From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)
KHSAA 1958 Basketball Champion.pdf
KHSAA 1963 Basketball Champion.pdf
1963 KHSAA Runner-up and Semifinalist.pdf
1963 KY Basketball.jpg
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Kentucky High School Athletic Association Tournament, After Integration, 1957-1963

Basketball teams at African American schools in Kentucky had competed in the KHSAL (Kentucky High School Athletic League) that was formed in 1932 and continued until 1958. The end of the KHSAL tournament overlapped by a year or so with the trial integration of the KHSAA (Kentucky High School Athletic Association) Tournament in 1957. The KHSAA tournament had been held since 1917 as a whites-only event. In 1957, seven of the eleven African American member teams announced their intention to play in the 1957 KHSAA Basketball Tournament: Louisville Central, Covington Grant, Danville Bate, Ashland Booker T. Washington, Lexington Douglass, Mt. Sterling DuBois, and Lexington Dunbar.
  • In 1957, Lafayette High School in Lexington was the KHSAA Basketball Champion. Eastern High School in Louisville was the runner-up team. Both teams had white players.
Most schools in Kentucky had not integrated when KHSAA did a trail run at having an integrated basketball tournament. It was a fairly smooth process, and so, the following year eight basketball teams from African American schools participated in the 1958 KHSAA district tournament. There were sellout crowds when African American teams played. When the tournament got down to the last 16 teams, three of the teams from African American schools were still in the tournament: Lexington Dunbar, Covington Grant, and Bowling Green High School. It was the first time that basketball teams from African American schools had been in the Sweet Sixteen. Cynthiana was the first team to have a mix of African American and white players on the same team in the Sweet Sixteen.
  • In 1958, Xavier High School in Louisville, with an all-white team, was the KHSAA Basketball Champion. Daviess County was the runner-up team. 
  • In 1959, North Marshall High School was the KHSAA Basketball Champion. It was an all-white team. Manual in Louisville was the runner-up team with both African Americans and whites on the team. Lexington Dunbar High School was the third-place winner. It was an all-African American team.
  • In 1960, Flaget High School in Louisville was the KHSAA Basketball Champion. Monticello was the runner-up team. Both teams had African American and white players. The third-place winner was Owensboro High School. There were no African American players on the team.
  • In 1961, Ashland High School was the KHSAA Basketball Champion. There were no African Americans on the team. Lexington Dunbar High School was the runner-up. There were no whites on the team. Wheelwright High School was the third-place winner. There were no African Americans on the team.
  • In 1962, Xavier High School from Louisville was again the KHSAA Basketball Champion. Ashland High School was the runner-up. Breathitt County High School was the semifinalist. There were no African Americans on any of the teams. 
More than 40 years later, the impact of the integration of high school basketball in Kentucky was still being discussed. There was a newspaper article in 2008 about the 1963 KHSAA Basketball tournament, along with a picture of the 10-member All-Tournament Team (see attached image). The year 1963 marked the first time in the 46-year history of the KHSAA Basketball Tournament that there were more African American basketball players than white basketball players on the All-Tournament Team. The year 1963 also marked the first time that an African American, John "Scoop" Brown, was named a basketball official during the KHSAA Basketball Tournament.
  • 1963 Sweet Sixteen Teams: Paducah Tilghman, Princeton Dotson, Owensboro, Hancock County, Allen County, Taylor County, Louisville Seneca, Oldham County, Newport Catholic, Maysville, Lexington Dunbar, Somerset, Clay County, Breathitt County, Garrett County, Breckinridge Training
  • 1963 All-Tournament Team: James Smith & George Wilson (Lexington Dunbar), Danny Shearer (Oldham County), Dwight Smith (Princeton Dotson), Charles Taylor (Owensboro), Pearl Hicks (Clay County), Clem Haskins (Taylor County), Wes Unseld & Mike Redd (Louisville Seneca), George Davis (Maysville)
  • In 1963, Seneca High School in Louisville was the KHSAA Basketball Champion. The team had both African American and white players. Dunbar High School in Lexington was the runner-up team and had all African American players. A link to the video of the 1963 KHSAA Championship game is attached to this entry (no sound). The video also includes shots of the cheerleaders for both schools. Owensboro High School was the semifinalist team with both African American and white players.
African American high school basketball players in Kentucky were gaining the attention of the mainstream media and college scouts from other states. Some of the smaller colleges in Kentucky, such as Bellarmine, had started to integrate their basketball teams in the early 1950s. The University of Louisville had integrated their basketball team in 1962 with Wade Houston, Sam Smith, and Eddie Whitehead. The question was asked when the flagship college, University of Kentucky, might integrate their basketball team. It would not be until 1969 when Tom Payne signed with the University of Kentucky. 

Sources: "Negro cage teams scheduled to play in Kentucky meet," The Jackson Sun, 01/23/1957, p.9; "Sportstalk by James Elkins," The Paducah Sun-Democrat, 03/10/1958, p.8; Faulconer Glass, "St. X-Beaver Dam meet in opening state play. Three Negro quints gain berths here for state tourney," The Sunday Herald-Leader, 03/16/1958, p.10; Kentucky High School Athlete, April 1958, cover; "Bill Carter: UK like high school making its first state tourney trip: Stars are underclassman," The Paducah Sun-Democrat, 03/21/1958, p.16B; The Kentucky High School Athlete, April 1959; The Kentucky High School Athlete, April 1960; The Kentucky High School Athlete, April 1961; The Kentucky High School Athlete, April 1962; "Here are homebases of Sweet Sixteen," The Courier-Journal, 03/10/1963, section 2, p.8; "Russell Rice's Sporting Trails: Sweet Success (John Will "Scoop" Brown)," The Lexington Leader, 03/13/1963, p.13. 

Billy Reed, "A Proud witness to history: Integration in '58 made Sweet Sixteen experience complete," Lexington Herald-Leader, 03/03/2008, p.D2; "And Sports shall show the way?", The Courier-Journal, 03/16/1963, p.8; "White Line by Tom White: Raids continue for Kentucky prep cagers," The Lexington Leader, 01/25/1963, p.8; "Snap Shots Next Door: Muhlenberg County faced with total integration this fall.," Auburn News (Russellville, KY), 07/16/1963, p.2; Kentucky High School Athlete, April 1963, cover and p.1; Kelso Sturgeon, "SWC integration plans may pave Rupp's path to sign Negro cagers," The Lexington Herald, 12/07/1963, p.7.

Relation

IMAGE SOURE: The Kentucky High School Athlete, April 1958 (cover)
IMAGE SOURE: The Kentucky High School Athlete, April 1963 (cover)
IMAGE SOURCE: The Kentucky High School Athlete, April 1963, p.1.
IMAGE SOURCE: "Integration in '58 made Sweet Sixteen experience complete," Lexington Herald Leader, 03/03/2008, p.D2.
IMAGES SOURCE: Herald-Leader Photographs at the University of Kentucky Special Collections Research Center. Assistance in locating pictures provided by Jason Flahardy, Photographic Archivist. Pictures of students at Lexington Dunbar High School in Lexington, KY, after the basketball team took second place in the KHSAA 1963 Tournament.
Picture #1: Dunbar Bearcats James Smith, Richard Green and George Wilson shown with runner-up trophy they received after finishing second in the State Tournament.
Picture #2: Richard Green, mobbed by fans, holds trophy on arrival.
Pictures #3-5: no text.

Item Relations

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Kentucky High School Athletic Association Tournament, After Integration, 1957-1963,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed February 27, 2024, https://ukscrc001.net/nkaa/items/show/300004908.

Last modified: 2024-01-14 15:00:00