‘Heartbroken’ Wildcats fall in Sweet 16

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Kim Snapp had few words, Thursday.

Snapp, the wife of Newport boys basketball coach Rod Snapp, leaned against a pillar near Section 24 of Rupp Arena. As the seconds of Lyon County’s 61-46 win at the UK HealthCare Sweet 16® ticked away, she didn’t have much to say.

“Heartbroken,” she said of the defeat. “Just gut-wrenching.”

With the Lyons ahead of the Wildcats, 55-37, with under three minutes to go, 5-year-old RaeLynn Harrington tilted her head against the left arm of her mother, Veronica Harrington.

“I’m OK,” the elder Harrington said. “They did their best.”

Whether Newport is leading or trailing, Kim Snapp is out of her seat pacing in the first and third quarters. 

“I always pace,” she said. “It’s usually right after tipoff.”

When you’ve been married as long as the Snapps – they’re 23 years in love – other routines emerge. Rod Snapp tugs on his pants when the game is tight, and Kim cooks Thai food, Rod’s favorite.

Rod Snapp’s histrionics is sometimes a conversation starter.

“When I talk to him about it, he doesn’t remember anything he does during the game,” Kim Snapp said. 

Before tipoff, Newport resident Al Watts mentioned his changed allegiances, at least for a while – the 1979 Holmes graduate has called Newport home for the last 28 years.

“I’ve been going to Newport games,” Watts said. “Holmes has been pitiful the last two years. That makes (attending Wildcat games) easier.”

When Newport took a 3-0 lead 20 seconds into the game on Dashawn Anderson’s 3-pointer, Harrington’s son, 8-year-old Donald Harrington pronounced the bucket “cool.”

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“Usually he wouldn’t shoot it,” the youngster said. “He’d pass it.”

Kim Snapp, meanwhile, sauntered in the concourse between Sections 24-28.

Kim Snapp, the wife of Newport boys basketball coach Rod Snapp, paced in the Rupp Arena concourse during the third quarter of Thursday’s UK HealthCare Sweet 16® game against Lyon County. (Photo by Ray Schaefer)

“I don’t like it when it’s a tight game,” she said. “My nerves, my heart, I feel like I’m having a heart attack. I want to have a high enough lead to where I can watch the game calmly.

“ … I can’t listen to the crowd, I can’t listen to the (public address) announcement. I have to go in the restroom and plug my ears.”

With about four minutes to go and Lyon County ahead, 52-37, Watts knew the Lyons would win.

“Lyon County, they’re moving,” Watts said. “Newport’s doing too much standing around.”

After the game, Kim Snapp mourned the end of Newport senior Marquez Miller’s high school basketball career, but she was optimistic for the Wildcats’ future.

“They’re young, they want it,” she said. “I’m not disappointed. I’m just sad.”

An era’s end

Thursday was also the end of a long journey for Newport public address announcer and scorekeeper John Atkins.

“That wraps it up,” he said as he closed his scorebook for the final time.

Atkins completed 41 years at Newport’s microphone at the scorebook. He had a familial entourage in the stands – wife Rhonda, son Matthew Atkins, daughter Aimee Atkins, two grandsons, and four granddaughters.

As he closed the scorebook about 10 minutes after the game, his eyes grew watery, and he wasn’t sure when the finality of what happened would sink in, though he suspected it could be Thursday night.

“Probably when I give Coach Snapp the scorebook for the final time,” Atkins said.

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John Atkins (right) and his brother Ricky (left) take photos on the Rupp Arena floor after the game. Evan Dennison | LINK nky

About a half-hour later, Atkins took smartphone pictures in an empty Rupp Arena. He decided life after microphones and scorebooks would be good.

“It’s going to be a joy taking care of the grandkids and having fun,” Atkins said.

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