Kneeling, L to R - Billy Phillips, Morris Phillips, Fred Benson, Tom
Phipps and Calvin Hyers.
Standing, L to R - Drake(Manager), Robert Dykes, Bell,
McCullough, Charles Hutsell, Whitehurst and Coach Earl Downey
Not pictured - Leeman Whatley, Dan Wood, Elvin Wilborn and
|The 1949-50 Berry Basketball Team
That's the way the screaming headline of the 1950 edition of The Torch described the basketball
team's incredible season. The team was undefeated in the regular season (19-0) and headed into the
7th District Tournament as the number 3 seed. It was a tall Lakeview squad that received the number
1 seed and Model was seeded number 2. But, Berry handily knocked off Lakeview with balanced
scoring in the district quarterfinals, 65-49, and then lost to Model the next night in the semi-finals,
31-28, denying the team a trip to Macon and the State Tournament. With a record of 22-1, the 1950
basketball team posted the best record and longest winning streak (22 games) in Berry history.
The 1949-50 team was small but very quick and had accurate shooters. The tallest player on the
team was 6'0" junior Fred Benson who was a tremendous leaper, and the team averaged only 5'10",
but Berry consistently knocked off larger opponents with their determined style and deadly shooting.
Coached by Earl Downey, a former University of Tennessee track star, the 1949-50 Berry squad was
one of the best in school history. However, the bitter disappointment of having the perfect season end
one game short of the State Tournament only served to set the stage for next year's team, believed
by many to be Berry's greatest team ever.