Seven Spring Girl's Basketball Team

Photo courtesy Robert McDonald from archives of his father, Seven Springs Principal R.L. McDonald’s collection. (Identification by sisters Edie Price and Edna Price Grady.)

1—Mary Spear, coach; 2—Lucille Smith; 3—Eleanor Gibbs; 4. Maude Whitley; 5—Annie Laurie Grady; 6—Nell Holmes; 7—Louise Herring; 8—Mary Lou Grady; 9—Ethel Barwick; 10—Lorraine Parks; 11—Audrey Hill; 12—Gladys Kilpatrick; 13—Maggie Hopkins; 14—Rebecca Ivey.

Last week I shortened the rhetoric to accommodate a more favorable photograph. It worked, so let’s try it again.

As we exited the gym last week, the Seven Springs steamroller had just won the 1937 Wayne County Tournament. You may recall they did it in the presence of the largest crowd of rip-roaring spectators ever assembled in the Community Building gym, waltzing past Rosewood 47-17.

Now, they were ready to take on all the champs from neighboring counties.

Tournament of champions

On March 8, 1937, the News-Argus published a rather flattering announcement for the team they thought would be favored to win it all. A headline read: “Beulaville girls with 28 wins and no losses seek more honors.” That was followed by this defining remark:

“The tournament differs from any other tournament held in North Carolina as only county championship teams and the runners-up are eligible to enter.”

On their march to the finals, they “wipe out” neighboring Stantonsburg 39-9. Their opponent was held scoreless in the first quarter. At the half it was 23-3. The report stated that Seven Springs “eased off” in the final quarter and Stantonsburg scored 5 points to 4 for Seven Springs. Winners’ scoring: Gibbs 12; N. Holmes 13 and M. Grady with 14. L. Herring, Parks and Barwick were the guards. High for Stantonsburg was Jones with 3.

Wayne champion sextet too fast for Duplin team

By E.T. Cozart Jr.

Before about 700 spectators the sextet of Seven Springs won the Ten County Tournament over Beulaville girls 26-15. At the end of the first quarter Springs led 6-2. At the half it was 10-7. For the winners it was N. Holmes with 14; Gibbs 4 and M. Grady 8. Herring, O. Holmes and A. Grady were the guards.

The outcome of that game served as testimonial to the power of those girls from Seven Springs. Could these speedsters have had an advantage over their opponents? Could their abounding energy have come from the mineral-laced water bubbling up from those famous gurgling springs?

After all during their playing days folks were driving hundreds of miles just to haul off jug after jug of that highly touted liquid being promoted as a tonic for good health. Some comers even lodged in the “luxury” hotel built near the springs for their accommodations.

Certainly coach Mary Spear must have deserved tons of the credit. She was their mentor for at least four years. I’m not sure but I think Coach may have been a Goldsboro native.

Forward to 1938

It is no secret that I’m from Grantham, known internationally in the 1950s as the Education Center of the Universe. In those days, green-and-white-clad skirted cheerleaders yelled it out: “I’m from Grantham, and I couldn’t be prouder. If you can’t hear me now, I’ll yell a little louder.”

Now, I don’t know what cheer they were using in 1938 when the female wrecking crew from Seven Springs swarmed in on the Grantham girls at the Community Building, and I really hate to include that report. But, I know it will bring smiles to faces of children and grandchildren of the gals who played on that hotshot Springs team.

Whatever you do, don’t tell Grantham scholars that I ran this in the paper, but here’s how Evelyn Colie wrote up that game of Jan. 15, 1938:

“Leading throughout the game by a huge score, the Seven Springs sextet wiped out the Grantham girls 56 to 9 Friday night. They had an 18-4 lead in the first quarter. This was made possible by Seven Springs grand offensive playing.

“Grantham was unable to score at all during the second quarter while Seven Springs gathered 18 more. Grantham made a desperate attempt to raise the score during the last half, but their pitiful 5 points were unable to make a dent in Seven Springs’ gracefully acquired 24.”

Ummm! High scorer for Grantham was Mozingo with 7. The other 2 by Westbrook.

Balanced scoring by Seven Springs: L. Smith 11; N. Holmes 16; Gibbs 15.

Those were the same girls who would take the tournament championship, beating a good Mount Olive team 43-24. Nellie Holmes hit 22, and Eleanor Gibbs added 20.

After the all-star selections were over, Seven Springs accounted for four of the six players on the team, including: L. Smith, right forward; N. Holmes, left forward; Gibbs, jumping center; L. Herring, side center. The other two were Sutton, Mount Olive, and Waddell, Nahunta. Seven Springs’ E. Barwick, right guard, made second team. Baker and O. Holmes received honorable mention.

On a positive note for the Grantham girls, they were awarded the sportsmanship trophy for that 1937-38 season. For the boys, it was New Hope.

It’s almost a happy ‘ho-um’ — undefeated again

During the regular season they cruise past all other teams in the league. After winning the countywide championship, they methodically work their way to the championship game of the annual tournament. That game as reported by Sam Ragan of the News-Argus staff:

“The queen of them all, Seven Springs, playing before a capacity crowd, proved their superiority by downing the Mount Olive sextet in the finals by the score of 43-24. The score at the end of the first stanza was 14-3. At the half it was 20-9.

“With N. Holmes, who tallied 22 points, and Gibbs, who accounted for 20, leading the pack, the fast little sextet from Seven Springs proved too much for the fighting girls from Mount Olive, who were unable to break down the iron wall defense of the winners. H. Troutman and Martin scored 11 each for the losers.”

Keep in mind that the Mount Olive team was no floor mat. They finished the season in second place and in the first round of the tournament had trounced Grantham by 39 points, 63-24.

The “iron wall” for Seven Springs was built with three scrappy guards, Parks, O. Holmes and Whitley.

Where do they go from there? Tune in next time, but first enjoy today’s photograph. Numbers added by my friend, Marty Tschetter, local library historian. With a little persuasion and for a very reasonable fee, he will likely provide you with an original, up to 8x10. Same for the numbered photograph in last week’s column.

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