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Scott County vs. Trinity reminiscent of past first-round showdowns

March 14, 2018 FieldsColumn

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Shelby County Coach Tom Creamer and star Charles Hurt celebrated the Rockets’ win over unbeaten Apollo in the first round of the 1978 Sweet 16. (Courier-Journal photo)

BY MIKE FIELDS

As the 101st Whitaker Bank/KHSAA Sweet 16 gets ready to tip off at high noon, much ado is being made of today’s first-round matchup between Scott County and Trinity.

The hype is justified.

Scott County (34-1) and Trinity (30-3) are two of tournament favorites. They’re both loaded with talent, both are led by coaches who’ve won state championships. 

Billy Hicks led Scott County to titles in 1998 and 2007, and Mike Szabo guided the Shamrocks to the top on St. Patrick’s Day in 2012. (They beat Scott County in the finals.)

But this isn’t the first time the Sweet 16 has featured such a tantalizing first-round showdown.

Two of the best I remember:

— In 1978, No. 1 Apollo, sporting a 35-0 record, faced No. 2 Shelby County in front of 17,000 fans in Freedom Hall. Apollo, coached by Wayne Chapman, had a pair of four-year starters and Division I players in Steve Barker (Samford) and Jeff Jones (Virginia). Shelby County, coached by Tom Creamer, featured Charles Hurt (UK).

The game was tight until the closing minutes but the Rockets, paced by Hurt’s 23 points, pulled away for a 62-55 victory.

Shelby County went on to claim the championship, outlasting Holmes 68-66 in overtime in the finals.

— In 1982, co-favorites Bryan Station and North Hardin faced off in the opening game of the Sweet 16 in Rupp Arena in front of 16,672 fans. The Defenders were led by the trio of Keith Berry, William Conner and Jeff Clay. North Hardin had the dynamic duo of Brett Burrow and Robbie Valentine.

Bryan Station led most of the way, but North Hardin rallied and Marvin Watts’ free throw with :04 left won it for the Trojans. It was the final game for retiring Bryan Station Coach Bobby Barlow.

As it turned out, North Hardin, coached by Ron Bevars, suffered its own heartbreak a few days later when it lost in the state finals to Laurel County 53-51 on Paul Andrews’ half-court shot.

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