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Former coaches reminisce on Cummings’ first state basketball title

Cavaliers began championship burst 25 years ago – 1999: A Special Team 

By Bob Sutton

Special to The Alamance News

Kim Annas was back in the gym at Cummings High School a few weeks ago when the school’s first basketball state championship team was honored.

Annas coached that group to the 1999 state title at the beginning of an incredible run for the Cavaliers.

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“Three of the best years of my life I spent here,” Annas recalled.

The highlight?

“This team right here,” he said. “That team was a special team.”

A few members from that team were back to be recognized on the court on the night of this season’s regular-season finale.

Annas and George Robinson, who was an assistant coach at the time, shared stories. After that season, Robinson moved to the head coaching position, and directed the Cavaliers to five more state titles that resulted in six championships in a nine-season span for the school.

 

Timing is everything

“I think timing is everything,” said Robinson, who retired as the athletics director for the Alamance-Burlington School System last summer.

For the 1998-99 team, it was 25 years ago this week when the title run reached a climax. That came March 12, 1999 – a Friday night at the Smith Center in Chapel Hill – when Cummings edged Bunn 70-67 to claim the top prize in Class 1-A.

The standouts for Cummings, which finished with a 26-3 record, that night included Victor Leath, B.J. Timmons, Alex Poole, Jauron Holman, and Roc Alston. Holman’s two free throws accounted for the game’s final points, while Leath’s 16 points led five Cavaliers with double-figure totals.

Descriptions from the college arena were of a wild scene of celebration for the Cavaliers and their fans.

“The atmosphere at the (Dean) Dome for a couple of 1-A schools,” Annas said. “What’s hard to believe is that it was 25 years ago.”

In the 1999 title game, the Cavaliers trailed 29-24 at halftime before building a nine-point edge in the third quarter. That margin was reduced to one point going to the fourth quarter.

The school’s first basketball state championship came 21 years after its only previous appearance in a title game. After that, Cummings won in 2001 in Class 1-A, and then in 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2007 in Class 2-A.

“That was rare,” Annas said of what happened at Cummings during that era. “You reloaded every year.”

Annas, also a history teacher, was the third boys’ basketball coach in school history. During that time, he boarded at Cummings wrestling coach Andy Hawks’ home in Graham.

Annas, 55, stepped away from coaching before spending 18 years as boys’ basketball at Durham Jordan, reaching a regional final once. He brought his Durham Jordan team to Cummings in a couple of seasons for a holiday tournament, but rarely came back otherwise.

However, he said he has a piece of the former Cummings court framed at his home.

“Great kids, great community support,” Annas said. “God had a plan. That plan led me to Durham Jordan and led Coach Robinson here.”

Annas, who lives in Hillsborough, retired in 2019.

“I miss coaching the guys, the games,” Annas said. “But I don’t miss everything else.”

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