COACH'S CORNER: March Madness memories, part one
by Mike Wright, Cadiz Record Columnist
Feb 20, 2013 | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Kentucky is famous for many things. Among those are the Kentucky Derby, Bluegrass music, bourbon distilleries, Mammoth Cave, Abraham Lincoln, coal, Muhammad Ali, Ashley Judd and, last but not least, BASKETBALL! This time of year is affectionately known as March Madness, which is a synonym for tournament time. The only problem with March Madness nowadays is that it always begins in February. This current year in particular marks the earliest date that I can ever remember for the 5th District Tournament. I guess that is appropriate. Heck, everything in the world is backed up to an earlier date now. Youth sports leagues start at age three. Why, one parent years ago even sent Rick Pittino a sonogram of his soon-to-be-born son telling the coach he had better start recruiting him now. Anyway, I wanted to share with you some memories from back in the day when March Madness actually took place during the third month of the year.

THE BRAWL

The year was 1970. I was at the top of Crittenden County’s old gym with my back against some frost-covered windows. I just happened to be in the fourth grade then. The battle on the court was intense as bitter rivals Trigg and Crittenden battled. During the second half, a skirmish broke out on the court and the unthinkable happened. A Crittenden County parent came on the floor brandishing a knife and went after a Trigg player. Before long there was full-scale madness, with the fight spilling out to the lobby. At some point in the melee, Cat Barnes, the mother of the Trigg player involved, approached Trigg County Coach Jim Wallace. She said, “Mr. Jim, I have something in my purse if you want it.” Wallace looked in the open purse and to his shock saw a pistol. He said, “Cat, put that thing up now, please.” Order was eventually restored and the game finished. Wallace would not let his team out of the locker room until they got a state police escort home.

LEISURE SUITS AND PLATFORM SHOES

The year was 1975. I had grown to be a 5-foot-11 freshman by that time. I was a member of Trigg County’s outstanding varsity team that year. Even though I was a big-time bench warmer as a freshman, I enjoyed riding the coattails of James Hobson, Henry Cunningham, Frank Hobson, Jack McGee and Big Ricky Radford all the way to the regional championship game. That was the era of guys wearing leisure suits and platform shoes with giant heels. I can still remember rocking the bright red leisure suit and shoes with 4-inch platforms. I was a full 6-foot-4 when I walked into the gym. I just hope that no pictures survived from that era.

COACH MAGGARD-EVERYBODY QUIT-THE HAWKS

The year was 1985, my second as a coach at Trigg County. I was an assistant to Ray Maggard. What a season. We had what we thought was a rather talented group of players. We got off to a rough start. Before long, things happened. There is no need to go into that and open old wounds. Things just happened as they often do during a long basketball season. Anyway, I think nearly all five starters quit the team, and by district time, five guys that had been on the bench most of the season were starting. As fate would have it, those guys led us to the district championship. The replacements, as we might call them, were Tommy Cassity, Tony Baker, Tracey Baker, David Sumner and Kim Mayes. John “Spinach” Humphries was the sixth man. I think those names are close to correct. The most interesting thing was that some of the guys that quit ended up leading the student section in the crowd and spurring the team to victory. The group in the crowd called themselves the “Hawks” during that championship run.

Next week, I will come to you with more March Madness memories as we progress through the decades of the ‘90s and 2000s.

I also hope this year’s version of March Madness will be the beginning of some good memories for the Trigg County Wildcats.

Enthusiasm Makes the Difference

Mike Wright is the head coach of boys basketball and cross country at Trigg County High School. Emails concerning Coach’s Corner can be sent to jmcgill@cadizrecord.com.

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