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SHEPHERDSVILLE - Bullitt County resident Ronnie Saylor will reach the pinnacle of his part-time love affair with basketball when he works as a referee in this week’s Girls’ Kentucky State Basketball Tournament in Bowling Green.
Saylor has worked for 23 years as a referee in the Eighth Region, but this will be his first stint refereeing in a state tournament.
“At the high school level it’s the highest mark you can have,” Saylor said earlier this week.
Saylor, who graduated from North Bullitt High School in 1981 where he played football, basketball and baseball, started working high school games in the Eighth Region in 1986 because that was where Bullitt County teams played at the time.
When the local teams were realigned to the Sixth Region four years ago, Saylor and most of the other Bullitt Countians who were refereeing in the Eighth Region opted to stay with that group.
That was as easy decision for Saylor because he works as an electrician for the Jefferson County Public Schools. Staying in the Eighth Region kept any conflict of interest to a minimum.
Plus, the camaraderie and the car trips with his other referee friends is an important part of the job.
“We drive to a lot of games together,” Saylor pointed out. “We have a good time together and that’s one reason we still do it. If you don’t enjoy it, then don’t do it. We like doing it and getting a little exercise.
“I had just been with them so long,” Saylor said of staying in the Eighth Region. “I enjoy going out there to ref. I also played out there. They also have excellent crowds and that means a lot.”
While Saylor has worked a number of post-season games in the Eighth Region, this will be his first trip to the big show. Julian Tackett, the Commissioner who runs the state basketball tournaments for the Kentucky High School Athletic Association, asked the assigning secretary in the Eighth Region for three names who were good enough to work a state tournament game. Tackett then selected Saylor from that group.
It was the first time that Saylor had made the final cut to three.
As of Tuesday, Saylor did not know which games he would be working in Bowling Green this week. He cannot work any game involving teams from the Sixth or Seventh Region because of his job and can’t work a game with an Eighth Region team playing. Those three teams this year are all in the upper bracket so Saylor was thinking that he would get games in the lower bracket.
Saylor did work the Girls’ Eighth Region Tournament last week. In fact, he worked the semi-finals of the Boys’ Eighth Region Tournament on Monday night.
(It should be pointed out that Mount Washington resident Greg Buky was going to referee Tuesday night’s Eighth Region final between Anderson County and Shelby County in the big house at Henry County High School.)
Saylor is married and he and his wife Laura have two daughters - Amanda and Savannah. Savannah is part of the North Bullitt Lady Eagle basketball program now as a freshman while Amanda played for the Lady Eagles until she graduated after last season.
While Amanda was playing at North Bullitt, her father backed off refereeing so that he could watch more of her games. He returned to a full slate this year, working over 50 games.
Others may be aware of Saylor on a more local level as he assigns middle school referees for the six Bullitt County schools. He also served as an assistant boys’ coach this past season at Zoneton Middle School. He has also coached a number of local AAU teams.
At various times in the past Saylor has also umpired softball games as well as refereeing some small college basketball games. At this point, he limits himself to refereeing high school games and a few middle school contests.