WESTWOOD, Ky. – It seemed fitting that Fairview’s 1974 and 1982 basketball teams would have another opportunity to play.
Both of their seasons ended valiantly but on a downbeat with hard-fought losses in the 16th Region Tournament – the 74 team to East Carter in the semifinals and the 82 team to Rowan County in the first round. The hope for both teams was for much more.
So for old time’s sake, why not lace them up one more time?
Coach George Cooke was all about it, having retired after Jeff Hall’s sophomore season. Now Hall was a senior sharpshooter and an All-State player who was feared throughout the region.
“I’m not sure stopping him from scoring is in the defensive playbook,” Cooke said. “But we had some tough boys back in 1974 and none of them were tougher than Joe Barker.”
The biggest difference in this game was being able to utilize the 3-point shot and both teams were excited about it. But maybe they shouldn’t have been.
The 74 team made 7 of 28 – only 25 percent – and the 82 team hit only 4 of 17 for less than 25 percent. It was a bit surprising given the penchant for shooting that both teams possessed.
Don Rigsby, a high-scoring junior forward in 74, fell in love with shots behind the arc. Maybe because it was good at it, hitting 6 of 14 and scoring 29 points in a typical performance.
Hall more than matched him although it surprisingly didn’t come from 3-point range. He was a modest 3-of-5 from there but connected on all 10 free throws and was 10 of 16 from the floor to score 33 points, a game high.
“Not that surprising that Rigsby and Jeff would do what they do,” said 82 coach Jim Day. “I think we all kind of saw that coming. We were happy with Don shooting the 3s, at least until he started making every one of them.”
The game didn’t hinge on Rigsby and Hall though. It was the complementary players that made the difference.
Barker had 13 points and nine assists and Bobby Lambert and Jeff Mullins scored 11 and 10 respectively.
Rick Clark muscled for 13 points and 10 rebounds and Ben Spradlin scored 14 points with seven rebounds and six assists. Tom Craft collected eight points and five rebounds.
“This was a well-played basketball game although defense seemed to be a problem for both of us,” Cooke said. “And I think Baldy Stout could have done a better job on the boards. That’s where they hurt us the most.”
Fairview’s 82 team jumped ahead 11-2 with Hall scoring a quick six points. The 74 team was in catchup mode the rest of the game and they never caught them.
The 82 Eagles led 30-20 after the first quarter and never trailed in the game. Their biggest lead was 13 points after another flurry from Hall. The advantage grew from 20-13 to 26-13 on three consecutive baskets from Hall, who scored an incredible 27 in the first half.
However, Fairview’s 82 team led only 43-37 at halftime.
“I didn’t feel good at the half, quite honestly,” Day said. “Jeff had scored 27 and we only led by six. But everybody else picked it up in the second half.”
Fairview’s 74 team came roaring back in the second half and tied the game at 55 inside the first minute of the fourth quarter.
The game remained tight until Clark broke it open with some solid inside play. After Hall scored his last points on a jumper for a 63-59 lead, Richards scored six points during an 11-5 surge that brought the advantage to double figures at 74-64 with six minutes to play.
“That was the death blow for us,” Cooke said.
Clark said he’d gained a little boost after stopping at a Pump N Go, which had a 2-for-1 deal on candy bars and energy drinks. “I was ready to go!” he said.
Barker, who was maybe the most competitive player on the team, was upset after the loss when he saw a 21-9 advantage on free throws made for the 82 Eagles.
“I’m sorry, I don’t like to complain, but they were calling fouls on us if we even breathed on Jeff,” he said. “I know the whole COVID thing is going around but come on. This is basketball. Let us play. We could have won the game.”
Hall made all 10 of his foul shots, including twice making all three after being fouled on 3-point attempts.
“I didn’t touch him either time,” Barker lamented. “COVID calls.”
Fairview’s 82 team also held a 44-34 rebounding advantage.
Fairview’s 1974 team finished 20-9, won the NEKC tournament, the 63rd District and defeated both Boyd County and Ashland. Henry Clay walloped them 117-64 in the AIT and East Carter eliminated the Eagles by 20 in the regional semifinals.
Fairview’s 1982 team was a solid bunch and senior-laden. Hall, Spradlin and Clark were the mainstays of a team that went 21-9 and was formidable against anybody. The Eagles lost to North Hardin in the AIT and one of the cheerleaders for North Hardin later became Jeff Hall’s wife.
1974 FAIRVIEW (74) – Rigsby 8-18 3-4 29, Barker 4-10 4-6 13, Nickles 5-9 1-2 11, Lambert 5-8 0-0 10, Thompson 0-6 0-0 0, Mullins 4-7 1-3 9, Renfroe 0-3 0-0 0, Harris 1-2 0-0 2. FG: 29-63. FT: 9-15. 3FG: 7-28 (Rigsby 6-14, Barker 1-3, Nickles 0-4, Thompson 0-6). Rebounds: 34 (Rigsby 9, Barker 4, Nickles 3, Lambert 8, Thompson 3, Mullins 1, Harris 4). Assists: 14 (Rigsby 2, Barker 9, Nickles 2, Mullins 1). PF: 22. Turnovers: 15.
1982 FAIRVIEW (81) – Craft 2-4 4-5 8, Spradlin 6-19 2-3 14, Hall 10-16 10-10 33, Whitlock 2-8 0-0 4, Rick Clark 6-9 1-2 13, Mills 1-2 4-5 7, Queen 1-5 0-0 2, Rodney Clark 0-0 0-0 0. FG: 28-63. FT: 21-25. 3FG: 4-17 (Craft 0-1, Spradlin 0-7, Hall 3-5, Whitlock 0-1, Mills 1-2, Queen 0-1). Rebounds: 44 (Craft 5, Spradlin 7, Hall 7, Whitlock 10, Clark 10, Mills 4, Queen 3). Assists: 15 (Craft 5, Spradlin 6, Hall 1, Whitlock 2, Queen 1). PF: 19. Turnovers: 17.
1974 FAIRVIEW 20 17 17 20 – 74
1982 FAIRVIEW 30 13 12 26 – 81