A winning night for Screven County

The Screven County Lady Gamecocks won a basketball game December 27. Screven defeated Portal, 39-23. It was a dominating win for Screven, which was credited by MaxPreps as having a 21-5 halftime advantage.

More importantly for the Lady Gamecocks, it was their first win. Their first win in a long time – February 13, 2013, to be exact. In between these victories were 99 straight losses.

Note: The Sylvania Telephone, in previewing this season November 21, said the Lady Gamecocks had lost 87 straight and their last victory was February 2, 2013. MaxPreps schedules, which seem to be complete for Screven, showed 89 losses headed into the 2017-18 campaign. The schedule for this year indicates Screven lost 10 games this season before winning Wednesday. MaxPreps also has a February 13, 2013, game as their last win.

It is a testament to the coaches and players of Screven County that they continued in the face of adversity, kept playing in spite of odds.

Losing is never easy. The Lady Gamecocks endured much pain for their moment Wednesday and much kudos are merited by head coach Stephanie Davis, and all other coaches who have been in similar situations over the years.

Screven County finished the 2012-13 season with three straight losses, ending a 9-17 season.

The next year, 2013-14, was an 0-20 campaign. The streak nearly ended at nine games, with the Lady Gamecocks falling by just four points to Bryan County. The next year, three losses came by six points or less, including one to Southeast Bulloch by 32-31.

Close calls gave way to pure misery in 2015-16 and 2017-18. In 2015-16, they did not score more than 25 points in any game and were held under 10 points six times. They nearly ended it last year against Harlem, in a January 20 contest determined by eight points.

Fortunately for the Lady Gamecocks, they seem to be coming around. They have lost by a single point three times this year and are holding opponents to 36 points per game.

Fingers are crossed for better days and the Portal victory being the first of many.

Where Screven County stands in history is tough to determine.

Losing streak statistics are understandably not the easiest to find. The National Federation of High Schools does not track this type of record or others of a similar negative nature.

The national girls’ high school basketball losing streak is believed to belong to Wolcott Tech, based out of Torrington, Conn. Wolcott is not a standard public school, rather a tech-based one. Still, they suffered.

When Wolcott defeated Gilbert-Winstead December 18, 2008, it ended a 265-game skid which had begun in 1990. The Hartford Courant noted that none of the players on the current squad had even been born at the time.

Lineville-Clio, an Iowa school, also had a very long streak in the 1970s.

Unfortunately, not even Lineville-Clio, now defunct, was exactly sure of its length.

Former coach Sally Johnson told the Quad-City Times in 2003, “I’m not sure what the streak was, and I was the coach.”

Johnson said it might have been 130-140 games in length. There are discrepancies because no one was sure how or if to count some losses, which came to other schools’ junior varsity teams. Or when Lineville-Clio played by different rules. Iowa was six-on-six at the time and when it ventured to Missouri, that state was playing five-on-five. Some articles have credited the streak at 119 games.

The Quad-City article said Williford (Ark.) has been credited with a 129-game streak which went from 1995-99.

Back in the Peach State, records about strings of losses are difficult to track.

Most information comes from a clue that pops up in an archive here or a yearbook notation there.

In recent years, Cross Keys was credited with a 96-game losing streak that lasted from 2006-10. When the Lady Indians defeated Yeshiva (now part of Atlanta Jewish Academy), 31-28, in November 2010, it was their first victory since defeating Carver of Atlanta on January 28, 2006.

The 99 of Screven County surpassed Cross Keys’ mark, but thankfully the Lady Gamecocks aren’t the state’s longest streak.

As best as is currently known, that mark belongs to North Fulton.

North Fulton fell 107 straight times, from November 28, 1978 to December 2, 1983.

The Bulldogs of Coach Bill Scott ended it with a 36-30 win over Brown High.

“I can get amnesia and never forget this one,” Robin Kelly, one of North Fulton’s players, said to the Atlanta Constitution after the Brown win.

Both schools involved with the end of the streak are now closed. North Fulton combined with Northside of Atlanta in 1991 to form North Atlanta. Brown closed a year later.

Other known Georgia high school girls’ streaks:

– Bacon County entered the 2017-18 season with a 69-game streak. The Lady Red Raiders, which had last defeated Toombs County on January 21, 2014, opened this year by defeating Screven County, 23-22. Screven, of course, had a streak of its own at that time. Bacon has won three games so far this year, already more than in any season since 2012-13.

– The former Sequoyah High (which was located in Doraville), had a 50-game on-court skid that ended in January 1987. Sequoyah had won one other game during the season via forfeit. Sequoyah defeated Lovett, 41-38.

– Oglethorpe County was said to have lost in 62 straight games in a team preview from the start of the 2014-15 season. (Editor’s note: The author saw Oglethorpe in action during the streak and can recall at least two winless campaigns.)

– Westover’s girls had a streak of at least 54 games as of January 16, 1979. It is unknown how much longer it continued.

– The 1976 Lovett High yearbook was quoted as saying, “Excitement reached a peak as the fired-up Lion girls defeated Arlington [Christian] for their first win in three years.” The number of games of the streak is unknown.

In boys’ records:

– Irwin County had a 43-game losing streak that was snapped January 23, 1990 in a 68-59 win over Atkinson County.

– Baker County looks to have also had a long streak, according to MaxPreps records, in recent years. No confirmation has surfaced, however.

 

Sources: Atlanta Constitution – Dec. 3, 1983, Jan. 28, 1987; Atlanta Journal-Constitution – Dec. 10, 2010; The North Georgia News – Nov. 26, 2014; Albany Herald – Jan. 17, 1979; Tifton Gazette – Jan. 24, 1990; Hartford Courant – Jan. 11, 2009; Quad-City Times – Feb. 4, 2003; The Sylvania Telephone – Nov. 21, 2017.

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One night in 1966

The January 29, 1966 Tifton Gazette carried Associated Press high school basketball wire scores from around the state.

Football wire scores have been a constant in Georgia’s papers since the mid-1930s. Wire scores were fairly common then for basketball, but the practice has since faded out.

Wire scores for basketball were almost always mundane affairs, mostly limited then to Atlanta schools.

There was something a bit strange in that column, though.

St. Pius X won over Drexel in two games.

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Indefensible: Schools closing after winning state basketball titles

A wide variety of Georgia high schools have won state basketball championships.

The GIAA began state tournaments for its league in 1922 and the official Georgia High School Association championships started in 1926. (For reasons unknown the GHSA does not list the 1926-37 champions on its site.)

Of course, in nearly 100 years of tournaments, not all schools are still standing.

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The forgotten basketball run of Meson Academy

1941-03-20 The Georgia Cracker (Meson wins)

Headline of the March 20, 1941 Georgia Cracker, announcing a championship for Meson Academy

As the Lowndes Vikettes stood on the cusp of 100 wins in December 1979, the Waycross Journal-Herald looked back at the history of such streaks:

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Eugene Cook’s high school football segregation fit

Most basic American history books point to a handful of big cases involving the rights of African-Americans.

There’s the Dred Scott decision. Voting rights established in the Constitution and the couple of Supreme Court cases where you can actually remember both sides: Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) and Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kan. (1954).

Plessy v. Ferguson is commonly attributed as being the court case that established “separate but equal.” The latter, the Brown case, is supposed to have ended segregation entirely.

Of course, history is not as plain as that or as easy to enforce.

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Bad grades end Toombs Central’s final season early

The gradebook can be a coach’s greatest fear.

It can take perfectly healthy players away, it can ruin state championships.

The 1987 Rockdale County boys had to forfeit their Class AAA basketball state crown because of an ineligible player that checked in as a sub during the state tournament.

The Rockdale situation was the costliest because of grades, but a few weeks earlier, the gradebook had been powerful enough to send one school’s entire season to a halt.

Toombs Central was at the end of its days as a high school in 1987; just a few months later, it was consolidated with Lyons as Toombs County High.

Located on US 1 a few miles south of Lyons, it had an average daily attendance of 97 when the Georgia High School Association reclassified in 1986. The figure was 29 less than what it had six years earlier.

Toombs Central was so small, it was the third smallest non-specialized public school in Georgia in 1986, behind Union County’s Woody Gap and Echols County.

Not surprisingly, its sports rosters were also tiny.

The Yellow Jackets fielded football teams from 1976-86, but struggled tremendously, winning as many as five games just once and finished out on a 1-39 streak.

Toombs Central did better in basketball, finishing as state runners-up in girls Class C hoops in 1958 and making three other semifinals. The boys made appearances in 1960 and 1963, but never won a game in state.

Boys basketball was struggling even more in the final season of 1986-87.

The Jackets were 0-11 in February 1987. The roster consisted of seven players.

But if Toombs didn’t think their situation could get any worse, it did.

On February 6, The Atlanta Constitution’s Steve Figueroa reported, “Toombs Central High in Lyons has canceled the remainder of its boys varsity basketball schedule because four of the seven players fell short of the standards and were declared ineligible.”

The academic rule that claimed the Yellow Jackets’ season was a new one by the Georgia High School Association, Figueroa said.

Students had to be passing five of six courses with a 70 or higher to participate in extracurricular activities.

GHSA executive secretary Bill Fordham said it was a first, to his knowledge, that a season was cancelled for this reason.

Toombs wasn’t the only school affected by the new rule – Rockdale had lost five players at that point – but at the time, Toombs was hit the hardest.

Predictably, Yellow Jackets head coach Wilbur Mallory was not happy with his team.

“We talked and talked to our kids about their grades, but they didn’t listen,” Mallory told The Constitution. “They’re doing their work now, but it’s too late. Sometimes it takes a cold slap in the face to wake you up, and I hope that’s what has happened with our kids.”

Mallory was also upset for the girls team, which he also coached. Teams did not want to play just one game per night and so several had cancelled games.

“Our girls are really mad at the boys,” said Mallory. “The girls all made their grades and now they’re having to forfeit because the boys didn’t. It’s a breach of contract on our part, so those schools don’t have to play just our girls teams, but I think it’s pretty bad of those who don’t.”

The lack of players prevented Toombs Central’s boys from playing in the region tournament, meaning they didn’t even have a chance of playing for state.

Mallory, who had been head coach of the football squad in 1985, warned the players they were in trouble for eligibility for that sport come fall, but it turned out to be a moot point as Toombs Central closed at the end of the school year.

Sources: The Atlanta Constitution – Feb. 6, 1987; Georgia High School Football Historians Association; Georgia High School Association Constitution and By-Laws 1986-87; Note: Neither Toombs County paper, The Vidalia Advance or The Lyons Progress, covered the Toombs Central grades situation.

Random box score: 1978 Dougherty-Valdosta

From the February 4, 1978 Albany Herald

Valdosta at Dougherty, played February 3.

This random box score was an eventful one for Dougherty as Martha Howard scored 54 points to lead the Trojanettes. The game went to overtime and Howard fouled out with 1:42 remaining.

Howard made many shots, but The Herald noted that it was two misses – from the free throw line – with six seconds to go helped send the game to the extra session.

1978-02-03 Albany Herald (Valdosta-Dougherty)