Uprising Continued in the 1960-61 Basketball Season
Avondale’s Uprising Continued in the 1960-61 Basketball Season
The 1960-61 season in basketball continued where the football Blue Devils left off—in pursuit of the playoffs. Unlike the football team, our basketball team was blessed with a strong core of experienced players led by Freddie Guy. Sportswriter Charlie Roberts declared: “Harry Logue’s Avondale Imps, who also snagged a berth in the state bounceaganza in their first season in AAA, will go against Macon Lanier in the opening-d ay game at Alexander Coliseum. Avondale, which has leaned heavily on the shooting of 6-7 Freddie Guy, earned a spot in the playoffs with a 20-5 by placing second in region 4-AAA.”
The article giving thumbnail sketches of the 16 teams competing in the AAA basketball playoffs described Avondale’s top players as follows: “Freddie Guy, 6-7 senior center and the state’s second leading scorer with a 24.4 average and led tourney scorers with 89 points in four games; 6-1 Ed Pritchett, Craig Martin and guards Ben Hargrove and Jimmy Cotton. Strengths: Strong rebounder and shooter in strong, swift, agile Guy and a good shooter and rebounder in Pritchett. Weakness: Ordinary outside shooting and occasional cold spells.” Now, accounts of several key games will be given:
Avondale Shocks Druid Hills
Guy Hits 24
Freddie Guy, a tough guy under the boards and a deadly shooter from the field, shattered Druid Hill’s dreams of a 4-AAA Tournament championship as Avondale rolled, 57-42, before 2,500 at Alexander Memorial Coliseum. Guy pulled down 20 r4ebounds, hit 9 0f 13 from the field and 6 of 6 from the free-throw line in a 24-point performance.
The win sent Avondale into the finals against Smyrna which outlasted injury-hit Marist, 57-49. Guy gained sweet revenge for a pair of lickings from Druid Hills during the regular season when he opened the Blue Devil’s scoring throttle with two field goals and a free throw to turn a precarious 32-30 lead into a 37-30 advantage. Little Ben Hargrove fired from 30 feet out, and Craig Martin sank a fielder and a free throw to extend the lead to 42-30. This scoring spree ended the Druid’s chances of winning. Guy quickly clinched the outcome in the second half by pulling down four straight defensive rebounds and Avondale held a 42-30 at the end pf the third quarter.
Druid Hills led only once, 20-18, on Jack Manton’s field goal, but Guy scored a field goal and free throw and eventually nudged Avondale to a 29-27 half-time lead. Manton and Major Moise had 13 an 10 points for the Red Devils, who could only muster Manton’s fielder in 15 third quarter attempts.The Druids finished with 16-of-53 and Avondale stuffed 19-of-42. Contributing to the Blue Devil’s win were Pritchett 8, Guy 24, Hargrove 11, Cotton 3, and Martin 11.
NOTE: Avondale won the right to face Druid Hills in the 4-AAA tournament by defeating R. L. Osborne, 57-51, and Russell. Avondale fell behind Osborne in the first quarter and did not go ahead to stay until the last minute. The Blue Devil’s scoring machine, Freddie Guy was blanketed for three quarters, but he escaped the trap in the last quarter to finish with 23 points. Jim Cotton put the Devils in the victory column with a field goal and free throw in the last minute.
Smyrna Defeats Avondale in Cliffhanger for 4-AAA Crown
Coming from behind for the third time this season, Campbell of Smyrna defeated Avondale, 54-52, in the finals of the 4-AAA tournament witnessed by 2,500 fans at Alexander Memorial Coliseum. The Panthers could have folded twice in this dramatic contest. They trailed Avondale by 12 points with three minutes left in the half but closed the gap to four before the buzzer sounded. Early in the third period, Avondale pushed ahead by 10 but Smyrna pushed ahead for a two-point advantage before the quarter ended. The Panthers capped these comebacks with a pressure job at the finish. They hit 8 of 11 free throws in the fourth period, including five straight in the last 55 seconds. Jerry Brown hit two with :55 left and Charles Beckett added two more to ice the game with 20 seconds remaining. Smryna allowed Freddie Guy 12 points in the first half but limited him to four points in the second half. Rufus Adair’s rebounding and Jim Pitts’ and Jerry Browns’ shooting brought back Smyrna late in the second quarter.
Avondale was set to join the field of 16 teams for the State Class AAA Basketball Playoffs at Alexander Memorial Coliseum. The Blue Devils were paired with the Macon Lanier Poets, who posted an 18-10 record, in the first round. Although I don’t have a score for the game, the Devils won and moved on to meet # 1 seed Sylvan, which had swept to a 32-1 record. Avondale was ready to face a formidable team led by 6-6 Lee DeFore (averaging 24.5 ponts) and supported by Tommy Roberts, Virlyn Gaines, Bob Tuggle, and Terry Stephens.
Sylvan Outlasts Avondale, 63-56
Upstart Avondale matched the defending state champions basket for basket until the last minutes before Sylvan pulled a 63-56 victory chestnut from the ashes. Big Lee DeFore’s 30 points were the deciding difference. What a duel Sylvan and Avondale put on, the Bears leading at rest stops, 14-13, 27-26 and 47-44, as Lee DeFore looped in 8, 6 and 8 points in those quarters, while Freddie Guy got 5, 4, and 8. Others on both teams got got in spurts, especially Craig Martin who went 4,5, and 4 then later finished with a six-point flourish in the fourth quarter. The Devil’s scoring was not enough to head off Sylvan because Bob Tuggle hit a bucket with 4:07 left, putting the bears on top by 55-50 and affording them the luxury of going into a freeze to preserve victory. At the 2:54 point, Jimmy Cotton cut the margin t0 56-52 with a fielder. The Bears answered with scores by DeFore, Roberts and Stephens, as Avondale finished with fielders from Ben Hargrove and Guy. Sylvan hit 48.2 per cent of its shots (27 OF56). Avondale hit 42.3 per cent (22 of 52) and rebounding was about even.
They will be talking a long time about the scare the Avondalers gave talented Sylvan as the magnificent Guy out-fought Golden Bears for 22 rebounds and fired 19 points while handcuffed with three fouls during three quarters. Craig Martin zeroed in for seven hits on 14 field goal shots and scored 19 points. Until the last 30 seconds, there was no guarantee of a bear victory. This was a night for “iron men” as Avondale’s Guy, Martin, Pritchett, Hargrove, and Cotton pressed Sylvan to the limit.
NOTE: As a result of the narrow defeat to Smyrna, Avondale had to face Sylvan which led to an early exit from the playoffs. There is no doubt that the Blue Devils could have gone much further with more equitable pairings. Smyrna won all of its playoff games to face Sylvan for the AAA championship. There is much irony in the fact that Avondale’s football and basketball seasons began and ended with Sylvan
The Legacy of Avondale’s 1960 Uprising
No one expected much from Avondale’ uprising to Class AAA competition in 1960, except for determined Blue Devils. The class of 1961 provided two of the premier athletes in Georgia in football and basketball in the same year—a rare accomplishment by any one school. As the Blue Devil’s Challenged #1 Valdosta in football, #1 Sylvan in basketball, and competed in the baseball playoffs, our 1960-61 athletes made us feel like we were part of their success. Their performance in sports inspired us to excel in our life’s pursuits as they had excelled on the field and court. Respect for their accomplishments has only been enhanced as we have seldom seen any school’s teams consistently perform with the spirit, determination, and success achieved by our Blur Devils. The thrills we vividly remember came because of Avondale’s remarkable 1960-61 uprising.
Gerry Lingle—AHS 1960