Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local Sports

March 7, 2013

EAST KENTUCKY BASKETBALL HISTORY: Rivalry put aside to celebrate state championship



Paintsville was led by the play of senior Craig Ratliff, who finished with 28 points and 13 rebounds and who scored many key buckets for the Tigers late in the game. Ratliff was followed in scoring by sophomore guard Todd Tackett who finished with 20 points, 8 assists and 3 rebounds. Junior forward Josh McKenzie also had a big game for the Tigers with 15 points and 13 rebounds. Senior guard Matt Ratliff also finished in double figures with 10 points. Magoffin County, who had battled the Tigers so hard all night, was led by Jason Wages with 22 points, Brian Helton added 16 and Johnny Humphrey had 15. Hornet senior Grayson Smith remembered the loss years later, “The game was physical and fast. Many from our team say it was the best high school atmosphere they were ever involved in. Losing that game was the most heartbroken I ever was after a sporting event. I really believe a large part of the heartbreak was the fact that I would never get to play Paintsville again. The feeling before tipoff of those games was a feeling I still long for and have never forgotten.”

In the post-game celebrations many of the Paintsville players were just happy to be returning to Rupp Arena and only had praise for the Magoffin County Hornets. Sophomore J. R. VanHoose said, “It was a tough game tonight. It was a hard win… Magoffin County gave us their all.” Craig Ratliff speaking to the Paintsville Herald after the game, made a bold prediction for the Tigers after their scare in the region finals, “We’ve got a good chance to win it. To tell you the truth, we’ve got the best chance to win it more than anything right now. My prediction… we’ll make it to the Final Four. If we play well and work well, we’ll make it.” He had no idea how right he was!

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