What was the greatest basketball game in Berry history?
There were two. Take your pick.
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
|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.