Basketball teams these days celebrate win streaks of five, 10, or maybe even 15 games. This is child’s play to former Mount Airy standout Jim Sessoms.
Sessoms and the Bears won 50 consecutive games from 1959-1961, including two state championships in the 3A division. This was just the beginning for the Greater Mount Airy Sports Hall of Fame’s newest inductee.
“It’s quite an honor,” Sessoms said. “I’ve always had a fond sport in my heart for Mount Airy so it means a lot.”
Sessoms’ accomplished just about every thing possible at Mount Airy. His accolades include All-Conference Honors, Team MVP, Conference MVP, being named to the All-Northwest and All-State teams, Co-Captain in the East-West All-Star game, multi-time state champion, and finally a scholarship college athlete.
Before Sessoms’ and his teammates put Mount Airy basketball on the map, the lone state championship came in the 1A division in 1947.
“Mount Airy had a fairly decent history prior to us, but not anything to that magnitude,” Sessoms said.
He joked that the team really missed him after graduation because the 50-game winning streak ended the first game of the next season.
Hundreds of people piled into the then-Reeves YMCA to see the Bears play. Each game people watched in amazement to see if the streak would end.
“Every game was completely packed and people weren’t able to get in if they got there late,” Sessoms said. “The Fire Marshal was there and he wouldn’t let you in.”
The Bear faithful followed the team across the state to see them compete. Other than when they played North Surry, road games for the Bears required a hefty drive. The team competed frequently in Winston-Salem and Greensboro.
“Even when we went out of town, we would have just as many fans as the home team,” Sessoms said.
Sessoms made sure to highlight the true team effort of the Bears. The championship teams didn’t have just one or two all-stars.
“When I was a junior, there were 14 or so players on the team,” Sessoms said. “Eight players from my junior year went on to play college basketball.”
Sessoms spoke very highly of his former coach, Sam Moyer. Sam Moyer coached the Bears during Sessoms’ sophomore and junior years before leaving to coach at Catawba College. Sam’s brother Charles coached Sessoms’ senior year.
When the time came to decide on a college, Sessoms said it was a pretty done deal that he was going to Catawba. He wanted to play for Sam Moyer once again.
Sessoms and his teammates still keep in touch and try to meet up every two or three years, whether it be in Mount Airy or Salisbury, where Sam Moyer lives.
Sessoms joked that the stories get better every time the team meets. Of course, it’s not hard to make conversation with a hall-of-famer.
The Greater Mount Airy Sports Hall of Fame Ceremony will take place Sunday, April 22 at 3 p.m. at the Andy Griffith Playhouse.
Reach Cory on Twitter @MrCoryLeeSmith