It was just like the old days. The Monticello Elementary Gymnasium was packed with spectators with seas of blue in the stands. The athletes were wearing Monticello uniforms and the cheerleaders were clad in Monticello blue.
Even some of the players that had played in the former high school gym showed up and were honored. Don Frye, one of Monticello’s legendary players stepped out onto the court to wave to the crowd at halftime. He will be inducted later this summer into the Kentucky High School Basketball Hall of Fame (KHSBHF). He led Monticello to the state tournament back in 1960 when they were named KHSAA runner-up. The 1960 All American had been named one of the Top 30 seniors in the nation.
It was a night filled with nostalgia. Old friends got together to reminisce thanks to the Kentucky High School Basketball Hall of Fame’s 2022 Heritage Games. Even though the Monticello Elementary Gymnasium now serves Wayne County’s third, fourth and fifth graders – it was interesting to remember some of the footsteps of all the teams that had played in the historic gymnasium. The Monticello Elementary School gym was one of five locations across Kentucky this year to be named “Glory Road” sites that honor the development of the cultural phenomenon of Kentucky high school basketball.
For more than 100 years, Kentucky high school basketball has been embraced by Kentuckians who came together in gymnasiums of various shapes and sizes to support their teams. Over time the KHSBHF will recognize many iconic gymnasiums along with the schools and communities that built them.
Wayne County Basketball “Great” and former Olympic athlete Kenny Davis, is the Region 12 Deputy Director for KHSBHF. He said that the first Glory Road site honored in 2021 was Memorial Gymnasium in Hazard. Over the years, all schools throughout Perry County, at one time or another, considered Memorial Gymnasium their home.
In 2022, the Glory Road sites honored are the Old Dunbar High School (which was cancelled due to the ice storm), Owensboro Sports Center, Monticello High School Gymnasium/Wayne County High School, Paintsville High School Gymnasium, and Ashland High School Gymnasium.
Davis said, “Next year we will add the Somerset Gymnasium…it is as old as this one.”
“We felt like going around the state recognizing these old gymnasiums is something that needs to be done,” said Davis. He said they are honoring these sites because of their age - there have been a remarkable number of games that have been played there. “There is a lot of history there that a lot of people do not know about nowadays.”
The KHSBHF, in cooperation with schools, communities and teams, are celebrating the rivalries at this year’s five historic sites. “I never played here because there was such a rivalry. Coach Mills nor Coach Harper would play each other.”
Since the local school districts merged, the students and staff have ended the hometown rivalry and are now united.
On a bittersweet note, a moment of silence was observed to honor Coach Stewart Gregory, who had recently passed away. Not only did he have the privilege of coaching sports at both school districts, but his son Gage Gregory was a starter on Wayne County’s Varsity Team who played Somerset that evening. So, between the rekindling of history and the loss of a basketball coach, it was a somber occasion and courageous event for the team.
At halftime, Monticello native Jeff Bridgeman, who later moved to Illinois, was introduced to the crowd for his insurmountable contribution to Kentucky High School Basketball. He is the author of two books titled: Kentucky High School Basketball Encyclopedia. These books include complete records and stats of every high school basketball team in the state for both girls and boys.
Margaret Wilhite, was another contributor who was recognized. She reflected the many staff members that facilitated all the work that was associated with making school sporting events possible. During her 36 year tenure at Monticello Independent, she worked in the cafeteria and the library. She also served as the Title 1 secretary and secretary to the principal. She oversaw all ticket sales and still found time to drive a regular bus route and serve as the driver for the girls basketball team.
Executive Director of the Kentucky High School Basketball Hall of Fame Ken Trivette presented the school award to 2020-2021 inductee Wayne County Basketball Coach Rodney Woods during a brief ceremony before the varsity game. He and Kenny Davis also presented the Glory Road Award on behalf of Monticello Gymnasium to former Monticello Trojan Basketball Coach Wade Upchurch. They congratulated Monticello and Wayne County in their efforts to build and maintain the Monticello Gymnasium where so many “dreams came true”.
The next day, Trivette issued a statement on behalf of KHSBHF, “I wanted to issue our appreciation and admiration for the class way the WCHS Athletic Department – Fans and Community managed the Heritage game on February 8th. The game was played intensely – officiated well – coached exceptionally – managed beautifully – supported by fans/cheerleaders/band earnestly – And even the concessions were tasty!”
“Our goal of assisting Communities – Schools and basketball programs in rekindling rivalry games in our historical gyms was realized. You created a templet for all future games across the state as we carry our mission forward,” said Trivette.
PRE-GAME FESTIVITIES and REUNIONS
The fans started to fill up the gym
(l-r:) Kay Allen, Chester Ramsey, Kenny Trivette and Jr. Worley (who had played football together when Trivette was an assistant coach) enjoyed being together.
WCHS and Georgetown College graduates (l-r:) Asst. Cardinal Boys Basketball Coach Allen Burchett and Cardinal /Kentucky Hall of Famer Kenny Davis enjoyed visiting before the game.
WCMS Principal Melissa Gossage and Monticello Elementary Principal Virginia Cares enjoyed the fun atmosphere.
Cheerleaders getting together before the presentation.
Practicing a stunt
WC Athletic Director Kevin Jones, Executive Director of the Kentucky High School Basketball Hall of Fame Ken Trivette, and former WC Cardinal and Olympic Basketball Star Kenny Davis at the center of the court.
Athletic Director Kevin Jones assisted WCHS Basketball Coach Rodney Woods with a Hall of Fame customized award as the 2020-21 inductee.
JROTC bringing the flag into the gym
WC JROTC Cadet salutes Garrison flag
(above and below) Cheerleaders stand at attention for the National Anthem
Ball Boy Cooper Gehring listens to the National Anthem
PEP BAND PERFORMED ON THE STAGE
Clarinet musicians (l-r:) Jenna Mills and Melody Mendoza-Reyes
Wayne County Band Director Andy Critz led the Pep Band
Band Member Lucas Crabtree
Dance team members with their Coach Pam Campbell were there to support the home team.
WCHS Varsity Team near the start of the game.
A moment of silence was held honoring former Monticello and Wayne County Coach Stewart Gregory after his recent passing. The photo of Gregory and his son, Gage Gregory, was made this ball season by Wade Upchurch.
Gage Gregory courageously headed out onto the floor to play ball with his family in the stands to cheer him on, along with a packed crowd.
Forward Antajuan Dumphord
Kendall Phillips with the ball
Mason Burchett making a basket
Ball Boys Cooper Gehring and Caleb Rice, who attend WCMS, spent the evening delivering water and towels to the athletes.
Cheerleaders supporting the team.
Student pep section tuned into the game.
Glory Road Award will be permanently displayed in the Monticello Elementary School
Former Monticello Trojan Basketball Coach Wade Upchurch accepted the Glory Road plaque from (left:) KHSBHF Executive Director Ken Trivette and KHSBHF Regional Deputy Director Kenny Davis.
Fans in the Crowd
Peggy Gehring and her grandchild
(front row l-r:) Cheerleading Sponsor Mary Beth Stockton and Teacher Jamie Hutchinson (back row l-r:) Angela and her husband Stephen Massengale.