Thirty-five years ago this month Paul Andrews hit the “Shot Heard Around Kentucky” – a halfcourt buzzer-beater that gave Laurel County High School a 53-51 win over North Hardin in the 1982 Boys Sweet 16 championship game.
It’s become one of the signature moments – and arguably the most famous finish – in the history of the boys state tournament.
So as we near its anniversary – and celebrate the 100th Sweet 16 – we look back on that time, that tournament, that game and, most of all, that shot.
Join us as we return to March of 1982, when basketball players wore short shorts and knee-high socks, you could catch a weekday matinee of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” for $2, a new VCR would cost you a cool $600 and a 1982 Camaro Sport Coupe would set you back $8,300:
Both Laurel County and North Hardin had ended 1980-81 seasons with losses in the first round of the Sweet 16. The Cardinals fell 71-60 to Mayfield, and the Trojans were edged 60-59 by Owensboro.
ANDREWS: I think we shot in the teens the whole game. I think it was one of those situations where we got in Rupp Arena and our eyes got big and we got lost in the moment of being in Rupp Arena. We just didn’t play like we were capable of playing. So (after that) we made it our goal to get back to the state tournament the next year.
ROBBIE VALENTINE (North Hardin star forward): We were a talented group. We got beat (in the) first round of the (1981) state tournament by Owensboro. (Then-senior) James Jeter, he was our leader on the team. We had a good game, but I got in early foul trouble.
With many key players returning, North Hardin and Laurel County were ranked among the top teams in the state in The Courier-Journal’s preseason coaches poll heading into the 1981-82 campaign. The Trojans were No. 2 behind Bryan Station. They were led by Valentine, a 6-foot-6 senior forward who was rated as the state’s No. 2 player (behind Virgie’s Todd May) in The C-J’s preseason coaches poll, and 6-10 senior Brett Burrow, whose father, Bob, had been an All-American at the University of Kentucky. Meanwhile, Laurel County was ranked seventh. The Cardinals were led by 6-4 senior swingman Joe Karr and Andrews, a junior forward.
VALENTINE: We were very talented. I think just about all five or six of us seniors went on to college and played. (We had an) excellent coach in Coach (Ron) Bevars. (Growing up) our dream was to play under him one day and we had that opportunity. … We were very skilled. We were a team, everybody was important, everybody played a role. Brett went to Vanderbilt, 6-10, played inside. Myself, I was being recruited by both Kentucky and Louisville. … We were a very, very good basketball team my freshman year all the way through. But all of us seniors, our goal was to win the state tournament.
BEVARS: We had a big frontline (Burrow, Valentine and 6-5 William Barker). We played a totally different style of ball that year than we did the year before when we had James Jeter. We controlled the tempo, took it inside. We didn’t have some of the athletes we had the year before, but it was still a really good team. Every place we went we played before packed gyms. Of course, crowds were big back then.
ANDREWS: We were pretty athletic. Joe Karr could jump out of the gym. He was quick, he was tall for a guard. … Joe actually had an offer from the University of Louisville, and I think Denny Crum ended up getting a commitment from (Fairview’s) Jeff Hall, which Joe and Jeff played pretty much the same position, so Jeff signed with Louisville and Joe ended up signing with South Alabama. … Teel Bruner, our center, was really athletic. Our guards (Norm Bowling and Jamie Maxey), they were just like gnats. They were not tall, but they were just pests. … We just had a very, very close team. We had played together since we were fifth- and sixth-graders and we just kind of grew up together. We knew what each other was going to do. I could make a move and Joe knew what I was going to do and Jamie knew what I was going to do, and vice versa. So we played really well together as a team and Coach (Chuck) Broughton was just an excellent coach.
Both teams started off their seasons well. The only blemish either suffered early came when North Hardin lost to a team from Tallahassee, Florida, in the inaugural King of the Bluegrass. The Trojans and Cardinals were Nos. 1 and 2 in the final Associated Press poll of 1981. The two faced off less than a month into the new year, in the championship game of the Louisville Invitational Tournament.
With just a few seconds left in the third quarter of that game, and with the score tied at 45, North Hardin had the ball out of bounds. Barker threw a long pass to Burrow, who caught it and hit a turnaround jumper as the buzzer sounded. The Trojans carried the momentum from that shot into the fourth quarter, outscoring Laurel County 22-14 on their way to a 69-59 win.
ANDREWS: We said after that game that we would probably meet them again. We had no idea it would be in the finals of the state.
The Trojans and Cardinals rolled through the rest of the regular season, losing only once between them (North Hardin fell to Doss in its final regular-season game), as well as the district and regional rounds of the postseason.
North Hardin clobbered Caverna 59-42 in the Fifth Region final to earn its second straight trip to Rupp Arena. Meanwhile, Laurel County edged Pulaski County 59-58 in the 12th Region final.
ANDREWS: Pulaski had a really, really strong team. That was before Reggie (Hanson), but they had his brother, Art Hanson, who was the oldest of the Hanson brothers. … They had another player, Brian Shepperd, who was an all-state player who ended up signing and playing at least one year with Auburn University. So they had a really strong team. … If we hadn’t got out of the region, if we had gotten beat by Pulaski County, I thought Pulaski County could’ve had a chance to do something.
The Cardinals and Trojans were the third and fourth choices (behind Bryan Station and Shelby County), respectively, to win the Sweet 16, according to the Litkenhous Ratings. Laurel County came in 29-3 and riding a 17-game win streak since losing to North Hardin in the LIT final. The Trojans, meanwhile, were 34-2.
North Hardin faced No. 1 Bryan Station in the first round. The Trojans had beaten the Defenders by 10 in early December in Lexington’s Memorial Coliseum. In the rematch Bryan Station led almost the entire game, and by as many as 11 points, before North Hardin rallied late. Marvin Watts’ free throw with four seconds to play gave the Trojans a 56-55 win in front of 16,672 fans at Rupp. Burrow had a game-high 22 points while Watts and Barker each added 13. Valentine filled up the stat sheet (six points, 13 rebounds, seven assists) before fouling out.
VALENTINE: Those guys were beasts. William Conner, all those guys, they were big boys.
BEVARS: After the game it was bedlam. My assistant coach (Bo O’Brien) had some slick shoes on. He was running off the floor and he fell, he knocked himself out. … At first they thought he had a heart attack, so it was kind of crazy for a while.
Laurel County, meanwhile, edged Seventh Region champion Jeffersontown 75-72 behind 24 points from Maxey and 22 from Andrews. Zach Easterly’s 22 points led the Chargers, who only got eight from sophomore standout Todd Ziegler.
In the quarterfinals, North Hardin beat Warren Central 65-47 (the game was tied 36-all late in the third quarter before the Trojans pulled away) behind 20 points from Watts and a 15-point, 15-rebound performance by Valentine. Meanwhile, Maxey tallied 22 to lead five in double figures as Laurel County outlasted Owensboro 83-74 in the night session, which drew a then-record crowd of 21,342 – many of whom were there to see May, the eventual Mr. Basketball and UK recruit, score 34 points to lead small-school Virgie to a 68-63 win over previously undefeated Mason County.
In the Saturday morning semifinals, North Hardin edged Sixth Region champ Valley 56-54 behind 15 from Burrow, 14 from Watts and another all-around game (11 points, 14 rebounds, six assists) from Valentine.
: We had them up 10 points (late) and the lead starts melting and all the fans were out buying tickets (for the championship game).
In the second semi Laurel County clipped Virgie 61-60 thanks to Andrews’ free throw with three seconds left. He finished with 16 points to lead four in double figures and to offset an enormous game (26 points, 21 rebounds) by May.
ANDREWS: The ironic thing was Virgie and our high school, we were both staying in the same hotel. … Their crowd was unbelievable, our crowd was unbelievable. I think we may have just shut down the city of London. I don’t know if there was anybody left in London that morning. The crowd was just unbelievable, but I don’t remember a lot about the crowd because we were so focused on the game. We kind of just blocked everything else out around us. We knew what we wanted to do and that was to get to the championship game.
That set up a rematch of the LIT final for the state title.
In the 65th championship game, North Hardin jumped out to a 16-6 lead behind points from all five starters. The Trojans led 18-10 at the end of the first quarter and 19-10 early in the second before Laurel County rallied, scoring eight straight. The Cardinals eventually took their first lead (22-21) on Andrews’ baseline turnaround over Burrow midway through the second quarter.
ANDREWS: Throughout that year when we would get down we’d always have little spurts. We would get down maybe six or seven or 10 points and we knew at some point we were going to have that spurt where we were just going to take over. That’s kind of what happened and just like that and we were back in the game. … We played zone most of the game. They had a heck of a team, a very talented team, very tall, so we played a lot of zone and that was how we were able to kind of offset their size.
It was back-and-forth the rest of the way.
Watts’ 17-foot jumper just before the buzzer gave North Hardin a 30-28 lead at halftime. It was the first of three last-second shots in the game. Valentine hit the second to end the third quarter and cut the Cardinals’ lead to 44-42.
Burrow hit one of two free throws with 1:10 to play to tie the score at 51. Laurel County milked the clock from there. The Cardinals called timeouts with 38 and 18 seconds left, respectively. After the second timeout, Laurel County passed the ball around before Maxey dribbled the ball off his leg and into the Cardinals’ bench with three seconds left.
North Hardin called a timeout, and Bevars drew up a familiar play.
BEVARS: We had a play that we’d scored on in the finals of the LIT, we’d scored half a dozen times on that play. … I got the play two or three years earlier from (former NBA & ABA coach) Hubie Brown. … We ran it against Owensboro (the year before at the Sweet 16). We threw it the length of the floor and got a 15-footer, but it didn’t go in.
BROUGHTON: I kind of guessed they might do the same thing (as the LIT). So I didn’t put a man on the throw-in man. I put a man (Karr) in front of Burrow and one (Andrews) behind him.
ANDREWS: What they were trying to do was just throw the ball down to Brett and he being about 6-10, and much taller than we were, just jump up, grab the ball and just turn around. And he had a really patented little turnaround jump shot that he was almost automatic with. So we put a player in front of him, then I was stationed behind him.
KARR: It makes me think of the (1992 NCAA East Regional final) Kentucky-Duke game. I met (former UK player) John Pelphrey once, and I asked him, “Why did you not stand in front of (Christian Laettner)?”
With Watts and Kenny Allen standing at midcourt, Valentine in between midcourt and the opposite free-throw line and Burrow near the free-throw line, the referee handed the basketball to Barker, who threw a right-handed baseball pass in the direction of Burrow.
BROUGHTON: It went over his head and it looked like it was going out of bounds, but Andrews went up about 11 feet and got it. He came down, power-dribbled, I think three dribbles, and launched it as he was flying across halfcourt. … I remember as he shot it I was very happy we were going into overtime. I was reaching for my clipboard. I did keep watching it. It seemed a little strange to me, the whole place got quiet.
ANDREWS: I should’ve just let it go out of bounds and we would’ve had the ball out in front of our own bench with three seconds to go, but instincts took over and when I grabbed it all I wanted to do was get as close to the basket as I could. When I let it go I think I was just frozen. I was hoping that it was going to go in, but really I didn’t have any idea.
Andrews’ shot splashed through the net as the buzzer sounded.
BOB WHITE (long-time Courier-Journal preps writer): I was on press row about 15 feet from midcourt and he shot it off to my left. … Everybody was expecting an overtime. … When it went in that place just erupted.
I can say, when it left his hands it was going in. You could see it. You can just go straight to the locker room, it was over. That was the tough part, it was over and there’s nothing you can do about it. … All I remember is, it was almost like a bomb went off. The fans just went nuts.
ANDREWS: When it went in all I remember was just standing there, I was stunned. I see videos today, I remember just throwing my hands up in the air and I kind of just turned around and I was still in shock that it went in. I remember seeing to my left the referee say it was good. And that’s when everybody came running onto the court. It was just one of those things that you never expected to happen, then when it did happen you were glad it happened to you and not the other team. … I was very fortunate to just be in the situation that I was in. You always dream of, as a kid, hitting that last-second shot to win a championship, or win a game, and I was just very fortunate that I was in the right spot at the right time and it happened to me.
On March 28, 1982, the first sentence of White’s story in the C-J read: “Paul Andrews hit the shot heard around Kentucky last night.”
Thirty-five years later, Andrews, who was a four-year letterman at UK after graduating from Laurel County in 1983, is still hearing about it.
“My wife and I tease each other because every time we’re out somewhere someone will always come up to us and say, ‘Hey you’re Paul Andrews. You hit that half-court shot. I was there,’” said Andrews, who is the Chief Executive Officer of The Brook Hospitals in Louisville. “And so my wife will look at me and say, ‘You know, Rupp Arena holds 23,000 people and I think on that night there were 50,000 people there,’ because everybody will tell us, ‘I was there.’”
Andrews isn’t the only one who still hears about the shot.
“I’m going to give you an example of how loud that shot was,” said Valentine, a former four-year letterman at U of L who is now a senior director of sales at the KFC Yum Center. “Garth Brooks was here in concert last year. I had a chance to sit down and talk to him and, believe it or not, he was at that game. He knew of me. He knows Kentucky basketball, he knows it thick and thin, he knows Coach Bevars. It’s just really neat to have somebody of his caliber that’s been around and had a chance to witness high school basketball and talk about it. But that was a pleasure last year talking to him and meeting him and him talking about that shot.”
It’s a shot that still resounds around Kentucky 35 years later.
“I was happy that the game ended that way because it really has put Laurel County somewhat on the map, as far as that game and how that game ended,” Andrews said. “But at the same time we were such a good team that that one shot didn’t make what our team was about and what we were able to accomplish throughout that year. That was the only regret that I had, that it did somewhat take away from the team effort that we had. I actually talk to a lot of my teammates about that, and I’ve talked to Coach Broughton about it. So that would be the only regret that I had, but it has put Laurel County on the map. And, I think when you think of state tournaments you can not go a year without thinking about Laurel County High School.”
Laurel County was the last state champion that is no longer a KHSAA member school. It split in 1992, creating North Laurel and South Laurel. South Laurel, which adopted the Cardinals nickname, won the state title in 2005. North Laurel won its only regional title in 2012. This season the Jaguars, who went 24-8 and lost to Knox Central in the 13th Region quarterfinals, were led by Broughton’s great nephew, Peyton Broughton, who averaged 30.8 points per game.