History of the Early Southern Conference Atlanta Basketball Tournament
- 1924 -


Preliminary Round: (Thursday, February 28, 1924)

First Round: (Friday, February 29, 1924)

Quarterfinals: (Saturday, March 1, 1924)

Semifinals: (Monday, March 3, 1924)

Finals: (Tuesday, March 4, 1924)


The 1924 tournament saw a number of changes. Most notable was that the tournament was solely sponsored by the Southern Intercollegiate Conference. The S.I.A.A. chose to hold their own tournament in Macon, Ga, in the newly built Macon Sport Auditorium.

Another change concerned the rules. Previously, when foul shots were taken, one of the players was nominated to take all foul shots, regardless of who on their team was fouled. Starting in the 1923-24 season, the rule was changed so that the player who was fouled took the foul shots for himself.

Because 17 teams entered, they were scheduled to hold a game between Florida and Clemson at 6:00 on Thursday at the A.A.C court (located on Auburn Avenue). The court at the auditorium was not considered ready for use until the afternoon of February 28, which was the start time for the tournament. The design was said to be similar to the previous year, i.e. it "will be the maximum dimensions of a basketball court and will extend from the entrance of the auditorium to directly in front of the stage." (Atlanta Constitution, February 24, 1924)

The court was designed as in the previous year, with officials alongside one sideline and the media taking the other sideline. A grandstand was erected next to the lower end of the floor in order to accomodate participating players and coaches, so that they could observe the games.

Atlanta Municipal Auditorium - Interior view without the basketball floor

Because of a Sousa concert held Wednesday evening in the City Auditorium, work on the construction of the floor would not begin until Wednesday night at midnight. This left 37 hours to complete the floor prior to the tournament beginning at 1 p.m. Friday afternoon. The estimated cost of the work was $3,500, higher than the previous year due to the night work.

As it turned out,the company (Gude) made great progress. They began work at 11:15 PM on Wednesday night and with the work of 50 carpenters, finished the project 12 hours later, announcing that the work was done except for painting of the lines on Thursday morning.

Kentucky Arriving For Cage Tourney (Captain A.T. "Chuck" Rice is shown in the inset photo (Atlanta Georgian February 28, 1924)

Tournament Bracket of 1924 Prior to Start of Event

Individual Games

Group of South's Greatest Basketeers Snapped at Tournament - Top, left to right: Hahn (Auburn), Nolen Richardson (Georgia), Vernon Stabler (Alabama), King (Kentucky), Supplee (Maryland).
Below: E. Henican (Tulane), Lynn Bomar (Vanderbilt), Cartwright Carmichael (North Carolina), Perkins (Mississippi Aggies), Baby Roane (Georgia Tech)
(Atlanta Journal, March 1, 1924)

Thursday, February 28, 1924 - Preliminary Game

Friday, February 29, 1924 - First Round

"A.A. Doonan, who has charge of the tournament for the southern conference, stated the crowd Friday was the largest they had ever had at a tournament opening day." - ("Tournament Tidbits," by Walter Schwam, Atlanta Journal, March 1, 1924.)

Tulane Stars Pratt Martin and "Hooks" Lind (Atlanta Georgian, February 28, 1924)

Saturday, March 1, 1924 - Quarterfinals

"I never saw so many big boys playing basketball in my life," said Tom Thorp. "They don't grow that big in New York." - ("Tournament Tidbits," by Walter Schwam, Atlanta Journal, March 1, 1924.)

Here is the Vanderbilt quintet which Friday defeated Clemson College in its opening tournament game.
Left to right, front row: Kirkes, guard; Bell, captain and forward; Gil Reese, guard; Foster, forward
Second Row: Bomar, forward; Ryan, guard; Simpson, center; Porter, center; Srygley, guard.
(Atlanta Journal, March 1, 1924)

Monday, March 3, 1924 - Semifinals

Tuesday, March 4, 1924 - Finals

1924 Southern Conference Tournament Champions - North Carolina Tar Heels
Front Row (l to r): Jack Cobb, Bill Dodderer, Captain Winton Greene, Cartwright Carmichael, "Monk" McDonald
Back Row: Mayer Bretney Smith, Jimmy Poole, Donald Koonce, Billy Devin, Henry Lineberger


1924 All-Tournament Team

After two years of having no official coach (which didn't stop the team from winning the tournament title in 1922), the 1923-24 North Carolina squad saw Norman Shepherd take the helm. And he was successful in bringing the team back into championship form.

The top scorers in the tournament were Jack Cobb with 59, followed by his teammate, Cartwrigth Carmichael, who tied with Alabama's Leonard "Slim" Carter with 42 points scored.

The Tar Heels ended the season with a perfect 26-0 record. At the time they rightly were able to call themselves as "Champions of the South". Decades later in 1943, they received national recognition when Bill Schroeder representing the Helms Foundation named the 1924 Tar Heels as the top college team in the nation for that season.

This was the earliest Southern team to receive such recognition. Up until that time the majority of the recognition for college basketball resided in the Northeast and the Midwest regions of the country.


For a few decades until the early 1950's, the North Carolina teams were sometimes known as the "White Phantoms" along with their official nickname, the "Tar Heels."

It is thought that this nickname first was introduced sometime around the 1924 tournament. In O.B. Keeler's article discussing the victory of UNC over Alabama in the tournament championship game, Keeler wrote:

    "And they (Carolina) elected to play the Tuscaloosans man to man, as basketball was played in the good old days when 'every man had a shadow.'

    "And all through the rush and hurry of that eventful first half, every Crimson athlete carried with him a white shadow; a shadow from which he could not step away.

    "Carolina was on guard and it was man-to-man -- a white shadow moving like a ghost across the floor, by every Crimson player." - ("Smooth Carolina Quint Bowls Over Crimson in Final Dash to S.C. Title," by O.B. Keeler, Atlanta Journal, March 5, 1924.)

This may be the origin of the term, or perhaps not. In a February 2, 1952 newspaper article (Burlington (NC) News), former UNC student and editor of the Tar Heel student newspaper Luther Byrd claims that he originated the nickname after a game when the 1924 Tar Heels demolished an opponent '42 to 7'.

Checking UNC's schedule for that year, there was no 42-7 victory. However there was a 44-9 victory over N.C. State on February 18, 1924 which may have been the game he was referring to. I've been told by a UNC researcher, however, that the first time Byrd mentioned the nickname "White Phantoms" in the student newspaper was in a story in 1926 after UNC beat a Clemson team 50-20.

When Byrd was the athletic editor of the Yackety Yak yearbook in 1927, he does refer to the term "Flying Phantoms" when he writes: "Before that fans and sports-writers had hesitated to apply the old name of the 'Flying Phantoms' to them, but by that performance they demonstrated their new grown wings." When this 'old name' was in use is not specified by Byrd.

The 1924 Atlanta tournament was considered successful in other ways:


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