Mountain Sports did such a great job of telling this story on Facebook, we're just gonna give it to you like they wrote it.
Oil Springs Wins Two Tournaments On Same Night January 31, 1959
Has it ever been done before or since in Kentucky? Anywhere else in the United States? One high school team won two tournaments in two different towns in the same night.
The Oil Springs Wildcat team of 1958-59 did it. Searching the records it was found Greenup had participated in the EKC and NEKC tournaments on the same day in 1954 but had lost in the EKC in the afternoon in Ashland then went to Russell and won the SEKC tournament that night. The second team for Greenup went back to Ashland to play in the consolation game of the EKC. That result was not found.
Hang with us as this story is a bit lengthy, but oh so good and needs to be told again… and again.
Here is how it all came about. We will quote Coach Rusty Yates of Oil Springs (who had played collegiately for Coach Ellis Johnson at Morehead in the late 1940’s and had learned quite a bit from him) from a newspaper account about a week later. It was his third year of coaching the team. He sported a record of 35-4 the previous year.
Yates said he hadn’t planned to play in both tournaments at the same time but since Oil Springs was in the Foothills Conference they naturally accepted that tournament bid. “Then Bill Goble, manager of the Prestonsburg tournament (1st Prestonsburg Invitational) asked us to play there and we assumed the dates wouldn’t conflict. Then we learned they ran at the same time.”
Foothills Conference Tournament: Wed. night -Wolfe Co. drew a bye and Oil springs beat Hazel Green Academy. Mervil Blair had 26, Raleigh Blair had 16 and Richard Conley 12.
Thurs. night: Salyersville beat Morgan Co. & Ezel beat Menifee Co.
Friday night semifinals: Oil Springs beat Wolfe Co. & Salyersville beat Ezel. This set up the championship game between Oil Springs and host Salyersville for Saturday night. We will get back to that game momentarily.
Now to the Prestonsburg Invitational Tournament. (Two-night invitational)
Friday night--Oil Springs beat host Prestonsburg 61-48. Meade Memorial beat Martin 66-64.
At halftime of the game against Wolfe co. on Friday night in Salyersville, Coach Rusty Yates took seven of his team in an automobile to Prestonsburg to play in that game and arrived as the teams were warming up so there wasn’t much ado about that on Friday night. The rest of the boys who remained at Salyersville to finish the Foothills tournament game arrived in Prestonsburg in time to see their teammates win there.
Saturday night had to have been planned carefully by coach Yates if he were to pull off two wins on the same night in two different tournaments in two different towns. Remember now, there was no Mt. Parkway. The roads were crooked. Plus, in Prestonsburg, they were to face Meade Memorial who had beaten them three times earlier in the season, once on this court in Prestonsburg, in the Ashland Invitational and in the Paintsville Invitational.
Now the scene has been set. Two games played about the same times, 22 miles separating them and a car loaned to the coach by a friend (Ralph Castle) who would aid Oil Springs school principal Hershel Conley with the coaching at Prestonsburg.
Coach Yates decided to take Richard Conley and another starter to Salyersville to play with his reserves. Conley was an all-state player and a really good all-around player. Oil Springs defeated Salyersville that night to win the Foothills Conference Tournament by a score of 68-40. In that game, Burgess Blanton had 23 points and Richard Conley had 22 for Oil Springs. Now it was off to the races for Coach Yates and two players, Conley and Blair (probably Raleigh Blair).
Meanwhile, in Prestonsburg, Oil Springs led at the end of the first quarter 13-11 but Meade dominated the 2nd quarter and was leading at the half 30-24. We can only wonder what speech Principal Conley and friend Ralph Castle, who were coaching the Wildcats in that tournament, gave the guys, but it must have sunk in as the Wildcats’ center, big 6’8” Mervil Blair took over control of the boards and also hit 10 consecutive free throws in the 3rd quarter for an Oil Springs lead of 44-41. Oil Springs pretty much dominated the 4th quarter and at one time led by 15 pts.
Meanwhile, coach Yates with two starters was racing, trying to get to Prestonsburg in time to help in any way possible but just out of town it happened. Just what they didn’t need. No, not a speeding ticket. A flat tire!! Of all things. We can only imagine the coach and players scurrying to solve that problem. The players were most likely in their uniforms and warm-ups since it was the end of January. When they pulled into the parking lot at Prestonsburg Yates let his players out and they sprinted to the gym, as stated previously they most likely were still in uniforms worn in the Salyersville game. Coach Yates hurriedly found a place to park Castle’s car.
By the time coach Yates got in the gym there two minutes remained and one of his players had fouled out, so Conley was inserted. Oil Springs, after being beaten by Meade Memorial three times earlier that season was not to be denied. Conley showed no signs of an ankle injury that hindered him in their last encounter. Playing in one town, sprinting to a car, changing a flat and sprinting into a gym 22 miles away he was pumped!! Final score Oil Springs 68-Meade 60.
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