Yes, that was Paintsville legend J.R. VanHoose on the Johnson Central bench Thursday afternoon at the Sweet Sixteen in Rupp Arena.
It was a little weird seeing VanHoose in the Golden Eagles' black and gold instead of Paintsville's blue and white.
VanHoose, who led Paintsville to the 1996 state title and was Mr. Basketball in 1998, had coached girls' hoops at Phelps the past seven years.
When Golden Eagles Coach Tommy McKenzie approached him about joining his staff this season, VanHoose jumped at the chance to return to his hometown.
When he told his mentor, Paintsville Coach Bill Mike Runyon, about the job opportunity, VanHoose got his blessing.
"He was like, 'Buddy, as long as you come back home, I'm happy for you," VanHoose said.
VanHoose admitted it was "a little awkward" when Johnson Central played at Paintsville this season. "Walking in the gym and seeing all your Hall of Fame stuff up there, and you're like, well, at least they didn't cover it, so I guess they still like me," he said.
McKenzie and assistant Jason Shepherd played for Johnson Central against VanHoose in high school, and Golden Eagles assistant Scott Holbrook also played at Paintsville.
"Everybody was real familiar, and that made it a smooth transition," VanHoose said.
"Johnson Central welcomed me with open arms, and I enjoy teaching and coaching there. It's been a blast."
Getting to take part in another Sweet Sixteen was a bonus. Johnson Central is here for the fourth year in a row, the third team in 15th Region history to accomplish that feat. Inez did it in the 1930s, and Paintsville did it with VanHoose during the 1990s.
"This is just my first year here, but it's still neat to be part of another four in a row," VanHoose said.
Keeping the books
Ken Bourne and Tom Curley have the best seats available at the Sweet Sixteen. As the official scorers, they're perched alongside the half-court line.
"We actually both keep a book," Bourne said. "The KHSAA has always kept two official scorebooks for the state tournament. We kind of check-and-balance each other. It's kind of just to make sure everything's covered. It's probably not necessary, but they always have, and we work well together."
Bourne, who also serves as official scorer for UK home games, men and women, has been working the state tournament since 1979. There was an oversight that year, as the KHSAA did not have a stat crew on hand for the first session of the tourney. At the time, Bourne was a student-assistant sports information director at Transylvania University.
"One thing kind of led to another," he said. "They paged Don Lane, the head coach at Transy, and asked him if he had some stat people that could help them out. And he pointed at me and said, 'Well, there's my SID right there. See if he can help you.' I've seen pretty much all of every tournament since 1979."
Bourne has been a state tournament official scorer for eight years, having taken over when the late Charlie Ruter retired.
Curley, who retired as assistant principal at Ballard and now spends most of his time in Florida, has been working the tourney for 44 years. He spent time on the stats crew, worked the clock and became an official scorer when the late Richard "Rosie" Rozel moved from the book to the clock.
"We have a great system, I think," Curley said. "We put the number of who made the basket and the time that they made the basket; we talk back and forth. We sort of feed off of each other. Kenny does the signaling as far as the one-and-one or the two (free throws) to the referees as far as the fouls, and does the possession arrow. I do sub chart. ... I think we have a good system that works."
Said Bourne: "Every now and then you'll come up with some kind of a discrepancy on the number of fouls or the running score or something. That's part of why we have two books. You kind of work your way through it."
The Dawahares/Kentucky Association of Basketball Coaches East-West All-Star Game is at Transylvania at 2 p.m. Saturday. It will feature some of the top seniors in the state.
Football 'n' hoops
Belfry's Philip Haywood, the state's all-time winningest football coach with 389 victories, will be at the Sweet Sixteen on Friday to autograph his book, Faith, Family, and Football. He'll be in the Lexington Center foyer outside Rupp Arena.
Haywood's book is as much a playbook about life as it is about football. He shares highlights of his coaching career, which includes three state football titles, and the importance of his relationships with young people. The book also may be purchased at Coachphiliphaywood.com.