Sweet Sixteen notes: Martin-Goins family has a habit of making the Sweet 16

mfields@herald-leader.comMarch 17, 2011 

From left, Chris Martin, Will Martin, Wayne Martin, Michael Martin, Kathy Goins Martin and Mike Goins met on familiar ground Wednesday. Chris, Wayne, Michael and Kathy have all made the state tournament, and Goins has refereed it.


Clark County's appearance in the Sweet Sixteen in Rupp Arena Wednesday made for one more memorable March for the basketball-crazy Martin family.

When Clark County senior Michael Martin checked into the game against Oldham County, he joined his father, mother and one of his brothers as state tournament participants.

Wayne Martin got the ball rolling when he played for Clark County in the 1964 Sweet Sixteen in Memorial Coliseum.

Kathy Goins Martin, Wayne's wife, played for Anderson County in the 1978 state tournament at Eastern Kentucky.

"She's the best player in the family," Wayne said.

Kathy also went to the state tournament as an assistant at Rowan County and Clark County.

Wayne's son Chris played for Rowan County in the 1989 state tournament in Rupp Arena. (The Vikings lost to Clark County in the first round.)

Matthew Martin, Chris' brother, had the unfortunate luck to play for Clark County when it was twice bumped off in the 10th Region by Chris Lofton-led Mason County.

Michael knows what that's like. Clark County lost to Mason County in the region finals in 2009 and 2010 before finally breaking through this year.

"The anguish we went through with Matthew in the region, and with Michael the last two years, for Michael to finally make it makes this special," Wayne said.

Martin, general manager of WKYT-TV, said his family's interests aren't very diverse. "It's basketball and golf."

Kathy confirmed that, noting they took Matthew to his first Sweet Sixteen when he was only a few months old.

(Also add to the mix Kathy's brother Mike Goins, who's refereed in two state tournaments.)

The Martins hope to have another Sweet Sixteen player in the future. They project Chris' 5-year-old son Will to be hooping it up in 2021.

Scouting his Toppers

As coach at Western Kentucky University, Ken McDonald had more than a casual interest in Wednesday's opening round of the Sweet Sixteen.

McDonald was on hand to watch a pair of his recruits: Vinny Zollo and George Fant.

Zollo had 10 points, six rebounds, three blocks and two assists to help Clark County beat Oldham County in the opening game at Rupp Arena.

Fant, despite being sick, had 21 points and 12 rebounds in Warren Central's loss to No. 1 Eastern.

"Obviously (Clark County is) very physical and Vinny's just the consummate role guy for that team," McDonald said. "He's so high energy. He's going to get on the floor. He's going to make hustle plays. He's very skilled shooting the ball. And I just love what he brings to the table."

At 6-foot-9, will Zollo have the bulk to play inside at the college level?

"I'm excited about how his body's going to change over the summer," McDonald said. "And his athleticism is going to improve.

"He's got to come in with the attitude that he's going to work and earn every minute he can get, and I know he's going to do that. I'm excited about the character that he brings to our program."

As for Fant, 6-7, McDonald said he saw "a lot of improvement over the year with his game and skill level. Just a very, very good skill set.

"I think his body is going to change as well. I'm very excited about his potential."

Finally in the show

Bob James has been officiating high school hoops for 31 years, hoping to one day referee in the Sweet Sixteen. He finally reached that goal Wednesday night.

"A dream come true," James said after calling the Christian County-Shelby Valley game in Rupp Arena.

James, a 1965 St. Xavier graduate, worked his way through the Kentucky Basketball Officials Association as a referee and officer.

He regularly attended the boys' and girls' state tournaments, to support his buddies in the striped shirts and "to get a feel for the atmosphere so I'd be ready if my time ever came."

A few weeks ago he got an e-mail from KHSAA commissioner Julian Tackett, asking if he'd be interested in working the boys' Sweet Sixteen.

"About 30 seconds later, that e-mail was back to him saying, 'Most definitely, yes.'"

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