The first-year superintendent of athletics and aquatics for the Carrollton Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Department researched all the way back to the 1960s and still couldn’t find a match for the feat a pair of hoop squads just achieved this past week.
The department is celebrating its first dual state championships in the same sport in more than 50 years after the 9-10 boys’ and 11-12 girls’ basketball squads captured Georgia Recreation and Park Association Class ‘B’ state crowns, capping off memorable runs for both groups.
“We’ve checked back that far and from all we can gather, this is the first time we’ve ever won state championships in both boys and girls in basketball in the same year, which we think is just pretty special,” Ivey said. “It says a lot for what we got coming up and hopefully progressing and feeding through to the schools with the boys and girls. We’re excited about it.”
The boys’ team, coached by James Winters and Jason Dothard, went 4-0 at the state tournament that was hosted by the Gordon County Recreation Department, wiping out the competition over a two-day stretch, which included a 63-53 triumph over Douglas-Coffee in the championship game.
The girls’ squad, coached by brothers Dale and Jerome Thomasson, closed out its perfect campaign a little closer to home, with the state tournament being held at the East Carrollton Recreation Department, where the host team went 4-0, rolling to a 47-35 victory over Gilmer County in the finals.
“We were thrilled to death. We were glad that we had good coaches to coach both the boys and the girls. It worked out real well. We had brothers coaching the girls — Jerome and Dale Thomasson — who have grown up in our program and coached basketball and soccer before for us. They came back and coached their niece. Their niece was Savannah Levett, the little point guard that played a great tournament,” Ivey said.
The 9-10 boys were led by the trio of Redrick Hill, Mecose Todd and Marcellious Lockett, while Samuel Simpson, Jamisen Winters, Kimontae Farmer, Jay Thomason, Colton Cosper, Jacob Carlson and Diaz Traylor were also valuable components to the run to the title.
CPRCAD athletic assistant Pedro Pittman said the coaching staff did a great job mixing and matching the talent on the floor.
“Every button [Winters] pushed went right. He used a lot of different lineups. When one guy wasn’t at his best, the guy he put in would just pick it up. I mean, it just happened. It all came together,” Pittman said. “We were down 27-24 there in the championship game at halftime and they came out and scored 12, 14 points right off the bat. That really hurt the other team.”
Pittman also noted that the team had great support from a traveling fan base.
“I walked in the gym and I was just thinking, ‘Where did all these people come from?’ We had three-quarters of the bleachers filled. I mean, it was packed,” Pittman said.
The 11-12 girls used a collective effort to claim its crown, with the entire roster contributing game-in and game-out.
The team was comprised of Elexus Bell, Zakeria Cosby, Olivia Dukes, Savannah Levett, Asia Mitchell, Aaliyah Springer, Gabbie Thomas, Kelsie Thomas, Tamya Windom and Taylor Wyatt.
CPRCAD athletic assistant Chris Robinson said it was an honor to host the tournament and he thought everything ran smoothly. Of course, having the home team win it all proved to be the icing on the cake.
“Everybody was pleased with coming to play here and us hosting. I thought we did a really good job. So it was pretty neat. We’ve tried to host one every year since we’ve had that gym. A couple of years ago, we hosted two state tournaments. But with the new tournament format, it makes it tougher to pull off two tournaments,” Robinson said.
Another interesting aspect to the tournament runs was that siblings were both crowned as state champions, with Kimontae Farmer and his older sister, Aaliyah Springer, sharing in the success.
Ivey said all the family ties and connections bring everything full circle for the Carrollton community, as several of the players have bonds to former Trojan greats.
And as the CPRCAD moves on to its next season, it will look to carry the torch from a historic run on the hardwood.
“We’re just ecstatic. We thought we had a shot in one and weren’t sure about winning two. But we’ll take it. We are very, very ecstatic about it,” Ivey said. “It was fun to watch and fun to be a part of.”