By Joshua Price/Sports Editor
Last Friday, Glencoe High School secured its second consecutive Etowah County basketball championship. The Yellow Jackets were favored to win it this year, but Southside was not far behind.
Glencoe defeated rival Hokes Bluff in round two and Southside in the finals for the championship.
The fact is, the Yellow Jackets arguably have one of the most decorated basketball programs in Etowah County, with a trophy case full of county championships and area championships.
The 1966 Glencoe Yellow Jackets and the 2012 version are alike in many ways.
Both teams play great defense and rely on many scorers rather than one player. Although the 2012 team has more height and size than the 1966 squad, both teams are aggressive on the boards and play effective post-offense.
Both teams feature point guards that play inspired and consistent basketball. Chance Cassidy is doubtless the leader of the 2012 team and scores around 10 points per game. David Hale led the 1966 team, scoring eight points per game. Most importantly, the two players are the leaders on their respective teams and are vital to their team’s success both on and off the court.
Glencoe was favored to win the 1966 county tournament.
Head coach Gid Riddle’s Yellow Jackets sported a 15-2 record while earning a top-seed in the tournament.
Like the most recent team and most Glencoe teams through the years, the 1965-66 squad did not have one or two players that could score points.
Players such as Wesley Roper, Larry Moon and Sonny Kirby paced the Yellow Jackets each game, while players like David Hale and Doc Lett chipped in points when they were needed.
But the whole team was important that season. Riddle played virtually everybody and the team played at a fast-tempo – very much like the 2012 Yellow Jackets.
Roper paced Glencoe with 18 points per game and was the tallest of the Yellow Jackets, standing 6’1.
Moon was the team’s top rebounder with 11 per game, while netting 12 points per match. Kirby added an average of 11 points to his team’s efforts.
The Jackets drew a first round bye in the upper bracket and faced the winner of the Hokes Bluff/Walnut Grove match.
The Tigers were favored in the match, but a fantastic shooting effort in the fourth quarter lifted the Eagles to a 73-61 victory.
Haskell Alford paced the Eagles with 25 points, while Gary Edward and Archie Bone netted 20 and 15, respectively. The Tigers were led by Ronnie Ledbetter with 15 points. Kermit Porch and Mike Brown added 13 and 12, respectively.
The tournament’s first round lower bracket action featured the Gaston Bulldogs against the Southside Panthers and the Sardis Lions against the Altoona Choctaws.
Gaston jumped to an early lead over Southside en route to a 73-45 thrashing of the Panthers. The Bulldogs led 20-9 at the end of the opening period, while extending the lead to 39-21 at intermission.
Altoona was the tournament’s second seeded team and whipped Sardis in the opening round, 81-69.
The Choctaws led the Lions, 18-11, at the end of the opening quarter and extended the lead to 41-26 at the break. Senior forward Danny Payne scored 16 points in the third period, giving the Chocs a 63-48 lead heading into the final frame. Junior Mike Nichols netted 16 points in the fourth period.
Nichols led all scorers with 33 points, while Payne followed with 31.
Glencoe made its tournament debut against Hokes Bluff in the second round.
The Jackets led 20-14 at the end of the opening quarter and extended the lead to 31-26 at the half.
Moon, Roper and Kirby poured it on the Bluffers in the third period, giving Glencoe a 54-42 lead heading into the final frame.
The Yellow Jackets whipped their rivals in fourth quarter, earning a 74-56 win and a trip to the championship match.
Kirby led Glencoe with 27 points, while Moon added 17. Roper followed with 16.
Gaston edged Altoona, 40-39, in second round action to earn a berth in the county championship.
The championship match was hard fought.
Glencoe led 17-14 at the end of the first quarter behind Ronnie Jones’ 11 points.
The ‘Dawgs took the lead midway through the second period but fell behind, 35-30, at halftime.
Hale, Roper and Moon pushed the Glencoe lead to 11 points early in the third period. Gaston settled in to match the Yellow Jackets offensively but trailed 48-37 heading into the final frame.
Tommy Pitts and Randall Battles scored quickly to cut the Gaston deficit to 50-44, but the Jackets increased their lead in the final minutes to seal a 62-50 win.
Glencoe’s Jones led all scorers with 24 points and Moon added 13. Hale netted 12 and Roper scored 10 for the county champions.
Pitts, tourney MVP, led Gaston with 21 points, while Ronnie Tracy scored 14. Verlon McCurdy chipped in 12.