Ask anyone of a certain age and they’ll try to pinpoint when things started to change for their careers.

For barbers, it was when the Beatles brought their long hair across the ocean. For former Meade County coach Bob Pollock, it was when the postseason tournament started seeding teams.

"I never did like the seeding," said Pollock, coach from 1982-1995. "The district had six teams, East (Hardin), West (Hardin), North (Hardin), E’town, (Fort) Knox and Meade. There was no seeding, we just drew them out of a hat. Somebody got a bye and we just went out and played."

The regular-season games were intense enough by then, Pollock said, but it wasn’t always like that.

Pollock helped the Green Wave boys’ team for 12 years before taking over the girls’ team, less than a decade after the KHSAA restarted the division.

"The job was presented to me and I jumped at it with both feet, both hands, as fast as I could," he said. "I’d seen them play. Progress was being made, but I kind of wanted to do my own thing."

It didn’t take him long. By his third season, star Dina Disney helped lead the Lady Waves to the 5th Region championship.

The Lady Waves reached the Sweet 16 semifinals two years in a row.

"I was very fortunate to have some outstanding talent," Pollock said.

Things were rolling by then, but the first couple years were tough

One season, in an effort to promote the sport, Pollock recalled district games being played during school hours.

"The crowds were small in the beginning," he said. "We played some games during school hours with the girls, trying to get the kids interested and to see what was going on. That was something that was highly unusual."

A few other memories stand out when Pollock reflects on his early seasons, but the rivalries always come first.

The district was one of the toughest in the state and the Lady Waves had to keep up.

"West Hardin and East Hardin were powerhouses, more so than E’town and North Hardin," Pollock said. "Junie Jones was the coach at Fort Knox at the time. They had a lot more people at Fort Knox then, they had no trouble building a quality team."

Kenny Lane was coaching West Hardin then, with Terry Buckles replacing Kenny Rucker at East Hardin.

"I was Coach Buckles’ first group," said Renata Kuchowicz, a forward for East Hardin. "I played with Lisa Mihm, that was one of my role models. My seventh grade year, we were finalists in the region. That set the tone for me. Then Coach Buckles came and just took it to a higher level.

"Coach Buckles, I think, took girls’ basketball to a different level."

The team started taking overnight trips to tournaments and treating it seriously, Kuchowicz said.

"The rivalry between East and West was unreal," she said. "I remember we played them in the finals of the district tournament my senior year. When we got there, hours before the game, they literally had to rope off a place for the bus. It was standing room only."

When the schools merged, Buckles took over as coach at the new Central Hardin.

He soon developed a rivalry with the new Elizabethtown coach, Tim Mudd.

"My dream was always wanting to come back to E’town and coach baseball," Mudd said. "That was always my first love. There wasn’t any position open in baseball or in basketball, so (boys’ varsity coach Gary) French asked me if I wanted to help out in the middle school level."

The first year, Mudd coached seventh- and eighth-grade girls. The next year, he added freshmen.

Then he moved up to JV.

"From there, Coach (Jim) Wallace decided to retire and I just went straight to becoming the varsity coach," said Mudd, who took over in 1994. "Back then, there wasn’t really much interest in girls’ basketball at E’town."

Mudd set to work building the middle school and youth program. Three years later, the Lady Panthers reached the state championship. In 1998, they won.

"I realized to win a state championship and all those kinds of things, obviously it takes special players, but it takes a little luck as well," he said. "What was a huge advantage for me was, 99 percent of those girls, I had coached at the younger levels. They’d all played for me and I was blessed that we had good talent."

To get there, though, the Lady Panthers had to get past Buckles’ Lady Bruins and that was nearly impossible at first.

The rivalry was intense. Central Hardin, Elizabethtown and Meade County were all state-tournament contenders and fans took notice.

"Just battles," Mudd said. "It’s not like that anymore. When we were playing Central Hardin, the fire marshal would have to shut it down. … We played in Adair County in the region championship game. I’ve never been in a gym that loud in my whole life."

Mudd retired after the 2016 season. Kuchowicz became a coach herself, being named Area Coach of the Year twice at North Hardin.

Pollock follows the Lady Waves as a fan, and his former star is now the coach. Dina Hackert took Meade County to the 3rd Region tournament in her first season and the Lady Waves have the talent to make a run to state this year.

"She does an outstanding job," Pollock said.

Grant Wieman can be reached at 270-505-1754 or gwieman@thenewsenterprise.com.

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