Lillie Mason honored by Kentucky High School Basketball Hall of Fame
By Jim Turner

Posted on January 28, 2020 10:52 AM

Logan’s Lillie was honored once again during a ceremony at Logan County High School on Jan. 5.

Lillie Mason, who was named Miss Kentucky Basketball while playing for Olmstead High School in 1981, has been inducted into the relatively new Kentucky High School Basketball Hall of Fame, which is located in Elizabethtown.

Olmstead has not existed as a high school since a year after Mason’s graduation. Olmstead Middle School graduates now continue their education at LCHS.

The Hall’s new executive director, Greg Purpus of Bowling Green, not only attended the Clash of the Cats at LCHS along with his wife Carmen, but presented Mason with mementoes of her illustrious career at halftime of the boys game between Russellville and host Logan County.

In front of a large crowd, he was able to honor Logan’s Lillie and also draw attention to the tourist attraction for Kentucky’s high school basketball fans in the center of the state. Purpus, who is retired from WKU. is a dedicated basketball fan and has outstanding organizational and marketing skills.

Following high school, Lillie Mason became the first Miss Kentucky Basketball to become part of the Lady Topper Basketball program at Western Kentucky University. The coach who recruited her, Eileen Canty, is now Eileen Coleman and has lived with her husband Kenny in the Olmstead area for several years. She is human resources manager at Champion Petfoods near Auburn.

Mason’s second coach at WKU was Paul Sanderford, who has been named a finalist for the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame for the second straight year. This coach-player duo led the Lady Toppers to back-to-back Final Four appearances. Mason’s bucket at the buzzer in the Mideast Regional at Diddle Arena in 1985 was the “shot heard round the women’s basketball world.” The Lady Tops had upset Texas, the nation’s top-ranked team and punched a ticket to the Final Four on Texas’ home court in Austin. Lillie was named MVP of the regional.

The in Mason’s senior year, the Lady Toppers were sent to the East Regional, and again they won, advancing to another Final Four, this time at Rupp Arena in Lexington. Lillie was named Regional MVP for the second straight season even though there were two other All-Americans on the team, Clemmette Haskins and Kami Thomas.

There was no successful women’s professional league in the United States at the time, so Mason played her pro ball in Italy.

She now lives in Logan County.


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