ASHLAND Wayne Breeden and Mike Flynn combined for 213 victories and four 16th Region basketball championships from 1993 to 2006 for Ashland during a stretch of dominance for the historic program.
The two coaches were honored on Thursday night as part of the second annual Tomcat Legacy Dinner that was started by current head coach Jason Mays.
Breeden and Flynn both pointed to community support as keys to why they were so successful in Ashland. But they were modest. Ashland won 78% of its games during that stretch and took regional crowns in 1993, ’96, 2001 and ’02. The Tomcats were state runners-up under Breeden, who left after five seasons to join Kyle Macy at Morehead State University.
Flynn followed behind Breeden and kept the well-established program at the top of the heap, including back-to-back titles — the last until Mays took the Tomcats to the 16th Region championship last year in his first season.
Breeden is retired after being a coach for 32 seasons. Flynn is still coaching as an assistant in Seneca, South Carolina, and in his 38th season.
“Life is like trying to get out of sand traps for me,” said Breeden, who played Pinehurst in North Carolina Wednesday. “Life is good. I’m retired and my daughter is on the dance team at Eastern Kentucky University. I’m a Dance Dad. That’s what life is for me now.”
Flynn has kept passion for coaching and teaching. He’s going back into the classroom next week, he said.
The coaches shared that the community’s high expectations and love of the sports programs separates Ashland from almost anywhere else.
“We won the regional championship in 2001 and the entire community was meeting us at the Bluegrass,” Flynn said, referring to the former restaurant that the current players know nothing about.
Breeden said he remembered after losing the state championship in 1996 how the community still embraced them and took them on a fire truck through Central Park and around town.
“We had a great run,” he said. “It was a proud moment to be a Tomcat. That is by far the highlight of my coaching career. No other school has community support like Ashland.”
Both coaches had to battle through a fierce rivalry with Boyd County, especially Breeden in the 1990s when Roger Zornes was coaching Boyd County. Flynn battled Boyd County the first half of his tenure at Ashland and then had to fight off O.J. Mayo and Rose Hill Christian during some of the most exciting games in region history.
Breeden said the 1996 team was special because “they enjoyed being around each other and they were really proud to be Tomcats. Some of these guys’ dads were Tomcats so it was important to them being the second generation. They believe in each other.”
The 1996 Tomcats upset top-ranked Paducah Tilghman in the opening round of the Sweet Sixteen that year.
Flynn also took a team to the state championship in 1990 when Covington Holmes fell to Fairdale.
“This is a thrill for me, sitting here beside these guys because they are really, really, really good basketball coaches,” he said.
A crowd of more than 100 gathered in Anderson Gym, including players from this year’s Tomcat team. Flynn and Breeden talked to the players in the locker room before addressing everybody else.
Breeden and Flynn combined for nine 20-win seasons, four regional championships and had a 4-4 record in the Sweet Sixteen.