During the month of February, in honor of Black History Month, the NCHSAA website will feature information about African-Americans who have made major contributions to the great tradition of high school sports in our state. We hope you find these both entertaining and informative.
HILLSIDE BASKETBALL’S “PONY EXPRESS”
One of the most famous high school basketball teams in North Carolina history did not actually win its state championship during the dream year, but Hillside High School in Durham established some amazing records.
The 1965-66 season under head coach Carl Easterling promised to be great, since Hillside had won the North Carolina High School Athletic Conference state 4-A championship the year before with some explosive offensive fireworks.
But nobody had ever seen what Hillside did with its “Pony Express” during the 1965-66 campaign, well before the advent of the three-point field goal.
The Hornets ran and ran and ran in practice, and it paid off in games. Hillside averaged 105 points a game during the season. The Pony Express opened its season before a standing room only crowd at Hillside against defending NCHSAC 1-A Little River, a nearby rival, and the Hornets romped 138-70.
Hillside set a single-game scoring record in February of 1966 when it rolled past Booker T. Washington of Rocky Mount by an incredible 147-57 score.
In state playoff competition, the Hornets rolled up 128 points in a 128-101 win in the semifinals over York Road of Charlotte. But West Charlotte turned the tables on Hillside in the championship game 96-66 after the game was tied at 34 at halftime. John “Goat” Bullock of Hillside, one of the stars of the team, had 42 points in the final.
But the Pony Express will long live in North Carolina high school history for some amazing accomplishments.