BY SHARON HOGAN
A large crowd turned out Thursday evening, at the West Jackson Primary School gym, for the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Jackson County High School 1964 Boys’ Basketball State Champions in Braselton.
Over 150 people turned out to help 10 members of the winning team and four of the cheerleaders to again celebrate this memorable occasion. Thursday’s reception was about honoring the team, but it was also an opportunity for anyone with a connection to Braselton High School or Jackson County High School to take a walk down memory lane.
A number of memorabilia items – including trophies, newspaper clippings, banners, yearbooks and scrapbooks – were on display around the gym for everyone to see.
Some memorabilia items – 1964 team photos and pieces of the original JCHS gym floor with a plaque – were available for purchase at Thursday’s event. Members of the 1964 team autographed the photos for anyone interested.
Members of the 1964 Class C State Champions team – that had a season record of 33-1 – coached by Bob Cooper, who attended Thursday’s event were: Vic Stewart, Ronnie Hill, Lendgrin Maddox, Michael Banks, Jerry Edison, Larry Beck, Gary Langford, Bobby Watkins, Tony Martin and Pierce Hayes. Other team members included: Bobby Boyd, David White, Terry Timms, Jimmy Waters and Larry McNeal. Arlen Berryman, the 1964 team’s bus driver and scout was also in attendance. Waters and McNeal are both deceased.
The cheerleaders present were: Carol Freeman Tanner, Sandra Clark Braselton, Joyce Clark Mason and Jean Freeman Holstein. Other members of the 1964 cheerleading team were: Betty Brenner and Peggi Barnish.
In the program commemorating Thursday’s event, Jackson County Comprehensive High School Basketball Coach Chuck Butler said the 1964 team would always be remembered for their achievement of becoming state champions.
“The 1964 team literally defined the success that we currently strive for. You set the standard for Jackson County basketball,” Butler said.
Braselton Mayor Bill Orr read a proclamation honoring the team and presented JCCHS assistant principal Joe Lancaster with a commemorative 1964 team basketball to be placed in the school.
Orr and WJPS principal Linda Bell unveiled a piece of the original JCHS gym floor that was dedicated to the 1964 team. A plaque with all of the team members’ names was placed on the section of floor that will be displayed at the school.
Jackson County Board of Commissioner Bruce Yates and Jackson County Parks & Recreation Director Ricky Sanders presented each team member and cheerleader with a piece of the original gym floor with an engraved plaque in their honor.
Jerry Eidson, 1964 team member, thanked Mayor Orr, the community and everyone in attendance for coming out to help the team celebrate the 50th anniversary of their championship win.
Larry Beck talked about his experience being a part of the 1964 team. He also thanked everyone in attendance. Beck thanked Dillard Phillips and Charles Sanders, who were both in attendance Thursday, for taking their time to take the team members to Jefferson on Saturday mornings back in the 1960s to practice their basketball skills.
Beck said, “Many of your parents and grandparents supported us in 1964.”
Beck talked about the support the team had when they traveled to the 1964 championship game along with a 100-car motorcade.
Vic Stewart said, “I appreciate this honor.”
Stewart talked about the gym that was built without any taxpayer money and the team’s gratitude for having the gym.
Bill Ensley, Dahlonega, a former Hart County High School coach, did a video tribute to the 1964 championship team, with the help of Sammy Smith, Rainmaker & Associates.
During the video Ensley, who coached both boys and girls championship teams at the same time, talked about playing the JCHS 1964 championship team.
Ensley said the 1964 team had short, quick players.
“We depended on the other teams mistakes,” Ensley said, about playing the team from the Braselton/Hoschton area.
He attributed their championship to quickness, athletic ability, having good shooters and being well coached.
Ensley said, “They really put the pressure on.”
Ensley congratulated the team on their high school championship and their 50th celebration of the event.
In closing out the evening’s event, Sanders said, about the team, “Heroes get remembered, but legends never die.”
Sanders said the 1964 basketball team members were legends he had heard about his whole life growing up in the Braselton/Hoschton area and attending JCCHS.
The Braselton Woman’s Club provided the refreshments for the event sponsored by the Town of Braselton.
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