High School Basketball

Beloved coach who led tiny Clinton County to improbable season dies at 63

Former Clinton County High School basketball coach Ronnie Guffey died Tuesday at age 63.
Former Clinton County High School basketball coach Ronnie Guffey died Tuesday at age 63. Herald-Leader file photo

Former Clinton County High School basketball coach Ronnie Guffey, who coached the girls’ program to its best finish in the state tournament, died Tuesday. He was 63.

Guffey coached boys’ and girls’ basketball at Clinton County — a small 4th Region school about two hours southwest of Lexington — for parts of three decades. He began his first tenure with the girls’ program in the 1988-89 season and finished up with the 1997-98 season. He also coached the boys’ team during the 1997-98 season and continued coaching them through the 2000-01 campaign. He took a break before returning to the girls’ team for two seasons, 2003-04 and 2004-05.

January 2005 file photo: Twins Amber, left, and Paige Guffey watched video of one of their games with their dad, Ronnie Guffey, then their head coach at Clinton County High School. Ronnie Guffey died Tuesday. Janet Worne Herald-Leader file photo

That last campaign was arguably the greatest in Clinton County girls’ basketball history. The Bulldogs finished with a 32-6 record — their second 30-win season in school history — and made their deepest run in the KHSAA State Tournament that year. Clinton County finished runner-up to Lexington Catholic after a hard-fought 59-54 state-title game in what was the school’s first — and as of this year, only — appearance in a KHSAA state championship game.

Guffey’s identical twin daughters, Amber and Paige, were seniors who averaged about 20 points apiece for that team. By enrollment, Clinton County was the smallest non-private school to play in the girls’ basketball finals in the last 25 years.

“To be as tired as we were, we showed so much heart all the way to the end,” Guffey told the Herald-Leader’s Jennifer Smith in March 2005. “They’re not afraid of anybody and I think they showed that tonight.”

Guffey’s girls’ teams won five district titles and finished runner-up in the district three times. They won four 4th Region All “A” titles and the All “A” Classic state championship in 2004. He led the boys’ program to a district title and one runner-up finish in the district.

“He was loved by not only the Clinton County and 4th Region communities but around the state as well,” Mike Beard, one of Guffey’s former assistants and co-workers, wrote in an email to the Herald-Leader.

Visitation will be held at Campbell-New Funeral Home in Albany at 5 p.m. Thursday. Guffey’s funeral is scheduled for 2 p.m. Friday.