Seven Springs girl's basketball team

NINE TIMES CHAMPIONS: The Seven Springs girls, who went undefeated in Wayne County basketball league circles for 10 seasons until they ran up on the Rosewood girls last week, have compiled one of the most enviable records in court circles. Left to right, first row, are S. Garris, A.L. Grady, Mattie Lee Smith and Ruth Shivar; second row, Mrs. Hunter, coach, and Hilda Gibbs, Bonnie Branch and Evelyn Herring, third row, Jessie Ray Jones, Mildred Moye, Alma Baker and Lucille Grady.

The following headline is not one we are used to seeing throughout the several columns I have written about the Seven Springs girls’ dynasty teams: “Rosewood Girls hand Seven Springs 21-12 shellacking.”

This is not to take anything away from those Seven Springs girls. Certainly they were the dominant team for a decade. However, Mr. Charles Liles was wrong when he wrote the following subhead: “First loss in ten years.”

I draw your attention to last week’s correction I made in a reporter’s erring. The team lost at least three conference games in 1935, and yet they prevailed as tourney champions.

But let’s give credit where credit is due — to the Rosewood girls. Mr. Liles’ report on that game: “Rosewood was pointing for the game — as the winner was pretty sure of ending the season undefeated — and threw up an iron ring defense that held the nine-time champions to but three field goals. Hines, Brantham and Sugg were the guards who kept the champs away from pay dirt, and Seven Springs was able to sink only six foul shots.

“Both teams showed plenty of fight and had the crowd in a frenzy, but the Seven Springs girls had trouble sinking field goals when they had the opportunity.

“Smith was high scorer for the winners, ringing up 10 points. Garris was high for Seven Springs with 8.”

Refuse to lose heart

A week later reporter Fate Sasser Jr.’s headline read: “Seven Springs lassies score easy victory.”

“Coming back strong after their first setback in a county tilt in 10 years ... they trounced the Grantham girls 33-11. Smith paced Seven Springs with 17 points. Hollowell scored five points to lead Grantham.”

(That Hollowell girl was none other than Evelyn Hollowell Rose. As with Eleanor Gibbs, the lovely Evelyn, at 95, still lives and is a resident at Willow Creek in Goldsboro. I’ve visited with her several times. She’s always a delight to spend time with and welcomes visitors.)

The Seven Springs girls continued to roll over several opponents including a dominant 40 to 12 drubbing of Fremont. Smith of Seven Springs led all scoring with 18 points. Grady scored 10, Garris 8 and Jones 4. Guards were Herring, Gibbs and A. Grady. Judy Yelverton scored 7 for Fremont. The reporter headlined that report thusly: “Indians win handily” which is the first and only time in my research the team was referred to with the “Indian” title, though in some circles it may have been used because of the close proximity to Indian Springs.

On Feb. 24, they lost a close one to Nahunta, 19-16. Garris scored 8, Smith 5 and Shivar 3. However, in the first round of the tournament, Seven Springs rode roughshod over New Hope 60-14. A reporter’s account of the game: “Seven Springs held a track meet in the final half to steamroller the hapless New Hope lassies in the first game of the evening. They had moved to a 14-7 lead by the half.

“But during the third period Smith, Shivar and Garris went on a scoring rampage to score an even 22 points and move to 36-11 at the end of the canto. Alice Grady was high scorer with 22 points, followed by teammates Smith with 19 and Garris with 14. G. Newsome with 10 led the losers.”

A rare tie

In a scenario that I’m not fully grasping, the winner of the tournament was to meet Rosewood to play for the county league crown. As reported:

“Seven Springs and Nahunta girls pulled the hitherto unheard of by battling to a 24-24 tie in the first game of the evening. They will play off their tie Saturday night. The winner will meet the victor of Friday night’s tussle between Eureka and Pikeville Tuesday night for the crown.”

Saturday night, March 4. “Seven Springs’ lassies moved into the finals of the Wayne high school basketball tournament with a 26-16 win over Nahunta. They will meet Pikeville Tuesday night for the tourney crown. This was a playoff game after a 24-24 tie Thursday night. Smith for Seven Springs led all scorers with 12 points. R. Maples was high for Nahunta with 10.

Surprise, surprise — Seven Springs captures tourney

So who would have thought they could win the tournament? Not I, but they did, taking it from Pikeville. “Credit the win to the magnificent guarding exhibition of the Seven Springers during the first two periods. The winners scored seven points before Pikeville found the hoop and led 7-3 at the end of the first period. The double S misses continued to smack the net during the second canto while Pikeville’s Lancaster scored the red-clad lassies’ only point from the foul line.

“After intermission it was a different story, however, as the Pikeville girls came out with blood in their eyes and staged an uphill drive that was stopped only by the timer’s whistle. They closed the gap to within 4 points but in the end Seven Springs prevailed, 26-21.”

Scoring — Seven Springs: Garris 11, Herring 9 and Smith 6. Pikeville: E. Parnell 13, Carraway 6, Lancaster 2.

Eight-time titlers are dethroned, 30-19

Now, then in what seems to be a rather bizarre method of determining the regular season champs, the winner of the tournament, Seven Springs, would face off against undefeated regular season leaders Rosewood. The write-up of March 9, 1940:

“A new queen was crowned at the Community Building Friday night, and the cheers rang loud and long — ‘The queen is dead. Long live the queen!’

“Yowsah, (the reporter’s word) the Rosewood lassies polished off the mighty misses of Seven Springs 30-19 to take the Wayne County high school championship. Rosewood rooters were doubly happy, for Thursday night the Rosewood boys downed Pikeville 25-23 to win the boys’ title. Both Rosewood teams had gone through the season undefeated.

“In the championship battle the Rosewood girls eased through the first half and then staged a runaway attack during the final period to hand Seven Springs its first defeat in a county championship tilt in nine years.

“With Alelene Smith, Rosewood forward playing her last game, leading the way, the Rosewood misses were barely in front 9-7 at the end of the first frame. They scored at will during the final two periods.”

Scoring: Rosewood: Dale-10, Grantham-5, Smith-15. Grantham, Hines and Sugg were the guards.

Seven Springs: Smith-9, Garris-2, Herring-8. Guards were Grady, Branch, Jones and Helen Gibbs.

All-Conference selections: First string: Mattie Smith, forward and Evelyn Herring, guard — Seven Springs; Vernan Carraway, forward — Pikeville; Adel Smith, forward, Helen Sugg — Rosewood; Ruby Johnson, guard — Nahunta; Annie Grady, Seven Springs guard, was a second team selection.

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For next week’s column I need a photograph of the 1940-41 Seven Springs basketball team. Can anyone help? Original or clipping from News-Argus will work.

Sherwood Williford writes a weekly column for the News-Argus. Contact him at 919-440-8811, Sherwoodowl@hotmail.com or P.O. Box 175, Princeton, NC 27569.