Dodd’s revenge or more of the same in 2007 vs. 1972 Russell battle?

RUSSELL, Ky. – Steve Dodd, the coach of Russell’s 2007 basketball team, was almost salivating at the idea of getting another crack at the 1972 Red Devils.

It has been nearly 50 years since Dodd was a member of the top-ranked Ashland Tomcats when Russell shocked them in the 16th Region championship game.

Dodd hasn’t forgotten the moment and never dreamed that he’d have the chance for revenge, even if it was as a coach in a simulation game.

But the opportunity has come: It will be two of the Red Devils’ best going at each other in a game that’s sure to be a thriller.

“That game haunts me and sticks in my crawl,” Dodd said of the Red Devils win over the Tomcats in 1972. “We could have won it all.”

Dodd had one more year with the Tomcats but they lost in the regional finals again in 1973 to Boyd County – the first regional championship for the Lions and only their second-ever win over Ashland.

“A lot of heartbreak,” Dodd said.

He made it back to the 16th Region as a coach of the Red Devils and was coming off a regional championship season in 2006 – the first for Russell since that 1972 season. So a matchup of this magnitude was dripping with irony.

“Irony, shimery, we just want to beat them,” Dodd said of the Red Devil showdown.

As expected, it was a tightly contested battle with eight lead changes and was tied nine different times. Defense was the name of the game with neither team able to even shoot 40 percent from the field.

Some stars emerged though. Rick Hensley scored 27 points with nine rebounds for 72 Russell and Jonathan VanHoose had 20 points and six rebounds for 07 Russell.

Those were almost expected. What wasn’t expected was how physical the game was played.

“We were hoping for a more wide open game because that’s how we liked to play,” said 72 Russell coach Marvin Meredith. “But we sure don’t mind playing defense. In fact, these guys trapped out of the 1-3-1 as well as any team I ever had.”

Russell’s 72 team also held a 37-32 rebounding advantage with Hensley and Jack Savage combing for 16 boards.

However, the 2007 Red Devils bounced out to the halftime lead after outscoring 72 Russell, 22-15, in the second quarter. Mark Thiery rolled an ankle and missed the rest of the game for the 72 Red Devils.

“We were kind of out of sync after that,” Meredith said. “It shook us a little bit in the second quarter.”

72 Russell fought back in the third quarter and the teams were tied at 53 going into the final eight minutes.

Hensley made a pair of free throws to put 72 Russell ahead 55-53 and Austin Blair drilled a 3-pointer to put 2007 Red Devils back in front 56-55 on the next possession.

The game remained tight until Hensley scored on a fastbreak and was fouled. He sank the free throw to complete the three-point play and give 72 Russell a 65-59 advantage with 4 ½ minutes to play.

“Big play from Jim Ward on the steal and long pass to Hensley for the fast break,” Meredith said. “That’s the 1-3-1 in action. The trap was perfectly set and led to a huge basket for us. If I smoked, I’d have lit up a victory cigar after that play. It took it out of them.”

True enough. The 2007 Red Devils never seemed to recover and drew no closer than four points the rest of the way. Hensley, meanwhile, scored 10 points in the last four minutes including four free throws. 72 Russell made 29 of 33 free throws.

“Two things that don’t last long are dogs who chase cars and teams that miss free throws,” Meredith said. “We made almost every one of them.”

Dodd was hard to console after yet another heartbreaking defeat against 1972 Russell.

“Disappointed with how we shot the ball,” he said. “Our defense wasn’t as good as it seemed considering how many times we put them on the foul line. That’s a good team but they’re my nightmare and I guess they’ll continue to be.”

For 2007 Russell, Scott Gill collected 11 points and seven rebounds and Austin Robinson scored 15.

Ward scored 17 and Savage 14 to complement Hensley’s game-high 27. Tony Elam had nine points and five assists for 72 Russell.

Real life

 2007 Russell had a 27-5 record and bowed out in the 16th Region semifinals. Leading scorer Jonathan VanHoose didn’t get to play in the postseason because of a knee injury. The Red Devils won the region with basically the same team the previous season.

1972 Russell stunned No. 1 Ashland in the 16th Region finals and finished 26-7 after an 89-87 loss to Elizabethtown in the Sweet Sixteen quarterfinals. It was the last regional championship until 2006.

2007 RUSSELL (65) – Gill 4-11 2-2 11, Frazier 1-4, 0-0 3, Turnover 1-3 2-3 5, Robinson 4-9 7-12 15, Vanhoose 7-19 3-4 20, Blair 2-7 0-0 5, Harvey 1-1 1-2 4. FG: 20-55. FT: 17-25. 3FG: 8-21 (Gill 1-3, Frazier 1-3, Turner 1-2, Vanhoose 3-6, Blair 1-6, Harvey 1-1). Rebounds: 32 (Gill 7, Frazier 4, Turner 3, Ferguson 7, Vanhoose 6, Blair 3, Harvey 2). Assists: 8 (Gill 3, Robinson 1, Vanhoose 2, Blair 2). PF: 25. Turnovers: 14.

1972 RUSSELL (72) – Savage 3-6 7-7 14, Elam 3-9 3-5 9, Hensley 6-9 11-12 27, Ward 5-11 7-8 17, Thiery 1-6 0-0 2, Hillman 0-3 1-2 1, Branham 1-2 0-0 2, Sargent 0-0 0-0 0. FG: 19-46. FT: 29-33. 3FG: 5-10 (Savage 1-1, Elam 0-1, Hensley 4-5, Thiery 0-1, Hillman 0-1, Branham 0-1). Rebounds: 37 (Savage 7, Elam 3, Hensley 9, Ward 10, Thiery 4, Hillman 2, Branham 2). Assists: 10 (Savage 1, Elam 5, Hensley 1, Ward 1, Thiery 1, Hillman 1). PF: 20. Turnovers: 22.

2007 RUSSELL            17     22     14          12     –        65

1972 RUSSELL            20     15     18          19     –        72

Mighty Mickey and 57 Red Devils try to measure up with 68 Red Devils

RUSSELL, Ky. – Russell’s 1957 basketball team had the top gun in its battle with the 1968 Red Devils, who displayed the kind of balance that made them champions.

Mickey Syndenstricker was hard to stop, collecting 30 points and 11 rebounds, but the 57 Red Devils never led – not even for one possession – in a 77-70 loss to the 68 Red Devils.

Coach Marvin Meredith had the pleasure of sitting at midcourt and directing both teams. He said it was a hoot watching his Red Devil teams try to fight through his devastating 1-3-1 defenses that won him so many games.

“They knew what was going to happen and still fell into the traps,” he said, grinning. “It was great watching Mickey again. That boy could score from anywhere against anybody.”

But he also loved the balance of the 68 team that won the 16th Region championship. Tom Roberts, a 6-8 center, was dynamite inside with 17 points and 12 rebounds. Tookie Helton had 14 points and nine assists and Roger Vanover also had a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Lanny Miller was the fourth in double figures with 13 points.

“Those guys were so fun to watch and they ran that 1-3-1 better than anybody,” Meredith said.

Even though the 68 Red Devils led the entire way, they never could completely shake the 57 team. The biggest lead was 13 points. The game got extremely tight and was tied at 44 midway through the third quarter after Syndenstricker scored five consecutive points. It was tied again at 46 and 48.

“What a ballgame and I had the best seat in the house,” Meredith said.

Sydenstricker pulled 57 Russell within 68-64 with four minutes to play but they would get no closer.

“We never could put together a run like we needed,” Syndenstricker said. “Those guys were good inside. Roberts was a horse and Vanover was a bull. It was very physical. I tried to hold my own.”

Russell 57 also had four in double figures led by Syndenstricker, who connected on 11-of-21 attempts and made the team’s only two 3-pointers. They were 2-for-15 from behind the arc.

“I told those guys not to fall in love with that shot,” Meredith said. “Mickey hit a couple but two robins don’t make spring.”

His other team, however, made 8-for-19 from 3-point range led by Helton, who hit 3 of 7 triples.

Neither team was too rattled by the 1-3-1 but the 57 Red Devils made only 12 of 20 free throws compared to 17 of 22 by the 68 Red Devils.

“I was proud of both these teams and I loved all these boys,” Meredith said. “Like I told both of them later though, ‘A hundred million Chinese didn’t even know we played tonight.’ So don’t get too high over the win or too low over the loss.”

Real life

Russell’s 1957 team finished the season 28-5 and fell to Clark County in the regional finals. Syndenstricker, in his only season with the Red Devils, scored 885 points and averaged 27.7 per game. He scored 46 against McKell and 41 against Ashland in the district tournament.

Russell’s 1968 team finished 25-6 and defeated Ashland in the regional finals. They bowed out against Clark County, which had moved to the 10th Region, in the opening round of the Sweet 16 in Louisville.

1957 RUSSELL (70) – R.McKenzie 2-8 0-0 4, Gallion 6-7 1-3 13, L.McKenzie 3-10 4-4 10, Williams 3-7 0-1 6, Syndenstricker 11-21 6-10 30, Short 0-1 0-0 0, Howes 1-1 0-0 2, Willis 1-3 0-0 2, McSurley 1-3 1-2 3. FG: 28-61. FT: 12-20. 3FG: 2-15 (R.McKenzie 0-1, Gallion 0-1, L.McKenzie 0-4, Williams 0-1, Syndenstricker 2-7, McSurley 0-1). Rebounds: 32 (R.Meknzie 1, Gallion 2, L.McKenzie 5, Williams 6, Syndenstricker 13, Howes 3, Willis 1, McSurley 1). Assists: 12 (L.McKenzie 5, Gallion 1, R.McKenzie 3, Sydenstricker 1, Short 1, Willis 1). PF: 22. Turnovers: 8.

1968 RUSSELL (77) – Miller 2-4 7-8 13, McCain 3-5 0-0 7, Helton 4-9 3-3 14, Vanover 5-9 4-4 16, Roberts 7-13 3-6 17, Conley 2-5 0-1 4, Hollan 0-2 0-0 4, Fosson 2-2 0-0 4, Faulkner 1-1 0-0 2. FG: 26-50. FT: 17-22. 3FG: 8-19 (Miller 2-3, McCain 1-2, Helton 3-7, Vanover 2-6, Hollan 0-1). Rebounds: 34 (Miller 3, McCain 2, Helton 3, Vanover 11, Roberts 12, Fosson 2, Faulkner 1). Assists: 17 (Miller 2, Helton 9, Vanover 2, Hollan 2, Fosson 1, Faulkner 1). PF: 17. Turnovers: 17.

1957 RUSSELL           12        22        19          17        –           70

1968 RUSSELL           19        25        15          18        –           77









Did 82 Lions go to Well(s) too often against 95 Lions?

SUMMIT, Ky. – Brock Walter, Boyd County’s ultimate defender in 1982, had his hands full with the assignment against the 1995 Lions.

Say hello to Frank Lee, one of the Lions’ all-time great offensive players.

It was a dream matchup of offense vs. defense.

Walter was up for the task, said he even looked forward to it. Careful what you wish for, it might come true – at least in simulation.

Like most Boyd County teams during the Jeep Clark and Roger Zornes eras, it was defense and rebounding that made them both tough to beat. That was certainly true with in 82 and 95, who were both 16th Region champions.

Lee was an explosive offensive player and so was his backcourt mate Casey Sparks, who was a do-it-all point guard. Chad Stevens was another pure shooter that year for the Lions.

So how did the measure up against the likes of 6-6 Joey Wells and 6-6 Mark Vanhoose inside? Those twin towers were difficult for anybody to match up against under the basket.

Both the 82 and 95 Lions repeated their feat of winning the regional title the year prior.

“It was always nice to look out on the court and have Joey and Mark in the lane for two years,” Clark said. “It gave me some comfort that everything was going to be OK. And I always felt kind of sorry for anybody who Brock was guarding. He could make life miserable for you.”

Lee and Sparks had a way of making opponents miserable too. They could both shoot and rebound, drive to the basket or drill the 3-pointer.

“Man, I loved having those two guys in the backcourt,” Zornes said. “But just like Jeep’s team, it all started with defense.”

The game was as good as advertised with 13 lead changes and five ties. The game was tight throughout with the 82 team’s biggest advantage at eight points and the 95 team’s biggest lead at seven points.

The first quarter was more of a feeling out time for both of them and the 82 Lions led 16-14. But in the second quarter, Walter picked up his second foul – a charging call that the normally mild-mannered Clark greatly objected to with the officials – and that opened the gate for Lee in the last four minutes of the first half.

He went so far as to even getting a technical foul, something that seldom happen.

Finding some breathing room for the first time, Lee scored 10 of his 12 first-half points with Walter – and Clark – seething on the bench.

With that boost, the 95 Lions outscored the 82 Lions, 24-16, in the second quarter and led 38-32 at the half.

“We had a good first half but Wells and Vanhoose were starting to wear us down a little,” Zornes said. “I wasn’t sure how we were going to stop them.”

Wells, who also picked up two early fouls, had scored only two points in the first half but his fortunes were about to change. The 95 Lions had no answer for him in the third quarter and even more trouble in the fourth quarter.

The 95 Lions held onto the lead until Jeff Sisler drilled a 15-footer for a 49-48 lead with two minutes left in the third quarter. Wells was fouled on a dunk and he completed a three-point play with only seconds remining in the third quarter to build a 53-50 lead.

“Joey came to life and I knew he would,” Clark said. “Brock did a great job of locking down Frank and he found Joey and Mark inside time after time.”

Wells, who finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds, scored 11 in the fourth quarter alone. Vanhoose had 13 points with most of that coming on the foul line, making 10 of 12.

“We had to keep fouling him to keep him from getting baskets but he kept making free throws,” Zornes said. “Give him credit.”

The 95 Lions fought back and took a 54-53 lead when Jerome Salyers scored on an offensive rebound, muscling his way between Wells and Vanhoose.

But then it was Wells who ignited a 9-2 run with seven points for a 62-56 advantage with only four minutes remaining. The 82 Lions finished it off with steady play down the stretch to record a hard-fought 71-66 victory.

“I wish Phil (Pratt) and me had never shown Joey and Mark some of our secrets,” Zornes said with a smile. “Joey is a good one. He’s a horse in there and we couldn’t match up with him.”

Lee scored 19 but only seven in the second half against Walter, who played his typical bulldog style. He tipped passes away on several occasions and stayed tight with Lee, who was several inches taller.

“I like a good challenge,” Walter said. “Frank is so strong, definitely one of the better players I ever had to defend. The charge call was unfortunate and I kind of lost my head a little there. Of course, so did Coach Clark so guess it was OK.”

“Man, Brock is a killer on defense,” Lee said. “I never had anybody play defense like that guy. Every one of my shots were contested and most of the time he just kept it away from me. Everybody always talked about him. Now I know why.”

Walter had 10 points and four assists and Todd Stai scored 11, making 3 of 6 from 3-point range. Sisler added eight points.

“Great balance on offense and that’s what we did, how we won,” Clark said.

Sparks collected 13 points, nine assists and three rebounds and Chad Stevens scored 12 on 6-for-7 shooting.

The 82 Lions held a 29-23 rebounding advantage in the physically played game.

Real life

 1982 Boyd County won 28 games and the second consecutive 16th Region title for coach Jeep Clark. The Lions fell to Owensboro in the Sweet Sixteen, 60-56.

1995 Boyd County went 23-9 and captured the regional title, beating rival Ashland for the third time in four games. The Lions lost to University Heights in the Sweet Sixteen, 64-60.

1982 BOYD COUNTY (71) – Clarke 1-5 4-4 6, Vanhoose 1-3 10-12 13, Stai 3-9 2-2 11, Walter 3-5 4-4 10, Wells 7-11 5-7 19, Griffith 1-2 0-0 2, Nipp 0-3 0-0 0, Sisler 4-5 0-2 8, Short 1-3 0-0 2. FG: 21-46. FT: 25-31. 3FG: 4-15 (Clarke 0-1, Vanhoose 1-3, Stai 3e6, Walter 0-1, Wells 0-1, Nipp 0-2, Sisler 0-1). Rebounds: 29 (Clark 2, Vanhoose 3, Stai 1, Walter 3, Wells 13, Nipp 2, Sisler 4, Short 1). Assists: 11 (Clarke 1, Stai 2, Walter 7, Sisler 1). PF: 15. Turnovers: 12.

1995 BOYD COUNTY (66) – Cyrus 3-9 0-0 6, Lee 7-12 3-3 19, Sparks 4-11 5-6 13, Stevens 6-7 0-0 12, Ison 1-2 2-2 4, Salyers 4-6 1-1 9, McLain 1-2 0-0 3, Taylor 0-0 0-0 0, Vipperman 0-0 0-0 0. FG: 26-49. FT: 11-12. 3FG: 3-15 (Cyrus 0-3, Lee 2-5, Sparks 0-3, Ison 0-1, Stevens 0-1, McLain 1-2). Rebounds: 23 (Cyrus 4, Lee 3, Sparks 6, Stevens 5, Ison 1, Salyers 4). Assists: 12 (Cyrus 2, Lee 1, Sparks 9). PF: 20. Turnovers: 11.

1982 BOYD COUNTY       16      16         21      18      –         71

1995 BOYD COUNTY        14      24         12      16      –         66

A bruising battle between Boyd County heavyweights

SUMMIT, Ky. – It was exhausting. A game where every basket was hard to come by. There was pushing and shoving. It was physical, fistfight basketball.

Mike Tyson might as well have been the referee.

Two Boyd County teams that made defense and rebounding their calling cards, were matched against each other in a heavyweight bout between 16th Region champions 17 years apart.

Boyd County’s 1973 team, the school’s first regional champion, came in with the idea that had the muscle and they had flamboyant Davey Wooten as their point guard. Wooten of the floppy hair and floppy socks, was a cold-stone killer of a basketball player.

Boyd County’s 1990 team took on the persona of its coach, fiery Roger Zornes, who coached a no-nonsense style of basketball that was predicated on being the toughest team on the floor. The 1990 Lions’ fullcourt pressure could rattle even the best of teams.

“This wasn’t a G-rated basketball game,” said 73 coach Brice Thornbury. “Everything you got, you earned. I was cringing on the bench when (Rob) Chaney and (Jason) Goad were colliding out there.”

Wooten and Wes Crawford made for a delightful matchup, at least for the fans. They went against each other like two starving dogs. It ended in a stalemate, both of them battered and bruised from going at each other.

Players were diving everywhere for loose balls and digging in their heals for rebounds. It was so tough that it may have been modeled after Bill Bradley’s CLEM games.

The teams battled to a 19-19 tie in the first quarter and the 90 Lions managed to wrestle out to a 36-33 halftime lead. Both of them were glad to get to the locker rooms for a breather.

“It was physical out there, just like we like it,” Zornes said. “I told the guys at halftime they were coming after us. We needed to be ready to take a shot from them.”

Phil Pratt and Rob Chaney were vicious rebounders and they were clearing everything. They combined for 20 of the 73 Lions 35 rebounds. And if anybody thought the first half was physical, they should have been there for the third quarter.

Elbows, shoves, tipped balls and not many points. But the 73 Lions had managed to go ahead 49-48 with eight minutes to play.

The game featured 10 lead changes and 10 ties. The 90 Lions led by as much as eight points and the 73 Lions led by no more than three points.

“I looked down at Roger and asked him if he wanted to call it a tie,” Thornbury said. “He didn’t. I was starting to worry that a few of these guys were going to leave in an ambulance.”

The game turned somewhat when Chaney turned an ankle and had to sit out for three minutes of the fourth quarter. But Doc Bayes had him taped up and ready for the stretch run.

“I let them have Doc Bayes to fix Chaney’s ankle,” Zornes said. “That showed my softer side.”

Dicky Tiller was broadcasting the game and Boyd County fans who weren’t in the Summit gymnasium were listening to him. He moved as quick as anybody had ever seen him move when Chaney and Mark Stevens were going after the same loose ball near his table.

They both took a dive and Tiller survived a spill that put him on his back. But he never quit calling the play in a Hall of Fame broadcasting move.

“I had to let people know what was happening even though I ended up looking at the ceiling,” he said.

Everybody collected themselves and the game went on along with Tiller’s call of the game. “Well Kenny,” he said to his partner, Kenny Osborne. “That’s the first time I’ve been anybody has knocked me off my feet.”

The fourth quarter was tense with the biggest lead coming at 67-61 with 120 seconds remaining. It looked like doomsday for the 73 Lions. Casey Shumway came alive, scoring four points to make it 67-65 and after Snook Bryan came up with a steal at midcourt and breakaway layup it was all tied at 67 with only 15 seconds remaining.

The 90 Lions turned it over on a five-second call and the 73 Lions had a chance to win it. Wooten’s behind-the-back pass to Pratt set him up for a 15-footer but Pratt’s son, John Stacy, came from behind and slapped the ball away and off his dad’s foot out of bounds.

This time Zornes called a timeout and set up a play for Lewis Burke who gathered in a bullet pass from Stevens near midcourt and headed to the basket. With time running out, he pulled up from about 12 feet away and defenders went right past him. He let it fly … swish! … and the 90 Lions had survived at the buzzer 69-67.

“That’s how a game between two championship teams should end,” Zornes said.

Players congratulated each other and limped off the floor in what was the most physical simulation game you’d ever want to watch.

“That game was so physical I’m sore from coaching,” Thornbury said.

Pratt collected 19 points and 12 rebounds while Shumway scored 15, Chaney 14 and Wooten collected 11 points and seven assits.

Lewis Burke, his white jersey strained with streaks of blood after taking an elbow to the nose, led four in double figures with 16 points. Stevens scored 13, Goad had 11 points and eight rebounds and Crawford added 10 points for the winners.

Real life

Boyd County’s 1990 team finished 26-7 and won the regional championship before losing in the opening round of the Sweet 16.

Boyd County’s 1973 team finished 26-7 and won the regional championship before losing in the opening round of the Sweet 16.

1990 BOYD COUNTY (69) – Keeton 4-8 1-2 9, Stevens 3-10 7-7 13, Goad 3-10 2-2 11, L.Burke 7-9 2-6 16, Crawford 5-7 0-0 10, Marshall 0-3 5-6 5, Phillips 1-2 0-0 2, Stacy 0-1 3-4 4, B.Burke 0-4 0-0 0. FG: 23-54. FT: 20-27. 3FG: 3-21 (Keeton 0-1, Stevens 0-6, Goad 3-9, Marshall 0-1, Stacy 0-1, B.Burke 0-3). Rebounds: 31 (Keeton 1, Stevens 4, Goad 8, L.Burke 6, Crawford 4, Marshall 7, B.Burke 1). Assists: 13 (Stevens 2, Goal 2, L.Burke 1, Crawford 6, Stacy 2). PF: 18. Turnovers: 11.

1973 BOYD COUNTY (67) – Pratt 9-12 0-2 19, Bryan 3-12 1-1 7, Chaney 6-13 0-0 14, Wooten 5-7 1-6 11, Hayes 0-2 1-2 1, Shumway 5-8 4-4 15, Clark 0-1 0-0 0, Pennington 0-2 0-0 0. FG: 28-57. FT: 7-15. 3FG: 4-19 (Pratt 1-3, Bryan 0-6, Chaney 2-8, Shumway 1-2). Rebounds: 35 (Pratt 12, Bryan 5, Chaney 8, Wooten 2, Hayes 4, Shumway 3, Pennington 1). Assists: 15 (Bryan 2, Chaney 1, Wooten 7, Stacy 5). PF: 23. Turnovers: 15.

1990 BOYD COUNTY        19      17         12      21      –         69

1973 BOYD COUNTY        19      14         16      18      –         67