Best time to be an Ashland Tomcat? It may well be

Welcome to 16th Region championship Saturday!

Ashland plays Rowan County today at 2 p.m. in Ellis T. Johnson Arena for the boys final and Russell and Boyd County meet in the girls final at 6 p.m.

The Tomcats are in the regional championship game for the fourth year in a row.

Coach Jason Mays has an 8-0 record in the regional tournament since arriving on the scene. The Tomcats are 52-4 the past two years. That’s astounding when you think about it.

Somebody asked the other day on Facebook has there ever been a better time to be a fan of the Tomcats?

It’s hard to imagine. Last year, the Tomcats went 33-0 in basketball and followed that with an 11-0 state championship football season.

The 1966 Tomcats won the regional basketball tournament and went 25-0 to win the state baseball championship that spring. The following year the baseball team (again) won the state baseball title and the football team followed that fall with a football state title.

Colin Porter protects the ball against tight defense from West Carter. John Flavell, a fixture at the regional tournament for years, took this photograph. His pictures tell the story as well as anyone could. John, a teacher at Morehead State, is one of the finest photographs in Kentucky and a great friend to me over the years. His work is appreciated by all who see it.

In 1976, the basketball Tomcats began a string of five consecutive regional titles and that came on the heels of the 1975 JAWS championship football team. So that wasn’t a bad time either.

The Tomcats were state basketball champions in 1961 and the next fall went 8-1-1 in football but didn’t make the playoffs, which started in 1959.

Way back in 1928, the Tomcats went 37-0 and won the state and national basketball championships and the 1928 football team finished 10-0-1. Record-wise anyway, that hadn’t been matched until 2020 with the Tomcats going unbeaten in basketball and football back-to-back in spring and fall.

So to answer the question of Rhett Robinson, who made the comment, it may be the best time to be a Tomcat. Rhett knows about championships too being part of the 1990 state football Tomcats.

Karma calling?

Seems to me that if karma is a real thing (I’m not saying it is or isn’t) then Ashand will defeat Rowan County today in the finals.

Last year’s perfect season had a most imperfect finish because of the coronavirus. They are forever in limbo as a 33-0 team but never really knowing if they would have won the state tournament (unless you read Tomcat Tales, which reveals the result!).

Put karma in Ashland’s corner today.

My Town TV salute

Where would we all be without My Town TV televising games not only last year but this year as the coronavirus raged?

Despite the amazing success in basketball and football, few people outside of parents have seen the Tomcats in-person during much of the season.

But we have been able to watch much of Ashland’s season because of technology. My Town TV does an outstanding job of bringing the Tomcats into our living rooms and I know many are thankful for that opportunity they presented us.

So a tip of the hat to Jeromy Sutherland, Chris Pullem, Mike Miller, Bryan Barber, Tyler Rowland and others involved in showing the games to a fan base that would have been so saddened to miss all this.

That said, I’ve enjoyed the calls from Dicky Martin (like always) when the games weren’t available on television. He is a rock in the Tomcat program.

Porter’s winning shot

Colin Porter’s incredible 3-point shot at the buzzer to end regulation tied the Tomcats game with West Carter in the semifinals on Thursday.

It wasn’t surprising that he hit the shot. My guess is he’s practiced that move hundreds if not thousands of times. I’ve never seen a point guard with the IQ of Colin at such a young age. Remember, he’s only a sophomore. He loves the big moments and found himself in one with the ball in his hands and time running out on the Tomcats’ season. He never hesitated.

Schedule-maker

Coach Jason Mays makes no apologies for a globe-trotting schedule that he said would make the Tomcats better. He was right.

Ashland took on all-comers and two of those opponents, Highlands and Bowling Green, have already clinched spots in the Sweet 16. Johnson Central, Boyle County and North Laurel will are regional championship games.

So as many as five foes could be part of this year’s state tournament.

Highlands and Bowling Green were two of four teams to defeat Ashland.

Streaking Tomcats

Ashland has won 36 consecutive games against 16th Region opponents, dating back to the 2019 regional tournament. The Tomcats’ last loss against a regional foe was to Boyd County in the 2019 64th District championship game.

The Tomcats’ own the region’s longest winning streak at 51 games between 1975 and 1980. Paul Patterson never lost against a regional opponent from 1975-1979, capturing four consecutive region titles in the process.

Ernie Simpson took the 1980 team to the Sweet Sixteen, losing only once in the region against Holy Family in the district championship before avenging that loss in the region championship.

Familiar names, talents

In a year of things that aren’t normal, there are two in the regional tournament that are quite normal and very good: Chuck Rist doing the PA for the games and John Flavell taking photographs for The Daily Independent. The are both artists. I used one of John’s photos as an example. He’s such a good friend and the absolute best sports photographer in Kentucky.

Tomcat Tales podcast

If you haven’t already been listening to Tomcat Tales podcast, then start today.

Friday’s podcast was an interview with Rob Lynch, who led Ashland to the 1992 regional title and has been instrumental in guiding young Tomcats to following their dreams. He comes from my favorite Tomcat family. They have been part of regional tournament basketball champions in 1966, 1970, 1971, 1992, 1993, 1996 (state runner-up) and three state baseball championship teams in 1966, 1967 and 1968.

The Lynches have scored 5,799 combined points and Rob’s sons are coming up through the system so 6,000 points isn’t that far away. Amazing.

Here is a rundown of the Lynch legacy with years, games, total points. Rob would have been in 1,000-point club if not for a broken foot that cost him several games his senior year.

Lynch, Bill ………………. 1964-66         60        416

Lynch, Bob……………… 1966-68         86      1278

Lynch, Chris……………. 1994-96         81        846

Lynch, Dale…………….. 1970-72         90      1025

Lynch, Michael………… 1993-95        99      1348

Lynch, Rob……………… 1990-92         76        878

Lynch, Ryan……………. 1993                2            8

Next week’s podcast includes an interview with Jeff Hall, the former Fairview and Louisville great who also coached the Tomcats for two seasons including the 1992 regional title team.

Search Tomcat Tales wherever you get your podcasts.

And the winner is …

For many years as sports editor of The Daily Independent, the mysterious Swami made predictions of the regional tournament.

Here’s one for the road: Ashland 70, Rowan County 66.

One thought on “Best time to be an Ashland Tomcat? It may well be

  1. Great write-up, Mark! Good luck to Ashland today. -Alex Barker

    PS- In the history of great buzzer-beaters at the 16th Region, where does Porter’s shot rank? I remember Zornes for Boyd County hitting a dagger 3 to win it, but couldn’t remember if that was the district or regional. I believe it was against Ashland.

    Like

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