By Denis House
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
For someone who has accumulated several individual honors over the years, former Laurel County basketball great Sharon Garland is very humble about her achievements.
“I always feel strange when I get honored,” Garland said. “Basketball is a team sport. I couldn’t have done anything without the support of my team, coaches, family and the fans.”
The latest honor Garland has received is being enshrined in this year’s class of the Kentucky High School Basketball Hall of Fame, which will happen July 20 at the State Theatre in Elizabethtown.
“It’s very nice that after all these years for someone to honor me,” Garland, who graduated in 1979, said. “It’s hard to believe it’s been that long.”
Garland was a member of the Laurel County Lady Cardinals teams that won three straight KHSAA state titles, from 1977 through 1979. While at Laurel County, she was named All-District and All-Region from ‘75 through ‘79; All-State, ‘77-’79; was named a member of the Parade All-American Team in ‘79; and played in both the East-West All-Star game and the Kentucky-Indiana All-Star game in ‘79. She finished her career with 2,130 points and 1,261 rebounds.
After high school Garland signed with the University of Kentucky, and played with UK from 1979-80. She then transferred to Western Kentucky University where she finished her career.
Garland was named to the Kentucky High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame in 1990, and the Laurel County Sports Hall of Fame in 1994.
In the history of girls’ high school basketball in Kentucky, there has been only two schools to win three straight titles: Laurel County and Sacred Heart. Laurel County held the distinction of being the lone school with three straight titles until Sacred Heart did it from 2002-2004.
“Winning three in a row is rare,” Garland said. “I’m proud to have been a part of that. It took 25 years before Sacred Heart was able to match that.”
While at Laurel County Garland was also part of another record that may never be broken. From 1978-1980, the Lady Cards won an amazing 74 games in a row. That streak started when Garland was a junior and ended the year after she graduated. The next closest was Sacred Heart’s 42 game streak.
“I remember back then when people would say how big that was, but I really didn’t think about it,” Garland said. “We had a lot of things go right for us. All the stars were lined up.”
Garland also remembers the fan support her team received during her playing days.
“I don’t think too many people were left in the county when we played in the state tournament at Richmond,” Garland said. “The whole county supported us.”
Garland’s former coach, Roy Bowling, was enshrined in last year’s KHSBHF class.
Others inducted into this year’s class are: Coach Bobby Watson (1957-1980 Owensboro High Red Devils); Coach Letcher Norton (1935-1962 Clark County Cardinals); Joe Fulks (1941, Kuttawa Lions); Linville Puckett (1952 Clark County Cardinals); Howard Crittenden (1952 Cuba Cubs); Johnny Cox (1955 Hazard High Bulldogs); Billy Ray Lickert (1957 Lafayette Generals) Larry Conley (1962 Ashland Tomcats); Butch Beard (1965 Breckinridge County Tigers); Mike Casey (1966, Shelby County Rockets); Donna Murphy (1976 Newport Wildcats); Allan Houston (1988 Ballard Bruins); Jaime Walz Richey (1996, Ft. Thomas Highlands Bluebirds); JR Vanhoose (1998 Paintsville Tigers); Coach William Kean (1922-1958 Central High Yellow Jackets); and Coach Howard Beth (1980-2010 Marshall County High Marshalls).