Ken Brown has been around the game of basketball for a long time. He has spent time coaching boys' teams, as well as girls' teams, but it was the run that his Fairfield boys' team made in the 2000-01 season that stands out the most.
Brown can remember talking to the team at the beginning of the season and telling them that they would be good enough to make it to the state tournament.
"The kids thought we were nuts," Brown said. "Early in the season we told them that we were going to go to the state playoffs, and they had never been before."
A season after the Green Knights finished 8-14, Fairfield was mediocre in the 2000-01 regular season. The Knights needed two late-season wins against Waynesboro and Scotland to finish at 12-12. Their finish, however, qualified them for the district tournament.
"I think the win against Waynesboro was the turning point for us," said current Fairfield boys' head coach Andy Winebrenner, who was a junior on the team at the time. "I remember they had two kids who were 6-foot-7 and could shoot. We lost to them earlier in the year. We beat them at their place at the end of the season. Slowing the pace down and grinding it out, that was a turning point for us."
Once the Knights began their district journey, things started clicking and the wins started coming.
"It was surprising," Winebrenner said. "I think the more games we won, we realized how well we were playing. When we won our first district game, we were excited. After we won our second, someone said we were guaranteed to go to states. With each game, our confidence grew."
Their fan base also grew. Winebrenner recalled their first game in states when a convoy of fans drove 2 1/2 hours in the snow to watch the Green Knights. Fairfield won the game by upsetting Lourdes Regional, 62-54.
"To see them and see how excited they were," Winebrenner said. "People in town would be out in the streets waiting for us, and we would get a little mini-parade. It was really nice to bring that to the community."
Wins against Lourdes Regional, Camp Hill, Lebanon Catholic and Old Forge set up the Green Knights with a state championship match against Kennedy Christian.
"I remember running out onto the court," said Tommy Dowd, a junior on the team. "It was like our entire town came out to the game. It was that moment where you were like saying, 'Wow, this is something I will remember forever.'"
Despite a lopsided loss in the state finals, the Green Knights story was reminiscent of the movie Hoosiers: a small-town team going on a historic run that captures the heart of the community.
"It wasn't expected," Dowd said. "We didn't even think we would make districts. I don't think we realized how big it was when it was going on until we got further in states. So much of Fairfield was so excited about it. You got to be this kind of vehicle that got people pumped about the school. People would be waiting for us at midnight to support us or open the pizza shop. It was a very special time."