Click Here To Back To The Previous Installment
Segment Number Twelve
Click Here To Back To The Very First Installment
Mike Fields, Herald-Leader Staff Writer

Small school, big ambition.

That's Russellville, which doesn't bother to play in the All "A" Classic because Coach Phil Todd feels his team's time is better
spent gearing up for a run at the Sweet Sixteen.

Some people may have snickered at such grand designs in the past, but no longer.

Russellville, the smallest school in the 83rd State Tournament, is two victories away from a championship after beating Bishop
Brossart 60-46 in the quarterfinals at Rupp Arena last night. The Panthers hit a Sweet Sixteen record 70 percent (21-for-30) of
their shots.

"This Kentucky high school basketball ... you can't worry about being a small school because they throw you all in it together,"
Todd said.

If Todd needs history to back him up, he can refer to four years ago when little ol' Paintsville won the Sweet Sixteen.

Paintsville had a talented big man in 6-foot-9 J.R. VanHoose and a terrific guard in Todd Tackett.

Russellville has an imposing combination of its own in 6-10, 270-pound center Tony Key and guard Michael Morris.

Morris, whom Todd calls "one of the most underrated seniors we have in the state," had 15 points, seven rebounds, three assists
and three steals against Bishop Brossart.

Key, an intimidating figure on both ends of the court, had 15 points, seven rebounds and six blocked shots last night.

Asked if Russellville ever thinks about being a small school, Key quipped: "Like they say, paper cuts hurt, too."

So it should have been no surprise to the Panthers that Bishop Brossart, the second-smallest school in the tournament, gave it a
tough fight.

After building a nine-point lead in the first quarter, Russellville stayed very much in control, although it never could quite put the
Mustangs away.

The Panthers led by 12 at halftime and pulled ahead by 16 early in the third quarter, but Bishop Brossart kept trying to rally.

The Mustangs seemed on the brink of getting back in the game when 6-2 Scott Ruth scored
inside over Key to cut the deficit to 39-29. Russellville then made a turnover, and the Mustangs'
best shooter, Chris Ryan, fired a wide-open three-pointer from the left wing. The vocal
Bishop Brossart crowd roared with anticipation ... but the shot rimmed out.

Russellville answered with back-to-back baskets by Ricky Duncan and Tyree Todd, and
Bishop Brossart never got closer than 11 the rest of the night.

"I was on the verge of calling timeout if they had hit that three," Phil Todd said. "Their crowd
was really in it all the way, and that would have really gotten them the momentum."

Mustangs Coach Willie Schlarman agreed.

"If Chris had hit that shot," he said, "you would have definitely seen the momentum swing our

But that was the way things went for the Mustangs. Unlike two nights ago when they pulled
off a 47-40 upset of Graves County, they simply didn't make enough shots.

Russellville's defense had a lot to do with that, especially Key's towering, glowering presence
inside. Any time Bishop Brossart's players ventured into the lane, they had one eye on the basket and the other on Key.

The other Panthers' quick hands also caused problems. The Mustangs had 11 of their shots blocked and were 18-for-55 (33
percent) from the field.

Ryan led the winners with 19 points, but none of his teammates managed more than seven.

"We just didn't have the offensive output we needed to get the job done," Schlarman said.

If Bishop Brossart had found the basket a little more often, it might have put a serious scare into
Russellville. Before the game Schlarman told his players that if they made 12 or fewer turnovers,
they would win.

When Schlarman was informed in his post-game press conference that his team made only 12
turnovers, he managed a pained smile as his players shot him a "Hey, wait a minute!" look.

While the Mustangs were disappointed with losing, they were obviously proud of the way their season turned out. They lost five
of their last six regular-season games and went into the district tournament 13-12. But then came a remarkable turnaround that
culminated with the school's first regional championship.

As Bishop Brossart senior Jeff Clark put it, "You can't ask for much more than end the season in Rupp Arena. That's the way we

The Mustangs' fans felt the same way. When their players left the court after last night's loss, they gave them a loud standing
Before the coming of Willie Schlarman I never, ever, honestly believed I’d live to
see the day when my Brossart Mustangs would play in the Kentucky State High
School Basketball Tournament.  But enthusiasm and confidence are contagious.  
While I dared dream the night in '98 when we actually played for the trip to Rupp
against Fleming County but came up short, it was then that I began to feel that
maybe someday off in the distant future this ’98 team might reinvent itself and
we might actually grace the floor at Rupp Arena or Freedom Hall.

I hadn’t a clue that it would happen so soon.  For this particular team with no
household name superstars, to reach the Big Dance was unthinkable, and then to
defeat a veteran State Tournament team with a 27-3 record in our first appearance
was even more unfathomable.

For those of us who have followed this program from its infancy when we were
known as St. Mary High, through the tough early days as Bishop Brossart before
1986 when we had no gym, and are now fortunate enough to have seen this program
come of age and the crowning achievements of the 2000 season, the comments of
alum Connie Spaw pretty much sums it up …….
“ I guess we can die now!!!�

Perhaps the most appropriate quote of  all is the old Tug McGraw – “Miracle
Metsâ€� quote  -  â€œYa Gotta Believe!!!â€�
The Brossart Mustangs' Amazing Run of Seven Consecutive Post-Season Wins Which Included a 38th District
Championship, a 10th Region Championship, and a win in the "Sweet Sixteen" State Tournament came to an end in
the quarter-finals on Friday night, March 17, 2000.  It was a run which we Mustangs fans will talk about forever, and
will be the run against which all other similar runs will be compared.  The team that many had given up on earlier that
season, became immortal that March.  Their opponent in the quarter-finals was a very good Russellville team.  They
possessed a behemoth named Tony Kee who truly played like Goliath himself.  The Mustangs scored the first four
points of the game, but could muster only 17 by halftime, trailing the Panthers 29-17 at intermission.  The Mustangs
made a run late in the third period when with the score 39-29 Junior Chris Ryan pulled the trigger from three-point
range on a shot which would have cut the Russellville lead to seven, put momentum in a green uniform, and force a
Panther time-out.  The shot rattled around briefly, popped out and the ensuing rebound converted to a Russellville
transition basket and the "Miracle Millennium Mustangs" season had come to an end.
That night in the Mustang locker-room even the emotionally strongest of us shed many tears.  While only one team in
the state ends their season with a win, the Mustangs were devestated by the loss.  They received a standing ovation on
their departure from the floor by their adoring faithful for who they had provided so much excitement over
that three week period.   It was fun..........Let's Do It Again!!!
Click Here To Go To The Next  Installment