Grant County High School students sat on the edge of their seat, not even breathing, as author Keith O’Brien read an excerpt from his book, “Outside Shot”. The moment being described was defined as the beginning of one of Kentucky’s biggest high school rivalries….the final seconds of the 1998 Sweet 16 semi-final game between the Scott County Cardinals and Lexington Catholic. The Cardinals were down 5…with 35 seconds to go. O’Brien described Rupp Arena, wild with over 17,000 roaring fans; a team of boys – mere teenagers – holding everything – past, present, and future - in their hands; a coach compelled to trust his players to do what their gut instinct and years of practice told them to do; a smug, power house competitor, widely expected to walk away with the championship; and a community stopped dead in its tracks, glued to their radios, as Scott County closed the gap, and the lead moved back and forth – then tied. A whole county waiting, hoping, praying that their boys could – just maybe – could bring home Kentucky basketball’s highest prize.
Kentucky high school basketball is like none other in the nation. Its single-class state tournament structure pits sixteen schools – the tiny against the large, the rural against the urban, and the underdog against the legendary – in a fight where the championship means you are – plainly and simply - the best. In a state where basketball reigns king, it’s the stuff of which hopes and dreams are made.
The visit to Grant County High School on Tuesday, January 15, 2013, by O’Brien and Scott County’s legendary coach, Billy Hicks, was arranged by Jim Hicks, GC basketball coach and nephew of the Scott County coach. The presentation was attended by students in Mr. Scott Gibbons’ AP English, AP literature and English 102 classes as well as Mrs. Amy Robinson’s history class. Both O’Brien and Hicks spoke to the students about their experiences in planning, contributing, researching, compiling, writing, editing, and publishing the book. O’Brien is a former reporter for the Boston Globe who pursued a dream to author a book, moved his family, and spent four years bringing “Outside Shot” from a dream to reality. Coach Billy Hicks has over 800 wins to his credit and is approaching the record for the most wins in Kentucky basketball history. Both wanted students to know that the book is not just about basketball, but also about Kentucky’s heritage in coal mining, blue grass, and most importantly, the struggles and victories that make, break, and define us as human beings.
Mr. O’Brien also spoke to the students about the preparation and diligence it requires to be successful in their pursuits and encouraged students to use every avenue possible to develop their skills and deepen their experiences in pursuit of their dreams.
For more information about the book, visit,http://www.keithob.com/.