Mildred and Dora

Pictured are Mildred Barwick, left, and Dora Ruth McArthur.

I suppose some of you will raise an eyebrow in questioning why I would be writing about Seven Springs in general and particularly singling out their girls’ basketball teams. Well, wouldn’t surprise me one bit if some of those lovely girls have not spread their influence all over Wayne County, perhaps even intermarrying with some of your folks. You likely could find their offspring scattered all across the state or even the nation.

Nevertheless, I’m going to continue my exposure of what was perhaps the most dominant team, of any sport, ever to play in Wayne County. Some of you will remember the columns I wrote in 2016, about that gifted girls’ team from Fremont. They dominated the circuit in the late ’40s and early ’50s and were very good, but not as dominant as the ’30s’ Seven Springs girls.

In writing of that Fremont team, I titled a column “Evolvement of a basketball team.” Why? Well, before World War II they went six years without winning a single game, a period in which Seven Springs ruled the roost. During the war no games were played amongst county teams. It was after the surrender that play resumed, and oh how those Fremont girls came alive!

So back to the 1930s

Seven Springs went undefeated in the 1931 and 1932 seasons including winning the eight-county tournament.

Thus at the beginning of the 1933 season News-Argus writers, in almost jubilant tones, were abuzz over the strength of the Seven Springs sextette. In a Jan. 19 report covering the Grantham-Seven Springs game, sports reporters had all but crowned them year-end champions. It was written:

“Seven Springs girls won the county championship last year over all other teams in the county, and have won the eight-county championship for this section for the past two years.

“Fans believe they are on their way to championships again this year if their playing so far can be taken as an indication as to what the final results will be. The team is even stronger than for the past two years, these fans contend.”

Well, in that game Seven Springs put on a clinic. My Grantham girls were apparently just catching on as to how to play the game, as they lose another to their southern cross-county rivals, 56-15. Ouch!

In that one, Kea scored 21, Barwick 18, Holmes 14 and Summerlin 3. Grantham’s Mildred Grantham scored 11 of her team’s 15.

On Friday, Feb. 18, Seven Springs defeated Rosewood 79-43 to clinch the regular county championship. Mildred Barwick and Hepsie Holmes each scored 30 points. Kea in a substitute role scored the remaining 19. Hilda Perkins led the scoring for Rosewood.

Again they win the district tournament over Lucama 51-41.

The previous year Seven Springs placed 3 on the all-star team. This time they bested that with 4, including forwards H. Holmes and Kea, Barwick, center and guard D. Holmes. Brown of Eureka and Perkins of Rosewood, guards, rounded out the team. Another Seven Springs player, Potter was selected for the second team honors.

Last week my column included photographs of the 1931 and 1932 teams. After that exposure I received a note from Iris Kilpatrick. She wrote, “Sherwood, Dora Ruth McArthur was my mother.”

Thus, she was also the mother of Iris’ sister, Pattie Gayle Price (Daly) who played for Seven Springs some 20 years later.

In both of last week’s photographs, Iris’ mother, D.R. was standing side by side with Mildred Barwick. Thus it came as no surprise when Iris included a photograph of the same lovely girls, pictured together. Mildred is on the left, and Dora on the right. Iris says the girls remained fast friends all their lives.

1934 — Kea and Holmes named all-stars

In the early goings of the 1933-34 season, Seven Springs continued its dominance over Grantham by winning 32-24. Jones led Seven Springs with 18, followed by Kea with 11 and Grady with 4.

On March 10, 1934, the league’s primary stars were named. And though this column is intended to highlight girls’ play, I will mention that Brogden’s Thel Overman and Nahunta’s David Smith were voted the outstanding boys’ players for the year, both getting equal numbers of votes. Of Smith it was written:

“His floor work has been the equal of a college player, and his cool generalship has been an important factor in Nahunta’s sensational last minute spurts to victory. In addition to leading the league in scoring, he has been a hard fighting, aggressive basketeer whose will to win, no matter the odds, has been a dramatic influence in bringing his team through with such a splendid record.”

“For the girls, Kea of Seven Springs and Price of Brogden rank at the very top of the ladder. Many knowing basketball fans have declared them the greatest pair in the history of the school league play. Not only did Kea compile the amazing record of 192 points scored, but her floor work was consistently outstanding.

“Price, a guard, depended on speed and sagacity beyond her years to hold down the hot corner in her team’s defensive territory. She was ably assisted by her husky freshman teammate, Dail, but it was her play which contributed largely to Brogden’s climb to the top of the ladder. (Regrets that I did not find first names of Brogden’s Price or Dail).

As the 1934 season ended, Seven Springs had again squeezed out victory over Nahunta 31-29. Kea, center for Seven Springs, was high scorer collecting 20 of her team’s 31 points. Jones scored the other 11. Grady, Potter, Ivey and Holmes rounded out the players for the evening.

Because of winning their third championship in a row, the girls took permanent possession of the trophy which was given each year to the winners by Smith Hardware Company.

I was not able to find record of the district championship game if one was held.

Wayne County folks loved and honored their teams

Stop for a moment and analyze the times in which those boys and girls were fighting tooth and nail to prove their teams superior to others in the county. Remember, about the only entertainment in their day was music from the radio, playing checkers or organizing school parties. In general, television would not become household entertainment for another 15 years.

They were also living during the depths of the Great Depression. By 1932 many had parked their automobiles in favor of mule or ox-drawn Hoover carts.

Those who ran cars could barely scrape up sufficient money to fill gas tanks. And yet, somehow there was a driving spirit that inspired their love for sports, especially when their own were involved.

They did, however, by carpooling, find a way to get teams to the Goldsboro Community Building to tussle it out with each other. Most were farmers eking out a living from the soil. Could have been that most of those “ball bouncing” young’uns carried muscles built in cotton fields, baccer patches, pitching hay or pulling corn. Practice courts at almost every county school were made of nothing more than “in-the-yard” hard packed dirt or clay.

Despite all the hardships, at the end of the season community leaders managed to recognize and honor those who had competed so valiantly. Appraise, if you will, the banquet and awards night given in honor of their “champs” when the 1934 season ended.

“Championship and all-star basketball teams of Wayne County were honored guests at a banquet held at the Wayne Community Building Saturday evening.

“Seven Springs girls and Brogden boys were presented trophies for having won the county school championship. Superintendent J.W. Wilson presented the trophies during the banquet which was served in the club room of the building.

“Charlotte Kea was presented a fountain pen as a prize for having been selected the most valuable girl player in the county, and Thel Overman was given a pen as the most valuable boy player. A.B. Culbertson donated the prize for the girl player and R. C. Robinson for the boy.

“In addition to the championship teams, the all-star girls’ and boys’ teams of the county were present.

“Overman, captain of the Brogden team, gave a toast to the championship Seven Springs girls; and D. Holmes, captain of the Seven Springs girls, gave a toast to the winning Brogden boys. The captains introduced members of their respective teams.

“Miss Price introduced members of the girls’ all-star team, of which she was the captain. David Smith of Nahunta introduced the boys’ all-star team.

“Tom O’Berry was toastmaster for the banquet, and L.L. Hallman led songs and games. The meal was served by the Nahunta Woman’s Club to the 65 present.”

To date I have no photographs of the 1933, ‘34 or ’35 teams. Got one?

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