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Old-Time Basketball — By Tommy Purser

I had a pleasant visit yesterday from two members of the Jeff Davis High School 1958 girls and boys state championship basketball teams.

Charlotte Quarterman Taylor played for the late J.L. Padgett’s State Championship girls basketball team. Her husband, Billy Taylor, played on the late J.L. Padgett’s State Championship boys basketball team.

J.L. Padgett is the only coach in Georgia basketball history to win both girls and boys state championships in the same year.

There have been a number of schools over the years who have won both girls and boys state championships in the same year, but each time the teams had different coaches.

Not at Jeff Davis High.

The late Jimmy Conner and J.L. Padgett were the only two basketball coaches at Jeff Davis in the 1950s. Both coached both the boys and girls teams.

In fact, in the late 1940s, the school superintendent at that time also coached both the boys and girls basketball teams.

And in another year in the 1940s, the high school principal also coached both the boys and girls basketball teams.

But back to my Tuesday visitors.

I, too, am an old basketball player. While Charlotte and Billy played 62 years ago, I finished my high school career a bit later — 55 years ago.

But our playing days were close enough that we all played in similar style gymnasiums that added difficulty to the game.

For instance,

• gyms with the goals at different heights

• wooden floors off which the basketball didn’t always bounce the way it was expected to (some floors even had dead spots where the basketball didn’t bounce at all),

• stands so close to the court it was hard to get out of bounds to throw the ball into play,
• unheated gyms on bitter cold game nights,

•  gyms heated by a single pot bellied stove at one end of the court and no heat at all at the other end,

• gyms with drafts so strong you’d swear they were changing the trajectory of shots,

• gyms with horrible lighting with such poor wiring that games would have to be halted when the gyms went dark,

• all the gyms had backboards made of wood and at times the ball would bounce off them in erratic directions,

• the scoreboard clocks were seldom if ever digital but, rather, had minute and second hands,

• smoking was allowed in many gyms creating a smokey atmosphere.

Oh, and the players had to walk five miles to get to the gym in rain and snow. And it was uphill both ways.


  1. Michael Wright on February 4, 2020 at 2:37 pm

    Mr. Purser do I have newspapers from 1977 to 1980. O am trying to do a scrap book of our high school basketball team. JDHS YELLOW JACKETS. Under. coach Fields

    • Editor on February 6, 2020 at 8:50 am

      Go to the Jeff Davis County Schools web site. Click on “News” and “Historic News.” There are digital copies of the Ledger for the years 1977, 1979 and 1980. Missing is 1978. I have a bound volume of 1978 Ledgers but you would have to come to the office to see it. Thanks. Tommy Purser

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