King Kelly Coleman. The Cuba Cubs. Carr Creek's state championship.
If you grew up hearing the lore of high school basketball in Kentucky, there is magic in those words.
Now, a man from the tiny Hardin County hamlet of Sonora has taken it upon himself to capture for eternity the stories and glories from the era (the 1950s) that many consider the golden age of Kentucky high school hoops.
For Charlie Thurman, it began when he bought a copy of the 2005 book King Kelly Coleman: Kentucky's Greatest Basketball Legend.
"It was a Saturday afternoon," Thurman says. "I sat down to read and I couldn't put it down. It brought back all the feelings of what high school basketball in Kentucky in the 1950s was like. I loved it."
A man willing to act on his passions, Thurman called the book's author, Gary P. West. He eventually talked the reluctant Bowling Green writer into meeting with him.
"Charlie's a character, and I mean that in a good way," West said. "He is what I call a sports activist."
When the two met, Thurman listened to West tell stories about the larger-than-life Coleman — Wayland's high-scoring, (supposedly) fast-living basketball icon who still holds the Sweet Sixteen single-game scoring record.
Thurman's enthusiasm erupted like Mt. Vesuvius.
"I got to thinking that we needed to do something to preserve all these stories while the legends were still here to tell them," he says.
So Thurman, 66, a Hardin County native who spent 35 years working in the oil business in Louisiana before he moved home six years ago, decided the answer was a series of taped interviews with Kentucky basketball royalty.
With his nephew Chris serving as videographer, Thurman is making a grand tour of our state's past hoops shrines.
He has been to Western Kentucky to tour the boyhood haunts of Howie Crittenden, the ball-handling wizard who starred for Cuba's 1952 state champions.
The resulting film is tentatively titled Travels With Howie.
Thurman has taken a posse of basketball-oriented folks that included West, long-time Kentucky sportswriter Bob Watkins and veteran North Hardin High coach Ron Bevars to Eastern Kentucky to visit the gyms at Wayland and Carr Creek.
On that visit, Coleman, Crittenden, former Central City star Corky Withrow and Freddie Maggard, the hero of Carr Creek's 1956 state champs, all sat for interviews in the Wayland gym.
"That trip to the mountains, it was a very special time to see all those legends together," Bevars said.
Thurman has developed a special passion for the 1956 Sweet Sixteen, which old timers still claim was the greatest state tourney in Kentucky history.
Over four games in that tournament, Maggard hit game-winning shots to eliminate both Withrow's Central City team (first round) and Coleman and Wayland (semifinals).
Maggard then scored 20 points in the state finals victory over Henderson, yet somehow failed to make the all-tournament team.
Of course, many just remember that '56 tourney for the 68 points King Kelly scored against Bell County in the third-place game.
The film featuring Coleman, Withrow and Maggard will be called The Legends of 1956.
Thurman's plans for what he calls his documentaries "are to sell them commercially," he said. "We'd like people to see them."
On July 22 in Sonora, Thurman is throwing a celebration to honor former Central City star Withrow for his election to the Kentucky High School Athletic Association's 2010 Hall of Fame class.
Coleman, Crittenden and Maggard are also expected to join Withrow at what Thurman is calling the Legends of Fifties Basketball Night.
(One must make a reservation by July 20 to attend. Tickets are $75, including a shrimp-boil dinner, with proceeds going toward the renovation of the old Sonora school building into a community center.
Tickets to the event and copies of the documentaries can be bought by calling 270-949-1897).
"I guess this is for gray hairs," Thurman said of his hoops preservation efforts. "But you'd be surprised how many young people will come to the event. If you are interested in Kentucky basketball history, this is really exciting no matter what age you are."