1931 State Champs
Publisher’s note: This article was submitted by Dale Burroughs. It was sent to him when he lived in Florida by his father, Robert, who was on the 1931 Carnesville High School state basketball championship team. Dale’s uncle, Harold, was also on the team. Dale said he recently found the article while cleaning out a shoebox he kept it stored in.
From The Toccoa Record
Oct. 7, 1976
By Billy Chism
Kytle Oliver, Stephens County probate judge, and four classmates from Carnesville High School reunited Saturday night, Oct. 2, in Toccoa.
But it was no ordinary reunion.
The group played on the 1931 state champion Carnesville High basketball team. And they haven’t been together since the year they won the crown 45 years ago.
The five men, now in their early sixties, brought their wives with them. But the women stayed on one end of the table while the men talked and laughed about their “glory days.”
“I remember one game when only three of our players had arrived by game time,” Harold Burroughs said. “The other team wanted us to forfeit, but we started the game with only three players. By the time Coach Parker and the others arrived, we were five points ahead.”
Others attending the reunion were Robert Burroughs (Harold’s brother), B.N. South and Edwin Akin. All of them except Oliver still reside in Red Hill.
Lloyd Williams, who now lives in Greensboro, was unable to attend. The remaining two players and the coach are deceased. They were Ray Wilson of Canon, Henry Payne of Ashland and Coach Carl “Shorty” Parker.
“Eight players was the maximum you could dress out back then,” South said. “And there were no divisions or classes. All schools in the state competed for the state trophy.”
Most of the games had low scores compared with today. Each team had to stop and line up to jump center after a point was scored.
In the state championship game against Vienna High School, the Carnesville team was down 12-4 at half, Akin said.
But Robert Burroughs turned the game around, according to Akin, when he jumped center and knocked the ball to another Carnesville player under the goal.
“We scored six straight points in the second half, and went on to win the state championship. I’ll tell you, Robert Burroughs is the only fellow I’ve ever seen that – when anything needed done, he’d do it. He’s the best player I’ve ever seen, even to now,” Akin said.
After graduation, Burroughs played two years with the House of David, a professional basketball team which toured 15 states.
The players attribute their success during high school to the fact “we played together all the time.”
“We’d been playing together since grammar school in the fourth or fifth grade,” Oliver said.
By the eighth grade, they had developed into a close knit team.
“I remember in junior high, one of the greatest things we ever encountered was the tri-county tournament with Stephens, Franklin and Hart counties,” South said.
“We played it in Lavonia, and we had to carry our lunch because there was no place to eat,” he said.
Burroughs added “It wouldn’t have mattered if we had a place to eat. We didn’t have any money to buy anything.”
In the state tournament at Athens, Coach Parker insisted that his players drink a milkshake with a raw egg in it prior to each game.
A druggist in Carnesville, Will Ayers, told the players he’d serve them free ice cream for every game they won.
“We liked to have ate him out of business,” Burroughs said.
Which game was most memorable? “They all stood out,” the former high school stars agreed.
But Oliver likes to think of the time the University of Georgia freshman team traveled to Carnesville.
“It was the only game papa came to. There was standing room only, and we beat them bad,” he said.
How has the game changed in 45 years?
Harold Burroughs believes that the teams of yesteryear were more skilled.
“We played with clockwork. Every man knew where every other man would be. And when the other team had the ball, we’d go for it. And when we’d get it, we’d usually score,” he said.
The 1931 team averaged five feet, eight inches. The tallest players were 6-2. But they were bigger physically because they were 19 years old during their final playing year, some two years older than today’s seniors.
Looking back over the years, Robert Burroughs said the championship “meant everything to me and still does. We had a lot of fun and it was a victory well won.”
South added, “I feel like, even today, we’re the best there’s ever been in the state. It was the first time a Franklin County boys’ team ever won the state championship. And no boys’ team has ever done it since.”