Paintsville did go on to the Final Four, they went beyond it, all the way to the 1996 state championship. The Tigers shocked many people in the state by defeating Owensboro by two in overtime in the first round; beating Allen County-Scottsville by two in the quarterfinals; shocking tournament favorite Lexington Catholic by 24 in the Final Four; and defeating a strong Ashland Tomcat team in the state title game by 18.
Now, I have to switch gears as a writer. I have just given you the background to our rivalry with the Magoffin County Hornets during the 1996 season. I did that to tell you the following story on rivals coming together.
Celebrating a state championship is unlike any sports celebration that I have ever been a part of. Lots of hugs and lots of crying. It was just a very emotional time with your teammates and friends. By the state title game many of the people from Eastern Kentucky had been behind our team, supporting us and cheering us on. I had noticed that a few of the Magoffin County players (Jason Robinette, Grayson Smith, and Chris Russell) sitting in seats close to the basket during our quarterfinal game against Allen County-Scottsville. They were cheering us on, from our own student-section, with blue and white shirts on! I think one of them may have even had a Paintsville shirt on. For all of the battles that we had just been through and as rough as they had played us, it was quite a site to see those guys cheering us on! Grayson Smith later told of why they had decided to support us, “I saw and heard from many people how they hoped Paintsville would fall flat on their face. It felt only right to support Paintsville because it was the right thing to do. Not only for Paintsville but for East Kentucky.”