Coliseum, some sweet memories

Published 8:20 pm Friday, March 6, 2009

Tuesday and Wednesday nights games for the Lady Cats and Bearcats brings to a close over two decades of sweet memories at the Decatur County Memorial Coliseum.

Tuesday’s Lady Cats nail-biting, one-point win in overtime in the team’s Sweet 16 victory over the Harlem High School Lady Bulldogs, and then the next night’s Bearcats’ victory over the Stockbridge High School Tigers were the last Bainbridge High School sports games that will be played at the 22-year-old auditorium.

Next year, the Bearcats and Lady Cats will begin anew at their new high school and the 2,500-capacity gymnasium on U.S. 84 East. Middle-schoolers will take over the 1,800-capacity coliseum.

BHS Principal Tommie Howell said the Sweet 16 victories for the teams brought back a lot of sweet memories.

“It was a great opening and ending to our coliseum,” Howell said.

The first games at the coliseum were in November 1987, and in that opening tournament—the Pepsi-Kiwanis Tipoff Classic—both the Lady Cats and Bearcats won the tournament. Howell said he was the scorekeeper, and his wife, Amy, was on the squad.

The boys teams were undefeated at home this season, and the girls were 16-1. “Hard to beat that one,” Howell said.

He said he noticed a few more members of the community who haven’t been to a Bearcat game in years where there Tuesday and Wednesday cheering for the teams.

“Our season brought back a lot of people,” Howell said. He’s hoping next season with the new gymnasium, more people will turn out for Bearcat and Lady Cat basketball.

Other history

The victories over the Harlem Lady Bulldogs and Stockbridge Tigers marked the third time in school history Bainbridge High School Lady Cat and Bearcat teams have made it to the Elite 8 round of the state Class AAAA basketball tournament in the same year.

The first time was 1975 when the late coach Charles Bess’ Bearcats went all the way to the Final 4 and finished fourth in the state. Coach Bobby Trawick’s 1975 Lady Cats made the Elite 8 as well.

It was Bess and Trawick again who led the Bearcats and Lady Cats to the 1982 Elite 8. It is the fifth time in school history the Lady Cats have made it to the Elite 8. The last time was in 1996 when coach Larry Slaughter led them to the Final 4 where they played in the semifinals.

Coach Steve Hartzog’s 1979 Lady Cats made it to the semifinals of the Final 4 as well.

This year marks the eighth time the Bearcats have made it to the Elite 8. The last time was under coach Jeff Page in 2006.

They also made it under Slaughter in 1985, 1987, 1989 and 1990.