The Jefferson High School Community Gym . . .
Musing With Cecil Buffington
The Gym Of '51.
It was February the sixth in Jefferson, Georgia. The Jefferson High School boys and girls basketball teams hosted cross-county rival East Jackson in the regular season finale for both teams. It was "Senior Night". It was also a night when the Jefferson High School gym, built in 1951 was officially retired from active high school sporting events.
Former players from the 50s to the 2010s showed up to show their respect for all the many years of service that the $150,000 community purchased building had rendered to the youth of Jefferson over the past 64 years.
Several former players from that 1951-52 school year that played on the basketball team were in attendance. They were introduced and stood with honor at center court where they were joined with other former players that came after them.
The Dragonettes had a tough season that 51-52 season as they went winless for the season. A young lady named Dot Cook led the team in scoring with a 20-point per game average. It was Dot Cook that scored the first Jefferson basket in the gym of 1951. Not just for Jefferson, but the very first basket period. The following season she would lead the Dragonettes to a 15 win season and average over 25 points per game. The second leading scorer on the team was Sara Barnette, whom we all later knew as Coach Sara Gee.
For most of my high school years I had heard that Y. D. Maddox had scored the first basket for the boys team against Gainesville in that gym debut in 1951. I asked Y. D. about this sometime around 1997-98 and he told me he did not score the first basket for the team in that particular game. He pointed out that he did assist on the first score. He said he had taken a pass around mid-court and saw Billy Sailors flashing toward the basket. He said he passed the ball to Billy and he scored on a layup for the first Dragon basket in the "Gym of 51".
The boys team in 1951-52 went on to win their sectional and finished runner-up in the district. Their over-all record that year was 14 - 13.
Now there probably won't be any more history making memories produced out of the old gym. However, after 64 years I would think there have been enough thrills and excitment to last most people a life-time.
I, like many people of Jefferson, are glad the old gym will not be demolished. Too many of our old structures have been lost as we move forward on the road called progress.
So long old gym friend! It was an honor spending so much time on your floor as I grew up. Many, many women and men of Jefferson will always feel that same way about you . . . you will never be forgotten!