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Basketball fans often talk about the “What ifs?” in their sport.
Like “What if Mike Casey had not broken his leg in the summer before his senior year? Would a team of Dan Issel, Mike Pratt and Mike Casey have been unstoppable in 1970?”
Or “What if Terry Howard had remained perfect at the free throw line? Would Kentucky and Louisville have played for the national championship in 1975?”
Victor Brown never claimed to be a great athlete. “I was the only boy from Lawrenceburg that didn't play basketball,” smiles Brown, who graduated from Lincoln Institute in 1959. “Those teams were just so good.”
But Brown was a huge fan of the Tigers in those days, just as he is one of the Anderson County Lady Bearcats' biggest supporters today. His daughter, Sydney, is the starting center for the Lady Cats, who are gunning for their second consecutive Eighth Region championship.
Don't try to sell John Cunningham on Rick Pitino, John Calipari or any other modern basketball coach as being the master of the full-court press and fast break offense.
He'd rather talk about Herbert Garner, coach of the Lincoln Institute Tigers.
“What made our team so good was that we would practice for 2-3 hours doing nothing but the full-court press,” says Cunningham, a Lawrenceburg realtor who was bused to Lincoln Institute.
(Editor's note: Jewell Logan is one of many Anderson County residents who were bused to Lincoln Institute in Shelby County. He was the Most Valuable Player of the 1960 Lincoln Tigers, who made the school's only appearance in the Sweet 16. They lost to Owensboro in the first round, 77-75. Mr. Logan now lives in Portland, Ore. and sent this e-mail to Anderson News sports editor John Herndon last week.)
Attending Lincoln Institute was a fantastic experience for me and I am sure for many of the other students from Lawrenceburg who attended there over the years.
The only thing certain about picking the best ever in Anderson County basketball history is that we did not make room for enough players on the teams. Twenty boys players over 100 years? Ten girls since 1975?
It is practically impossible to do so, especially the way basketball has changed over time.
Just picking the best players is difficult in itself. I think it would be safe to say that no one alive has seen all of the greats in Anderson County history.