I recently went through Butler, and it brought back memories of the most dominant girls high school basketball programs to ever play the game. Not just in Georgia, but in the entire United States.
The 2014-15 edition of the Taylor County girls basketball team is unbeaten in 28 games heading into its GHSA Class A public school quarterfinal Tuesday against visiting Treutlen.
While 28 straight wins is quite an accomplishment, it is nowhere near the program record of 132 consecutive wins recorded by Taylor County teams between 1967 and 1972.
The streak started on March 3, 1967, in the consolation game of the region tournament with a win over Pike County, and ran until Jan. 4, 1972, when the Vikings lost 53-48 at Perry. During the streak, Taylor County picked up four state titles, and then added a fifth after the loss.
The first state championship came at the Macon City Auditorium, the final year the tournament was played at that site.
Along the way, there were blowouts and close games, ranging from a 99-37 win over Crawford County to a 47-45 double-overtime victory over Warner Robins, then a Class AAA power.
Norman Carter, a standout athlete at Mercer who lettered in basketball, baseball and tennis, was the architect of the streak. After that first win, while serving as a teacher and head coach, he took on the administrative role of principal for the start of the 1967-68 season. A year and a half later, he became superintendent, as well as head coach.
He had an arrangement with the Taylor County School Board that he would continue to coach until the winning streak ended, which took another three years.
He stepped down as basketball head coach after the 1972 season, and he remained as superintendent until 1990.
In 12 years as the girls head coach, he won six state titles while compiling a 350-25 record, an unbelievable .933 winning percentage. He also won a boys state title in 1964 at Butler.
Sissy Riley was the girls team’s standout for the first two titles. She was named Most Valuable Forward in the state tournament both years, and Linda Joiner was named Most Valuable Guard following the 1967 championship. That was when girls basketball had six players -- three forwards and three guards -- who played on opposite ends of the court, and only forwards could score.
Forward Bunny Fuller won the first of three straight MVP awards in 1970. The most valuable guard on that team was Karen Peed, followed a year later by Patsy Ranow. All-state players during the streak included Sissy and Judy Riley, Joiner, Fuller, Ranow, Peed, Grace Bussey, Dianne Wall, Denease McAbee, Kathy Peed, Regina Parks, Sandra Arnold, Shirley Durham and Mary Grover.
Ranow, Parks, McNease, Diane Kendrick, Karen Peed and Kathy Peed never lost a game in which they started. Sissy Riley, Fuller, Arnold and Duham all had their jersey numbers retired following their careers.
Fuller went on to play at Middle Georgia College and Georgia, where she was named the Bulldogs’ top female scholar-athlete in 1976.
In addition to its success in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Taylor County claimed state titles in 1988 (28-0), 1992 (27-0), 1994 (25-1), 1995 (27-1) and 2003 (31-1).
That 132-game winning streak is the longest in U.S. high school girls basketball history.
Contact Bobby Pope at firstname.lastname@example.org.