Looking back

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By Tommie Kendall

To find out the last time the Henry County boys’ basketball team won a district championship — before this past year’s team claimed the 31st District crown — you have to search back 40 years, to 1971.
The Wildcats beat the now-defunct Shelbyville Devils, 69-65, in the finals, thanks to a 25-point fourth-quarter performance from the Cats and 31 points from sharp shooter Mike West. It was all written about in the March 11, 1971 edition of the Henry County Local.
I’ve enjoyed getting the opportunity to write history pieces, especially in the summer months when the high school sports are not in season and content is harder to come by. Johnny Marcum, Jim Green, LaMont Sleets and Steve Olsen were some of the highlighted players I enjoyed researching and writing about. And there were plenty of teams of the past that stood out, too — in basketball, notably, the 1962 Henry County squad was the first and only to win the regional championship, while the last one to do so at Eminence was in 1949. Those stories, and many others, can all be found in old clippings of the Local.
Instead of re-writing stories this summer, I’ve decided to take some of those old stories and re-run them in the paper as they were written at the time. For those who were there, it gives them a chance to reminisce; for those of us who were not, it gives us a chance to know the story — as it was written by someone who was there.
Sports Illustrated re-runs some of its old stories at times — I remember reading one about the 1972 Los Angeles Lakers who won the NBA championship, featuring Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain and Elgin Baylor. And my complete 1980s collection of Runners World remains my top reading material on a daily basis.
First up, in this week’s paper, is the story of that 1971 Henry County boys’ basketball team that won the 30th District title. It was a more historic win than the Wildcats knew at the time, as they had to wait another 40 years to win another district championship, this time out of the 31st District.
There will be more stories that follow each week, from different eras and in different sports. It’s an attempt to take our readers back in time, to look back at some of the key moments in the county.
Like reading about the 1972 Lakers and flipping through those old Runners World magazines, I hope you find these just as enjoyable.

Tommie Kendall can be reached at (502)845-2858 or sports@hclocal.com.