Thursday, March 23, 2006
building comes down at Potts Camp
Old gym and tribute to Coach T.M. Stone
The Marshall County School Board voted to demolish the old gym at Potts Camp School after a report from a structural engineer indicated that the building was dangerous and should be demolished due to termite and structural deterioration.
Superintendent Don Randolph, concerned for the safety of Potts Camp students, had discontinued use of the gym earlier this school year. The old gym has been used for elementary physical education classes in recent years.
Superintendent Randolph recommended that board members consider constructing a multi-purpose building with classrooms and an area for elementary physical education to replace the old gym. The school board approved the construction for a building, and plans are moving forward for the building to be completed and ready for the fall semester.
During the discussion of the new building, Barbara Pipkin, school board member for District 5, reminded other members that lots of history was made in Potts Camps Old Gym and some effort should be made to preserve some of that 73-year history. Pipkin was appointed as chairperson of a committee to meet with the architect to plan an area in the new building for memorabilia from years past.
The old gym was constructed in 1932. Loyd Thomas coached the first Potts Camp teams to play in the gym and made Potts Camp history by taking his boys to the state tournament that first year. The state tournament was held in Oxford at the University of Mississippis gymnasium. Sumrall defeated Potts Camp by a score of 41 to 31, making the Cardinals the number two basketball team in the state on their first trip to the tournament.
Thomas Mitchell Stone was a freshman that year and played in that tournament with his basketball shoes held together with athletic tape. That was the beginning of Coach Stones legacy and the old gyms history of championship basketball.
In 1935-36, T.L. Caver came to Potts Camp to coach and after a successful season took the boys to the state tournament for the second time. T.M. Stone was a senior that year. The state tournament was held in Carthage and Potts Camp would again have to meet Sumrall for the title. After a close game, Sumrall defeated the Cardinals with the final score 24 to 21. Potts Camp was again the number two team in the state. Stone was honored by being named to the All State Team.
Stone accepted a scholarship to Sunflower Junior College in Moorhead. He excelled in basketball, baseball and football during his two years at Sunflower and was named to the all-state teams in both basketball and baseball. During Stones two years at Sunflower, the Trojans became the first junior college to win back-to- back state basketball championships. In 1999, he was inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame at Sunflower (now Delta Community College).
Stone left Sunflower to become a standout player with the Crimson Tide of the University of Alabama. As a guard, he led Alabamas defense for two seasons as the Tide made runs at the SEC championship. He was named SEC First Team Honorable Mention. (Stone chose Alabama over Mississippi State and Ole Miss because of the recruitment package they offered they included a new suit!) Coach Stone remains a member of the Lettermans Club at the University of Alabama.
After receiving his teaching degree, Stone accepted his first coaching position at Hurricane in Pontotoc County in 1940. His girls qualified for the state tournament his first year and returned his second year to win third place.
In 1942, Coach Stone accepted the coaching position at Pinedale. In 1943, he was drafted into the United States Navy and served his country for two years. He was discharged in the fall of 1945 and returned to Potts Camp to live. Potts Camp High did not have a boys coach. Principal John Vaughn asked Stone to take the team for the remainder of the school year. He continued in this position until 1964. His teams were contenders each year, and several girls teams advanced to the North State Tournament.
In 1959, the boys started a run to the state tournament that continued three consecutive years. The 1959 team qualified for the state tournament and won fourth place. The 1960 team qualified for the state tournament and won fourth place. In 1961, the team record was 51 wins and 3 losses. The team defeated West Lincoln to win the state championship in their class/division. Potts Camp went on to beat Starkville for the Overall State Tournament crown.
Coach Stone was chosen to coach the 1961 North Mississippi All-Star Team. His team defeated the South team, 105-89. The number of points scored by the North team continues to stand as a record today. From 1958-61, his record was 147 wins and 14 losses.
Coach Stone had 22 players to sign scholarships to play college basketball during his coaching career. He wishes to acknowledge all girls and boys who played on his teams.
Randolph, during a visit with Coach Stone, Mrs. Stone and Mitch Stone Jr, compiled the information for this article.
Randolph has recommended to the Marshall County School Board that the new multi-purpose building at Potts Camp be named in honor of Coach T. M. Stone. The new building will enhance the overall educational environment for Potts Camp students and also commemorate the success that Coach Stone had in the old gym.
Randolph played for Coach Stone and was a member of the 1959 team.
Coach Stone not only prepared you for a basketball game, he taught you the life skills necessary to be successful after basketball, he said.
Coach Stone lives in Potts Camp and is doing well.
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