Monday, March 30, 2009

No.15: Basketball Crazy

In the mid-1960s Tupelo went absolutely crazy over high school basketball. In that era the Mississippi High School Activities Association divided high schools into 4 classifications: AA, A, BB, and B. State basketball champions in each classification met in the Grand Slam Tournament in Jackson. While Tupelo High School had won AA championships before, the 1964-1965 team was the first to win the Grand Slam in 1965. The Golden Wave won another Grand Slam in 1966, took a year off in 1967 and won the Grand Slam again in 1968. The trip to Jackson became an annual expectation. Students all over town would check out of school and go to Jackson to back the Golden Wave. When the conquerring heroes returned to Tupelo in their caravan of team cars and fan cars, they were met at the high school by a huge contingent of fans of all ages. Basketball goals sprang up on driveways all over Tupelo, and many of us bought leg weights to emulate Jumpin' Jim Mattox who supposedly learned to jump out of the gym by wearing leg weights. Tupelo was absolutely basketball crazy.

Stan Byrd found this 1965 North Big 8 Basketball Tournament program among his sports memorabilia, and it brought back memories of those basketball crazy days. To give you some idea of how good this team was, four of them went on to earn scholarships to Mississippi State and four earned scholarships to Itawamba Junior College. And Coach Kermit Davis became the head basketball coach at State.

Incidentally, the old Big 8 conference consisted of 2 or 3 times that number of the biggest high schools in the state before the state started having football playoffs in each classification.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

No.14: Where Are They Now?

Graduates of Tupelo High School found on the Web include:

Bryan Hawkins, Class of 1970, hasn't left Tupelo, but he's come a long way. He's the founder and president of Hawkeye Industries, "one of the most technologically advanced contract sheet metal fabrication companies in the South."

Dr. Daniel Dotter, Class of 1970, is a professor of criminal justice at Grambling State University, and author of the book "Creating Deviance: An Interactionist Approach." (See Page 2 of the link below.)

Lon Rains, Class of 1970, is now the Director of Communications for Northrup Grumman Corporation.