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Jerry Parker arrived as the Campbellsville High School head boys’ basketball coach before the 1970-71 season and knew he had a talented bunch to work with.
He invested lots of time and I’m sure some of his money to get the class of 1973 Eagles primed for Fifth Region supremacy and state competitiveness.
One summer trip was to North Carolina for the Camp of Champions run by diminutive University of Tennessee associate coach Stu Aberdeen.
The extra effort soon paid off as Campbellsville improved from 9-14 (1970-71) to 22-8 (1971-72). It included a win over eventual state runner-up Elizabethtown in the finals of the Eagles’ own Holiday Classic. An overtime loss to the Panthers in E-town and another one in the region finals at Marion County put a damper on a solid CHS season.
The Eagles were not to be denied in 1973 and the season was dubbed “Freedom Hall Plays Eagle Ball” by sophomore reserve Jeff Mobley.
Campbellsville dropped regular-season games to Washington County and Elizabethtown and fell to eventual state champion Louisville Shawnee in the second round of the Louisville Invitational Tournament. A first-game-, first-round match-up against defending state champion Owensboro ended the Eagle run at 26-4.
That 1973 Eagle unit, which will be honored at half-time of Saturday’s Metcalfe County at Campbellsville varsity game in Paul J. Coop Gymnasium, was led by a stellar six-player starting unit.
Any of the six could have averaged over 20 points per game and, although three of them did reach the Eagle 1,000-point club, it is probably one of the most unselfish teams in school history.
Tootsie Johnson (real name Boyce) was the stand-out of the team, but you would have never known that fact before, during or after a contest. A smooth shooter, standing less than 6-0, he was CHS’ “bread-and-butter” man when the game was on the line.
Byron Johnson started the opposite forward and had a deadly base-line jumper and pulled out many close games for Parker’s club.
The men in the middle both stood over 6-6 and gave CHS the inside game to battle and defeat several of the state’s top teams.
Dennis Benningfield, like the Johnsons, was a senior on that team while Glenn Vance, a junior, was the lone underclassmen in the “starting six.”
Benningfield was a steady commodity while Vance could shoot as well as most guards from anywhere on the court.
The glue to the Eagle arsenal was the senior back-court duo of Jim Cox and Dee (real name James) Deener. The dictionary photos of these two would be next to the words unselfish, table-setters and dependable.
They could have scored many more points since the ball was always in their hands, but instead they ran the 1-3-1 offense to perfection and orchestrated an attack they seldom ever had double digits in turnovers.
The substitutes consisted of junior Melvin Mills and sophomores Larry Bright, Ricky Janes, twins Greg and Jeff Mobley, David Rice and Jeff McKinley. And, they each brought an attitude and personality that blended in well with the star system. In other words, they knew when to say something or shut up and like Mobley, the underclassman historian of this team says, “be a 30 club guy. I only got in the game if we were 30 points up or 30 points down and there was 30 seconds or less in the game.”
Campbellsville High School’s 1973 Eagles (26-4)
Hart County 77-56 Caverna 75-45
Green County 79-71 Atherton 52-51
St. Xavier 50-48 Shawnee 54-67
Franklin-Simpson 77-63 Adair County 79-64
Russell County 74-58 East Hardin 83-65
Washington County 57-63 LaRue County 72-59
Williamstown 91-57 Glasgow 90-78
Russell County 83-40 Ahrens 66-60
Marion County 78-65 Marion County 84-61
Taylor County 65-61 Marion County 73-45
Taylor County 75-60 Adair County 65-54
Metcalfe County 104-76 Nelson County 94-68
Tompkinsville 77-51 Elizabethtown 58-51
Bardstown 52-51 Bardstown 93-71
Elizabethtown 69-71 Owensboro 52-72