The Berrien Rebels
"...but the Berrien road block could have stopped anyone."
In the gym of Alapaha, Berrien's future got off to a bright start on the evening of December 7, 1954. The visiting Wildcats of Willacoochee were in town. They were to be the first basketball team to square off with the brand new consolidated high school of Berrien County. And they were to be the first to lose. The final was 62-42. Not a bad start at all.
Hal Leddy's inaugural Rebels would do well, considering the team had to mesh talents from four different cities. They went 8-10. Three of those were to eventual state champions - Lanier County (who finished undefeated) and Blackshear, who was coached by the legendary "Country" Childs.
Leddy only lasted a single season, giving way to Hollis Powell who coached the girls as well. In his lone year, Berrien's boys finished 7-13.
The winning percentage fell as Arnold Gutierrez took over in 1956. The Rebs won three, then six, but not all of it was dismal. Wesley Matthews led the team in scoring as a freshman with 296 points, a feat only achieved one other time in Rebel lore (Jermale Hines, 2003-04). He would have led the team as a sophomore, but missed his last few games. In Gutierrez's third season at the helm, the Rebs would start turning things around. Behind the shooting of Matthews, Jerry Johnson, and Melvin Moore, Berrien rebounded to be 13-5 in 1958-59. A season later, when all three were seniors, the boys had their best year yet, a 17-5 mark and were winners of the Christmas Fitzgerald Invitational Tournament and barely missed a trip to the state tournament.
Unfortunately, things fell apart for Gutierrez in 1960-61. He returned no starters and his top two players scarcely saw action the previous year. The record plummeted to 2-21. Gutierrez, who was also Berrien's head football coach, found another school following this season. Tom Deen also did not return as head coach of the Rebelettes. A replacement for both squads was needed.
When a new coach was found, Berrien Countians could not have known the wild ride they were about to experience.
William Stanley Simpson came from the mountains of north Georgia, the town of Buford. He had never coached a varsity high school basketball game in his career, but he was in charge of both Berrien squads. His first game in command, he probably wished he could forget, as the Rebels dropped a 30-67 decision to Brooks County.
They were humiliated for the next six games, culminating in a 26-74 loss to Valdosta in Alapaha. Surprisingly, something was in the works. Four days later, they shaded Lanier County, 50-43 for the season's first victory. At this point, the season seemed to turn around. They would only win one more game on the year, but the scores were a whole lot closer.
The 30-67 loss to Brooks? In round two, the final was 42-58. Tifton won by 45 the first time, and 12 the second. Valdosta, who had pummeled the Rebs in the horrifying 26-74 game, found themselves trailing after three quarters and barely squeaked by with a 59-54 win.
The Simpson magic, though, would not be confirmed until the next season.
Berrien entered the 1962-63 sub-region tournament with an 11-14 mark. Though the event was played at the brand new Berrien High gym, the Rebels were written off. They squeezed by Lowndes, 39-37 in their first contest of the event. In the sub-region semifinals against Bainbridge, Berrien took a three point lead, 58-55 with 23 seconds remaining. Bainbridge brought the ball up the floor and called timeout under the basket with two seconds showing. Simpson told his boys the plan.
Both teams broke the huddle. As Bainbridge was getting set to inbound the ball, they noticed something peculiar. The Rebels were standing under the opposite goal. They were in no position to defend the ball. Simpson was taking no chances. Since a three-point shot did not exist, the only way the Bearcats could have tied was if Berrien fouled the shooter and the shot was good. Stunned, Bainbridge missed the easy lay-up.
The Rebels faced Cairo in the sub-region finals two nights later. It was another see-saw affair, but the Berrien five refused to give in. Clutch free throw shooting by Pete Griffin iced the 41-38 victory. For his efforts the young Stanley Simpson was carried up the steps on the shoulders of his players. Despite losing to Coffee County in the region tournament, Simpson had to be proud. He had achieved the impossible.
Two more seasons came and went. The first of these two ended 7-19. Without help, the second would have ended nearly the same way. The team was 8-8 when they walked into the gym at Worth County. With them walked a new weapon. Larry Johnson was a transfer from Irwin County and their shooting star. His abilities bolstered the offense, who finished the season on a torrid string of 7-2. The only team able to shut him down was his former address, Irwin County. An unfortunate loss to Tift County in the sub-region tournament prevented Rebels fans from gaining another chance at a state appearance. For at the conclusion of the 1964-65 season, the Berrien Rebels had never seen the bright lights of the state tournament.
Record-wise, Simpson's best squad came during the 1966-67 season. A young shooter named Raymond Tucker had worked his way up the bench in the previous year and probably would have pushed the Rebels to state, but he was injured just after Christmas. Berrien finished 20-8 and had still never been to state.
Political change started sweeping Georgia in the mid 1960s. In 1964, the Freedom of Choice plan told schools to start making plans for integration. Berrien opened its doors to African-American students in February 1966. It was neither the first nor the last area high school to do so. A transfer from Nashville High & Elementary, Roosevelt Daughtry suited up for the first basketball game of the 1966-67 season.
The Rebels gained their first African-American star the next season. Ernest Taylor had been a standout at NH&E through his junior year. Thankfully, he became a Berrien Rebel for his senior season. He was athletic, strong, and was the second highest scorer on the team his senior year, collecting 400 points. He was selected All-Tiftarea and most importantly, All-State.
Taylor would join Raymond Tucker, Charles Dieas, Jimmy Little, and Perry McMillan as starters. They roared out of the gate, winning their first 11, including the Lowndes Christmas Tournament. Their mettle as a team was tested, though, went they went on the road to Cordele.
Cordele and Crisp County were a civil rights hotbed in 1968. Simpson warned his players that the crowd might be hostile. At that time, Crisp had very few black students in the "white" high school and no African-American athletes playing for its teams. Taylor quelled the early catcalls with six first quarter points. Crisp, though, was a more powerful team on this night and handed the Rebels their first loss, 58-52.
Seven days later came another obstacle. An odd realignment made Berrien region mates with Northside of Warner Robins and Dudley Hughes for one year only. They went to Northside to face a tough team of Eagles. Not only did they almost lose the game, they almost lost their star player.
Attempting to lay the ball in, Raymond Tucker was accidentally upended by a Northside player. He stuck the floor, head first. While Tucker was being transported to a Macon hospital, the Rebels crumbled and almost lost. A last second lay-up by Perry McMillan gave Berrien the 58-56 victory. Tucker was diagnosed with a concussion, but missed merely a single game.
Excepting a loss to Valdosta, the Rebels rolled through the rest of the regular season. Here would be their chance to do what no other Berrien High boys' team had ever accomplished - a trip to the state tournament. They slipped by Cairo and torched Bainbridge in consecutive nights to win the region.
Their first state tournament game was against West Fannin, with Class AA's tournament being held at Georgia Tech. Though they started off nervous, the Rebs eased by, 49-46. Troup fell two nights later, 57-54. Here they were, in the semifinals.
Wills, located in Cobb County, was to be their opponent. In a nip-and-tuck battle, Berrien was down 40-41 late. Roosevelt Daughtry, who had joined the team late in the season, fired a shot deep in the corner. The basket went in, but the officials ruled that he had been out-of-bounds, a heartbreaking loss. The rules of the tournament, though, allowed Berrien for one last shot at some glory. A third place game was held the next night. Berrien's opponent? Crisp County. In a final show of revenge, the Rebels from Berrien outlasted the opposing Rebels, 54-50. A satisfying conclusion.
Though all starters, minus Charles Dieas, graduated following the magnificent season, the next campaign would be slightly disappointing. Simpson's players went 18-5, but lost out in their first sub-region tournament game.
For the next season, the Rebs started off on a disappointing note, a one-point loss to Tift County. However, they rallied and won their next 27 games. Behind the rising star of George Sorrell, Berrien made its second state appearance, but lost to Carver of Atlanta in the quarterfinals.
Another good season, but the 1970-71 year would be one of legend.
Stanley Simpson knew this team would be good. A killer defense and four superb starters: George Sorrell, Roger Guess, Wayne Taylor, and Bobby Taylor. The fifth, Charles Wright, was a bit of a question mark on the offensive end, but his inside presence combined with Sorrell's was unstoppable on defense.
During the incredible run, scores such as 65-29, 60-30, 95-15, and 55-25 were not uncommon. All in all the Rebs gave up an average of 35 points per game. After being embarrassed to a 48-29 tune the first time around, Appling County decided to try something new in the second game.
In Baxley, the Pirates were ready to risk everything to stop Berrien. For their efforts, they were nearly shut out. In a game where they stalled and stalled and stalled some more, Appling County scored merely six points. After three frustrating quarters, the Rebs kicked into high gear and won 27-6. When asked if the technique employed bothered him, Simpson quipped, "the Appling freeze didn't bother me at all because I was raised in the mountains."
They ascended with ease into the state tournament. Swainsboro was the first to fall, 85-42. In the next two games, Berrien's defense didn't hold so tightly, but they were able to beat Lakeview (80-66) and Southwest of Atlanta (77-64). Finally, they were in the state finals. Charles Wright, who had been the most questionable of the starters for offense, caught fire in Atlanta and averaged 21 per game for the last three games of the tournament.
Waynesboro was a bit of a surprising entry to the tournament and was not expected to make it this far. They had a feeling that Berrien would be tough, but they couldn't have known how ugly it would be.
Soon after the opening tip, the Rebels made their first shot. They would never trail and the score became increasingly worse. With the game well in hand in the fourth, Simpson began pulling his starters, one by one. He ended with Roger Guess, who embraced his coach as he exited this biggest stage. The final score read 62-29. Sorrell and Wright were named Co-MVPs, Simpson the Class AA Coach of the Year.
Four of his starters were seniors and signed to play collegiately soon after.
Charles Wright went to Lincoln of Missouri, Roger Guess played at Abraham Baldwin.
George Sorrell would star at Gainesville Junior College before playing at Middle Tennessee State University. He would collect the Ohio Valley Conference MVP trophy in 1975 and led the Blue Raiders to the first NCAA tournament appearance.
Bobby Taylor, the point guard and first African-American honor graduate from Berrien High, signed with Albany State. Just days after graduating, he would die in a boating accident. His funeral was held in the gym that played host to his talents. His legacy would live on.
Stanley Simpson was rumored to be leaving at the start of the state tournament. Having achieved as much as he could achieve in Berrien, he moved on. John Nix replaced him.
Wayne Taylor was the only starter to return for Nix's first season. To continue Taylor tradition and to honor his brother, he switched his uniform number from 14 to 34. He also turned in the best season season scoring performance by a Rebel, accumulating 675 points. He also broke George Sorrell's single game scoring mark (38) with a 41-point performance against Echols County in the Lowndes Christmas Tournament.
The team would make it back to the state tournament, sliding past Campbell-Fairburn in the first round, 67-56. Waynesboro, though, enacted a measure of revenge the next night by a 54-58 margin.
Nix's team would return. A high-powered offense led by Gregory Davis, Josh Davis (as the papers of the time always pointed out, no relation), and Kenneth Shaw sent the Rebs into state with only one loss, to Tift County. Their first round win over Haralson County gained a measure of revenge for the Rebelettes, who had lost by two in the state finals to the Tallapoosa team. Berrien then defeated Putnam County, 54-41. In the semifinals, they engaged in a fierce struggle with Monticello before slipping, 47-49. Monticello then went on to lose to Bacon County in the finals, a team that Berrien defeated three times in the during the season.
A trip to the semifinals was excellent, but the Rebels managed to go one further in 1973-74. With the Davis boys, Larry Ryan, and a new point guard named Jimmy Daughtry, they made it all the way to the finals with a 26-2 record. Unfortunately, the game did not go well at all, with a College Park squad that gradually built up a lead until it became a 55-87 blowout. Nix was stymied at the time as to how it could happen, but he didn't realize that it was the first leg of a three year odyssey for the Rams, who won the next two crowns.
Though Daughtry returned and a new Davis (Coley) replaced the graduating Josh and Gregory, the Rebels did not make it out of the region tournament in 1975. They did slightly better in 1976, losing to Decatur in the first round of state in 1976, 56-73, but the real story was the point guard.
Jimmy Daughtry's family had been helping the Rebel cause since 1966, when Roosevelt made a brief appearance for the Rebs. Relatives Earnest, Bobby, and Wayne Taylor had all been major causes of Berrien's success in years previous. Susan Taylor was tearing up the circuit with the Rebelettes at the same time Jimmy was building his name.
Daughtry became a top prospect in Georgia. The Atlanta press ranked him in the top five of the state's high school players. Colleges far and wide descended upon the Berrien gym just to see him play. Hugh Durham, then coach of Georgia was spotted one night. Principal Jim Hunt also received a phone call asking directions to the gym. The recruiters were landing at the airport and weren't familiar with this area. They were from the University of Kentucky.
Jimmy Daughtry eventually signed with the University of Georgia and played his four seasons. His senior year, he was responsible for getting the ball to a top freshman from the state of North Carolina. His name - Domonique Wilkins.
In neither of Nix's last two seasons was Berrien able to get back to the state tournament, despite 19-6 and 21-4 records. The players he left, though, set the table nicely for the coach coming in from Lanier County.
The year Berrien played in its first state tournament, Clay Clark played in his. In that tourney, his Class C Wheeler County lost in the quarterfinals to eventual runner-up Lanier County.
The firebrand coach inherited everything a new coach could possibly want. Five strong starters and a loaded bench. Berrien was playing in their first year as a AAA team in 1978-79, but were familiar with most of their opponents. It was no surprise that they played so well, but an undefeated regular season certainly couldn't be totally expected.
It was not to be, though, as the #1 ranked Rebs fell to the equally impressive Southwest in the semis. The Atlanta school would go to win the state championship.
In 1979-80, Berrien was up to its old tricks, despite losing two key players in Charlie Mackey and Eddie Ryan. While not undefeated, the team was still capable of blowing out their opponents. And if the going ever got though, the squad was a lights out 73% as a team from the free throw line. It was late in the season when Berrien hosted Lowndes. The Vikettes were in the last full season of their 122 game winning streak and the Vikings weren't a bad team at all. So many fans showed up for the stacked doubleheader that fans had to be turned away at the door. After the girls lost by a mere 12, the boys kicked it into high gear. The Rebs' offensive show was so grand, Lowndes barely noticed that one in particular was having an incredible night. Marshall Taylor had been promoted to a starting role in his senior year. He had several good offensive nights, but nothing quite like this. He bombed the nets for 47 points, which broke the school record. The previous record of 43 poitns had been set in 1971, coincidentally by his brother Wayne.
Despite being undersized, Berrien made it past Marist in the opening round of the state tourney. Marist's two tallest stood 6'6" and 6'7". Sampson Reed, Berrien center, was listed at 6'2". In the next round, old foe Waynesboro blew the Rebels out to end the season.
After his first two seasons as Rebel mentor, Clay Clark might have thought that this job would be a breeze. The next few seasons would be tougher but they would be some of the most lovable. Despite their records, the Clark teams were built on hustle and 100% effort. Some of the games weren't the prettiest but it was never because of a lack of trying.
Charlie Fuller became the star of the show during these years. He would lead the team in scoring for three straight seasons. His senior year saw the Rebs earn a 16-8 slate and a sub-region crown. They were unfortunately stopped just short of making to the state tournament.
Two years later, the Berrien squad fell to 2-21, beating only Echols County and Pierce County. As a testament to the coaching abilities of Clark, the team rose to having an even record. Momentum began to swing Berrien's way soon after as Kenneth Green and Scott Purvis helped build a squad that would run once more. Even more help was very close on the horizon.
Clay Clark had visited the gym in Enigma for years. He always claimed he was there for the popcorn, which he proclaimed to be the best in the county. While he did eat his share of the treat, he was also there to see his future. It was a future he had known about for years and even before this athlete had even entered the Enigma Elementary starting lineup in fifth grade.
Eric Taylor was the last of eight children. Five of his siblings had played for Berrien - Earnest, Bobby, Wayne, Susan, and Marshall. Four had played collegiately. Earnest and Wayne at Albany State, Susan at Valdosta State, and Marshall at ABAC and Georgia Southwestern. Bobby had signed to play for Albany State, but died in a boating accident just days after graduating with honors from high school. Eric was so much younger than the rest of his brothers and sisters that while Susan was lighting up the scoreboards at VSC, he was the halftime show. Everyone would refrain from or hurry back from the concession stands to watch him make free throws - from the real free throw line - as a five-year-old.
In a move by the GHSA that came to be at just the right time, the three-pointer was installed just as Taylor began his freshman year at Berrien. In fact he scored the first three in Rebel history in the opening game of the 1987-88 season. Though he was clearly going to be the big star of the squad, Clay Clark made sure his ego was in check and did not start him for most of the season. He did make sure Taylor was a key ingredient in the lineup, joining the talents of Kenneth Green and Scott Purvis. After his freshman year, the show was his to run. He ran it quite well.
During his sophomore year, Taylor scored 451 points while the Rebs went 16-7. At the start of his junior year, Coach Clark found himself in a position where he would have to punish his young star. Eric Taylor was held out the first three games of 1989-90. Clark knew his team would still be pretty good without him, but the coach would have disciplined him regardless of who was left on the floor. Taylor understood the message and no further issues ever occurred. In game four, Taylor was unleashed against poor Irwin County. He came out firing, scoring 21 points.
Just to look at him, most people would not have thought that Eric Taylor was Berrien's big star. He did not have a typical basketball build and was listed as being all of 5'8". If they doubted his abilities after initially seeing him, opposing fans, players, and coaches usually found out otherwise pretty quickly. He could three-pointers all day long. You could force him inside the line, but he could shoot from there as well. Foul him? Taylor's season averages never were below 70%. As a senior, it was x%. Not bad, unless one considers he was an amazing 91% at the charity stripe (127 of 140) in his junior season. He perfected his technique at the line by shooting a minimum of 500 per day.
Taylor wasn't just a shooter, but was the leader of the team. He had the highest academic average for three of his four years of playing. On the court, Waycross had been one of the top teams in the region for years. In the finals of the sub-region tournament in 1991, the Bulldogs held a one point lead with only a few seconds to play. Berrien had the ball. Clark called time to set up a play. Waycross surely knew what was coming as loudly and quite clearly, Taylor opened the time out session with "I want the ball." Clark's reaction was to smile and tell him his wish was granted. Coming out of the huddle, Waycross set up a perimeter defense to guard that three-point shot that was his specialty. As expected, Taylor got the ball on the inbounds. He faked a deep shot. Three defenders offered at the move and Eric Taylor drove around them and sank the lay-up. Rebs win. Unfortunately, both of Berrien's state tourney appearances with him ended early with losses to perennial power Mitchell-Baker.
Eric Taylor is the all-time leading scorer for Berrien by a wide margin with 1798 points. After graduating, Taylor signed with Georgia Southwestern. In his four years there, he became the team's all-time leading scorer (the record has since been broken). Though very proud of his success, Clay Clark had to try to rebuild without him.
In 1991-92, a young Rebel team went 11-11. Clark's squad was affected by youth and the first Rebel football team to play in the state tournament. It was his last year at the helm. He would be replaced by a very familiar name: Cliff Ranew.
Ranew had been a high school standout in two sports - baseball and basketball - at Lee County and Terrell County. He had also been a very good pitcher at Florida State. Older brother, Merritt Ranew, had been a catcher with several major league clubs (and is mentioned a handful of times in Jim Bouton's bestseller Ball Four). Cliff Ranew was probably best known in Berrien for his three years coaching the Rebelettes. During those three, he went to state every year and won the 1990 AA state title.
In a combination of good coaching and good talent, Ranew padded his career record with two straight state appearances with the boys. The bad news was that again, the Rebs made two quick exits. The talents of Treveno Pitts, Eddie Tisby, and Reggie Vinson just couldn't push pass Manchester in 1993 and the ever-present Mitchell-Baker in 1994. Ranew would leave Berrien after the 1993-94 season and ended up with the Lowndes Vikettes. Years later, he made a winner out of the Lowndes boys' team. Not too many coaches can say that.
Next up was Sandy Shepherd. He notched a winning record with a three-point happy crew, but things slowly unraveled after his first season. Despite good players, Berrien had a difficult time playing in the tough Region 1-AA. After matching 8-15 seasons in 1996-97, the boys and girls of Berrien received new coaches. Keith Powell took over the Rebelettes while Milton Caffey was handed the reins for the boys.
Milt Caffey had been a star center at the former Baker High of Columbus. In his senior year, the Lions lost only one game. At Dodge County in the 1980s, his crew had been to the state tournament several times.
Caffey's first season was filled with highs and lows. After being the runner-up of the inaugural Lanier County Tip-Off Tournament, his squad struggled. Some nights, the points fell like rain. On other nights, the ball refused to go in. During a high scoring game at Quitman, a fracas broke out in the crowd. After a warning, the patrons became unruly again. With less than two minutes to play, the Rebels were awarded the game.
In year two, the Rebs had to rebuild. It was not until Christmas that they earned their first win of the season (Echols County). When things couldn't go worse, they did. In the middle of a game at Clich County, tempers flared between one Berrien and a Panther player. One other Rebel ran off the bench. The instigation by the Berrien player drew a two game suspension. A five game penalty was levied to the other Reb, but Caffey decided that wouldn't do and removed both from the squad. Despite the mess, the team was able to gain their other two wins of the season shortly after.
Caffey retired after season two and was replaced by another coach with success in the 1980s. He had achieved this at Warner Robins. His name was Donnie Henderson.
Berrien fans quickly found out that this was a new beginning. Henderson's Rebels won their three games of the Lanier Tip-Off Tournament, showing determination and fire by coming from behind in all three contests. Though the Rebs ended at 11-13, every game seemed close. Several came down to the wire. Though Adrian Robinson was lost halfway for academic reasons, there was hope for the next year. Things got off to a rocky start with the Rebels only being 3-3 and Henderson facing a two game suspension for being ejected from a game. Assistant Harris Donaldson took over for those two and went 1-1.
They came back after Christmas on fire. Berrien soared through the regular season and thanks to a new GHSA rule, automatically advanced to state by winning the region. In the midst of the streak, Adrian Robinson etched his name in the record books by virtue of a 47 point game against Echols. He topped the previous record of 43, which Marshall Taylor had set against Lowndes in 1980.
The Rebs would win the region outright in the tournament at Waycross Middle (Brantley County chose this as their host site). Their first state game in seven years was in Lyons and against Toombs County. They were able to put away the homestanding Bulldogs and moved on to Macon. There they seemed like they were going to have an easy time with Sumter County, but the Rams rallied to tie in the closing seconds. Luckily for Berrien, they fouled Dennis Williams who staved off overtime by nailing two free throws. In the elite eight game, the squad saw defending Class A champ Wilkinson County, who had just moved up to AA. Henderson employed a strategy in hopes of slowing down the high flying Warrior offense. Stall ball would be employed. Despite trailing 15-20 at the half, Wilco put together a strong second half and won 48-45, ending a tremendous season.
Robinson graduated, leaving Henderson to find a new captain and offensive forced. Though Berrien's record was not quite as good, they again qualified for state by finishing second in the regular season in 2-AA. They again wound up in the elite eight game of state after edging East Laurens in the first round (which Berrien was privledged to host) and Ronald Camon stymied Tri-County with his ballhandling skills in the sweet sixteen. This time, the offensive onslaught came early and often and the Rebs were routed by Randolph-Clay.
In his fourth and final year, Henderson finished above .500, but BHS missed the state tournament. His final assistant, Warren Roberts, would be handed the reigns.
Roberts had reason to believe that things would be okay. A few returning players and a freshman that had been described as simply "smooth." Jermale Hines' basketball talents were noticed as soon as he arrived in the county as a seventh grader. Now he was in high school. He and the Rebel team were young, but give them time.
Soon into the season, several players walked out for a single game. A few quit and the team struggled. The next season's hope came in the region play-in game with Charlton County. Hines exploded for X points in a thrilling contest. He hit what was surely the winning basket with seconds remaining. Unfortunately, Charlton's ace in Justin Mincey hit one at the buzzer for a one point win.
They started absolutely on fire in 2004-05. Hines was scoring from everywhere. Little brother, Berchard, was developing. A very vocal crowd of young Rebel followers were filling the gym. Then things went very, very wrong. Through an incident that was far from his fault, Roberts' Rebel experience was marred.
Cook and Berrien have never gotten along. Even before Cook County even existed, there was an intense dislike for one another. Cook battled for 11 years to get its own territory before their wish was granted in mid 1918. A bad sporting season was always made up for if one could only beat the other. The first of two region games that season was to be held in Adel (and yes, it's still close enough to where you can see Sparks).
For unknown reasons, Cook decided that a wrestling tournament was the most important event in the county that night. They opted to hold the matches in the high school gym. The big money-maker where the rivals were ancient and bitter, where one team was red hot, where there was sure to be a huge crowd, was relegated to Cook Middle School. Cook Middle held at least 500 fewer fans than the high school. It didn't help matters that way too many tickets were sold and the crowd was spilling onto the floor.
Berrien led by a bunch in the fourth quarter. With only a few minutes left, Jermale Hines quit dribbling. He reached back and punched his defender. The officials immediately ejected him. Several Cook fans stormed the floor. Neither bench was involved as both coaches hustled their squads to the dressing rooms. The game was called and initially awarded to Berrien.
The GHSA suspended Hines for one month and ruled the game a double forfeit. Both boys' teams were to then forfeit their next two games. Cook's was to be against Lanier County and a region foe. BHS' were both region opponents - Mitchell-Baker and Brooks County. A slight change was made in the ruling. Both could use their B team squads in the second contest. Brooks endeared itself to the Berrien faithful by making a classy gesture in the midst of the wreckage. Thank you, Trojan Coach.
Jermale Hines never suited up for Berrien again. Berchard played in one more game. The brothers transferred to mid-season to Tift County, then moved back to Ohio later in 2005.
Despite the harsh blows, Warren Roberts nearly came away with a winning record. Despite the adversity the team grew stronger and played well. Roberts was replaced, though, at the end of the year.
Sultan Cooper inherited a mix of veterans and inexperienced youth. Hopefully, the six wins are merely a stepping stone for better seasons. Hope springs eternal.