50 Years Ago, Holy Cross Was So Close to Winning State Basketball Title
In 1965, the Holy Cross boys basketball team won the 9th Region basketball tournament for the first time, defeating Highlands in the championship game and making it all the way to the state title game before losing to Breckenridge County in Louisville.
That team was honored on their 50th anniversary at halftime on Saturday night at the Holy Cross boys game against Beechwood, where former players and cheerleaders from that season attended the commemoration.
The 1965 squad had six seasoned seniors that had played increasingly vital roles throughout all four of their years with the Indians. They were picked by the coaches as the region's favorite and they responded with a 33-3 season. Players Ken Rump and Dan Bell were on hand Saturday night and shared their memories.
“We had great chemistry,” said Dan Bell who played forward for that Holy Cross team and is now the mayor of Taylor Mill. “We all liked one another. Our senior year was a good year. We had great chemistry and a good run.”
After beating rival Covington Catholic in the 34th District tournament, they earned a ticket to play in the regional tournament at Campbell County which was the largest facility in the area at the time where they knocked off Newport, then St. Thomas, and finally Highlands before advancing to the state tournament.
“That's when the depth of our team came in to play, at the regional final,” Bell said. “We were ahead by two, and Bill Hickey made a right-hand hook, then a left-hand hook.”
Once inside Louisville's Freedom Hall, they moved past Madisonville Rosenwald, Lexington Dunbar, and Hazel Green all in close games. In the final game, the ride came to an end with a 95-73 loss to Breckenridge County, despite Rump scoring 25 points.
The team was composed of a seven-man rotation with six seniors, all of which got full college scholarships for basketball. Rump went to Thomas More College, Bell went to Cumberland, Bob Bowman went to Georgia Southern, Bob Kuehling went to Milligan, Dave Hickey went to Creighton, and Don Meyer went to Bellarmine.
The current Holy Cross gym was new then and Rump said that during that time, fans had to arrive at the start of the JV game in order to get a seat.
“We filled the place and I was thinking it was bigger than Memorial Coliseum but 50 years later it doesn't look as big,” he said. “It's a small place, but I still see the same enthusiasm that we saw back then.”
Those that returned to the place where they shared so many good memories, all agreed that the atmosphere was special.
“It's really pretty neat,” Rump said. “Having been gone from this place for 50 years, it's pretty neat to see people you haven't seen in a long time. What's even better is to know is that they've all had good lives and have been successful in all the things they've done, it's really good to see that.”
Cheerleaders Carol Goetz Spaulding, Cindy Callahan Bramlage, and Carol Fritch Hickey were also on hand to be honored with the team.
It was a reunion kind of night for Beechwood too, as coach Eric Goetz and assistant coach Andre McClendon returned to their high-school alma mater at Holy Cross as well. Their Tigers team, however, struggled mightily shooting the ball on the night, and lost to the Indians, 62-43. Tyler Bezold led Holy Cross with 19 points and Hamilton Scott chipped in 12. They were able to punish Beechwood down low with Bezold and Derrick Barnes.
For Beechwood, their scorer Jacob Huff did end up with a team-high 15 points, but he just 5-18 from the floor and was unable to give the Tigers the boost they needed to stay in the game.
Story & photos by Bryan Burke, associate editor