Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local Sports

April 10, 2013

EAST KENTUCKY BASKETBALL HISTORY:Paintsville and Pikeville an early and dirty basketball rivalry



“The fight between the Tigers and Pikeville High boys was the most exciting game of the whole tournament,” the Paintsville Herald reported. “The outstanding feature of this game was the sensational playing of Ed Leslie [of Paintsville]. Young Leslie’s playing was so quick and furious that it was difficult to keep up with his movements and made shots from many positions. This seemed to inspire the Tigers.” Motivated by the play of the young Paintsville forward, the Tigers were able to defeat Pikeville, 20-16, handing the Panthers their first Class “A” district tournament loss. The win advanced Paintsville to the finals of the 32nd District Tournament later that evening, where they would face the Class “B” district champions, Betsy Layne.

The Tigers were able to defeat Betsy Layne in the district finals 26-19, to win the first district title in school history. According to the Paintsville Herald of March 13, 1930, “Coach Walker’s Tigers emerged from the contest as victors in the finals and brought great credit to Coach Walker and Paintsville High School.” The article went on, “Perfect playing was not confined to any one member of the Tiger team as they all made a record for themselves and worked in perfect unison. At the end of this memorable game women went into hysterics while strong men wept for joy.”

In the twenty years from the 1930 district game until the end of the 1949-50 basketball season, Paintsville and Pikeville played thirty-five times, with Paintsville winning 19 of those games. The teams only met in the post-season twice, with Pikeville eliminating Paintsville in the 1931 district tournament and the 1932 15th Region tournament. Things appeared to be tame between the two schools until 1953. Paintsville had one of the largest gyms in the Big Sandy Valley when the current one was completed before the start of the 1952-53 season. With the ability to seat close to three thousand fans, Paintsville was able to host many “big” games with some of the best teams in the area. When Johnson County schools would have games where their gyms could not hold all of the anticipated fans, the games would be moved to the Paintsville gym. The gym was also host to many 15th Region Tournaments, the first one in March 1953.

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