Over the past six decades, as a college basketball player, a serviceman, a Baptist preacher and a retiree, Bob Poole has often run into people who know his name and a number: 67.
Poole scored 67 points for Clayton High School in an 88-27 win over Corinth-Holders 60 years ago this month. Not once in the intervening six decades has anyone scored that many points in a North Carolina high school game.
Poole's record has withstood the challenge of some of the highest-scoring players in the country, from Pete Maravich to David Thompson to Phil Ford to Donald Williams to JamesOn Curry and the rest of the best North Carolina has ever produced.
"I don't go out broadcasting it, but they've heard of it from somewhere," Poole said. "Especially the basketball fans. They see Phil Ford and David Thompson and Michael Jordan and see little ol' me and say, 'How in the world did you get there?' "
Poole, 78, has waited for someone to break his record. He's still waiting. The record survives today, 60 years later, in every way except one.
"I don't remember such a ballgame as that," said David Wilder, a sophomore on the 1950 Corinth-Holders team. "We were in Johnston County, of course. Clayton, we didn't ever play Clayton. Kenly, Micro, Selma, Smithfield - but I don't remember playing Clayton."
Wilder is one of six Corinth-Holders players whose names appear in the scorebook Poole still has, mounted in a frame below a team picture of the Comets.
It's a souvenir Poole has kept since that game. Most of his life since was spent as a Baptist preacher in Elizabeth City; for Wilder, it's proof of something he would just as soon forget - and did.
Times takes its toll
Time has wiped Wilder's mind of that night, just as it has taken its toll on Corinth-Holders High School. By 1969, it had been shuttered and merged into the new Smithfield-Selma High School.
While Clayton has grown, blossomed and exploded into a suburban hub since becoming a bedroom community for Raleigh, the Johnston County crossroads known on maps as Hocutts Corner, where the one-room schools of Corinth and Holders were merged in 1921, hasn't changed much in the years since the basketball team was so badly beaten.
The acres surrounding the intersection of Highways 96 and 231 remain a patchwork of small farms, many with weather-beaten tobacco barns standing in various stages of disrepair. Wilder moved back to the area after serving in the military and grew tobacco, corn, cotton, soybeans, wheat - just about anything the land would sprout.
The old, brick school building was downsized to an elementary school before it was replaced in 1997; only the gym, built in 1956, remains. Johnston County's recent growth has provoked the construction of a new Corinth-Holders High School, set to open in the fall about two miles away and house 1,300 students.
There were 187 students enrolled in the winter of 1950, a close-knit group that shared many of the same last names: Hinton, Price, Narron, Hocutt - families who farmed the land and named the roads that crisscross the area between Wendell and Smithfield.
Dorothy Powell was a Hinton. A member of the class of 1951, she lived about four miles away, and generations of her family attended the school.
"My mother actually went to school there, and she's 98 years old," she said. "My husband lived just across the street from the school. They had a country store there on the farm."
In 1953, Dorothy "Dot" Hinton married Billy Powell, a junior who played in that loss to Clayton. A shipbuilder in Newport News, Va., he died in 2000, joining Keven Hinton and Clifton Price from the 1950 team.
A difficult season
There were two athletic teams at Corinth-Holders that year: boys basketball and girls basketball. The picture of the boys team in the yearbook shows eight players and a manager in shiny letter jackets and short haircuts sitting with coach W.A. Shaver. Harold Hinton was the boys sports editor of the newspaper, Keven Hinton a 4H section leader, Hugh Wilder the assistant business manager of the yearbook, the Corinthian.
It was a difficult season, with no seniors on the team, and Poole's rout wasn't the only blemish on its record. Earlier that season, Robert Glenn Dupree of Pine Level High School scored 53 against Corinth-Holders to set a new state record. It was that performance that prompted Poole's teammates to pass up open lay-ups and feed him the ball under the basket to help him set a new mark on Feb. 10, 1950. Poole didn't even catch on until the second half.
There was little Corinth-Holders could do to stop it.
"We were just a mediocre team," Wilder said. "We didn't win many ballgames. We didn't have - our boysweren't as tall as some of the other ones. Back when I was going to school, we didn't do all that practicing that we do now, and we weren't all that good."
Even the record book is unkind to Corinth-Holders, misidentifying the defunct school as "Corinth Holder." The present-day Corinth-Holders Elementary School, on its Web site, says the first season for the old high school's basketball team was 1956-57. The record of that 1950 team has been lost.
Something in that name
The name Corinth, taken from the Greek city so prominent in the life of the apostle Paul, would go on to play an even larger role in Poole's life. After playing basketball for a powerful Furman team - he played the night Frank Selvy scored 100 points - and graduating from seminary at Gardner-Webb, he was offered a job as pastor at a church in Elizabeth City: Corinth Baptist.
"Strangest thing, when I got out of the service at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas, we had a 7- or 8-day-old daughter, and the place we stopped in Mississippi the first night was Corinth, Miss.," Poole said. "Something was written in the wind somewhere."
Poole spent 29 years at the church, retiring in 1994. As far as he's concerned, that's his legacy, not a long-ago basketball game. The record lives on nonetheless, even outlasting half of the players it was achieved against.
In six decades, Poole has never crossed paths with a single one of them.
"I never talked to anybody after the game," Poole said. "Today I probably would have written them a letter of apology. You don't like to be made fun of or humiliated, whatever the word is. I think about that a whole lot more than I used to, because it can be done to you, too. At the time, I didn't really know what was going on. Now, when I reflect back over the years, maybe that wasn't the best thing to have done."
Time passes. Poole's record stands, for how long no one knows. With each passing year, it becomes a little easier for some to admire, a little easier for others to forget.
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