“Defense!” the crowd chanted, as the church league team fought to victory over the open leaguers for a 72-65 win during the annual Black History Basketball Classic.
For many members of the crowd, the game was about so much more than basketball, though.
Earlier in the night, alumni from Stephens High School were recognized at half-court. Stephens High School housed African American students and was operational in Calhoun until 1966 when those students were integrated into the larger city system.
The game was an appropriate way to honor Black history in Calhoun, said Robert Chattam, a 1953 Stephens High School graduate.
Stephens, he explained, was a “basketball school.” Its basketball players garnered several state championships; the first came in 1952.
“That was our forte,” Chattam said, noting that this was a special feat for a small high school.
Saturday’s game served to “bring the history of Stephens School together,” he said.
The Classic also included a youth game earlier in the afternoon.
Marisha Winston said her child played in that game, and that she would bring her family out to participate again next year.
For Ray Denmon, also a Stephens High grad, the day was a chance to focus on Gordon County youth.
“They’re our future,” he said, noting that the games were a way to “let them know a little about their heritage.”
“It means a lot to the community,” he continued. “It’s all about unity in the community.”
Racial unity has been a theme of the Classic since it began three years ago.
Sonoraville Recreation Center Director Derrick McDaniel said the games were an opportunity to promote that theme and “to bring everybody together and just kind of celebrate.”