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In the history of athletic teams in Orangeburg County, our youth and adults have always represented this county courageously in competing in the various areas of sports activities.

Orangeburg 50 years ago: Chestnut Street fire station

In the basketball records of the South Carolina High School League since 1934, teams from Orangeburg County have earned championships or runner-up in this competition. A few of these teams include:

Storm of 1928 devastated Orangeburg County

• 1933-34: Holly Hill -- champs

• 1946-47: Bowman -- runner-up

• 1947-48: Holly Hill -- runner-up

• 1951-52: Bowman -- runner-up

• 1952-53: Bowman -- champs

• 1953-54: Bowman -- runner-up

The year of 1969 is just one example of the fierce teams that represented Orangeburg County and moved on to earn top recognition for their athletic talents in being the best in the state of South Carolina.

The T&D reported on March 1: “Holly Hill Routs First Baptist To Win Championship of 8A—The unbeaten Holly Hill Bantams threw up an air-tight defense here Friday night and rolled back the First Baptist Hurricanes 48-26 to capture the Conference 8A boys’ basketball championship.

“In the nightcap, there was no stopping Artie Knight’s crew of Bantams who jumped off to a commanding lead and continued to increase the margin, rolling to their 25th consecutive win.”

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Reflections 50 years after

On that team, Charles Shippman, Ricky Shuler and Rocky Bell displayed their outstanding athletic ability in leading the team to this championship. As mentioned earlier, the head ball coach was none other than Coach Artie Knight.

On the same page, the headlines read, “Bowman Girls Win 5A Titles—Bowman High School’s girls also won 5A championship honors and a trip to the big tournament with a 24-18 triumph over Bluffton.

“Cathy Berry and Van Beth Myers scored 8 each in the Bowman girls’ victory.

Unfortunately, Chapin High School proved to be just a little bit better by beating the Orangeburg County team 43-32 and moved on to win the state title.

On the next day, March 2, The T&D reported: “Wolverines Lose—Wilkinson Wolverettes State Champs-Girls March to 5th Straight Crown—The Wilkinson Wolverettes won their fifth consecutive class AAA state basketball title in the Smith-Hammond-Middleton Memorial Center at S. C. State College Saturday night, 50-41, over Sims High of Union.

“Before a standing-room only crowd, the Wolverettes left no doubt after the first quarter that they were on their way to an unprecedented five titles in a row.”

The Wolverettes were led by Gwendolyn Mavins, Georgene Brown, Maxine Woody, Toni Whaley and Betty Frederick.

The athleticism that these teams and individuals displayed in their quest to be the very best in our state in the year of 1969 is an excellent example of the people of Orangeburg County and the greatness within.

During this time and even in the 1800s, the black and white schools throughout Orangeburg County carried with them all over the state a reputation that “We are the best in what we do.” Such areas as football, baseball, basketball, tennis, track, a science fair, academic competitions, band, choir, drama and all other scholastic events, Orangeburg High, Wilkinson High and our other county schools would constantly rank high in their performances.

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As a historian, I can vision Orangeburg County with its unlimited resources becoming a “cutting edge community” that can serve as a model for South Carolina and our great nation.

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