One of the reasons I always love going to the Fifth Third Tournament here in Lexington is because inevitably, I see a team play that truly entertains me. Every year, I name this team the “Kentucky Sports Radio” team and last year that team was June Buchanan (this year its Elliott County, but that is a different story). As we were watching the tournament last season and the boys from Pippa Passas were playing, we werent sure where in the state the school was located, but my buddy Trevor said, “this is a good team and I guarantee you they are from the mountains.” It turns out that Trevor was correct and as you watch June Buchanan, you know you are watching a good mountain team.
You know you are watching a good mountain team because each of the players hovers around 6 feet tall, except one kid who is absurdly tall and is intent on punching the players on the other team. You know you are watching a good mountain team because there is one really good player (Clark Stepp) who can shoot lights out and who the fans believe should be “recruited by Kentucky.” You know you are watching a good mountain team because all of the players wear those ragged white wife-beater undershirts that my grandfather used to wear, but that are rarely seen now outside of the 13th-16th regions. You know you are watching a good mountain team because all the participants are related….the coaches are brothers, their kids are on the team and various cousins are on the roster. You know you are watching a good mountain team because there is one senior scorer and a couple of sophomores (Tate Cox and the other Stepp) who the fans say “are gonna be even better than Clark one day.” You know you are watching a good mountain team when some of the players on the bench are fat, some really short and some have more facial hair than your average 15 year old should. You know you are watching a good mountain team when all of the kids have haircuts that came from the barber next to the Wal Mart and none of them would have that “long hippy hair”, as one fan suggested. You know you are watching a good mountain team when all of the comparisons fans make to the players are to other guys from the mountains….lots of JR Van Hoose, Richie Farmer and Nick Sanford…..and certainly no Scott Padgett, Derek Anderson or Ross Neltner. You know you are watching a good mountain team when the offense involves lots of three point shots and the defense involves coordinated diving on the floor. And maybe most importantly you know you are watching a good mountain team when you interview the best player after the game and he mentions God more than once and says that while he is being recruited by Marshall, Murray State and Austin Peay, his dream is to “get to walk on at Kentucky” and that the highlight of his season was when a UK assistant wrote him “a cool handwritten note.” That is a good mountain team and June Buchanan is that.
Now tonight there will be a lot to see at Catholic…..Lex Catholic plays at 6 pm, Darius Miller versus Lexington Christian at 7:30 and Elliott County (easily the most entertaining team in Kentucky in YEARS) plays former UK recruit Carter McMasters at 9:00. Make it a point to head out…..