By Benjamin Rickert
Imagine for a moment what it would require for a team to win ninety consecutive basketball games. Imagine the practice time and commitment- what it would mean to put the best foot forward every time, week after week, and year after year. For seven years. It's almost unthinkable because those who did it still hold a place in the history books. This legendary accomplishment is why the "Dynasty Team" girls of Charles D. Owen High School who played between 1964 and 1970 will never be forgotten.
At the games in the 1960s, tireless fans of the Warlassies packed the gymnasium. Sarah Horne, whose name is etched into Owen's athletic Hall of Fame, says there was usually only standing room available. "You couldn't find a seat," she recalls. "People would come from miles around to see us play."
Horne describes one game which was so crowded that fans "body passed" one another from the front row to reach empty seats in the rear.
"At the time, we were so naive," she continues. "We didn't know we were setting records. We were all just out there doing what we thought was fun."
Still, years after their historic reign, the Warlassies had a score to settle. Back when the undefeated team played, Title IX was yet to create equal access to sports for women, meaning that while there was a local Buncombe County tournament for the girls, there was no state championship to win and no banner to display above their court. Coach Bill Rucker would arrange games with distant teams to give the girls a fresh challenge.
"A lot of big-girl-athletes passed through [Owen High] back then," observes Horne, "and I feel their numbers should be hanging there."
On November 30th of 2016, Owen High set the record straight under the leadership of Principal Meg Turner. While the school typically only hangs championship banners in their gym, an exception was made for the accomplished Dynasty Team. Between basketball games, and in front of fans who travelled from across the region, the 1964-1970 players walked on to the court to be greeted by current players, and were presented with a new banner that will hang high, marking their incredible feat for future generations!
Roy Williams, basketball coach at the University of North Carolina, as well as Brad Johnson, the winning quarterback of Super Bowl XXXVII, both are graduates of Owen and wrote letters of approval which were read aloud to the women.
"My daughter and two sons also played basketball here, " says teammate Susan Blankenship Gardener, who graduated in '71 and describes herself as a rough, defensive player, "so it's incredible to come back and be recognized."
For women, Horne says, "This is a step forward."
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Check out the stories by the Black Mountain News (plus this event photo gallery), and WLOS-TV.