“Ever heard of Bo Davenport? Where is Edmonson County anyway? How big a town is Brownsville?” These were the questions being asked as a first year coach took an unlikely team to the Kentucky State Basketball Tournament. You see, basketball is “King” in the bluegrass state. It’s the state where babies teethe on basketballs and learn to dribble before they can walk.
Kentucky High School basketball does not divide the schools into classes like most other states or as they do in football; it’s the small school verse the big school, the David vs Goliath. It’s exciting and makes for an unpredictable “Sweet Sixteen” run during tournament time and the 1976 Tourney was no exception.
Edmonson County is rural. Brownsville, the county seat, is a dot on a map, a city you go through on the way to Mammoth Cave National Park. Nobody gave them a chance of making it to the “big dance.” Nobody, that is, except a first year coach who taught solid fundamentals and team work. And yes, there was the community, stuck in the economic strangle hold of the 70’s. They believed too and they desperately needed something to believe in. Sounds a lot like many of us today! We need a victory, we need something to rally around, something to put our hope in as we work through that daily grind called life. But as Christ followers we are reminded in Romans 5:2-5 of that fundamental belief that:
Through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. (NIV)
Wow! Talk about a pep talk! In Him we have all the victory we could ever want or hope for. Our endurance produces character and character produces hope!
So Edmonson traveled to the big city of Louisville, Freedom Hall, with thousands in attendance and began the tournament with a five point victory over Betsy Lane; not bad. Then a quarterfinal win by four over Harrison County caught a few more glances. A one point hard fought semi-final victory over Shelby County created pandemonium! The title game saw Edmonson win its first and only State Championship over Christian County by twenty two points!
Endurance produces character and character produces hope; not just for a season, but for eternity…