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Brewers’ unbeaten Redmen have stood the test of time

March 15, 2018 FieldsColumn

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BY MIKE FIELDS

Barney Thweatt, who will be 88 in a few weeks, is still feisty as all get-out when it comes to reveling in the fact that he played on the last undefeated boys’ basketball team in Kentucky.

That was 70 years ago.

Thweatt started for Brewers (in Marshall County) when Coach McCoy Tarry’s Redmen went 36-0 and won the Sweet 16 in 1948.

Barney Thweatt

“When it happened, we didn’t think much about it,” said Thweatt, who was in Rupp Arena last night when his Brewers team was recognized. “We thought, well, it might happen pretty often. But it hasn’t.”

Brewers, in fact, is the only boys’ team to own a spotless record since Ashland went 37-0 in 1928.

That means the Redmen are the lone undefeated state champs in the last 90 years.

Thweatt said he’s had a few scares, including Apollo’s undefeated run to the state tournament in 1978 before it lost to Shelby County in the first round. And the next year Lafayette made it through the regular season unbeaten, but lost to Tates Creek in the district finals.

“I still think somebody will do it some year,” Thweatt said, before adding with a laugh: “But I hope not when I’m living. I know that’s selfish.”

Thweatt is one of only two players from that Brewers team still alive. Tom Mathis, who was the Redmen’s sixth man, lives in Paducah and didn’t make the trip to Lexington.

Marilyn Creason, a Brewers’ cheerleader and the widow of star player Coy Creason, was among those who did make it to Rupp, along with Mike Tarry, son of Coach Tarry who passed away in 1975.

Marilyn Creason

Thweatt said he has “a lot of good memories” from his playing days, and among those he cherishes most involve the state tournament. The Redmen also made the Sweet 16 in 1947 and were runners-up to Maysville.

“The thing I remember best is that all 16 teams stayed in the Kentucky Hotel, and we’d walk down to the (Louisville) Armory in our warmups.

“And we got to a meal in a big dining hall, and there’d be players from Owensboro, Maysville, Hazard and all over, and everybody would have their letter jackets on. There’d be Frank Ramsey from Madisonville, Cliff Hagan from Owensboro . . . It was exciting to see all those guys.”

Thweatt also coached two schools to the Sweet 16: Oldham County in 1963 and Paducah Tilghman in 1967.

He used to be regular state tournament spectator, but this was his first trip back in a few years.

He was obviously delighted to be back last night to soak up the atmosphere.

“This is the best place in the world to watch basketball,” he said.

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