Gilmer Free Press

Cheerleader Remembers Normantown’s 1945 Run to Title

As high school state basketball tournament action heats up in Charleston, 87-year-old Morgantown resident and former Normantown High School cheerleader Betty Cross recalls her school’s memorable run to the state title 70 years ago.

In 1945, Normantown High School, a small high school in Gilmer County that only had a little more than 100 students at the time, had a Cinderella season en route to an improbable state title in hoops. Cross, whose maiden name was Betty Jean Whitesel, was one of only two cheerleaders at the school. She fondly recalls her neighbor and one of the players on the team predicting a state tournament victory before the season.

“One of the players who left next to me and I lived in Gilmer County close to the school, and he said to me, Betty Jean, we’re going to win this tournament,” she recalled this week when speaking with MetroNews.

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Much like Hickory High in the famous movie “Hoosiers”, Normantown beat several larger schools on their way to capturing a championship which at that time was played in Morgantown. Cross remembers how large the crowds were that showed up to watch the games, despite a premium on gasoline at the time.

“The gymnasium was filled to overflowing in Glenville when they played the sectional. The same thing in Clarksburg when they played WI in the regional,” Cross said. “And I think they had more people in the fieldhouse in Morgantown at that time for the tournament than there had ever been before.”

The Vikings won three games in Morgantown including two in the same day with the championship coming over Logan.

How was such a tiny school able to pull off a run to a state championship? Cross said that the Normantown Vikings team that year was known for their slow deliberate style of play and cool demeanor on the court.

“They were very stable in their play,” she recalled. “They never went wild or anything, they just contained. They played that slow, controlled type of basketball. And I can’t remember a time where they were flustered.”

Cross said she has fond memories of the championship season, which was her junior year at Normantown. She noted that, remarkably, herself, 9 of the 11 players on the team, the manager, and the other cheerleader, Jean Robert Pitts, were all members of the junior class.

--> Thursday, March 19, 2015
Readers' Comments:

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grin This tiny school has pulled off a lot of miracles.  Not the least the miracle of providing Normantown Elementary children a good education.  Thanks for the memory!


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