Thirty years ago this week Lexington Catholic played in the state basketball tournament in Rupp Arena.
Danny Johnson and Trey Griffin, who played for those Knights in 1985, will mark the anniversary the best way imaginable: watching their sons take the Rupp Arena court for Lexington Catholic in the 98th Whitaker Bank/KHSAA Sweet Sixteen.
Tanner Johnson and Jarod Griffin are senior standouts for the Knights, who will face Boyle County in the first round Thursday afternoon.
"Once you've done it yourself, this is the best thing that could happen," Danny Johnson said. "It's a dream-come-true for Tanner and the whole family."
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Trey Griffin said "it's a bigger thrill watching these guys get there than when we did it ourselves. It's definitely more exciting, and definitely more nerve-racking."
Tony Talbott, who's been coaching at Lexington Catholic since 1997, mostly with the girls' basketball program, shares those feelings.
Tony made it to the Sweet Sixteen twice with Harrison County, in 1976 in Freedom Hall and in 1979 in Rupp Arena. His son William was on Lexington Catholic's 2009 Sweet Sixteen team, and now his son Michael, a senior point guard, gets to play under the bright lights in Rupp Arena.
"I don't show a lot of emotion, but when they won (the 11th Region last week), I was ready to jump for joy," Tony said. "I was probably the happiest guy in that gym."
His son could tell. "My dad is usually really calm," Michael said. "But he was really excited. He came down on the court and gave me a hug."
Tanner Johnson grew up watching the Knights in the state tournament, starting when he wasn't quite 2. (Too young to remember Scott County beating Lexington Catholic 85-82 in the 1998 semifinals on Rick Jones' three-pointer at the buzzer.)
Tanner does recall soaking up the atmosphere when the Knights won the 2002 title.
"I really wasn't sure what was going on, but it was pretty crazy and everybody was super-excited."
He was courtside for the Knights' Sweet Sixteen appearances in 2008 and '09, too. He, Jarod Griffin and Reese Ryan were on the bench as freshman in 2011.
"Watching all the older guys do it, It was always in my mind, like a goal, to get there and get to play," Johnson said. "It feels great that it's happening."
Jarod Griffin's first memory of the state tournament was the Knights' runner-up finish in 2000. Matt Heissenbuttel, now an assistant coach, was one of the stars on that team. He was Jarod's hero.
"Matt seemed like the leader. He was awesome, and the team was great," Jarod said. "They weren't the most athletic team, but they played so hard and so well together."
Coach Brandon Salsman, who was on Lexington Catholic's 1992 state runner-up team, said he grew up watching Danny Johnson and Trey Griffin play. Now he's coaching their sons.
"That's the family atmosphere we have at Lexington Catholic," Salsman said. "It's a unique situation, with the basketball legacy of fathers and sons, and this team exemplifies that."
They exemplified it by winning the 11th Region for the 12th time in school history, although Trey Griffin doubts the players fully appreciate what they've accomplished.
"Thirty years ago, we were the same way," Trey Griffin said. "I think with age comes a little bit of wisdom and you start to figure out it's a pretty special thing."
Danny Johnson keeps his Sweet Sixteen experience close to his heart even though the Knights lost a 68-66 heartbreaker to Mason County in the first round.
"It was such a big part of my life, I still look back on it fondly," he said.
Johnson and Griffin went on to play college hoops at Centre and helped the Colonels reach the Division III national semifinals in 1989.
"I've gotten to do a lot of cool things in sports, like getting to that final four," Johnson said. "But playing in Rupp Arena in the Sweet Sixteen is still probably at the top of my basketball list."
Trey Griffin hopes this year's team can advance past the first round and make it a perfect anniversary.
"I told Jarod the other day the last game I played for Lexington Catholic was in Rupp Arena on March 20, 1985," Trey said. "If Jarod and them beat Boyle County Thursday, they'll get to play Friday, March 20, 2015, exactly 30 years later.
"How perfect would that be?"