Small school wins Sweet 16 debut
By Terry Boehmker, Post staff reporter
LEXINGTON - Whenever a small-school boys' basketball team
makes its first appearance in the Kentucky state high school
tournament it's considered a Cinderella story.
That's how a lot of people looked at Bishop Brossart's debut in the Sweet 16 until it knocked off Graves County, 47-40, in a
first-round game on Thursday at Rupp Arena.
In reality, magic wasn't a factor in the upset.
The Mustangs won the game by working hard on offense and playing defense with the same intensity that carried them to the
10th Region title last week.
''Our coaches told us they love when small-school teams come down here and play hard so that's
what we tried to do,'' said Brossart senior guard Scott Ruth.
And that's why Brossart, a school with an enrollment of less than 400 students, is advancing to
the quarterfinals to play Russellville at 7 tonight.
''We're on cloud nine right now and making preparations to play again (Friday),'' said Brossart
coach Willie Schlarman.
Said Ruth: ''It's a great feeling because not many people expected us to come down here and
Brossart outscored Graves County, 31-17, during the second half. Ruth led the way scoring
14 of his 17 points after the break.
Defensively, the Mustangs made seven steals during their game-winning 17-9 run in the fourth quarter.
''We made 16 turnovers and that's the most we've had in quite a while,'' said Graves County coach Allen Hatcher. ''I thought that
had a lot to do with (Brossart) winning this game.''
Graves County, a school with more than 1,300 students, took a 12-9 lead in the first quarter.
Brossart committed five turnovers during the opening period with three coming on charging calls .
After watching the Mustangs fall behind, 23-16, in the second quarter, Schlarman was not happy at the halftime break.
''I kind of peeled some paint off the locker-room walls,'' Schlarman said.''I told them, 'If we don't have to carry you off the floor
after the game then you're not playing hard enough.'''
Schlarman also told Ruth he needed to shoot the ball more in the second half and the lanky senior responded. During the third
quarter, Ruth scored eight points by hitting a field goal and a pair of three-pointers to help cut the margin to 31-30.
''The coaches told me at halftime when I score 10 points or more we usually win,'' Ruth said. ''They said I wasn't in the flow of
the game and I had to pick it up and score more.''
In the fourth quarter, the lead changed hands five times before the Mustangs pulled way.
After Brossart senior forward Jeff Clark scored on a baseline drive to put his team ahead, 42-38,
the Mustangs blocked a shot and made three steals during the final minute to prevent Graves
County from making a comeback.
Then Clark clinched the upset victory by making a pair of free throws with 11 seconds left in
the game to give his team a seven-point lead.
Brossart shot 45 percent (18-of-40) from the field with Ruth making all five of his attempts.
Senior forward Justin Seiter finished with six points, eight rebounds, three steals, two assists
and four blocked shots.
Graves County shot 42.5 percent (17-of-40) from the field.
The Eagles' only double-figure scorer was junior center Wes Johnson with 15 points. Johnson
made all six of his field goal attempts, but his teammates weren't nearly as consistent.
After shooting 52.6 percent (10-of-19) in the first half, the Eagles dropped off to 33.3 percent (7-of-21) in the second half.
''You're not hearing any excuses from us,'' Hatcher said. ''Brossart did a good job. We had trouble scoring in the second half and
they hit some big shots at the end.''
|Scott Ruth, who had to overcome
size contraints early in his career
stands before the Brossart crowd
displaying his award after being
named the game's MVP
Rupp Arena, Baby!!!!!
At the reception back at school immediately following our 10th Region Tournament Championship win over Mason County,
Coach Schlarman allowed his seniors to say a few words. Most thanked their coaches, fans, parents, etc, all of the politically
correct things that you say on those occasions. When it was Scott Ruth's turn, he calmly took the mic and said, "I Have Three
Words To Say, ...... RUPP ARENA, BABY!!!!!" That pretty much summed it up, the Brossart Mustangs were actually going to
Rupp Arena. Ballard, the number one team in the state had been upset that night. How ironic, Ballard was out, Brossart Was In.
The entire experience now seems like a blur, the days preceeding our departure were absolutely chaotic. I literally moved into the
Brossart Coaches Office for three days, where my primary responsibility was to field the multitude of calls offering
congratulations, seeking information, stats, rosters, requesting interviews with Coach Schlarman, and often simply keeping people
out of our coaches' office. It seemed as though folks gravitated there, wanting simply to be a small part of what was taking
place. In reality, we had a team to get ready to play the biggest game in our history and at every practice there were reporters and
cameramen. Newspapermen wanting to do interviews and features and on and on and on. Somehow, we survived. On the
morning of our departure, we had a huge and spirited pep rally. Local dignitaries and businessmen
were there and a band was set up to do a lenten service. Ron Heiert commandeered the band at
the end of the pep rally, and sent the Mustangs off to Rupp with his own version of
"Mustang Sally." The bus was decorated and the team posed for pictures, several police cars
were there, ready to escort the first 38th DistrictTeam in twenty-nine years to go to State out
of town on their journey to Rupp.
Talk about living a dream!!!
|Some of the events leading up to the event were as memorable as the event itself.
The night before our game in Rupp we were fortunate enough to get to practice in Memorial
Coliseum, headquarters and practice facility of the present UK Wildcats and home floor of the
Cats during the Rupp era. It was too eerie practicing on that floor with all of the banners of
National Championships and retired jersies hanging in the background.
The Mustangs were flawless that night. We weren't sure if that was good, or if we had just left
our best game on the floor at Memorial Coliseum fifteen hours too soon.
The day of the game itself dawned somber and grey matching the serious mood of the Mustangs as reality had set in, we were
really going to do this. The twenty minute bus-trip from the hotel to Rupp was run in total and complete silence. Each player
and coach was alone with his own thoughts. Upon our arrival at Rupp we were escorted to the Arena's rear exit where we
departed the bus for our date with destiny an hour and a half hence. The time passed quickly, Coach Schlarman gave interviews
to the press while the team dressed and then gave a detailed pre-game talk. The only actual part of the pre-game talk that I vividly
remember was his admonition that the team which made the fewest mistakes that day would win.
Twenty-five minutes before game time the Mustangs were summoned
and at 12:40pm on Thursday, March 16th, 2000 the Brossart Mustangs
took the floor at Rupp Arena to play in the "Sweet Sixteen State
Tournament." Two years prior Willie had had our bus stop at Rupp
Arena on the way home from a road game. As the players stood on the
mezzanine looking down upon the floor that night he told them that if
they worked hard and believed in him, that they would play there
someday. True to his word the Brossart Mustangs were about to play in
One of the most memorable events for me was when the announcer said
"And Now, Lets Meet The Champions Of Region Number Ten - The
Mustangs of Bishop Brossart." I can honestly say that up to that
moment I never dared dream that I would ever live to hear those
|The Article Below Describing our Upset Win Over Graves County Appeared In "The Kentucky Post" the Next Day. It
was one of many. Others appeared on the front page of the Lexington Herald-Leader, the Louisville Courier-Journal,
and the Cincinnati Enquirer. The story was the same, Little Bishop Brossart, who didn't even make it to the All "A"
Tournament that year had ousted 27-3 Graves County from the "Greatest Show In Hoops".
Brossart would be back to play Russellville the next night in the quarter-finals. Graves County was going home.
|I almost didn't take this picture. There were "No Photo" signs everywhere. As you
can tell it was shot from quite a distance but I wouldn't trade it for anything now.
It is of the post game press-conference where Willie, Jeff Clark, Justin Seiter, and
Scott Ruth faced the press from around the state and described to them how we
had arrived at that moment in time.
Coach Willie Schlarman said it best - "We Just Went Above Cloud Nine."
|The Brossart Mustangs forced sixteen Graves County turnovers. Willie's pre-game words had come true
The Team That Made The Fewest Mistakes Won!