EDMONTON — The 1985 Fourth Region and 16th District Champion Metcalfe County High School basketball team will be honored on Saturday during the school’s doubleheader against Adair County.
All 22 members of the team (16 players, six coaches and trainers) will be attending the event as some will be traveling across the country to be honored in front of an expected large crowd.
To this day, the 1985 Hornets are still the only boys’ team from the 16th District that has advanced to the state tournament.
“I’m just very fortunate to have coached that team,” Tim McMurtrey, head coach of the 1985 Hornets, said. “That team was the epitome of team basketball. Four different players scored between 11-15 points per game. They played for each other and formed a true team.”
After beating Clinton County in the first round of the district tournament, the Hornets won the district championship over Cumberland County.
It was the first time since 1973 that the boys’ team had won the 16th district championship. According to McMurtrey who was coaching in just his second season as head coach, anything past that point was an added success for the Hornets.
“The highest we were ranked that season was fifth in the region,” McMurtrey said. “We played the defending region champion of Logan County in the first round, and we were not sure we were going to win that game.”
But sure enough, the Hornets defeated the Cougars in the first round, and then they downed Edmonson County in the second round by 14 points. A huge matchup against the Glasgow Scotties then awaited Metcalfe County in the regional championship game.
Despite having beaten Glasgow three times previously in the season, the Scotties started out the game on a 14-4 run. In fact, Glasgow actually led the game by nine points with just four minutes left
However, the Scotties went 2-13 from the free throw line down the stretch to leave the door open for the Hornets. It was Chip Nixon who hit a shot for Metcalfe County to send the game into overtime. Then, David Garmon (step-brother of J.P. Begins) hit a shot that sent the championship into a second overtime.
Finally, Chris Barlow put the Hornets up for good with 10 seconds to close a classic Fourth Region Championship game as McMurtrey’s team finally broke through for the 16th District.
Awaiting Metcalfe County at Rupp Arena in the first round of the state tournament was Louisville Eastern who was ranked as the third-best team in the field and had future NBA player Felton Spencer on the roster.
In comparison, the Hornets were ranked last in the field.
“We were just happy to be there,” McMurtrey said with a laugh. “I was hoping we wouldn't be the first team ever not to score a point in the state tournament.”
With Metcalfe County completely shut down on game day, over 19,000 people were on hand to see the Hornets pull off the massive upset as they defeated Louisville Eastern.
“It was just so unbelievable at the time,” McMurtrey said. “That team meant a lot to a lot of people. Again, I’m just so fortunate to have coached them.”
In the second round, McMurtrey’s team would finally fall to Clay County who had Kentucky basketball legend Richie Farmer in the fold. Despite only being a freshman, Farmer scored 21 points in the victory.
The astonishing run came in large part due to the maturity and experience of the Hornets. Of the 16 players on the roster, six were seniors and 10 were juniors.
McMurtrey coached a total of 25 seasons at Metcalfe County which included a small break after the first 17 years. His last season at helm was the 2010-11 season.
The Lady Hornets are slated to start their game at 6 p.m. in Edmonton on Friday night followed the boys’ game which will tipoff at 7:30 p.m.