Despite being one of the smallest schools in the state, Toombs Central High School fielded some very successful girl’s basketball teams in the 1960’s. In 1962-63 the Lady Yellow Jackets went 29-2 and defeated West Haralson 47-45 in the first round of the GHSA Class C Playoffs before losing to Butler 54-48 in the second round. The next season they finished at 27-8 after whipping Kite 48-24 in the state tourney. The lost a close game to Red Bud 48-45 in the second round. In 64-65 Toombs Central made the state tourney, but lost in the opening round to Calhoun 48-32.
Linda Parker Banks was a prominent member of those three teams plus the 1965-66 team. She wore number 24- her number was retired because in the days of six girl basketball, Linda was quite a scorer. In those days three girls played offense on one side of the court and three played on defense on the other. In one game Linda set a school record. “I broke the record at the time for the most points in the game- 57 points- and I only played three quarters.”
“We had Carol Corley, Dianne Gibbs. Alice Willis and Peggy Carter. We were all dedicated and we were all hard workers. We tried to listen to our coaches and we worked as a team. We were not individuals, we all worked as a team. When you put the team together we made a good deal with the coaches.”
Season after season Linda continued to shoot and score. “I made over 2,700 points in my career. I could shoot jump shots from way out. I did hooks and rebounded. I was good at my foul shots. I just worked hard. I loved it. I just loved basketball.”
Who helped her to become such a prolific scorer? “My coaches. I did what they said to do. They taught me how to shoot the ball. Of course I played basketball ever since I was in junior high. I just put my whole heart and soul into it.”
Every good team has to have a rival and Toombs Central’s was just up the road. “The biggest rival was Toombs Central versus Lyons. We both won and lost. Sometimes we won and sometimes they won.”
Back in the 1960’s there were few opportunities for a talented high school girls basketball player to play at a higher level. Women’s college basketball- under the banner of the AIAW- didn’t become popular until the early 70’s. So, Linda received only one offer. “The All-American Red Heads sent me a contract and all I had to do was sign it. I did not sign it. I felt I had to go ahead and get an education.”
The All-American Red Heads were a traveling team and in the 1960’s they had three different squads traveling around the country from October to May playing as many as 200 games. So, Linda said goodbye to basketball and hello to school and the real world. “After school I lived in Atlanta for 10-years and then we moved back home and then I started to work at Toombs Central and I worked there for 35-years.”
On Sunday, December 9th Linda will be inducted into the Toombs County Athletic Hall of Fame. The ceremony begins at 2 p.m. in the Toombs County Auditorium and the public is invited.