The 1988-89 boys’ basketball team had a phenomenal season. With a record of 25-8, the Bengals went on to win the school’s first ever boys’ basketball state championship on March 4, 1989. The team had 6 seniors: Thomas Roberts, Tim Boyd, Jack May, Robert Lesley, Bret Dougherty, and Robert Murray.
March 4, 1989 brought Greensboro Day School yet another state championship for the school year, following the boys’ soccer state championship in the fall.
In the first round of the basketball state playoffs, they took on Bishop McGuiness and won easily by a score of 70-54. Next, they zipped by Durham Academy 64-51.
In the state championship, they met Charlotte Christian, a team the Bengals had beaten earlier in the season. With the score tied 23-23 at halftime, neither team could relax. Halftime ended and the Bengals came out HOT! In the first few minutes, Bart Whicker hit three 3-pointers and Thomas Roberts added 2 more points. The Bengals used its running game to outscore Charlotte Christian 20-9 in the third quarter. Charlotte Christian took a timeout down 34-23. By the middle of the 4th quarter, the Bengals knew they were champs and respectfully ended with a score of 60-44. Bart Whicker led the team with 19 points, including 5 3-pointers. Thomas Roberts added 18 points and Rodney Beasley had 10 points. Coach Johnson stated, “We played a tremendous defensive second half. We used all 16 of our players in each tournament game and we were able to wear our opponents out.” Assistant Coach Dave Richardson stated, “We took them out of their game plan.”
Coach Johnson recalls the 1989 season, “The 1988 team fell short, which was heartbreaking, but with 6 seniors in 1989, they knew what it would take to break through and win a state championship. Thomas Roberts had been on varsity since 8th grade and he, as well as the others, had the foundation to be great! It was thrilling to see this team capitalize on all the hard work they had put in over the years.”
Bret Dougherty ’89 echoed Coach Johnson’s sentiments from the previous year: “It took us a long time to recover from losing in 1988. It was a crushing loss. Everyone thought that was our year. We had great leaders on the ’87-’88 team and after losing their leadership coupled with some early injuries, we started out slow to begin the ’88-’89 season. We beat Page for the first time, which at the time was a huge deal! We then played terrible in the Little 4, but after tournament is when the team started to come together and by the end of the year, we were as good as any high school team in the nation.” “Even though I did not play a lot of minutes, I was a part of something special, part of being a winner and that is something I will always remember!”
Thomas Roberts ’89
remembers fondly that season and state championship, “In terms of a quote or thoughts about that first state championship; I’m not sure I have the words. When you look at GDS now, winning its 11th state championship and third in a row, it’s hard to believe that before 1989 we never even made a state final, let alone won one. In fact, before the 88-89 school year, no boys’ varsity team had won any state title. The boys’ soccer team broke the ice and truly inspired me! They showed grit, toughness and togetherness to bring that title home. It made me want one even more.” The boys’ soccer team won their state championship
Roberts went on to say, “When I think back, I think about just how much and how badly I wanted, WE ALL WANTED, to win that title. I remember the focus, tension and determination we all had; I remember how close we’d come to making it to the state finals and losing in the semifinals multiple times, I remember, before the game, as I was getting dressed, putting on my uniform, I was crying hysterically. I remember all of the emotions, suffering and sacrifices we experienced to get there. I remember losing as a member of teams that I knew were best in the state; I remember all of the teammates and coaches who had helped us to get there that never made it to the title game. I remember just how badly I wanted to be a state champion, how clearly I saw my only and final chance to win right in front of me. I remember a few of the younger teammates being a bit concerned and thrown by my intense tears, but a couple of the upper classmen who had suffered with me, assured them that everything was okay and that it was just a reflection of how determined, focused and committed I was to becoming a state champion.”
Dougherty concluded that, “Even though I did not play a lot of minutes, I was a part of something special, part of being a winner and that is something I will always remember!”
Thirty years later, the 1989 team truly was the foundation that the Greensboro Day School boys’ basketball program was built on. Coach Johnson and the boys’ basketball program have won over 1,000 games, 11 state titles and 16 Little Four titles. Roberts exclaims, “Our teams got the first of those titles. GDS is now a national power. I am so proud of, and in awe of, all that GDS basketball has become; I am so proud to have been a part of the team that brought the first state championship home to GDS (exactly where it belongs).”
Since 1989, the boys’ basketball program has played in 19 of the 31 state championship games, winning 11 state championships, more than any other school in North Carolina.
1988-89 Roster: Chris Streck, Bret Dougherty, Jack May, Robert Lesley, William Presson, Sean Gioffre, Rodney Beasley, Bart Whicker, Tim Boyd, Kelvin McLean, Monty Bumper, Buddy Milks, Thomas Roberts, Robert Murray, Chad Oakley, Clay Bryan. Managers: Diane Greene, Leslie Legare, Lindsay Gresham, and Kristy Starr.