Bess, McRae, Davis and Swain inducted in Hall of Fame

Published 6:20 pm Tuesday, March 22, 2016

One of the all-time great Bainbridge High school, Attapulgus High School and Cherokee High basketball coaches, a two time Bainbridge High School state tennis champion, one of the greatest basketball players in Bainbridge High School history, and the greatest basketball player to ever play at Attapulgus Mount Moriah and A&M High Schools were all inducted into the Decatur County Sports Hall of Fame Saturday night at the Bainbridge High School cafeteria.

The program opened with Greg Bess, son of the late Charles Bess who was inducted, talking about his father’s love for Bainbridge High School and the game of basketball.

“My dad especially loved Attapulgus High School and Bainbridge High School two Decatur County schools where he coached,” Bess said. “LaRae Davis, one of his greatest Bainbridge High School players, is being inducted with him tonight. One of dad’s greatest Attapulgus High School players Russell Smith, who led his Attapulgus High School Bulldogs to the 1964 Albany High School Indians Christmas Tournament championship, is also here to help us honor him tonight. Dad, who was also Decatur County School Superintendent, was dedicated to helping young people in any way he could. I am truly proud to represent and honor him here tonight.”

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Hall of Fame inductee Malory McRae and teammate Erman Tanjuatco, who introduced him Saturday night, won the state doubles championship in 1987 and McRae won the state singles championship in 1988. Tanjuatco described McRae as a consummate professional on and off the court.

McRae, who is head basketball coach Grace Christian Academy in Bainbridge, was named Georgia Independent Schools Association Region 3-AA coach of the year after leading his Cougars to the Region championship. He thanked his wife Mardi Shiver McRae and his family for their great love and support.

McRae’s tennis coach at Bainbridge High School, Jacky Lee, was also in attendance to support and congratulate him.

Davis was introduced by his former Bearcats teammate Reginald Jeffery, who described him as a player who grew up dominating pickup games on the Planter Street courts before doing the same during games at Bainbridge High School, Middle Tennessee State University and Florida State University.

Davis, who had a distinguished 23-year career in the United States Army, thanked his parents, Coach Bess, Jeffery and all of his other Bearcat teammates including center Raleigh Choice, who also played with him at both Middle Tennessee State and Florida State.

“My family, my teammates and my coaches were always there for me,” Davis said. “I think it is great that Coach Bess is in the same hall of fame with Raleigh and me. He was really a great coach and role model.”

The fourth inductee was Ozell Swain, who dominated at Attapulgus Mount Moriah and A&M High School from 1967 to 1970.

Larry Ware of the Decatur County Sports Hall of Fame board of directors who introduced Swain, described him as a devoted Christian family man who loved teaching youngsters the proper way to play the game that he loved so much.

“Working with youngsters is one of my passions,” Swain said, ‘While my offense was strong I also took a lot of pride in my defense. I really enjoyed blocking shots.”