Toomsboro Georgia’s Unpopular Hero – UPDATE

This is the view of the Toomsboro School Building made from about where the Ivey family lived. The truck is parked to the entrance that leads to the principal’s office – where Mr. Leverett wielded his infamous paddle.

This story is true to the best of my recollection in every important detail. I invite those readers who have memories of any of this story, to suggest changes or add to it. A photo of team members would be welcome. Mary Ivey Dominy Thompson who lives in Toomsboro may be the only survivor of the Toomsboro basketball team discussed here.

This update is in response to questions I have received about members of the basketball team discussed in this post. I don’t have a photo of the complete team that played in the games discussed in the post. The photo below shows the team which played during the 1949-1950 school year with the team coach, and most if not all, of these girls would have been on that 1947 -1948 team. Recall that the four high school grades in the Toomsboro School were grades 8 – 11. Clockwise from top left: Norma Fulbright (coach) Elizabeth Nesbitt (sophomore) Mary Ivey Dominy (senior) Gussie Dominy (junior) Dorothy Ann (Dot) Fordham (junior) ?? () Sue Miller (junior) Doris Connell (sophomore) Lennie ? (sophomore) Joyce Thompson (junior) Sadie Tanner (senior) Reba Montgomery (soph) Virginia Jones (senior) and Ruby Mercer (sophomore). Other members of this team and who likely played on the 1947 – 1948 team are: Edna Mercer (junior) Gladys Montgomery (senior) Jeanette Brantley (senior) and Bobbie Rozar (senior). Maybe some one can tell me whether Bernice Tanner also played on the 1947 – 1948 team and whether I left anybody out. Remember, all of this took place about sixty years ago. Your comments and suggestions are welcome – here on facebook.

Mr. Leverett was the principal of the Toomsboro (Georgia) High School during the 1947 – 1948 school year. He was a small man with cold-blue eyes and an intimidating gaze. He looked to be about 30 years old, even though he had only recently graduated from Mercer University. What experience he’d had didn’t prepare him for dealing with a some of the more-rowdy boys in high school – boys who wanted to be anywhere, except in school. Mr. Leverett retaliated by getting tough and dishing out punishment for misbehavior with stern admonishments and a wooden paddle. Sometimes he would threaten an unruly boy with having a knock-down, drag-out fight to put a stop to unruly behavior. It was easy to surmise that Mr Leverett’s punishment was not even handed, because it was directed only at boys in grades 8 through 10 – and not at those in the 11th grade- which was the senior class in the Toomsboro School. I can tell you that some members of that senior class were pretty tough hombres who intimidated the principal . Because of Mr. Leverett’s harsh and sometimes erratic behavior, he eventually lost the respect of many of the high school students, as well as that of the people in the community. This happened even though he was not altogether a failure during his time at the school. In fact, as you will see he was quite successful in one of his jobs, and I discuss an incident in which his aggressive behavior made him a hero in the community for a while.

Besides Mr. Leverett’s duties as principal, he taught an eighth-grade civics class (of which I was a member) and he coached the girls’ basketball team. The team he coached is arguably the best girls’ basketball team to ever play for Toomsboro High School. I attended every game the team played – home and away and was one of its most ardent fans. The team had an outstanding season and post-season – and went on to play in the regional championship game which was played in a school near Dublin. Toomsboro’s opponent in that game was Wadley, which always had a good team and was an arch-rival of Toomsboro. And what a game it was!. With only one or two seconds left in the game, Wadley led by one point. That was when Mary Ivey Dominy launched a shot from way outside the foul shot area. Fans held their breaths as the ball arch high and seemed to hang suspended in mid aid. – and then watched as it cleared the hoop and rippled the net as it dropped through. At that moment, the blare of the Public Address horn signaled the end of the game and officials signaled that the shot counted – and Toomsboro had won the game by one point. Toomsboro fans celebrated in jubilation, as tournament officials prepared to award the tournament trophy to the Toomsboro team. But then there was a turn of events; The public address system announced that the final shot had gone through the hoop after the game had ended and that Wadley had won the game. Toomsboro team members and fans were in shock and disbelief as the ceremony to award the trophy to Wadley began. Then – it happened: Mr. Leverett, Toomsboro’s team coach rushed up, grabbed the trophy and proclaimed, “if Toomsboro does not get this trophy, nobody will.” As he hurried to the Toomsboro School bus with the trophy in his arms, tournament officials had a quick pow-pow and decided to declare the game a tie and to schedule a second game to decide the tournament winner.

The second game was played a week later in the Midway Highschool Gym near Milledgeville, and it was as closely contested as the first. With five seconds left on the game clock and Wadley again leading by one point, Mary Ivey Dominy was fouled and went to the foul-shot line for one free shot. This meant if she made the free shot, the game would be tied. Her shot was short, and the ball bounced off the front of the rim and came back to Mary Ivey. She intercepted the ball and, without a dribble, shot it in for a two-point, game-winning score. There was no dispute this time, and the Toomsboro School had won it’s first-ever regional basketball tournament.

The intervention by Mr. Leverett after that first championship game had made him a hero at the time, but his erratic behavior with respect to school discipline had tarnished his reputation, and he had lost the confidence of the community. He was not hired as principal for a second year, and most in the community were glad to see him go. My guess is that Mr. Leverett was happy to go.

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