BENTON, KY — Barney Thweatt, Neal Haley, and Tom Mathis share a bond that has lasted over 70 years.
“It don’t feel like that long,” said Haley. “Seems like I can still feel those elbows on top of my head.”
The three men are the remaining members of the undefeated 1948 Brewers Redmen high school basketball team. The last team in the state of Kentucky to complete an unbeaten season.
“Coach (McCoy) Terry thought we could compete with anybody,” Barney Thweatt said. “He gave you confidence.”
The Redmen were the real life version of the movie “Hoosiers.” At the time, they were one of the smallest schools in the state of Kentucky. The Redmen were state runners-up in 1947, but used that as motivation to get back the following season.
“We had 32 boys in the high school and 28 of them went out for basketball,” said Haley.
“I think we were a little bit cocky to tell the truth,” Thweatt said. “We averaged 72 points a game. I knew we were special when we scored nearly 100 points in five straight games.”
In all, they won 36 games that season, marching all the way to the state championship game where they beat Maysvill 55-48.
“It was just a routine for us, ” said Tom Mathis. “We was ready to go play.”
“Talk about heros,” said Haley. “You should look at those pictures of who met us at the bridge. There was a convoy following them all over western Kentucky, blowing horns like you have never heard such.”
It is a celebration that is still going on to this day, and although it has been 71 years, that feeling of winning a state title is still the same.
“It makes me feel chills today,” Thweatt said. “It is just something that has been part of my life, all my life.”