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Boones Creek legend recalls Washington County rivalries

Jeff Birchfield • Jun 8, 2020 at 3:00 PM

Charles “Toonie” Cash isn’t a fan of school consolidation when it comes to athletics.

While the Boones Creek basketball legend appreciates the Musket Bowl football game and other aspects of the Daniel Boone and David Crockett rivalry, Cash feels something is lost when the smaller communities don’t have their own teams.

Cash remembers the glory days of the Washington County League when Boones Creek faced teams like Fall Branch, Sulphur Springs, Lamar, Jonesboro, University High and Washington College Academy.

“Boone and Crockett is something, but it took away something with the rivalries when they consolidated,” Cash said. “Back when we played, they would pack the gyms every night. They would start coming 5 or 5:30 to get in.

“I remember those rivalry games with Lamar, Jonesboro, University High and Washington College. Washington College beat us two out of three times my sophomore year. They had a great team.”

Sullivan County consolidation is approaching, and Carter County has talked about the subject at length. It happened in Washington County in the early 1970s, but the decade before produced some classic rivalries and games.

Perhaps the most legendary was Cash at Boones Creek facing off against Lamar and its star player, Kelly Aldridge.

Cash got up for those showdowns. His junior season, he scored 36 points to lead the Bars to a 72-70 win over the Cherokees in the teams’ first meeting.

Boones Creek coach Bobby Snyder designed a defense to slow Aldridge, one of the top offensive players in the state.

“Bobby always stressed defense,” Cash recalled. “We held him to six points the first half. He ended with 21, but Charlie Combs had 25 that night.

“We beat them 72-70 and I had half of the Boones Creek points.”

The Bars applied the same type of pressure the second time they met. They were able to hold Aldridge in check for a half before the Lamar star showed why he was one of the top players in the state.

“Down at Lamar, we held him to six points in the first half. But the second half, even with two men on him at times, he scored 33 points,” Cash recalled. “Even though he had 39, we beat them by two points in overtime. He was amazing and such a good guy.”

Cash provided the game’s final heroics, knocking down an 18-foot jumper at the top of the key as the buzzer sounded for a 59-57 Boones Creek victory.

Thrilling games like that weren’t uncommon during that era.

Although not a part of the Washington County League, Science Hill also had a fierce rivalry with Boones Creek. In 1966, the Hilltoppers proved to be a tough matchup with all-state player Ken Jones leading the way.

In Cash’s senior season, the rivalry hit a fever pitch when the Bars’ home game against the Hilltoppers had to be moved to East Tennessee State’s Brooks Gym to accommodate a large crowd.

The Elvin Little-coached Science Hill team, which would go on to finish third in the state tournament, won 56-52 on the neutral court to snap the Bars’ 20-game winning streak.

Boones Creek, which had other stars like Gary Glass, Dickie Hamilton, Donny Hamby and Jimmy Keefauver, got revenge in a 58-52 victory for the District 2 championship. Cash scored 17 in the district game as the Bars built as much as a 21-point lead before Science Hill rallied behind the efforts of stars like Sammy “Dee Dee” Stuart and James “Percy” Hairston.

Unfortunately for Cash and his teammates, the Bars saw their season end at 25-2 when they were upset by Bluff City in the region tournament. Still, there are the memories of the great run they enjoyed, especially in the Washington County League.

The Bars set a record with 66 straight league wins before it was snapped by the Santo Cicirello-coached Washington College Academy team.

Cash gives much of the credit for the Bars’ success to Snyder, who was a true mentor.

“Coach Snyder, I have great admiration for,” Cash said. “He was my Sunday school teacher, my coach and later served on my board as vice chairman of evangelism. He was a great basketball player himself, one of the best shooters ever to play in this area.

“He was a great coach, placing an emphasis on good fundamentals. That’s one of the secrets to winning, developing those fundamentals. He’s such a super, super guy. That’s why guys wanted to play for him.”

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