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Ron Bevars heard countless times when he was growing up he couldn’t make a living with basketball. Turns out, Bevars could and he did.
Bevars spent 42 years at North Hardin, the last 38 as the head coach after spending a year coaching North Warren Middle School. On Friday, Bevars decided to step down after dedicating his life to North Hardin and its boys’ basketball program.
“Certainly he won a lot of games, but he cared about the students,” North Hardin principal Lonnie Dennis said. “He had one of the biggest hearts for kids.”
In his tenure at North Hardin, Bevars has built a state power. The Trojans have won 17 17th District Tournament titles and 12 5th Region Tournament championships. North Hardin was state runner-up in 1982 and reached the Sweet 16 semifinals on two other occasions. The Trojans have won 20 or more games 21 times.
Bevars remembers how it began at North Hardin. After coaching a middle school team in Warren County for one season, Bevars said he visited Coach Wally Johnson at a North Hardin practice to pursue a job opportunity. Bo O’Brien had been North Hardin’s assistant but he had been called into military service.
When Johnson left the program, Bevars was passed over for the vacancy in favor of Bob Hall, but Hall unexpectedly left in August. The late Ray Story, who was principal, had few options, so he turned to Bevars.
“I can remember Mr. Story saying it might only be for a year,” Bevars said. “That kind of became a joke between us. At the end of each year, he’d ask me if I’d want to keep it for one more year until he retired in ’88. He really stood behind me. ... The administration has been really good to me.”
The Trojans had success Bevars’ first five years, but since they didn’t win a district or region title, some fans wanted him replaced.
Bevars said Story always stuck by him.
“A lesser administrator would have caved in to the demands,” Bevars said in an earlier interview. “The next year we went to the state tournament”
Bevars recorded his first win Dec. 2, 1975. The 78-76 win came against East Hardin, where Bevars played his senior year after playing for the Sonora Comets prior to consolidation of Hardin County’s community schools.
In 1991, Bevars earned win No. 318 as the Trojans beat the host Knights in the Marion County Invitational final. The victory gave Bevars the most wins for any 17th District coach, topping former Elizabethtown coach Charlie Rawlings, who retired in 1970.
When the Trojans beat Fort Knox on Dec. 2, 2002, Bevars earned victory No. 559, making him the winningest coach in the 5th Region. Former Adair County coach John Burr, who retired in 1968, had held the record.
Bevars reached another milestone this season when he coached his 1,082nd game, eclipsing the state record of 1,081 set by Pearl Combs 40 years ago. Combs registered 761 victories at Hindman and Vicco in 38 seasons.
“It makes you feel a little bit old,” Bevars said at the time. “Time has gone by so fast.”
Bevars recorded his 800th win last season with an 88-60 victory over Marion County. Bevars finished with 805 victories, which is fourth most in Kentucky.
“I think the one thing that stands out is the players and the assistant coaches I’ve had,” Bevars said. “I’ve had some really good players and really great kids. I mean players who have gone on to be lawyers, doctors, secret service and the list goes on and on.”
“I think back to all the great really good assistant coaches,” he added. “Bo O’Brien was here for eight years. Tony (Perkins) and (Harold) Tucker were here for 15 years. They’ve been quality people and a number of them have gone on to be coaches, principals and superintendents. Those are the things you remember.”
Raised in the Upton area, Bevars seemed destined to follow in his father’s footsteps who worked on cars. He wasn’t really interested in school and missed more than 100 days in one school year.
When Bobby Humes decided to revive Upton’s eighth-grade basketball team, he asked Bevars to play. Bevars declined as his sport of choice was baseball.
“Then I told him that he’d get out of class one afternoon each week to go to Sonora and practice in their gym,” Humes said in an earlier interview.
Bevars said he didn’t care much for school until Humes arrived. Somehow, it seemed like more fun. He decided to give basketball a chance. He played three years at Sonora High School before consolidation sent him to East Hardin High as a senior.
After graduating high school, Bevars attended Western Kentucky. It took him seven years to earn his degree he said, working full-time at a factory to pay for his education. He said Dellard Moor, who served as Sonora’s principal, personally saw to it that Bevars was accepted and enrolled in Western Kentucky.
Bevars returned to Hardin County in 1971, working as an assistant for Johnson for four years. He was the freshman coach for two years and the junior varsity coach for two years before getting the head coaching job. And the legend was built from there.
“I’ve done it for a long time,” Bevars said. “North Hardin was a great place to work and a great place to be. I’ve outlasted a lot of my critics. I’ve had a lot of fun with the kids. That’s what I’ll miss most, the relationships you develop with them. I have a lot of good memories.”
Chuck Jonescan be reached at 270-505-1759 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
BEVARS COACHING CAREER
A look at North Hardin’s Ron Bevars coaching career
Year Record Postseason
1975-76 20-9 17th District runner-up; 5th Region semifinals
1976-77 23-5 17th District runner-up; 5th Region semifinals
1977-78 16-5 Lost in 17th District semifinals
1978-79 18-11 17th District runner-up; 5th Region quarterfinals
1979-80 22-4 Lost in 17th District quarterfinals
1980-81 27-5 17th District and 5th Region champions; Lost in first round at State
1981-82 37-3 17th District and 5th Region champions; Lost in State championship
1982-83 17-9 Lost in 17th District semifinals
1983-84 13-11 Lost in 17th District quarterfinals
1984-85 14-15 17th District champion; 5th Region semifinals
1985-86 20-9 17th District runner-up; 5th Region quarterfinals
1986-87 18-11 17th District champion; 5th Region semifinals
1987-88 17-13 Lost in 17th District semifinals
1988-89 19-11 17th District runner-up; 5th Region quarterfinals
1989-90 25-8 17th District runner-up; 5th Region champions; Lost in first round at State
1990-91 30-5 17th District and 5th Region champions; Lost in quarterfinals at State
1991-92 13-13 Lost in 17th District semifinals
1992-93 23-11 17th District champion; 5th Region semifinals
1993-94 32-5 17th District and 5th Region champions; Lost in quarterfinals at State
1994-95 17-12 17th District champion; 5th Region semifinals
1995-96 27-7 17th District and 5th Region champions; Lost in first round at State
1996-97 22-7 17th District champion; 5th Region quarterfinals
1997-98 29-4 17th District and 5th Region champions; Lost in first round at State
1998-99 25-6 17th District and 5th Region champions; Lost in first round at State
1999-2000 12-14 Lost in 17th District semifinals
2000-01 30-4 17th District and 5th Region champions; Lost in semifinals at State
2001-02 31-5 17th District and 5th Region champions; Lost in semifinals at State
2002-03 25-8 17th District runner-up; 5th Region champions; Lost in first round at State
2003-04 17-11 17th District runner-up; 5th Region quarterfinals
2004-05 18-11 Lost in 17th District semifinals
2005-06 10-16 Lost in 17th District semifinals
2006-07 15-18 17th District champion; 5th Region semifinals
2007-08 21-8 Lost in 17th District semifinals
2008-09 22-10 17th District champion; 5th Region final
2009-10 27-5 17th District and 5th Region champions; Lost in first round at State
2010-11 17-12 Lost in 17th District semifinals
2011-12 12-18 17th District runner-up; 5th Region quarterfinals
2012-13 24-9 17th District runner-up; 5th Region final