Thursday, May 10, 2018

Rest In Peace, John W. Allen (1934 - 2018)

So when the Cuba Cubs won the Kentucky High School Athletic Association boys' basketball championship in 1952, they advanced to the state tournament by beating the Wickliffe Blue Tigers, 54-42, in the final of the First Region tournament at Murray College. Per (indispensable) Bob Mays, here were the scores leading up to that championship:

-- Symsonia Rough Riders 42, Brewers Redmen 38 (quarterfinals)
-- Cuba 74, Clinton Central Red Devils 39
-- Wickliffe 62, Bandana 47
-- Bardwell Indians 71, Sharpe Green Devils 58
-- Cuba 61, Symsonia 34 (semifinals)
-- Wickliffe 74, Bardwell 62

Wickliffe's first-round win over Bandana followed a 63-55 win over the same team in the District 2 tournament championship at Paducah Tilghman High. This was the "(l)ast year for Bandana, Barlow-Kevil, Ballard County, Blandville and Wickliffe (highs, as) they became known as Ballard Memorial the next year," per (again) (really, super) Bob Mays.

One of the players on the Bandana team was John W. Allen, a boy originally from Guthrie, all the way over in Todd County. And he must've been pretty good, because then he went on to play three seasons for the Paducah Junior College Indians (including one for future trail-blazing Vanderbilt University coach Roy Skinner). He completed his degree at East Texas State Teachers College, and then he moved back home to western Kentucky and coached the Ballard Memorial Bombers (it appears he might've been an assistant coach). 

By 1957, things were coming together for the consolidated Bombers of Ballard County. The team failed to win even a single Second District tournament game in its first four seasons of existence. In 1957, however, it played Tilghman to triple overtime before losing, 67-65, in the district final, and advanced to the semifinals in the First Region. Things were looking up in La Center.

But life happens. Back when he was in Texas, John W. Allen had met a woman, Wanda Boyd. In 1957, they married, and, that fall, John W. Allen began a 35-year career of coaching and teaching in Texas high schools. He never moved back. Mr. and Mrs. Allen had children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren in Texas, and he embraced the new teams of his adopted home--the Dallas Cowboys, launched in 1960, and Texas Rangers, arriving in 1971--while staying true to his old-standby University of Kentucky Wildcats.

Mr. Allen died a week ago today. He was 83. Rest in peace.

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