SUMMIT, Ky. – It seemed fitting to match Boyd County’s first and last 16th Region championship teams under coach Roger Zornes.
The 1984 and 2000 Lions were both special to Boyd County’s coach who claimed seven regional titles in his tenure.
Instead of having to coach against himself, though, Zornes turned over the reins to the 1984 Lions to longtime assistants Phil Pratt and Bobby Sparks.
That would allow Roger Zornes to coach his son, Tyler, one more time and with good reason. His son was one of the most prolific scorers in region history and the top scorer in Boyd County history along with hitting one of the biggest game-winning shots in region tournament history with a 3-point bomb that defeated rival Ashland at the buzzer in 1999.
There was a lot of buzz around this game beyond Tyler Zornes though. Some of Boyd County’s greatest athletes were part of these teams in Caleb Stewart, Brad Taylor, Pete Fraley and Zach Fugeman.
“Seems right to have these teams play each other but I don’t like going against Brad Taylor,” coach Zornes said. “He won a lot of games for us in 1984 and the rest of that bunch is special to me because that was my first team that won the region. A great bunch.”
It shaped up to be a dandy and the crowd arrived early. Mike Tussey and Dicky Tiller were going to combine on the radio broadcast and the game was being televised on MyTown with closed circuit viewing in the Boyd County Middle School auditorium.
The game was expected to be a sellout. It was that and more a few minutes before tipoff as the teams went through a similar pregame.
“It’s what they know under coach Zornes and I didn’t see any reason to change it,” Pratt said. “I don’t know how this is going to go. Bobby and I are over our heads coaching against him.”
The game, of course, would be heavy on the defense with both teams trying to establish themselves as the Big Dog. Jim Moore knocked Tyler Borders hard to the floor on one rebound, grabbing the basketball and then throwing a hip into his opponent.
The referees were letting them play and both teams seemed to understand how it was going to be.
Borders was helped up after the knockdown and pointed at Moore, as if to say, “I’ll remember that.”
Meanwhile, the game was played tight until Zornes sparked a late surge that gave 2000 Boyd County the lead at 26-16 after scoring eight points.
It got much more defensive in the second quarter with baskets being hard to come by for both teams. The coaches were getting pure pleasure out of watching the teams go at it on defense. Nobody was safe with plenty of banging inside and outside.
The 2000 Lions maintained the 10-point lead at the half, 39-29, but the 84 Lions weren’t done. They rallied to within 54-50 going into the last eight minutes.
“I tell you what, both of these teams were gassed going into that fourth quarter because of how physical the game was being played,” Pratt said. “I’m glad the refs led them play, I’m just glad everybody kept their cool. These guys have a lot of respect for each other.”
The 3-point shot was working well for both teams with the 2000 Lions making 10 of 23 and the 84 Lions connecting on 9 of 20.
Before the game is over, the 3-point shot will play a more pivotal role.
Consecutive 3-pointers from Pete Fraley and Brad Taylor put the 1984 Lions in front 56-54 for the first time since the first quarter. The last six minutes of the fourth quarter would be a wild ride with the lead exchanging hands several times.
Two free throws from Bill Nipp took the lead to 61-57 for the 1984 Lions but Zornes and Fugeman combined for seven consecutive points and the 2000 Lions were back ahead 64-61 with only three minutes to play.
Moore’s steal-and-score made it 64-63 and Adam Young answered to stretch the lead to 66-63. But just went it looked like the 2000 Lions were ready to lock up the win, Jeff Lowe scored on a driving layup and some fullcourt pressure forced an errant pass.
With 29 seconds to play, Moore found himself open on the baseline and swished a 15-footer to put the 1984 Lions ahead 67-66. That four-point lead had disappeared in an instant.
“We had the game under control,” Coach Zornes said. “I knew those guy wouldn’t quit.”
And neither would the 2000 Lions. Zornes called a timeout to discuss strategy and everybody knew where it was going. The play was going to be designed for Tyler Zornes to shoot it.
“Oh yeah, we knew, too,” Pratt said. “We countered that as best we could.”
Stewart was the inbounder and Zornes came off a screen but Moore stepped into the passing line. Stewart, an outstanding baseball player later signed by the New York Mets organization, saw it too. He threw a laser to Borders, who had popped out behind the arc.
Borders gathered in the fastball and fired up the shot as the clock wound down. It was nothing but net and the 2000 Lions survived 69-67.
“Great shot from Borders,” coach Zornes said. “He was the second option on the play. We couldn’t shake Jimmy (Moore) but they made the mistake of not getting out on Tyler (Borders).”
Pratt said the defense was concentrating on taking an opportunity away from Tyler Zornes. “But the other Tyler got us,” he said. “It was a great game between some of Boyd County’s best players and an honor to coach these guys again. I know Roger feels the same way.”
Tyler Zornes scored 23, Stewart had 12 and Borders 11 for the 2000 Lions. Zornes made 5 of 11 from 3-point range.
Taylor’s 21 points led the 1984 Lions. Brian Vanhoose collected 12 points and six rebounds, Fraley scored a dozen with four assists and Nipp added 11 points. Moore had seven points and seven rebounds.
Boyd County’s 2000 team finished 22-8 and won the last of Roger Zornes’ regional championships for the Lions in a brilliant coaching career. Boyd County droppeda 52-50 heartbreaker to Elizabethtown in the Sweet Sixteen.
Boyd County’s 1984 team was the first regional title for Zornes in his second year as head coach. The Lions were 23-7, defeating Ashland 60-58 in the regional final and then falling to Ballard 47-46 in the Sweet Sixteen opener.
2000 BOYD COUNTY (69) – Zornes 6-19 6-7 23, Rose 4-6 0-0 8, Borders 4-8 1-2 11, Young 3-3 1-3 7, Fugeman 0-1 3-4 3, Stewart 4-10 2-6 12, Lange 0-1 0-0 0, Chaney 1-2 0-0 3, Evans 1-2 0-0 2. FG: 23-52. FT: 13-22. 3FG: 10-23 (Zornes 5-11, Fugeman 0-1, Rose 0-1, Borders 2-5, Stewart 2-4, Chaney 1-1). Rebounds: 30 (Zornes 5, Fugeman 3, Rose 8, Borders 2, Young 4, Stewart 7, Chaney 1). Assists: 7 (Zornes 3, Fugeman 1, Stewart 3). PF: 21. Turnovers: 13.
1984 BOYD COUNTY (67) – Nipp 4-5 2-2 11, Fraley 3-10 3-5 12, Moore 3-4 1-4 7, Taylor 4-8 8-11 21, Vanhoose 5-6 2-2 12, Lowe 1-3 0-0 2, Todd 0-3 2-2 2, Evans 0-1 0-0 0, Trimble 0-1 0-0 0. FG: 20-41. FT: 18-26. 3FG: 9-20 (Nipp 1-1, Fraley 3-9, Taylor 5-6, Vanhoose 0-1, Lowe 0-1, Todd 0-1, Trimble 0-1). Rebounds: 27 (Nipp 2, Fraley 1, Moore 7, Taylor 3, Vanhoose 6, Lowe 3, Todd 3, Trimble 2). Assists: 10 (Nipp 1, Fraley 5, Vanhoose 1, Todd 1, Trimble 2). PF: 22. Turnovers: 13.
2000 BOYD COUNTY 26 13 15 15 – 69
1984 BOYD COUNTY 16 13 21 17 – 67