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Dacula alumni stroll down memory lane

DACULA -- The current Dacula boys and girls basketball teams continued to work at making history like every other team in Georgia this season with a Region 8-AAAAA doubleheader against South Gwinnett on Friday night.

But the program also honored some of the history already made with its annual Alumni Night ceremonies and reception throughout the evening.

While honoring basketball alumni from throughout the school's long past, specific honors were presented to the 1968-69 boys team and the 1969-70 girls team, each of which etched its respective names into Dacula lore during special seasons.

"We honor all (basketball) alumni," said John D. Williams, Dacula's alumni relations director. "But we target different groups for special recognition (each year) that they didn't receive back then. We just randomly go back and pick out (a team). The 1970 girls had never been honored, and that was the last region championship."

While Dacula has since had girls team qualify for the state tournament, the 1970 Region 8-C champion girls team provided plenty of memories as the last Falcons girls team to win a region basketball title for the players and coaches alike.

"All of (teams) are special," said Myron Bullock, who coached girls basketball, football and track and field at Dacula from 1966 until his retirement in 1995. "But this is nice tonight. ... It brings back lots of memories. The competition in region was very tough. After we got out of the region and going to state, that was special."

Indeed, many of the players on the 1970 team had plenty of cherished memories of that season.

But for some like Donna Murphy-Perry, who was one of four freshman who dressed out with the varsity team that season, some of those memories didn't necessarily come from what happened on the court.

"I must say the most lasting benefit was meeting my husband," said Murphy-Perry, whose husband John Perry lettered in football and track at Dacula before graduating in 1970. "But for a freshman to be part of a championship team, it was like stars in your eyes. I remember the bus ride home from that ball game. It was so exciting.

"There were four of us freshmen who played with what was called the B-Team back then that got uniforms that day for the varsity team. I also remember that day very well. We knew we wouldn't get a lot of playing time, but just being part of the team was such an honor and so exciting, it didn't really matter."

The 1969 boys team also provided plenty of excitement for the Dacula community, finishing as Class C state runner-up.

But one member of the team, Tim Puckett, says that one of the most vivid memories of his playing days from Friday came simply when he walked past the school's old gymnasium to the presume reception being held for the alumni.

"The thing about what you call that 'old' gym is, I played in the first game that was played in that old gym (in 1969), and my daughter (Jana) played in the last one (in 2000)," said Tim Puckett, a 1970 Dacula graduate who was a junior on the '69 team, who also had a son, Brian, attend Dacula. "It was the first building built (on the school's current site). We didn't have the parking lot paved (yet). We had a good time playing in what we called the 'new' gym then. We had some good teams."

Puckett and Murphy-Perry were two among several players in attendance who eventually stayed and settled in Dacula, and are part of families with several generations of Dacula students. Murphy-Perry has more than a dozen family members attend the school spanning at least three generations.

But perhaps no one in attendance Friday represented the long history of Dacula High School and its basketball program more than William Dalton.

The 93-year-old lifelong resident of Dacula and 1936 graduate hadn't attended many Falcons games in recent years, but was happy to be at Friday's reunion.

"My family's been raised here for several generations," said Dalton, who spent 40 years as a local mail carrier and also taught in the school. "I don't remember (the last game attended), but I know a lot of folks here. In fact (pointing to Puckett, who was the postmaster at the Dacula post office for several years), I taught his mother.

"I always look up in the Daily Post who won the ball game. That's the first thing I look at. But I haven't been (to a game) in a while."