ASHLAND, Ky. – All week long the talk was of the battle between two of Holy Family’s best basketball teams.
Who would prevail between the Irish teams of 1967 and 1980?
They both had reputations to uphold and the attention was building before Game Day. Several area schools offered to let the Irish use their gymnasiums because of the anticipated crowd, but they kept it in the Irish bandbox anyway. People were wall to wall and the noise was unbearable.
“We wanted the popcorn money,” said Bill Bradley, an interested onlooker. “There was a lot at stake.”
Coaches Bill Carroll of the 67 Irish and Mike Sherman of the 80 Irish were going to have a hard time communicating with the players.
The game was a sellout the day before it was scheduled so a closed-circuit viewing party was going to be allowed at the Knights of Columbus. There may have been some blurred vision in there – from the closed circuit, I mean – and they had to lock the doors. The overflow venue was already overflowing.
Both teams were careful what they said before the game but it was clear they both wanted this one.
The 67 Irish came up firing and took a 16-8 advantage over the stunned 80 Irish, who seemed a little shaken by the crowd.
“I’ve never seen so many people in this gym,” said Art McCullough, the slick-shooting forward. “I mean they were right on the floor with us. It was hard to tell where the out-of-bounds line was because of people spilling onto the floor.”
It was going to be an uphill fight for the 80 Irish, who trailed 32-23 at halftime after the poor first quarter.
“I took two timeouts in the first quarter and they were either not listening to me or couldn’t hear me, I’m not sure which one,” Sherman said. “We needed some time to settle down and we did in the second half.”
The biggest deficit of the game came at 34-23 when John Layne drilled an 18-footer to begin the second half. But the game started to turn after that for the 80 Irish, who seemed to get their footing behind point guard David Layne, who finished with 12 points and six assists.
“We did a great job in the first half and a poor job in the second half,” Carroll said. “
John Layne put the 67 Irish in front 41-33 but eight straight points from David Layne tied the game at 41 halfway through the third quarter. It was going to be a tight affair the rest of the way and the crowd was getting rowdy.
The game was tied three more times at 45, 53 and 57. The 67 Irish built a 57-54 advantage before Dave Michalak connected on four consecutive free throws to put the 80 Irish in front 58-57.
“Clutch free throws from Dave,” Sherman said. “This game had a little bit of everything.”
Tom Davis answered for the 67 Irish with a putback, powering it in over Dan Phillips, to make it 59-58 with 43 seconds remaining. Davis finished with 17 points and eight rebounds.
The 80 Irish chose to run the clock down and did so with perfection. Dave Layne’s ballhandling was aided by McCullough, who would pop out when he got into trouble. They also used two timeouts to run the clock down to 10 seconds.
Following the last timeout, the strategy was set with McCullough, who had 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting, primed to take the potential game-winner. He fired up a heavily contested shot from the wing that bounced high off the rim. It went up so high that several of the 67 Irish mistimed their jumps. Phillips snuck between Davis and Maynard Thomas and managed to get his left hand on the ball and tipped it in. The 80 Irish had pulled it off, 60-59, as fans poured onto the floor.
“Well, our last-second play didn’t work out like we planned but big Dan got the tip in there and made us a winner,” Sherman said.
Michalak had 13 points and five rebounds and Phillips eight points and eight rebounds for the 80 Irish. Thomas had 14 points and John Layne added 10 points, six rebounds and five assists for the 67 Irish.
“Disappointing loss because we led for nearly the whole game,” Carroll said. “Not sure how this simulation works, but my teams didn’t blow 11-point leads. You need to upgrade your computer. Our defense was good, not great, but that’s a good team. They had some firepower. That was a lucky bounce on Artie’s miss but give Phillips credit for hanging with it.”
Holy Family’s 1980 team was a special one, finishing 28-6 and reaching the 16th Region final for the 10th – and last time – in school history. The Irish fell to Ashland, 56-48. They had snapped the Tomcats’ four-and-a-half year winning streak against region competition with a victory in the 64th District final.
Holy Family’s 1967 team was a good one in a year when Ashland and Russell were both extra good. They stunned the Tomcats in the AIT but fell to them in the district finals by 27. The Irish finished 24-9.
1967 HOLY FAMILY (59) – J.Layne 4-10 2-2 10, Brislin 0-3 2-2 2, Morris 4-10 1-3 9, Davis 7-17 3-3 17, Thomas 6-8 2-4 14, Uhron 1-3 0-0 2, Borgerding 2-2 1-3 5. FG: 24-53. FT: 11-17. Rebounds: 26 (J.Layne 6, Brislin 1, Morris 3, Davis8, Thomas 4, Uhron 2, Borgerding 2). Assists: 14 (J.Layne 5, Brislin 4, Morris 3, Davis 1, Uhron 1). PF: 16. Turnovers: 11.
1980 HOLY FAMILY (60) – D.Layne 5-8 2-2 12, McCullough 7-10 2-2 16, Stewart 2-8 2-2 6, Michalak 3-7 7-8 13, Phillips 4-6 0-0 8, Bailey 1-3 0-0 2, Bauer 1-2 2-2 4, Bradley 0-1 0-0 0, Tussey 0-1 1-2 1. FG: 22-46. FT: 16-18. Rebounds: 33 (D.Layne 4, McCullough 4, Stewart 7, Michalak 5, Phillips 8, Bailey 2, Bauer 2, Bradley 1). Assists: 16 (D.Layne 6, McCullough 6, Stewart 3, Michalak 1). PF: 15. Turnovers: 11.
1967 HOLY FAMILY 16 16 13 14 – 59
1980 HOLY FAMILY 8 15 22 15 – 60