Thirty four years ago Cris Carpenter was on the Gainesville High boys basketball team that won back-to-back state titles (’83 and ’84) for the Red Elephants.
Those back-to-back wins inspired and shaped the direction of the GHS basketball program to what it is today.
“It gave us instant credibility… a lot of times it’s harder to win when you’re supposed to but we had the best team and the best coach,” Cris said.
The Gainesville boys basketball team hasn’t won a state title since ’84 and are hoping for a 6A title tonight against Fairburn’s Langston Hughes (who beat GHS in the state quarterfinals in 2017) at Georgia Tech’s McCamish Pavilion in Atlanta.
Other notable players from the ’84 Class AAA state title team were Charles Earls, Dwight Peoples, Patrick Hamilton, Terrance Bailey and Randall Harper.
In addition to winning state titles at GHS in basketball and baseball, Cris is a former major league baseball player. He was drafted in the 1st round by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1987 and finished his career in 1996 with the Milwaukee Brewers. He also played on the inaugural Florida Marlins team and played college baseball at the University of Georgia. Today, Carpenter is on staff at Gainesville High.
Cris is married to Jane and the couple have three children; Liza and twins, Margaret and Sam.
We want to thank Cris for recently sitting down with us and telling us more about his life and Gainesville basketball.
Question: What do you remember about Gainesville’s championship game in ’83 and’84?
Answer: “I remember we lost in the finals sophomore year and that helped us the next two years to win. ‘83 was the best year because it was the first year we won and it was really exciting and in ‘84 i would’ve been really upsetting if we didn’t win because it was my senior year.”
Q: What advice do you have for the players before the championship game on Friday?
A: “Regardless how important this game is, treat it like every game and do what you do best as a player.”
Q: How do you think the back-to-back championships in ’83 and ’84 shaped Gainesville’s basketball legacy?
A: “It gave us instant credibility… a lot of times it’s harder to win when you’re supposed to but we had the best team and the best coach.”
Q: Who is the most interesting person that you have met in Hall County over the years and why?
A: “Chris Mance. He was the principal here, he was great man, great educator, a family man and a good friend of mine.”
Q: What is something on your bucket list?
A: “Go to Alaska.”
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would it be and why?
A: “Alaska because I’ve never been and my wife and I love the mountains and the outdoors.”
Interview by Abernathy Cochran intern: Tricia Cumiskey
The Faces of Hall County is a project to showcase the amazing people that live or work in our community. If you would like to nominate an interesting person to be featured please email firstname.lastname@example.org.