Kentucky School Advocate
By Josh Shoulta
For more than 20 years, members of the West Point Independent eighth grade basketball team have laced up their sneakers to face an unlikely rival. The community hosts an annual charity game, pitting the Pointers against the West Point Volunteer Fire Department. It isn’t the most competitive exhibition but a fun and meaningful tradition in the Ohio River town.
Just 11 days before tipoff, the West Point board voted to merge with Hardin County Schools turning the final game into a sendoff for the school and its families.
Rather poetically, the game also coincided with the 100-year anniversary of basketball at the existing gym site, presenting the district with an opportunity for a proper farewell.
Josh Roederer attended West Point in the late 80’s and early 90’s and previously served as a volunteer firefighter. As one of the organizers, he understood the importance of going out on a high note.
“We knew that this was going to be the last ball game in that gym,” he said. “We wanted to make sure it was a special occasion.”
Volunteers began spreading the word via email, social media and word of mouth. When the gym doors opened on Feb. 29, there wasn’t an empty seat.
“There were people who we hadn’t seen in years that came back to town, people from out of state,” said West Point Board Chairman Eddie Moore. Alumni had traveled from as far as South Carolina, Texas and Florida.
A jersey and shadowbox were donated for the ceremony. Roederer and his friends had “100” stitched on the front.
“Instead of recognizing an individual player, we decided to recognize 100 years of basketball,” he said. “We brought out folks who had been part of that program in the past. Anyone who had coached, played, cheered, any of that.”
Current and former athletes and their families were brought onto the court by decade. In some cases, there were multiple generations.
“The beautiful part was that you looked down on the gym floor and there was a mother, her son and grandson and they were all former athletes,” Interim Superintendent Sally Sugg said.
Perhaps the loudest ovation came when Charlie Muss, a basketball player in the late 1940’s, was recognized.
The West Point History Museum will add the jersey to its collection, but it’s the memories and connections in the West Point community that will allow its legacy to live on.
“The spirit of West Point isn’t going away,” Sugg said. “It’ll be here for another 100 years.”
Photo 1: West Point students, families, faculty, staff, alumni and members of the community packed the gym on Feb. 29 for what would be the last basketball game played before the district merges with Hardin County Schools. The charity game pitted the eighth grade basketball team against the West Point Volunteer
Photo 2: West Point Independent basketball players and cheerleaders display a framed jersey to recognize 100 years of basketball at the school’s current site.
Photo 3: Charlie Muss, a basketball player for West Point in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, was recognized as the oldest alum in attendance. (Photos provided by West Point Independent)