Turnovers … by Alan B. Gibson

Posted December 23, 2019 at 12:37 pm

Chuck SpeaksG.psd

A basketball legend gone, Ken “Chuck”

Conner led all CCHS scorers for over 50 years

Word came mid-day Tuesday that a legend in the halls of Clinton County High School basketball, Kenneth “Chuck” Conner, had passed away after suffering an apparent heart attack.

Having undergone heart bypass surgery multiple times over his latter years, I once sat next to Chuck in the cardiologist waiting room after my own bypass surgery, and listened to him talk about his hopes for the research of surgeons using veins from pigs for bypass surgery in humans.

When I questioned why he would be interested in that possibility, he simply held out both arms to show the long scars from vein harvesting, and said “I’m out of veins” with laugh.

Conner held the career scoring record at Clinton County High School for some 53 years, setting the mark of 1,887 points with his final game in a blue and white uniform in 1962. That mark held until it was broken by Keifer Dalton in the 2014-15 season.

While some might be sad that one of their records had been eclipsed after so long, he was elated that young Keifer Dalton passed him, and Chuck came to the CCHS gym in January 2015 to speak briefly to the crowd about his playing days before presenting Dalton with the basketball that he had scored his own record setting point with a week earlier.

For the first time, Chuck had, this season, purchased a chairback reserved seat in the Lindle Castle Gymnasium in order to enjoy the games with a front-row view. His front row seat was directly behind my spot at the table, and near to one of his 1962 teammates, Jack Sewell.

I was looking forward to getting to chat it up with Chuck during timeouts and breaks in the action on the floor. Just four home games into this young season, sadly, Chuck hadn’t been able to make it to a game.

Inducted onto the Wall of Fame in the second class after its inception, Chuck’s 1999 bronze plaque was on display on a table in front of a black ribboned wreath in the gym lobby Tuesday night for everyone to examine.

With the Wall of Fame plaque forever on display, his accomplishments on the hardwood will continue to be available for all future Bulldogs to admire.

Once a Bulldog, always a Bulldog – and Chuck was one of the best. Goodbye, my friend.

A fitting tribute to a Bulldog Hometown Hero

In what was a moving but very fitting tribute Tuesday night at halftime of the boys game, when Bulldog super fan Virgil Malone stood at center court, flanked by school officials and several local Veterans, and was presented with the diploma that he missed receiving when the rest of his class graduated in 1965.

Virgil was overseas when the rest of his classmates were presented with their high school diplomas. He had been in Vietnam fighting in the war since his sophmore year.

A recently adopted program through the Kentucky Department of Veteran’s Affairs arranges for veterans like Virgil to be presented with their high school diplomas now, years after they were away fighting to defend our democracy and the rights that go along with it.

I befriended Virgil several years ago when he began showing up at basketball games and would stop by the oficial table to chat about the team before the game would start.

Often, he stops by the office to visit for awhile, never staying long and always leaving with the words “It’s good to have seen ya, good buddy.”

Fittingly, when Virgil was presented with his diploma by Superintendent Tim Parson, fans at Tuesday night’s game on both sides of the gymnasium, rose to their feet to give the Hometown Hero a standing ovation.

Virgil has become a mascot of sorts to the boys’ basketball teams for the past few years, and at the close of Tuesday night’s ceremony, the team swarmed and surrounded him in a huddle and offered up a Bulldog cheer to show their admiration for their biggest fan.

In the meantime-I’m in the gym until March,

and Merry Christmas!

Al, Virgil, Banner, medalsG.psd