It was history in the making at the Frankfort Convention Center on Sunday as both the boys’ and girls’ basketball teams from Region 1’s Murray High School, both played their hearts out for their respective Championship titles in the 2016 Kentucky All “A” Classic Basketball Tournament held at the Frankfort Convention Center. The final day of of five straight days saw the Murray girls take on Owensboro Catholic. And the Murray boys take on the “little team that could” from Cordia High School. If both teams won, it would be the first time in tournament history that two teams representing the same high school, would each take home Championship trophies. That was not the case.
The Murray Lady Tigers are no stranger to being in the Championship game of the Kentucky All “A” Tournament. In the 2015 tournament, they faced off against Covington Holy Cross and came up short by a single point, losing 47-46. This year, they were more determined not to let history repeat itself. But Owensboro Catholic should in their way of taking home top honors this year.
Says Coach Turner of the Lady Tigers says of last year’s heartbreaking loss, “For 365 days I laid in bed most nights and thought about the looks on their faces and some of the decisions that I made last year that possibly led to us not winning. And I just wanted it so much for them.”
So the Murray Lady Tigers worked hard and trained hard during the off-season. They came into the tournament with a 20-1 record. Their hard work and dedication evident in their astounding winning record. But Owenboro Catholic brought a very impressive 17-4 record into the tournament. And they are no stranger to playing for the All “A” Championship title, winning it all in both 2011 & 2013.
For 365 days I laid in bed most nights and thought about the looks on their faces and some of the decisions that I made last year that possibly led to us not winning. And I just wanted it so much for them.
When it all came down to it, the Murray Lady Tigers just wanted it more than the Owensboro Catholic Lady Aces, and they beat them with a decisive 45-28, taking home Murray’s First Championship trophy. But it wasn’t to be their last opportunity to take home another trophy…in the same day!
The Murray Tigers Boys’ Basketball team found themselves coming into the All “A” Tournament with a 16-4 record. They scrapped their way through three straight days of basketball against teams like Bishop Broassart (15-3), Green County (14-6), and a tough Owen County (19-2) game where they won by 3 at the buzzer. Although well coached by Bart Flener, they were visibly fatigued and exhausted after the win over Owen County in the Semi-Final game. They faced off against the scrappy team from Eastern Kentucky, the Cordia Lions.
The Region 14 team from Hazzard, with a student body enrollment of 97, can be considered “the little team that could”. They are no stranger to the Kentucky All “A” Championship game either, facing off against a dominating Newport Central Catholic team in 2014 for the Championship trophy. They lost that game, taking home the tournament runner-up trophy that year. But that wasn’t good enough for this year.
The Cordia Lions entered the All “A” tournament with a record of 10-6. The boys played with heart and determination throughout the three days leading up the Championship game, defeating teams like Glasgow, University Heights, and last year’s Champions, Newport Central Catholic, with a record of 17-3. They proved by beating NewCath 47-41 in the semi-final game, that they truly deserved to be playing for the state championship trophy.
It was truly a team effort on the part of the Cordia Lions. The team has been described as being “unselfish” and not caring who puts the points on the score board. Clearly, when looking at just the stat sheet, 8 of the 9 players played, contributed to their 62-45 win over the Murray Tigers.
Cordia’s head coach, Rodrick Rhodes credits the players for their winning the Kentucky All “A” Classic Basketball Championship title. Says Rhodes of his players, “those kids stuck through all of the adversity (a ban from the KHSAA) and all the stuff that the community and the school went through and they believed in our vision. We saw ourselves here if we ever got a chance to play again. So I’m just happy for these kids.”
Many people across the state do not realize that Cordia doesn’t even have a proper gym to play and practice in. They credit the love and commitment of one woman, 76-year old Alice Whitaker, the director of Lotts Creek Community School, in their success. Her dedication and commitment to keeping the school open to kids who want an education has impacted these kids and made them a family when they have no real families to go home to. And these kids love on Miss Whitaker like she is their mom.
She’s the best. I love her to death. I love Miss Whitaker. And all these kids love Miss Whitaker. She does a lot for me and these kids. And uh, she’s like a mom to all of us.
Says Rhodes of Whitaker, “She’s the best. I love her to death. I love Miss Whitaker. And all these kids love Miss Whitaker. She does a lot for me and these kids. And uh, she’s like a mom to all of us.”
Both Coach Rhodes of Cordia and Coach Flener of Murray believe that Owen County was crucial to the Cordia’s win over Murray. Each coach said it, but Rhodes stated it best, “To be honest, a lot of this credit should go to Owen County and I’ll tell you why. Because the Murray-Owen County game was a war yesterday. It was a war and I think Murray was really tired from competing against Owen County. And I think it made our job a little easier to play against Murray today.”
To be honest, a lot of this credit should go to Owen County and I’ll tell you why. Because the Murray-Owen County game was a war yesterday. It was a war and I think Murray was really tired from competing against Owen County. And I think it made our job a little easier to play against Murray today.
The one thing that Coach Rhodes wishes to convey to the community and the across the commonwealth is this, “Just accept us. Just accept these kids. You know? They’re a part of that community. They love these kids there. I just wish they would accept these kids.” He continues, “Just embrace these kids. Just embrace them. They live in that community. They’re from that community. And that’s all. That’s all we ask is to embrace them.”
Congratulations to the Murray Lady Tigers and the Cordia Lions for becoming the 2016 Kentucky All “A” Classic State Champions!