This time next year, the Ariton High School basketball teams will be wrapping up their first seasons on a new court. That means they said farewell to 65 years of history on the current court.
A court being that old means a lot of people have played on it through the years, so the school thought it would be appropriate to honor some of those players before the gym closes its doors for good.
Starla Cherry teaches kindergarten through sixth grade P.E. at Ariton Elementary, but before that she won regionals with the Ariton high girls’ basketball team in 1987.
"One of the best memories that I had playing in here was the year we went to the final four, which was in 1987,” said Cherry. “We actually got to play all three region games here at home. That was probably the most exciting and the loudest this gym has ever been that I can remember.”
The gym has been a huge part of her life, but next year she'll be watching the basketball games from a brand new facility.
"As you can see it's packed out,” said Cherry. “It holds about 250, and that's probably not even comfortable, but the new gym will sit around 650. It's very much needed, but we're going to have to have a tear or two at home about this."
The last game of the season was made senior night, and after the school finished paying tribute to those graduating this year, they took a trip back in time.
The school honored Starla and everyone who'd ever played on the court since it was built in 1954.
"We had very little to do, so a group got together and it wound up that we had a team,” said Earl Sammons, who played in 1956-57. “Back in early '54 is when that started."
Earl and his brother played for one of Ariton's first teams way back in the 50's, but as the decades went on, the program grew, and more and more alumni joined them on the court.
Now, Ariton will have a new gym where they can create memories for decades to come.
The new gym will seat nearly three times as many people as the current gym so less people will have to stand and block entrances during the games.