Monday, September 12, 2022

Getting it Done: Big Jim DeForest & the Mighty Bulldogs

It had been fifteen years since the Mighty Bulldogs had won the district basketball tournament when they did it on March 7, 1959. It was the beginning of the golden era of basketball under Coach Lindle Castle.

"Just who said the Bulldogs couldn't do it," wrote sports writer James Paul Allen in the Clinton County News, after the dark horse team in the tournament, who had drawn a bye in the first round, showed up in the semi-final game to defeat Cumberland County 64-to-48, and then Marrowbone in the next night's championship game, 80-to-72. "It was the first district championship for C.C.H.S. since 1944," wrote Allen, "and all it took was a team of well-trained boys and the right kind of coaching."

Enter Principal Prof Robinson and his thoughts:

"I watched C.C.H.S. play Burkesville and was convinced that the team had jelled. Big Jim DeForest was cleaning the boards like eras­ing chalk from a blackboard with an eraser. Our guards were tormenting the enemy...our bench strength was ever ready. When Coach Castle was challenged to find a man for a position, he could easily lay his hand on that man....a man is always taller when he accepts the challenge. When a boy does a big job, and does it well - manly, honestly, fairly, square­ly - he feels taller and he looks and acts taller. The defeat of Marrowbone was sweet revenge for the hungry Bulldogs. A fifteen-year fast was broken."

Highpoints of the tournament: Jim DeForest, 55 points in back-to-back games.

All-District Players: DeForest, Jackie Latham

Over the next nine seasons, Clinton County would win four more district championships, one regional championship and two district runner-up trophies. 174 wins, 83 losses.

Jim Deforest was recruited by Eastern Kentucky University and played one year of college ball there before transferring to Austin Peay State College, where he excelled in his first season as a sophomore, averaging 11 points and 6 rebounds per game, and helped the Governors win their seventh straight regular season championship, making the all-tournament team at the 1964 Volunteer State Conference tournament held in Nashville.

After college, we came to know him as 'Coach D, and as a teacher at CCHS. Well-respected, loved and adored. Great memories of a wonderful man and friend to so many.

(In the photo, Coach Castle returns to the bench following a time-out, as senior Jim Deforest (50) continues to discuss strategy with freshman Kenny Conner, while Bob Reneau (30) and the other players return to the floor.)

Long may our Land be Bright with Freedom's Holy Light

Officially, the Continental Congress declared its freedom from Great Britain on July 2, 1776, but after voting to approve it, a draft do...