PAINTSVILLE — The rivalry between Paintsville and Pikeville High Schools began in early January 1922 and it is one of the longest running rivalries in the state. However, the games between the two teams have not always been pleasant and it started very early.
In 1926 there were reports that Pikeville had been paying their players and the matter was brought to the attention of the Kentucky High School Athletic Association. The Kentucky High School Athletic Association reported that several of the Pikeville players did not even live in the Pikeville school district and that it would take the school several years to outgrow the animosity of the neighboring schools. A final warning was then issued to Pikeville High, “It appears that the school has been over-ambitious in the development of athletic teams and has possibly been indiscreet in some of its overtures to good players in other schools. Furthermore, it appears that the fans about town have possibly been instrumental in bringing about the present condition of affairs. This investigation should be sufficient warning to Pikeville High School that if its team is protested again on similar grounds in the future that it will be good reason for suspension.”
The beneficiary of Pikeville’s disgrace was Paintsville High School, who would be hosting their first ever district tournament. On Thursday, March 4, 1926 the front page of the Paintsville Herald carried the headline – PAINTSVILLE GETS DIST. BASKET BALL TOURNAMENT. The town went all out in its preparations for the tournament and as the paper reported, “Paintsville High School has one of the best playing courts in this section of the country and all teams will have an equal chance to win the district honor. A number of people in the valley have already made arrangements to be in Paintsville for the games and reservations are being made every day by out of town people. Both the Rotary Club and the Kiwanis Club have made extensive arrangements to take care of the visitors and make them feel at home.” In the first game of the district tournament, the Tigers would face the Pikeville Panthers.