2010-06-09 / Sports

KET to air ‘Rebound: A Basketball Story’

Bob Watkins
Sports in Kentucky

In July, KET will air Rebound: A Basketball Story, a film which details how successive explosions in a boiler room at Simon Kenton High in October 1980 triggered a series of events that shook the world of Independence, Ky., and led to the school’s successful trip to the Boys’ Sweet Sixteen at Rupp Arena.

Rebound is compelling, a tribute in pictures, testimony and news clips to rival the much revered but fabled motion picture Hoosiers. The Simon Kenton story is reality rising off pages of author Eric Deters’s book, Pioneer Spirit, and it gets us in the heart.

Here’s an account how students, teachers and town survived boiler room blasts that snuff ed out the life of a promising art student, injured many, including firemen, forced officials to move students to nearby Scott High where they were taken in by students and parents in ways hospitable Kentuckians understand.

Tragedy and night school at Scott became a preamble for the story.

By the time of March Madness, Simon Kenton was stamped by pundits as a happy-to-get-here little team from Region 9 with no chance. A flawed analysis of Coach Larry Miller turned into red meat for a pack of angry dogs. Much as Hickory High did in Hoosiers, the Pioneers came to realize what their steady-handed coach already knew. That tenacity, poise, pride and team can become a take-yourbreath away championship. It did. First time ever for a 9th Region team. Miller reminded his troupe again and again.

“Twenty-six, 27 years later, it still gives me a thrill,” the coach said in one frame. “I’m sure it still does the same for all those who lived it.”

Today, as basketball enjoys vast popularity, Rebound has elements that beg for a screenplay and motion picture. Given a lively script, creative casting and a director who knows the game, here is big box office potential.

We rejoice that storyteller Eric Deters found a production company, Barking Fish Entertainment, and got Rebound to your television screen.

Introduction and epilogue by Nick Clooney are perfect, if too brief.

You can see Rebound, KET’s 90-minute special, when it comes to us a second time — Wednesday evening, July 7, at 8:30; Thursday at 9 p.m., and Sunday, July 18, at 2 p.m.

The broader importance of Simon Kenton’s story? It echoes journeys past other community schools across Kentucky, many closed. From some low point, someone lights a candle illuminating the road, the possibility and a journey begins. Stir of adrenaline, emotions then reaching a summit become timeless memories in the hearts of a community.

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