PAINTSVILLE — When you mention the all-time greats that have played basketball at Paintsville High School many names come to mind. Names such as Hall, Daniel, Allen, LeMaster, Minix, Pelphrey, Adkins, Couch, Lyon, Ratliff, McKenzie, Tackett, VanHoose, and Slone.
When you get to the list of the players who starred in two sports, the list isn’t as long. In my recent research I have come across a person who was a two-sport star at Paintsville in the mid-1940s and it is a name that people may never have heard of.
Gordon Stewart “Corky” Kirtley was originally from Huntington, WV and came to Paintsville prior to World War II. Corky was an outstanding football player, in fact an all-conference player but he also excelled on the basketball court. As a junior in 1945, he played his first season of basketball, and made quiet an impact. As the center on the team, he used his large frame to patrol the paint, grabbing rebounds and scoring inside. In the first round of the 1945 59th District Tournament against Flat Gap, Corky scored 10 points in a 53-14 rout of the Greyhounds. In the semifinals, against a tough Meade Memorial squad, Kirtley’s inside play was pivotal. He did not score much, 6 points on the evening, but he helped Paintsville secure some key rebounds and possessions as the Tigers won in a close one 38-34.
In the finals against Van Lear, he played the same role as he did against Meade, low scoring and helping the team where needed. Bob Conley led Paintsville in another rout with 16 points, C. T. Butler followed with 11 as the Tigers won 59-33 to claim the district title. After the tournament a committee selected an all-tournament team. On the team from Paintsville were seniors Bob Conley (who averaged 15.7 ppg in the tournament), C. T. Butler (9.7 ppg), and Jim Hall. Joining them in receiving the gold basketballs that were awarded was junior Stewart “Corky” Kirtley.