 40-34 at the half. If the Irish had taken better care of the basketball, they would have easily led by double figures. The Hornets used a halfcourt trap and forced 15 turnovers and managed to keep it close.
“Defense was the key to keeping us in the game,” West said. “We got too darn comfortable shooting that new-fangled shot. I told the guys before we started that we needed to play our game and not worry about that 3-point gimmick. That shot will never make it.”
BTW turned up the defensive intensity a little more in the third quarter but still tailed 59-56 entering the last eight minutes. Marshall Banks was finding the range from behind the arc against his coach’s wishes, making all four of his attempts.
The Hornets led only once at 9-7 through three quarters but they were getting closer and closer.
Meanwhile, Simpson and Fitzsimmons were doing what they do best – shoot and score. They would finished with a combined 56 points and Simpson bombed in 8-for-17 from 3-point range which was much to his liking.
“I love this 3-point shot!” Simpson said after the game. “If we’d have had that when I played, my average would have been twice as good.”
“Nobody ever had to convince you to shoot,” Fitzsimmons said. “I’m surprised I got any touches.”
Actually, Fitzsimmons took 25 attempts to Simpson’s 23.
BTW pulled within 59-58 when James Banks scored on a breakaway but Jack Gossett and Simpson had back-to-back buckets to make it 62-58 and then Gossett drilled a 3-pointer to make it 65-58.
“I thought we were in great shape right there and maybe ready to go on a run and end this game,” Haney said.
However, Tyrone Fitzpatrick and Barrow ignited a 10-2 run that tied the game at 67 and then gave BTW the lead at 68-67 when Thomas sank two free throws. Marshall Banks then got a steal at midcourt and after working the ball around got open behind the arc and let fly with his fourth 3-pointer and it was nothing but net. That brought the lead to 71-67.
“We put together a nice little spurt there,” West said. “I had to apologize to Lawrence. When he took that 3-pointer I was saying ‘No! No! No!’ and when it swished I said ‘Yes! Yes! Yes!’’’
But it wasn’t over as Fitzsimmons scored on back-to-back trips to retie the game at 71. It went back and forth over the last two minutes until it was tied at 76 and the Hornets had possession. West called for a timeout and set up his strategy – it was going to be a 3-pointer from the deep corner with Marshall Banks if the plan worked.
They broke the huddle and the Irish were leaning on Banks, who raced to the corner to get away. He saw Barrow breaking hard down the middle and managed to whip a perfect bounce pass into his hands for a wide-open layup at the buzzer. BTW had pulled it off, 78-76, in a game with offensive fireworks from both sides.
Simpson scored 31 and Fitzsimmons 25 with 11 rebounds. Simpson had nine rebounds. Gossett had eight points and 10 assists. The Irish certainly fell in love with the 3-point shot, making 10 of 26 attempts.
Marshall Banks was 7-for-9 shooting and made all four of his 3-point attempts and both free throws for 20 points. Jack Smith had 13 points and seven rebounds and Barrow had 16 points and five rebounds. Keeton collected eight points and seven rebounds.
BTW was an efficient 6-of-12 on 3-point attempts.
“I guess I could learn to like it,” West said of the 3-pointer. “We sure couldn’t stop Freddie. He was on fire out there. Those two guys (Simpson and Fitzsimmons) are a handful.”
Holy Family’s 1952 team was 23-11 and eliminated in the first round of the district by Russell. It was the junior year for Fred Simpson and Tom Fitzsimmons, who went on to have high-scoring senior seasons as well.
Booker T. Washington’s 1958 team was 23-9 and stunned Ashland in the district tournament. They lost the next night to Russell and didn’t make it to the regional tournament. But the win over the Tomcats was a sweet one. They would integrate with Ashland four years later.
1958 BOOKER T. WASHINGTON (78) – Thomas 1-4 0-0 2, M.Banks 7-9 2-2 20, Smith 6-13 1-2 13, J.Banks 3-9 0-2 6, Botts 1-3 0-3 2, Barrow 6-18 2-4 16, Keeton 2-2 4-4 8, R.Brown 1-3 0-0 2, Fitzpatrick 3-4 0-0 6, Dan Brown 0-1 0-0 0, Don Brown 1-2 1-2 3. FG: 31-58. FT: 10-19. 3FG: 6-12 (L.Banks 4-4, Barrow 2-7, R.Brown 0-1). Rebounds: 38 (Keeton 3, L.Banks 5, Smith 7, J.Banks 3, Botts 3, Barrow 5, Thomas 7, R.Brown 2, Fitzpatrick 1, Don Brown 2). Assists: 19 (Keeton 5, L.Banks 4, J.Banks 2, Botts 1, Barrow 1, Thomas 1, R.Brown 3, Fitzpatrick 2). PF: 16. Turnovers: 19.
1952 HOLY FAMILY (76) – Gossett 3-9 0-0 8, Simpson 10-23 3-3 31, Fitzsimmons 11-25 3-5 25, Roll 2-7 0-0 4, Clark 3-8 0-0 6, Wheatley 1-1 0-0 2. FG: 30-73. FT: 6-8. 3FG: 10-26 (Gossett 2-5, Simpson 8-17, Fitzsimmons 0-1, Roll 0-2). Rebounds: 40 (Gossett 4, Simpson 9, Fitzsimmons 14, Roll 8, Clark 4, Wheatley 1). Assists: 12 (Gossett 10, Clark 1, Wheatley 1). PF: 25. Turnovers: 22.
1958 BTW 16 18 22 22 – 78
1952 HOLY FAMILY 24 16 19 17 – 76