“With the schedule we played, 18-6 is a solid season, and four of those losses were to the teams (McCracken County and Murray) in the regional finals,” he said. “A big thank you goes to our players for their effort in a season full of adversity. We are very fortunate in that our players handled every situation like champions.”
The All-Purchase recognition comes on top of the Kentucky Association of Basketball Coaches First Region Coach of the Year honor Overstreet earned earlier this season.
“I have always believed Region 1 coaches are some of the best coaches in the state, and being chosen by KABC members is special,” Overstreet said. “I also believe this year there are two or three coaches in our region that would be deserving of this award.”
It was Overstreet who ultimately got the nod, though, and it’s a much-deserved one, Tilghman athletic director Jason Nickal said.
“Coach Overstreet is the epitome of hard work, discipline and character,” he said. “The Paducah Tilghman basketball program has had insurmountable growth the past two seasons, and it’s all due to Coach Overstreet and his staff. This is a well-deserved honor, and the PT family couldn’t be happier for Coach Overstreet.”
Navigating a season amidst the coronavirus pandemic started all the way back in the offseason, which was filled with health and safety measures restricting what teams could do. Tilghman senior Eli Brown said Overstreet made the most of every interaction the team was able to have.
“We didn’t get to do as much as we wanted to during the offseason, but he did a good job of using the time we did have wisely,” Brown said. “When we were able to get together, we did some quality stuff, and we got as much out of the situation as we could.”
Once the season started, the Tornado won seven of their first nine games. But then COVID struck the program, forcing it to take a two-week hiatus to quarantine. A heavy snowstorm led to more game cancellations, and, all told, Tilghman was off from Jan. 31 through Feb. 18. That long of a break could make any team rusty, but, thanks to Overstreet’s guidance, it didn’t hinder the Tornado.
“We were kind of scared that we’d come back off that break kind of sluggish. But throughout the two weeks, he (Overstreet) stayed in contact with us, and we talked about how we wanted to play when we came back,” Brown said. “When we came back, we got on a roll and played really well through the later half of the season.”
Tilghman defeated St. Mary 55-33 in the first game out of that break and won nine of their final 11 regular-season contests. The Tornado were the Second District runners-up and advanced to the First Region semifinals, where they fell 61-53 to Murray.
“Like most teams, we would have liked to have played a little longer, but we are proud of our season and how our players performed and improved throughout the year,” Overstreet said. “Coaches coach to build young people and prepare them for life, and if you got to watch our team play, you would see we are on the right path. You would have seen how they played with class, controlled their emotions and played with great respect for their opponent and the game of basketball.”
Brown said the trust that Overstreet and his players share is what has made the coach’s two-year run at Tilghman so successful.
“He gives us the freedom to use our talents and play the way that we have the ability to play,” he said. “He trusts us, and that makes us trust him, and that’s worked out really well.”
Overstreet left St. Mary to take the helm at Tilghman for the 2019-20 season and has gone 39-18 in the time since. Brown said he’s certainly glad to have had the opportunity to play for him.
“He’s only been here two years, but we’ve gotten real close,” Brown said. “He’s a good coach and an even better person off the court. He’s a great guy, and I’m glad he came over here.”
Photo credit: Wes Mayberry