The ‘Worm’ turned in most dynamic dunk in Sweet 16

March 16, 2017 FieldsColumn

Lonnell Dewalt’s one-handed rebound dunk in the 2004 title game helped clinch Warren Central’s victory over Mason County. (Sporting Times photo)

BY MIKE FIELDS

Perry County Central’s Damon Tobler had an impressive dunk during the Commodores’ win over Pikeville in the Whitaker Bank/KHSAA Boys’ Sweet 16 on Wednesday. It was just for show, though, because the slam was erased when Tobler was whistled for a foul on the play.

Even if it had counted, however, it wouldn’t have come close to matching the most dynamic and most important state tournament dunk I can remember.

Warren Central’s Lonnell “Worm” Dewalt had the jam of all jams in the 2004 title game against defending champion Mason County.

In the closing minutes of the fourth quarter, Warren Central was clinging to a 58-54 lead when Dewalt had a rebound slam off a miss by Matt Maresca to push the margin to 60-54.

But that wasn’t the Dewalt dunk that brought down the house.

On the Dragons’ next possession, Brock Whitney missed a three-pointer and . . .

Let’s let Tim Riley, the Dragons’ coach at the time, recall what happened next:

“The ball came off the rim to the right, and it was outside the backboard. Lonnell takes off from the top of the key, reaches out — his arm is straight out level — catches the ball with one hand and in one sweeping motion, brings it around and dunks it.

“I look up in the stands and people are coming out of their seats and running up and down the aisles. They’d never seen anything like Worm’s dunk.”

Riley said that former Fairdale coach Stan Hardin, who was doing the radio broadcast, compared Dewalt’s acrobatic flush to something Dominique Wilkins might have executed in his NBA days.

Rose Hill Christian eighth-grader O.J. Mayo had a memorable slam in the 2003 Sweet 16. (Herald-Leader photo)

Dewalt’s dunk likely ranks as the best in state tournament history not only because of its amazing athleticism, but because it pretty much sealed a state championship for Warren Central — they won 66-56 — and denied Chris Lofton & Co. a repeat title.

Riley called it “the most significant moment in my basketball career.”

Another dunk that caught my attention was by Rose Hill Christian’s O.J. Mayo. It was memorable because Mayo was just an 8th-grader at the time.

Rose Hill was playing South Laurel in the first round in Rupp. The final seconds of the first half were ticking away when Mayo drove the lane and threw down a nasty slam.

Yes, Mayo was 6-4, but he was an eighth-grader.

Mayo’s dunk was the highlight of the game, which Rose Hill won 65-46.

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