Monday, May 18, 2015

Lindle Castle: A Shining Star

"(Lindle) Castle is a ball-hawking specialist that set up the Cat's fast break offense." - Bob Gorham, The Kentucky Kernel (March 3, 1950)

Happy Birthday to Coach Lindle Castle. He turns 85 this Wednesday, May 20th. It's hard to believe that, but then again it's hard to believe I'm 55. As a freshman at the University of Kentucky, the Winchester, Kentucky native, Castle, was a shining star. He was a starter on the 1949-50 Kittens team that won 15 games and lost just once, with Lindle averaging 8.2 points per game.

In an article published in The Kentucky Kernel on March 3, 1950 and written by Bob Gorham (page 5), UK Kittens coach Harry Lancaster said the 1949-50 team was "the best freshman basketball club we've ever had." He said that right after his team had just finished one of the most successful seasons ever enjoyed by a freshman quintet at Kentucky. In 16 games, the Kittens averaged 79.3 points per game, while holding their opponents to 47.5 points per game. They made 498 field goals in 1,398 attempts for 31.3% and hit 273 of 427 free throws for 63.9%.

"This year's group of Kittens had standout performers in every department of play." - Bob Gorsham.

Indeed, they did. In scoring, they were led by two future NBA hall-of-famers, Cliff Hagan and Frank Ramsey. "Both these boys," wrote Gorham, "possess a wide variety of shots and can hit with deadly accuracy. Hagan connected on 114 of 243 shots attempted from the field for a remarkable average of 47% in amassing 268 points to take the scoring crown. Ramsey was not far behind, having rung the bell 109 times in 274 assaults on the cords for 43% and 264 points. Hagan had a 22.3 per game average for 12 contests, while Ramsey contributed an average of 16.5 points in 16 tilts."

Gorham continued to write, 'As for rebounding, 6'5 Lou Tsioropoulos took a back seat to no one when it came to snatching the ball off the boards, to combine with Hagan and Ramsey in this department to give Kentucky control of the leather for most of the games." He said, "The Kittens fired goalward 1,398 times this season while their opponents were allowed only 1,044 tries. This means they usually got about 22 more shots per game than the opposition, and this was due in no small way to lanky Lou."

"On defense, the two shining lights were Dick Pikrone and Lindle Castle, a pair of fast guards. Pikrone consistently did a good job of dogging the other team's hottest scorer, while Castle is a ball-hawking specialist that set up the Cat's fast break offense."

During his sophomore season at UK, Lindle Castle only appeared in five games for coach Adolph Rupp's team that won the national championship. Only five players from the freshman team (Hagan, Ramsey, Tsioropopoulos, Castle and Dwight Price) were on the roster of the 1950-51 team that was already loaded with talented players, including Bill Spivey, Shelby Linville, Bobby Watson, Walter Hirsch and Lucian Whitaker.

Left to right: Lindle Castle, Walter Hirsch and Bill Spivey.

Lindle Castle was equally as talented as the others, but sadly, he did not get the playing time he deserved. Following his sophomore season, Lindle transferred to Morehead State University, where he saw plenty of action playing for legendary coach Ellis Johnson. Like Lindle Castle at Clinton County, the arena at Morehead State bears the name of Ellis Johnson, the all-time winningest coach there.

Just as Lindle Castle began his college career as a shining star at the University of Kentucky, he ended his college career as a shining star at Morehead State University by being named to the All-OVC team (1952-53).

In the photo above is Clark County Coach Letcher Norton and one of his teams during Lindle Castle's time there. Castle is second from the right.

In high school, Lindle Castle played on three Sweet Sixteen teams - 1947, 1948 and 1949 - for coach Norton Letcher's Clark County. In 1949, his senior year, he was named to the All-State team. Clark County would appear in six straight state tournaments, from 1947 to 1952. The 1951 Linville Puckett-led team won the state championship.

As a coach at Clinton County, Lindle Castle took his1960 team to the state tournament. In 19 seasons at CCHS (1957-71, 1975-80), Coach Castle's teams won 273 games and lost 216. His teams won one regional championship (1960), five district championships (1959, 1960, 1961, 1963 and 1967), and runner up in 1962 and 1966. The 1961-62 team gave him a career-best record of 30 wins and only 4 losses.


Ironically, of the coaches mentioned above, Adolph Rupp, Ellis Johnson, Norton Letcher and Lindle Castle all have gymnasiums named after them.

I am fortunate to be counted among the many who grew up on or around the basketball court and knew Lindle Castle as coach and/or teacher. As far as his teams go, the bond between coach and player will always be strong. After all...

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