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Think you’re excited about the Bearcats’ trip this week to the state basketball tournament?
Get a load of this guy.
When the Bearcats tip off Thursday night, David Jenkins will have traveled nearly 1,000 miles to cheer them on in Rupp Arena.
The Louisville native now lives in Houston, but not even that distance will keep him from watching the Bearcats compete in their first Sweet 16 since 1997.
“I’m flying in the day of the game,” said Jenkins, whose cousin, Landon, plays for the Bearcats.
From pool halls and barber shops to public meetings of all sorts, the Bearcats are the topic of conversation.
“I think this is just great,” longtime Bearcat fan Charlie Bryant said from his stool at Jim’s Pool Hall on Main Street.
“It’s great for all of Anderson County,” J.N. Coffee chimed in. “I enjoy everything Anderson County does and this is a lot of fun.”
Down the street at Danny’s Barber Shop, Danny Bowman said the Bearcats’ success has been the lead topic of conversation.
“Folks are pretty excited about it,” Bowman said while giving a trim. “It’s really something to see the boys get to go to the Sweet 16. They’ll remember this for the rest of their lives.”
Penny’s from heaven
Ever since “Mr. Basketball” candidate C.J. Penny swished a long 3-pointer at the buzzer last Tuesday night to beat Shelby County in the Region 8 finals, Lawrenceburg has been positively giddy.
Now known simply as “The Shot,” Penny’s bucket touched off a wild celebration that included the team receiving a police escort back to the high school and a waiting throng of fans.
“The place went bananas,” said Sheriff Troy Young. “It was unbelievable.”
By the next morning, several videos of Penny’s heroics had made their way to popular video website YouTube, including one by videographer Martin Young that has been replayed thousands of times in homes, businesses and schools, including during a pep rally Monday afternoon at the high school.
Fly in from Houston? No problem
The Jenkins family doesn’t let a little thing like travel stand in their way when it comes to watching the Bearcats.
David Jenkins, the guy from Houston, said he knew from the moment he found out the Bearcats won last Tuesday night that he wasn’t going to miss their trip to the Sweet 16.
“When I found out I have a cousin that is going to play in the state tournament, I knew I was going,” said Jenkins, who is bringing along his daughter, Brooke.
Jenkins said his dad, Gary, has kept him up to date on the Bearcats’ season.
“He told me two or three weeks ago that they had a shot,” he said. “I was coaching my daughter’s softball team the night of the regional final when my cell phone went off. It was my dad and he told me about Penny’s 3-pointer. He was extremely excited.”
Gayla Jenkins, Landon’s aunt, lives in Lawrenceburg but her work with the state department of education frequently takes her out of town. She doesn’t let that get in her way of watching her beloved Bearcats, though.
“I’ve only missed two games all year,” she said.
On the night of the regional final, Gayla was in Richmond but traveled nearly four hours round trip to Henry County to watch the Bearcats advance.
“I got back around midnight, but that was OK with me,” she said. “I’m just elated for these guys. Not just my nephew but the whole team. They are a terrific bunch of young men.”
Talk of the town
During last Thursday’s Rotary Club meeting, Judge-Executive Steve Cornish’s invocation to open the meeting included a prayer for the Bearcats.
During a pep rally Monday at the high school, Mayor Edwinna Baker issued a proclamation on the team’s behalf, followed by state Rep. Kent Stevens (D-Lawrenceburg) officially making Coach Glen Drury, his coaching staff and his players Kentucky Colonels.
Throughout the past week, people have lined up to wish the Bearcats well, and they will do so again Wednesday night.
A parade to send the team off in style is scheduled to begin around 6 p.m.
The team will parade on Woodford and Main streets before traveling back to the high school on Broadway. Then it’s off to Lexington, where players will spend the night before Thursday’s game.
Drury’s wife, Jennifer, is encouraging all businesses to decorate for the event.
“We hope everyone will come out and cheer them on their way,” Jennifer said.
Schools show their support
Administrators, faculty, staff and students district-wide have been celebrating the Bearcats’ success.
Superintendent Kim Shaw said he was excited to take a team to the Sweet 16 as a superintendent.
“I’ve had the opportunity to take a team to the state tournament as a coach and as a high school principal,” Shaw said. “This is the first state tournament team I’ve been associated with as superintendent and this is as exciting as any of my previous tournament experiences.”
Shaw also said he was proud of the team members and the coaches.
“I am elated for our players and coaches who have worked so hard to reach this goal,” he said.
“It’s equally gratifying to see them represent our school and community in the exemplary manner in which they conduct themselves both on and off the court.
“We are proud to have these coaches and players as ambassadors for Anderson County Schools.”
All of the district’s three elementary schools have been showing their support for the team.
Robert B. Turner Elementary School planned a spirit week for March 16-20. Monday, students wore their favorite sports team shirts and jerseys and Tuesday, students wore their favorite team hats to school.
Today, students are decked out in their favorite Turner Titan shirts.
Thursday, students will be dressed in red in support of the Bearcats. And to round out the week, Friday is camouflage day.
Saffell Street Elementary School students were sent home with Bearcat T-shirt order forms, some students are making signs and cards, and “Go Bearcats” is now displayed in the library windows, Principal Derek Shouse said.
Thursday will also be a spirit day at Saffell, he said.
“We’ll all be in red on Thursday,” he said.
Some Saffell fourth-graders also decorated the high school’s halls with posters Monday afternoon.
Emma B. Ward Elementary School students made a banner, which is hanging at Anderson County High School, showing their support, said Principal Amanda Ellis.
Also, Thursday is Bearcat Pride Day at Ward.
Anderson County Middle School students will be encouraged to wear red Thursday as well in support of the Bearcats, Principal Steve Karsner said. Also, all middle school events that were scheduled for Thursday night have been canceled, he said.
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