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Great Balls of Fire!

  • Louisville Central wins Kentucky High School Athletic League (KHSAL) title, the first of five for its legendary coach, Willy Lee Kean, who goes on to win four national titles while compiling a staggering record of 857 wins against only 83 losses between 1923 and 1958.

  • UK is named Helms National Team of the Year, and All-American Aggie Sale is named Helms National Player of the Year.

  • UK sets a national record by winning 23 consecutive games.

  • WKU boasts a 24-game winning streak until it is broken on March 5 against Millsaps.

  • First radio broadcast of a UK game. Ed Ashford reads the play-by-play he receives by telegraph while an engineer provides background sound effects.

  • UK’s Joe “Red” Hagan makes a 48-foot shot to beat Marquette. Gov. A.B. “Happy” Chandler drives a nail into the gymnasium floor to mark the spot where Hagan launched the shot.

  • WKU Hilltoppers become first NCAA team to win 30 games in a season.

  • Horse Cave Colored wins its second straight KHSAL title. The team’s star is Clarence Wilson, who would later become one of the original members of the Harlem Globetrotters.

  • UK earns national recognition by winning the NIT tournament in Madison Square Garden. All-American Ralph Beard hits the game-winning free throw.

  • Brewers High School boys claim state title, going undefeated for the season and winning a remarkable—and unequaled—38 straight games.

  • Lexington Dunbar, coached by S.T. Roach, defeats the Hopkinsville Attucks for the KHSAL title in a double-overtime game, considered by some the greatest high school game in Kentucky history.

  • UK wins the NCAA tournament for the first time, and the team is dubbed the “Fabulous Five.”

  • U of L wins the National Association of Intercollegiate Basketball tournament.

  • UK and U of L meet for the first time in the 1948 Olympic trials. UK wins 91-57, and the Fabulous Five, along with five players from a semi-pro team, go on to win the gold medal.

  • UK becomes the first team to win three NCAA titles.

  • With a Harlem Globetrotters style of play, the Cuba Cubs win the state high school tournament in what would become one of the best-known Cinderella stories in Kentucky history.

  • December 5: Cawood Ledford broadcasts his first game.

  • Irvine Shanks of Berea College becomes the first black player on a “white” Kentucky college team.

  • Wayne Oakley of Hanson scores a stunning 114 points in a regular-season game against St. Agnes.

  • Although the loss to Georgia Tech, which ended a 129-game home winning streak, may not be considered a “great moment” in UK history, the streak set a national record that still stands.

  • King Kelly Coleman of Wayland is the star of the state high school tournament. He is named Mr. Basketball for the year, during which he averages 46.8 points per game. He would finish his career with a record 4,337 points, and Adolph Rupp would call him “the greatest high school player who ever lived.”

  • U of L wins NIT championship.

  • The color barrier in high school basketball is broken by Hazard, which has three African-American players on its roster.

  • The KHSAL merges into the previously all-white KHSAA, and, for the first time, two all-black schools—Lexington Dunbar and Covington Grant—participate in the Sweet Sixteen.

  • UK takes its fourth NCAA tournament championship with the “Fiddlin’ Five.”

  • Louisville Seneca, with star Wes Unseld at center, defeats S.T. Roach’s Dunbar squad for the state high school championship. It marks the first time two historically all-black schools have met in the state finals.

  • Rupp’s “Runts” finish the regular season ranked #1 in all the polls, win the SEC tournament, and come within one victory of claiming another NCAA championship.

  • Kentucky Wesleyan captures the NCAA Division II championship.

  • The Sullivan Business College Executives win their first National Little College Athletic Association (NLCAA) championship.

  • A professional basketball league meant to rival the NBA, the American Basketball Association is formed, with the Kentucky Colonels as one of its founding teams.

  • Kentucky Wesleyan wins the NCAA Division II tournament again, and Sullivan Business College repeats as NLCAA champ.

  • Louisville Central becomes the first all-black team to win the KHSAA tournament, setting a record for margin of victory in a championship game with a 101-72 victory over Ohio County.

  • Kentucky Wesleyan and Sullivan Business College successfully defend their titles, and Paducah Community College wins the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) championship.

  • UK becomes the first college team to win 1,000 games, and Rupp is voted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.

  • Penny Ann Early becomes the only woman to play professional basketball in a men’s league when she checks into a Colonels game, inbounds the ball, and is then removed from the game.

  • Kentucky State University wins the NAIA tournament.

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