Friday, February 17, 2017

Myers inducted into sports hall of fame

Kyle Myers in 1998 Press photo.
It’s an unpleasant truth that Crittenden County is able to count on just one finger the number of basketball championships its boys have won in the last 60 years.

It is a reality that Kyle Myers has trouble wrapping his mind around. What’s even more incredible, he says, are memories of the 1998 Rocket basketball team on which he was the most valuable player.

Myers, now 36, still sees every shot, every second in his mind. He replays some of them over and over, hoping perhaps for a little better outcome.

Myers was a star on the Rocket basketball and baseball teams in the mid to late 1990s. He was also a talented golfer and played baseball and ran track a few seasons. On Feb. 10, 2017, Myers was inducted into the Farmers Bank Marion-Crittenden County Athletics Hall of Fame.

Recognized largely for his contributions to the 1998 Fifth District basketball championship team – the last Rocket squad to win the title – Myers was a gifted athlete who excelled on a variety of stages.

In 1998, he led the Rockets in scoring with more than 17 points a game and five assists. A shooting guard, Myers was also an incredible ball handler, able to score off the dribble and was deadly accurate from long range, averaging 36 percent from behind the three-point arc. He played a fearless style of basketball that translated into success for himself and others.

“His competitive instinct was his greatest asset,” said Allie Turley, a high school teammate, about Myers. “He was the kind of guy that wasn’t going to back down from anything.”

The Rockets were 19-8 that season and Myers still laments a few of those losses, especially one to eventual regional champion Union County late in the regular season and falling to Madisonville in the opening round of the Second Region Tournament.

“I know this is a bold statement, but we should have won the region,” Myers recalls. “We could have really done something and that bothers me to this day. We were as good as anyone in the region.”

Testimony to that was Crittenden’s two-point loss to Union two weeks before the end of the season on a pair of foul shots with one second on the clock. Myers is still stinging from the foul that put Union’s Darren Price at the line to win it.

“I was called for a foul at half court. I no more than stuck out my hand like this,” he says, walking through and reliving the final seconds of that game almost 20 years ago.

“We should have beat Madisonville. It was a really close game, but I had some foul troubles,” he said.

Crittenden lost 65-57 to the Maroons, but it was a three-point game with less than two minutes to go.
“We had a great team. I got the MVP award, but there were a lot of other players on that team who were just as deserving,” Myers said. “We were deep. There were six or eight guys who could have led us in scoring any given night.”

Indeed, behind Myers in the scoring column were seven others who averaged right at a half dozen or more points a game.

“In that season, the whole team really believed we could do something special,” Myers said.

As history has proven, it did.

Not only was it the last team to win a district championship, but the 1998 boys reeled off a 13-game winning streak that hasn’t been duplicated.

“Everywhere we went the stands were full and I will never forget the support we received,” Myers remembers. “Our crowd never sat down, they were always on their feet and it felt good.”

Myers was a record-setting receiver and defensive back for the Rocket football team, but only played one year – his senior season. He says not playing football all four years is one of his greatest regrets. He only played as a 12th-grader because of the encouragement from head coach Al Starnes, who Myers said is like a second father to him.

Myers still holds the single-game record for most receiving yards – 174 against McLean County. He is among the top 12 all-time in single-season receiving yards with 479, is tied for the school record for interceptions in a game (3) and among the school leaders with six interceptions in a season.

On the track team, Myers ran the 400 and 1600 meters and was on relay teams. He averaged close to par as a junior and senior on the Rocket golf team and narrowly missed earning a state tournament bid both years with finishes of 78 and 75, respectively, in regional tournament.

Earning a spot in the hall of fame has great meaning for Myers, who credits his coaches, family and community for believing in him through thick and thin.

“I am just glad to have been able to play sports as a Rocket. I am proud to be from this community and it has been very good to me,” he said.

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