Tolley tabbed as state MVP in Hampton’s 1983 state title game

Published 1:49 am Tuesday, March 24, 2020

     The TSSAA has set aside the 2020 State tournament for now which
would have included Ned Smith’s Hampton Bulldogs.
     let’s go back and look at the 1983 TSSAA state tournament.
     It’s March 16, 1983, and Hampton has drawn Houston County the number one
state-ranked team for the opening game.
     The games were played at Vanderbilt’s Memorial Gym in Nashville.
     Jerry White was the head coach for Hampton and his assistant was Terry
     It was a tough season and many teams were good in the area as
four made it to the state tournament.
     University High, Elizabethton, West Greene, and Hampton all made the trip
to Nashville playing in all divisions.
     “Coach White was a master at mind games to get us to play
hard. He always knew what would get each player motivated” said  Tim
     Jack Jaynes stated, “The atmosphere coming on to the floor at Vandy
is something I will never forget.”
     “You have to be lucky and good, we were both” stated Mike
Matheson.  “There were two starters from Little Milligan School – me and
Tim Campbell” Matheson added.
     Hampton had beat University in the District tournament at Unaka but lost
to them in the Regional.
     It forced Hampton to travel to Sweetwater for a sub-state game where
Matheson hit a shot to send the ‘Dogs to Nashville.
     Tim Andrews added, “We were in awe of how big Vanderbilt’s gym was.
Most of us had never been out of Carter County.
     “I asked Mike ” Moonpie McKinney, “can you imagine how many bails of hay you could fit in this
place?” We were a small team but we had big hearts.
     “We just came up a little short. No pun intended. We beat some very good teams.”
     The Bulldogs would come out on fire shooting 57 percent in the
first half led by Matheson with eight points.
     Hampton led 8-6 at the end of the first and the score was knotted at 24 by the half. 
Houston shot ten free throws making six while Hampton was 0-1 from the
     Leon Tolley collected six points and six rebounds in the first half.
     Tolley would take over in the second half hitting seven of eight
from the line, finishing the game with 21 points and pulling down 16
rebounds leading Hampton to a 63-57 win.
     The game would go into overtime but the ‘Dogs came out on top.
     Matheson finished the game with 11-points, Franky Martin scored eight and Campbell seven.
     Campbell said, “It was St Patrick’s Day and everyone had on green when they ran
out. We won in overtime. The most exciting game of my life.”
     Other players to score for the Bulldogs were Randy Stout and Tut Malone scored
six, Don Whaley had four.
     Hampton hit 17 of 24 from the line and made 23 of 50 attempts shooting.
Eric Ramey scored 17 for Houston.
     Leon Tolley stated, “We drew Houston Co in the first-round…they were the number
one team in the state…people thought we had no chance.
     “Coach White told us we could beat them and we believed him….because what he said
was the gospel.”
     Anthony Cannon was the best player to ever come out of Kenton High
School and was on the high school varsity team in the eighth grade.
     He was a great shooter and he could dunk as well but nobody dunked back in the
     Cannon was the Kenton Warriors Superstar and Hampton’s next victim
on the road to the state championship.
     The Warriors led 18-16 at the first stop but an impressive second
quarter by the Dogs tossing in 22-points gave them a 38-31 lead. 
     Matheson once again was leading scorer for Hampton at the half with
12-points, Tolley followed with ten.
     Cannon had already scored 16 by the break for the Warriors.
     Hampton shot 88.8 percent from the line hitting eight of nine, Kenton was
seven of ten for 70 percent.
     From the field the Dogs hit 15 of 27 for 55.5 percent, the Warriors were 12 of 27
for 44.4 percent.
      A strong shooting third quarter would see the Warriors storm back
and take a 47-46 lead by the end of the third, but once again the ‘Dogs
would toss in 22-points in the final period for a 68-61 win.
     Tolley’s second-half performance sent the Bulldogs to the title game. He scored
23 points with nine rebounds.
     Randy Stout and Matheson would scored 12 points each, Malone finished with ten.
     Kenton had three scorers in double figures as Cannon lead all scorers with 28 points,
Neal White had 15 and John Harris finished with 14.
     The Bulldogs as a team shot 52.1 percent from the floor and 83.3 from the charity
     Tolley was seven for seven bringing his state tournament total to 14 of 15 from the
foul line. It was Hampton’s 22nd win of the season.
     Tolley went on to say, “Coach White went to a box and one defense on Cannon
with Frankie guarding him.
     “He had scored 28 points in three quarters. Frankie shut him down
and he didn’t score anymore which allowed us to pull ahead and beat
     “Randy Stout played great in this game…a big reason we were
able to win” added Tolley.
      It was on to the state title game and facing East Roberson who was
one of the best teams with a 33-4 record.
     The Dogs were supporting a 22-14 mark but playing in the final game
anything could happen.
     You play all year just to get to go to the state tournament, that’s every team’s
     The dream of making the state tournament, not winning, but
getting there.
     Its a hard road and a lot of things have to come in place to make it to the big show. It’s
the best place to play in March – the TSSAA state and Hampton was in the championship game.
     The Dogs would get no help from the free-throw line in this game
only getting to shoot three times the entire game while Roberson shot 17
times making 15 of them.
     Hampton came out on fire, running the floor and matching points
with Robertson.
     Hampton would lead 18-16 after one but a ten-point performance in the second
gave East the lead by one, 29-28 at halftime. 
     Both teams shot in the mid 40’s percentage-wise with Tut Malone and Tolley leading
Hampton in scoring with eight points each.
     Martin and Matheson pulled down three rebounds to end the first half.
     Robertson was unstoppable in the second half scoring 21 and 23
points in the final two quarters, although Hampton battled in scoring 17
and 22.
     Hampton did not get to the line any in the first half and only three
times in the final half while Robertson scoring 15 points from the line
was the difference in the game.
     East would win the 34th game and their school’s first state title on
March 19, 1983.
     Leon Tolley said, “East Robertson only missed five shots the whole second half.
We didn’t lose that game, they won it.
     Assistant Coach Terry Taylor said, “We played good enough to win, they just played
better. In the tournament, all our players even the bench players played good.”
     Leon Tolley led Hampton with 25-points, Malone followed with 16, Matheson and Tim Campbell
scored ten points each.
     Tolley was voted the MVP of the state tournament, Mike Matheson and Tut Malone were
selected all-state.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox