On January 31, 2020, the Campbell Spartans hosted a full evening of basketball and awards ceremonies. More than a thousand fans found their way to Gwyn-McClure Gymnasium to share in the special events.
The evening got started with a special proclamation from Smyrna Mayor Derek Norton, declaring the day to be “Gwyn-McClure Gymnasium Dedication Day,” and encouraged all citizens to recognize Coaches James Gwyn and Randy McClure for their “remarkable achievements and accomplishments.” Mayor Norton was also joined by several Cobb County School District administrators, including board members Charisse Davis, Jaha Howard, and Brad Wheeler.
Coach Gwyn, Campbell’s head boys basketball coach for 25 years, has 419 wins and three region championships. Coach McClure, Campbell’s head girls basketball coach surpassed 500 career wins earlier this season and has produced nine region championships. Both have many more accolades and together have served Campbell High School for 65 years. It seemed altogether fitting that the school should name its gymnasium after these two men.
After the proclamation was read by Mayor Norton, the crowd responded with a standing ovation for the two coaches. It was obvious that these two men are much more than sports figures to the Campbell community. As the proclamation put it, they are “beloved educators and winning coaches.”
“It’s overwhelming,” said Coach McClure, “it’s a blessing from God. I never imagined being here for 34 years. My plan was to be here for one year, but God had other plans. I’m proud of the fact that I work with people who care about the kids and that’s what we focus on.”
“It means a lot to us and our families and the community,” said Coach Gwyn, “that they are recognizing the time and dedication that we have put in for the kids of Cobb County.”
After the dedication ceremony, it was time for Coach McClure to get his team on the floor. The Campbell girls were playing the current defending state-champs, the Westlake Lions, for the second time this season. The first game resulted in a 36-70 victory for the Lions at Westlake and the Spartans were hoping to make a statement of their own at home. Any hopes of the Spartans breaking the Lions seven-game win-streak were dispelled by halftime though. The Lions speed and offensive production was too much for the Lady Spartans and they were down 44-17 after two quarters.
The second half went much the same for the Spartans as they struggled to keep pace with the Lions. Coach McClure rotated much of his bench into the game, giving his players an opportunity to get a few minutes of home-court experience. The region-leading Lions would add another win to their season, ending the game with a final score of 66-34.
“If we’re going to go through the region championship,” Coach McClure said, “that’s who we’re going to see. Right now they’re number one and we’re number two. We’ll go back to the drawing board and work on some things and try to prepare for them a little bit better. We can give them a better game than that.”
Between the girls and boys games, the senior players, managers, and cheerleaders were introduced for their final home appearance at Gwyn-McClure. Both coaches greeted and thanked each one for their dedication and contribution to the team.
The final event of the evening was a tight game between the Lion and Spartan boys. Although it looked like the Spartans were out of it after the first half, the Campbell boys kept their composure and battled back from a 42-26 halftime deficit.
Free-throws and accurate three-point shooting helped the Spartans to close the gap in the third quarter and they even took the lead in the early fourth quarter, 53-54. But the Lions were never ready to give up the game and continued fighting through the fourth to quickly regain the lead and take the win, 65-57.
Coach Gwyn was disappointed, but optimistic about his team’s performance, knowing that they will need to play them again on Tuesday, February 4. “We were up and down,” he said, “but we need to be more consistent. They’re a good team. Hopefully we shoot the ball better and make better decisions on Tuesday.”