Season of pride thanks to basketball champs
by Rebecca Johnston
May 04, 2013 09:03 PM | 994 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Rebecca Johnston<br>Cherokee Tribune Managing Editor
Rebecca Johnston
Cherokee Tribune Managing Editor
In the early spring of 1967 I was a lowly freshman at Cherokee High School and the Cherokee High girls’ basketball team was going to the state finals.

For most of us who lived in Cherokee in those days, the borders of the county were the boundaries of much of our lives. We rarely traveled outside the county.

But suddenly it seemed the whole community was going to Thomaston.

My parents were certainly not planning on making such a journey to watch high school basketball, so I realized if I wanted to go, I would have to find another way.

Fortunately, my friend Mary Donley had somehow talked her mother, Mrs. Sarah Donley, who taught chemistry at the high school, into taking her and I was able to wangle an invitation to go with her.

That started a journey, my first real road trip in a way, that turned out to be an important destination on my journey of growing up.

For those of you who don’t know, girls basketball was “the” sport in those days, the biggest thing in the county.

As we headed down the road toward Thomaston, we were going to cheer on a team that had 24 wins in the season and was the region champ.

We only had one high school in the county back then, and our region included many of the big schools in Cobb County where it seemed everyone looked down their noses at their country cousins to the north.

But there was one thing no one could sneer about, and that was our girls basketball team, known as the Warriorettes, which had a long history of excellence and went on to become

a dynasty.

The team was coached by coach Charles Bess and Florence Crawford served as assistant and sort of a girls chaperone.

Team members were Patsy Hobgood, Brenda Cloud, Paulette Lawson, Jeffrey Cagle, Rita Owen, Debbie Mauldin, Cynthia McCurry, Renay Little, Brenda Poole, Kathy Fields, Mary Boling, Helen Mauldin, Waverly Lewis, Martha Frady, Evelyn Allred, Sandra Cagle, Virginia Wheeler and Paula Smith.

Boling, Mauldin, Cloud and Hobgood were named All-State.

We got out of school, as I remember, to head down to Thomaston, Mrs. Donley driving her sedan and Mary, myself and Jeannie Lathem piled in for the trip.

In those days there were no interstate highways, so we wound our way down Highway 5 to Highway 41 in Cobb County,

By then, we were hungry and clamoring to stop so Mrs. Donley allowed us to eat at the Shoney’s on 41, which had a drive-in area and seemed quite sophisticated to us.

There was nothing quite like it in Canton and we were giggling and calling ourselves “country come to the city” because we were in such high spirits. I am not making this up.

I am sure the stern Mrs. Donley was wondering what she had gotten into. Her daughter Mary was something of a child prodigy, and went on later in life to become an esteemed educator.

Jeannie was a well-behaved young lady but I had a reputation as being full of mischief and a bit of a handful.

In those days we always wore dresses, no pants were ever allowed. We were expected to adhere to a code of polite manners and behavior. For the most part I am sure we did, and even if we wanted to slip the bounds a little, Mrs. Donley would not have let us.

After a long journey and numerous stops, we arrived at an old hotel in the middle of Thomaston. That would be our place to sleep each night.

But the center of our attention was the gymnasium where the games would be played over the next few days.

Each time the Warriors took the court, the fans from Cherokee County would go into a frenzy. We were so proud of our girls, so excited to be at a state tournament and at a fever pitch of enthusiasm to win the title and take it back to Cherokee.

Like many of the experiences in life, that trip was more memorable in many ways than the ones that followed. Because for the next two years the Warriorettes would also win the state title.

In other years I went to the state games as a cheerleader for the school, and that was a wonderful chapter all in itself. But still, that freshman year when I was just a lowly spectator, a fan, cheering the team on from the sidelines, I was also a part of something bigger.

That winning team gave us school pride, a chance to walk a little talker, smile a little broader and just have that satisfaction that we were No. 1.

This weekend the state champions from 1967, 1968 and 1969 were among those honored at the Cherokee County Sports Hall of Fame banquet.

Many of them were to reunite for the event.

I am proud to have attended school in those glory years and glad I could cheer them on as they led our school to victory.

Rebecca Johnston is managing editor of The Cherokee Tribune.
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