|MIRACLE MILLENNIUM MUSTANGS
The coaches met briefly outside the locker room and I remember Coach Schlarman as being extremely agitated
that we were taking bad shots, failing to play good defense, and that with the eyes of the Commonwealth upon us,
we were not â€œPlaying Like Us.â€�
Willie himself described his halftime tirade as â€œpeeling the paint off of the walls.â€� In no uncertain terms he
challenged the manhood and character of this team. I suspect that things were not so intense in our opponentâ€™s
locker room. Graves County had won twenty-seven games and felt that they were in complete command of this
one ......... perhaps already looking ahead to Friday night.
Many times I have witnessed halftime leads evaporating in the state tournament and it was about to happen here.
The Mustangs came out of the locker room with fire in their eyes. Our â€œJunkyard Dogsâ€� Jon Lloyd and Nick
Ziegler, two guards who stand 5â€™5â€� and 5â€™6â€� respectively, reaped havoc on the mighty Eagles for the
next sixteen minutes, forcing sixteen turnovers and triggering the most pronounced comeback in our schoolâ€™s
If we hadnâ€™t played like us in the first half, we were playing like us now and would outscore Graves 31-17 in the
second half. Scotty Ruth was on fire and Zig brought the house down when he â€œbottomed outâ€� two clutch
three-pointers. The general population of Rupp was eating it up. In the fourth quarter the lead changed hands five
times before the Champions of Region One had had enough.
When Jeff Clark knocked in two free throws with 11 seconds remaining in the contest, we had won our twentieth
game of the season and the heavily favored Eagles were sent packing back to Mayfield with a 27-4 record. The
Brossart Mustangs were in the Elite Eight. True to Willieâ€™s word, the team which made the fewest mistakes
A hoard of reporters descended on Willie as we headed back to a delirious Brossart locker room. We now basked in
the unfathomable realization that we had won our first game in the State Tournament. In his post-game talk Willie
congratulated his team on going farther than either of the two teams that he had played on at Highlands which came
to Rupp. He re-emphasized his belief in them and told them how very proud they had made him, the school and our
community. He told them to savor the moment, to celebrate for the next half hour and then get themselves
mentally focused once again to take on either Corbin or Russellville the next night.
I truly savored the moments in the locker room immediately following that game and will count them among my
fondest lifetime memories. It was so gratifying seeing my Mustangs so very happy. The monkey was off their back,
the memories of a somewhat bittersweet season were buried forever. We were twenty game winners and had just
won our first game in Rupp.
Willie and three of his players were ushered off to the post-game press conference where Willie would tell anyone
who would listen that "we had just gone above Cloud Nineâ€�. When asked about our turnaround, Willie
sheepishly rehashed the story of our failure in the All â€œAâ€� Regional and the â€œnot so pleasantâ€� weeks
that followed when he was about as â€œpopular as onion breath.â€�
Following the interview pandemonium broke out. I was assigned the task of finding us practice time for the next
morning. There were practice gear and uniforms to be washed and we were commissioned by the players in no
uncertain terms that our post-game meal would be held in the â€œWeight Roomâ€�, the name the players had
given to Gold Star Chili, which had become a post game ritual throughout the district and regional tournaments.
The players wouldnâ€™t under any circumstances see their tradition broken by the fact that we were in Lexington,
and the cityâ€™s only Gold Star was located clear across town. You should have seen the looks on the faces of the
staff of that Gold Star when an Executive Charter Bus pulled up with forty-five players, coaches, and cheerleaders.
Fridayâ€™s activities mirrored those of Thursdayâ€™s. Up early, breakfast at the Cracker Barrel at eight. Once
again we conducted a raid on the local paper racks, this time to read about us. Full color pictures of our bench
erupting adorned the front page of the Herald-Leader sports page next to a bold headline which read â€œBrossart
surprises Gravesâ€�. The Courier-Journal was even more emphatic, â€œLittle Bishop Brossart Stuns Graves
Countyâ€� with a quarter page action shot. Back home the Kentucky Post sports sheet was a full page of Brossart.
A page-wide headline screamed â€œBrossart Plays Giant Killerâ€� with another quarter page photo.
Many well-wishers stopped by to congratulate us. We were impressed with all of the attention. As senior Justin
Seiter said, â€œWeâ€™re being treated like Gods.â€�
At 9:45am we were back on the bus headed for Transylvania College for a 10:30am walkthrough and shoot-around in
preparation for our encounter with Russellville and their 6â€™10â€� behemoth, Tony Key.
After lunch, the players returned to the hotel for a rest period prior to setting off to Rupp for our 7pm game. The
mood was somewhat lighter on the trip over to Rupp at 5pm. After all, we were now seasoned veterans of the State
Tournament and had found the Rupp hardwood to our liking. I couldnâ€™t help but think of the myriad of cars
presently heading southbound towards Lexington, armed with signs, face paint, green hair spray, foam beach horses
and all of the items necessary to root for the Mustangs in the State Quarter-Finals.
Tonight a few knees bounced due to nervous tension as Coach Schlarman delivered his pre-game talk. It showed
that this team took our opponents very seriously and that the players were ready to give their best efforts.
The Mustang faithful seemed to have increased and multiplied from yesterdayâ€™s mob. Those who had to work or
were unable to attend on Thursday afternoon found Friday night to be more accommodating and traveled south to
see their heroes play in Rupp.
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