|Berry Athletic Superlatives
Preserving the athletic accomplishments of many of the MBSB and Berry Academy students.
Note: There is no particular order in the following presentation.
Class of 1964
Six Time State Champion
James Childre was an amazing athlete. He was an outstanding basketball player,
playing on the varsity for four years. His senior year, Berry posted a record of 25-8,
played in the State Tournament in Macon and finished the year ranked 9th by The
Atlanta Journal-Constitution in Class A.
But, it was as a long distance runner in cross country and track where James truly
excelled. Under the tutelage of Coach Billy Green, James Childre amassed a
collection of records and victories that would never be challenged by another Berry
long distance runner. Assistant Coach Gary McKnight called James the best runner
he ever coached, and that is saying a lot considering that Coach McKnight went on to
win five State Championships during his head coaching career at Berry.
As a junior, James finished first in all six cross country meets and on November 6,
1962 he took first place in the 9-team Rome Kiwanis Club meet. James finished sixth
in the state meet, leading the team to an 8th place finish.
His senior year was even more incredible. James won every cross country event that
Berry entered except for the 18-team Calloway Gardens Invitational where he finished
fourth. He went on to finish first in the state meet where 23 schools were entered.
Berry placed 9th in the state.
James' accomplishments in track were equally as impressive. He finished first in the
mile run in the Class A State Meet for three straight years from 1962 through 1964,
setting the state record in 1962 and then besting his own record in 1963 and 1964.
He also won the two mile event in 1963. In the 1964 Class A State Meet he set a state
record in that event as well. Also in 1964, he ran in the All Classification State
Invitational and finished first in the mile run with a state record time of 4:29.9.
Coach McKnight tells a funny story about James winning the state cross country meet
in 1963. It seems that several of the coaches who were milling around the finish line at
the state meet had brought binoculars in order to see who was in the lead as soon as
the leaders were within sight. One coach announced that he could see that the leader
had a big letter "B" on his jersey. The other coaches then began to look at each other
and ask, "The letter "B"? Who could it be?"
"Is it someone from Briarcliff? Is it someone from Baker?" they wondered aloud. The
coaches were frantic in trying to determine who the leader was that was approching
the finish line from far away. But Coach McKnight just grinned. He didn't have to look.
He knew that letter "B" had to belong to James Childre from little ol' Berry. And, of
course, it did.
At the conclusion of his senior year in 1964, James won the coveted "Athlete of the
Year" award. It is indeed rare when a young man comes along with the mental
toughness, discipline and sheer athletic ability of a James Childre. He truly is one of
Berry's all-time greats.
|The Jordan Family Legacy
Jersey Number "44" Retired Forever
In the picture above, Coach Bill Thornton presents retired basketball jersey number "44"
to Ms. Helena Jordan while sons (L to R) Jonathan (72H), Jamie (76H) and Peter Marshall
(75H) look on. All of the Jordan brothers, including Paul (73H) who was killed in a tragic
accident on the Academy campus, wore number 44 at some point in their basketball
careers. This is believed to be the only Berry high school jersey that was ever retired.
Ms. Jordan was the proctor at Friendship Hall for many years. She passed away in
December of 2006. Joining the four brothers as Academy graduates was little sister Jodi
(81H), giving the Jordan family five Berry Academy graduates in the span of ten years.
Paul and Jodi are pictured in the inset photo. Perhaps the Jordan family has the record
for the greatest number of Berry Academy graduates.
Class of 1983
Four-Time State Long Jump Champion
Yvonne Smith arrived at Berry Academy in the fall of 1979 and she was encouraged to try
out for the track team. By her own admission, it was an intimidating experience. After all,
the Berry girls track team had won back to back state championships in the spring of 1978
and 1979. Would she be good enough?
It didn't take long to answer that question. Yvonne was a sprinter, excelling in the 100 yard
and 220 yard dashes as well as the long jump. It became apparent early on that she was a
gifted athlete. By the time the state meet rolled around, this diminutive freshman was
primed. Primarily competing against upperclassmen, Yvonne placed first in the long jump
and the 220, while capturing third place in the 100 yard dash. Berry failed to capture its
third consecutive state track championship by a mere five points and had to settle for
Yvonne continued to excel in the sprints and relays where she placed regularly in the state
meet each year. But it was the long jump where she dominated. Yvonne finished first in the
long jump in all four years of her high school career. No other Berry athlete, male or
female, can lay claim to winning any event or any state championship for four years in a
In addition to her participation in track, Yvonne also played varsity soccer and basketball
all four years she was at the Academy. After her high school career was completed,
Yvonne accepted a scholarship to run track for Berry College where she earned NAIA
All-America honors. But, Yvonne's domination in the long jump, earning the crown as state
champion for four consecutive years, establishes her as one of Berry Academy's all-time
1980 Long Jump 17 ft. 8 in. State Champion
1981 Long Jump 18 ft. 1-1/2 in. State Champion (State Record)
1982 Long Jump 16 ft. 11-1/4 in. State Champion
1983 Long Jump 18 ft. 1 in. State Champion
Class of 1971
All-Time Single Game and Single Season Scoring Champion
Ben Ansley arrived at the Academy as a junior in the fall of 1969 and the 6'8" big man was a
welcome addition to a basketball program that needed a spark. It had been five years since the
cagers had enjoyed a winning season and Ben teamed up with a senior laden team to post a
But it was Ben's senior year where he truly blossomed. He ripped through opponents' defenses
scoring points while double teamed and he grabbed rebounds as if his hands had magnets.
"Big Ben" scored over 40 points on two occasions. In the last regular season game on February
12, 1971 his 49-point performance against Davis High from Trenton, GA broke the single game
scoring record that had been set by Dickie Weller in 1961. The 49 points still stands as the
most points ever scored by any player, high school or college, male or female, in Ford Gym.
Less than a week later in the Sub-Region Tournament, Ben turned in one of his best
performances with a 46-point, 25-rebound effort against state ranked Temple. It was Ben's final
performance as a Berry Falcon.
Ben finished his senior year with a 26.4 points per game average to go with his 18.3 rebounds
per game. The single season scoring average is also a Berry record and though rebounding
records are incomplete or non-existent, it would be easy to believe that the rebounding mark
could be an all-time best as well.
At the conclusion of the season he signed a basketball scholarship to play for UNC-Charlotte.
Ben Ansley is certainly one of Berry's all-time great basketball players.
The Unforgettable Basketball Game For The Ages. Was There Ever Another Game Like This?
It is Friday, February 26, 1965 in a cold gymnasium at Pepperell High School in Lindale, GA.
Berry Academy is facing the Cartersville Purple Hurricanes in the last game of the evening in the
Region 3A basketball tournament. The winner of the Berry-Cartersville game is guaranteed a trip
to the state tournament in Macon. The game has so much riding on the outcome!
Berry and Cartersville had split during the regular season, each team winning on their home
court. Berry was ranked 5th in the state in Class A and entered the game with a 29-3 record.
However, Cartersville was a powerhouse in its own right. In the past four weeks they had knocked
off Murray County, ranked in the top 10 in Class AA, Berry and Valley Point. Both Berry and
Valley Point were ranked in the top 5 in the state in Class A at the time Cartersville beat them.
Cartersville was no slouch and was peaking at the right time.
Now it was the showdown between the two schools, the rubber match of the series, played on a
neutral court. Berry was a strong defensive team, holding opponents to an average of only 40
points per game and tonight's game looked like it would be another see-saw defensive struggle.
The score was tied at 12-12 at the end of the first quarter. Then Cartersville took a 25-22 lead
into halftime. But Coach Jerry Shelton rallied his troops in the third quarter and the Falcons
surged to a 38-34 advantage heading into quarter number four. Both teams battled on every
possession and the game clock went down to 0:00 with the score tied 48-48. The game would
have to go into overtime!
And so it did, again, and again, and again. And many times more. Yes, the game continued into
the seventh overtime. SEVEN OVERTIMES! A trip to the state tournament hung in the balance.
Then, with only five seconds remaining in the 7th overtime, Billy McWhorter, Berry's leading
scorer, let go of a 15 foot jump shot that was off the mark, but Tommy Butler, the team spark
plug, tipped it in as the buzzer sounded and the Falcons had won this marathon game by the
score of 56 to 54. The game had started so late and had lasted so long that the Rome
New-Tribune quipped that Tommy's tip-in beat the buzzer and just barely beat the stroke of
midnight. The win was Berry's 30th of the season, the most wins for any Berry team in history.
It is believed that this seven overtime game is a record in the state of Georgia. The Georgia High
School Association states that they do not keep records of this type. They only maintain a
database of scores and results from the state tournaments. However, according to the National
High School Sports Record Book as published by the National Federation of State High School
Associations in Indianapolis, no team from Georgia is listed as having played a game with as
many as eight overtimes. (The national record is 13 overtimes, played by two schools in North
Carolina. Ironically, the score of that game was also 56-54.) So, does that make seven overtimes
the record in Georgia? Maybe. Maybe not.
Regardless of what you choose to believe about the record, it is a fact that the game between
Berry and Cartersville on that chilly February night in 1965 is one that the Falcons will never
forget and it launched Berry to its final appearance in the state basketball tournament. No other
Berry team in the future would come close to the accomplishments of the 1964-65 Falcons.
Class of 1961
"Mentor To Young People"
Renny Bryner is a 1961 graduate of the Mount Berry School for Boys and one of the great
athletes in Berry's history. Known on campus as "Chigger", Renny teamed with Dickie "Doc"
Weller to become the greatest one-two basketball scoring punch in the history of the school,
leading the 1961 basketball team to a 24-3 record which included a berth in the state
tournament in Macon. He was named to the 1961 Georgia All-State Basketball Team and was
selected to play in the state All-Star game in Atlanta at the conclusion of the season, the only
Berry player ever so honored.
Knowledgeable people will tell you that the three greatest skill positions in baseball are pitcher,
catcher and shortstop. As a Berry baseball star, Renny played and excelled at all three
After his years at MBSB, Renny attended Berry College and played basketball for the Vikings
under coach Larry Taylor, leading the team in scoring and earning all conference honors.
Renny also was a pitcher for the Vikings baseball team and helped the Berry College track
team win a conference championship.
Basketball continues to be a part of Renny's life after Berry. He has been in coaching for over
40 years at both the high school and college level. He holds the distinction of being the only
Berry high school graduate to ever become the Head Basketball Coach at Berry College.
Renny coached the Vikings from 1978 through 1982, winning the conference title in 1980. He
also coached the college track team while at Berry.
Renny then became Head Basketball Coach at Armstrong State College in Savannah, a
position he held from 1983 through 1986. He still holds the record for being the winningest
coach in Armstrong State history where he posted a winning percentage of .605.
As is the case with most coaches, Renny has played a valuable role in shaping and influencing
the lives of countless young people that he has worked with over the years.
Renny retired from coaching and teaching at the conclusion of the 2007-2008 school year.
Renny lives in Blairsville, GA with his wife Judy. He is an avid golfer and he recorded a
hole-in-one in March of 2006.
Class of 1966
World Sit-Up Champion
Class of 1951
The Leader of Berry's Greatest Basketball Team
Berry’s "Greatest Basketball Team", the 1951 state finalist team, was led by one of the Berry
all-time great players, Fred Benson from Scottsboro, AL. Fred was a ferocious player,
dominating the inside and rebounding against much taller competition. A tremendous leaper,
Fred was only about 6' 1", but he played like a giant. His fierce competitiveness gave him an
advantage over every opponent.
In Fred’s junior year of 1949-50, Berry went through an undefeated regular season. The only
loss that year came in the 7th District Tournament against Model in the game that would have
sent Berry to the state tournament in Macon. The team ended the season with an all-time best
record of 22-1.
The next year (1950-51) as a senior, Fred once again led Berry to a near perfect season,
dropping only one game. The team's only regular season loss was to Rockmart which was
coached by Garland Pinholster who went on to become a legendary coach at Oglethorpe
University in Atlanta. (Coach Pinholster also coached the U.S. team in the 1963 Pan American
Berry won the 7th District Tournament and then won three more games in Macon at the State
Tournament before losing in the championship game to Irwinville. The team finished the year
with a 19-2 record.
The 1951 Torch described Fred this way, "A top flight athlete who has an opinion and a
backbone that will support it." Fred Benson was one of those intense athletes that just would
not be denied victory. But for all of the athletic accolades he received, perhaps the greatest
tribute came from another Berry graduate, Oliver Welch ('52). When asked to give his
thoughts about this rare athletic individual, Oliver Welch said, "Fred was one genuine person
and one great human being."
Fred passed away in 2001.
|Berry Captures Title in 16-Team Rome News-Tribune
Invitational Basketball Tournament
December 23, 1964
Berry's Tommy Butler Captains Tourney All-Star Team
won the Rome News-Tribune Christmas
Invitational Basketball Tournament by
defeating Coosa, West Rome and Cedartown
and then crushing East Rome in the
championship game. This is the only time in
Berry's history that Berry ever won this
Though Berry was the smallest school in the
16-team field, the Falcons proved to be
giants, winning their four tournament games
by an average of 17 points per game.
The 1964-65 Berry basketball team was one of the greatest teams in Berry basketball history.
The team opened the season winning its first 17 games without a loss. In December the team
Coach Jerry Shelton is carried off the court
after Berry wins the championship game of the
Rome News-Tribune Christmas Invitational.
The 1964-65 Falcons won 30 games and lost only 5, with 3 of the 5 losses coming at the hands
of Valley Point. The 30 wins is more than any other Berry team in history and the Falcons
earned a trip to the State Tournament in Macon. Coach Jerry Shelton called the 1964-65 team
the best high school team he ever coached.