Recently Bill Boone, local sports historian, related the history of the County Keg, the traveling trophy of the small Montgomery County high schools during basketball season. He noted that Darlington held the record for the longest time . . . and the shortest time . . . for possessing the Keg. Well, I was on the team that had the Keg for the shortest time . . . and here is the story . . . and a little extra.
In 1965 I was a junior at Darlington High School and the leading scorer on the basketball team. All of the starting five, Joe Mahoy, Phil Mahoy, Ed Gable, Wayne Palmer, and myself, were under 6-feet tall, but we were a scrappy bunch under Coach Galen Smith and played our hearts out each game. When the County Tourney began, we had to go against New Market, an excellent team with a record of 8-3. Jim Slavens was their leading scorer, followed closely behind by Jerry Hester and Dale Conrad. I was assigned to guard Conrad, who was almost a foot taller than me! I had a hot shooting night, and Ed Gable made some clutch free throws near the end . . . and we WON !
Our confidence was high, but our next opponent was the New Ross Blue Jays, who had the longest unbeaten streak in the state and sported a record of 11-0. Very few people gave us a chance at winning. The Blue Jays were a tough bunch. Gary Harrison, Terry Moore, Ron Haffner, and Bob Williams all scored ten points each, but we held their TALL center, Chuck Grenard, scoreless . . . and by a miracle, we WON 49-43 that Saturday afternoon at the Crawfordsville gym . . . and we WON THE KEG!!!
That evening we had to play the Coal Creek Bearcats for the county championship. We knew we could beat Coal Creek. After all, we had just won against the top two teams in the county. But alas, it was not to be. We were worn out from the two previous wins, and our shooting was off. Bearcats Larry Lidester and Chuck McKnight were hot. We kept close all the way, but a last second shot to tie the game bounced off the rim. Coal Creek won the game 47-45. We lost the county tourney championship and the Keg in one fell swoop! Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose . . .
But guess what . . . three weeks later we played Coal Creek in a regular season game. Our team wanted that Keg back! It was one of those rare nights when I could not miss, hitting my first 11 shots, and we went on to win easily by a score of 62-45. Darlington had the Keg back, and we were ecstatic . . . sometimes you lose . . . and sometimes you win!
Well, we held onto the Keg as we traveled to Waynetown for the last game of the year. We were confident we could beat the Gladiators, and as the game began, I made my first two shots. However, the Waynetown coach called a time-out and sent in a new player to guard me. I made another basket right off the bat, but as I was returning to the other end of the floor, the new player, who was running beside me, gave me a HARD uppercut elbow under my chin! That HIT loosened some teeth and caused me to bite my tongue, which started to bleed profusely. I spent the next two quarters in the locker room trying to get the bleeding stopped. I finally returned at the end of the game, but we lost 58-51, and the Keg went over to Waynetown, who had never won it before. Before I left the gym, I noticed the player who had elbowed me . . . holding the Keg high, running around their gym, and celebrating Waynetown's victory. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose . . .
Now . . . fast forward 30y years . . . from 1965 to 1995. I had been a teacher and coach, a Deputy Sheriff, and had then been elected Montgomery County Sheriff. One evening a jail officer informed me that an inmate requested to speak with me. I walked back to the inmate cellblock, and guess who was waiting to speak to me? That's right, the same fellow who had elbowed me in the chin during the 1965 Waynetown game! He greeted me kind of sheepishly and asked if he could be a "trusty," an inmate with his own cell and special privileges who helps with cleaning, sweeping, mowing, etc. Well, I just about bit my tongue again to keep from laughing. I believe that a person should forgive and forget, but I just could not get that picture of him carrying the Keg around the Waynetown gym back in 1965 out of my mind. "I'm sorry, you cannot be a trusty. Life is like a game. You won back in 1965 . . . sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose . . . tonight, you lose."

John "Butch" Dale is a retired teacher and County Sheriff. He has also been the librarian at Darlington the past 30 years, and is a well-known artist and author of local history.