Turnovers … by Alan B. Gibson

Posted January 24, 2018 at 9:44 am

Dawgs head back to McBrayer

Working around Mother Nature’s winter fury last week proved challenging for all of the schools trying to get the 4th Region All “A” Basketball Tournament games in, but I must say, I can’t imagine it going any smoother than it did in the hands of the group who were in charge at Clinton County High School last week.

Games that were supposed to be played on Monday were finally finished on Thursday and a tournament that was originally planned to be in the books by Friday night, saw championship games being completed on Sunday afternoon.

Kudos to the CCHS crew – it all went off without a hitch and as it turned out, Sunday’s championship contests played to a really nice sized crowd of fans in The Castle.

While the girls’ championship game was a second half runaway with the Lady Falcons of Monroe laying claim to the title and the right to head to Richmond this week for the All “A” Classic Sweet 16, the boys’ final was absolutely everything a tournament championship game should have been.

Hard fought, intense, a little temper flaring here and there, yelling and foot stomping from both benches and the outcome not being decided until the final minute of play and last possessions of the basketball.

In the end, it was Coach Todd Messer and the Dawgs who stormed the court to celebrate their return to the winner’s circle. The Bulldogs hoisted the championship trophy, Messer raised the game basketball and everyone hung around the gym that evening to take turns cutting down those championship game nets.

Coach Messer confirmed it had been one of, if not the sweetest victories of his coaching career.

Our first All “A” Classic championship since 2013, this will be the first trip to the All “A” Classic Sweet 16 for any of the players on this year’s Bulldog squad and believe me, they will all cherish the experience for years to come.

I’ve been a fan of this tournament since it’s very first year of going statewide in 1990.

Of course, Kentucky still does not use a class system in its high school basketball play, and that’s what makes the post-season Sweet 16 the “Greatest Show In Hoops”.

Big schools, small schools, private schools, public schools – throw ‘em all in together and see which ones rise to the top to claim the big trophy and banner.

While other states jumped ship and began classing their basketball competition – small, medium, medium large, large, big city large, public, private – it resulted, at least to me and others as well, in a watered down championship title(s).

Still, every year or so, the talk came up again – little schools didn’t have a chance against the big schools come March. Every few years, less often than it used to happen, a small school would win it all at the Sweet 16 as the Clinton County Lady Dawgs nearly pulled off in 2005, and the talk would calm down again . . . for a year or two.

Then, along came the All “A” Classic, and while it’s not a “sanctioned” KSHAA tournament, it does have the blessing of the governing body.

And so, here we go. A berth in the All “A”gives the small schools in Kentucky a chance to compete in a regional/state lineup of like-sized schools, and showcase our players in front of crowds that come from east to west and north to south. Most importantly those players and teams get to perform in front of a host of college scouts who take advantage of having 32 teams from small schools at the same venue for a five day period.

Now, basketball isn’t the only sport the All “A” Classic has grown to support as the organization has grown to include events and scholarships given to students involved in most every sport as well as academic competitions.

After a few years of moving around the state from venue to venue, the basketball tournament is back where it belongs in McBrayer Arena on the campus of Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond.

So, after a five year absence from the All “A” Classic state tournament, the Dawgs are back, playing in first round action Thursday night at 8:30 central time and going up against a very good team from Region 10, the Black Devils of Robertson County.

Coming in on the bottom of the bracket, Clinton County will be playing in the last game each day as they continue to win, with potential future games progressing through the brackets Friday at 8:30, Saturday at 7:30 and Sunday at 1:00 p.m. (all times listed here are central time).

As I mentioned, for this group of young men, as well as our current student body, this will be their first trip to the All “A” State Tournament and they haven’t seen how Clinton County can come together to support the Big Blue in an event like this.

It’s not that far to Richmond – a couple of hours at the most – so clear your Thursday night schedule, dig out your best blue and white outfit, and make the trip to the All “A” Classic this week to show your community pride.

Good luck Dawgs in the All “A” Classic State Tournament – Go Big Blue!


It’s high school basketball season and I’ll see you in the gym – don’t bother me until April!