NOTE: The Jackson Parish Sports Hall of Fame induction banquet will be held on October 7th at the Family Life Center of First Baptist Church in Jonesboro. Six former greats will be enshrined as the Class of 2023 with three more being recognized for Outstanding Achievement and Service. Leading up to gala event the Jackson Parish Journal will run a special feature on each of the inductees and honorees.
This Edition: Harmon Ayres
When Harmon Ayres was in the 7th grade he had a dream. It was one of him wearing a basketball uniform for Jonesboro-Hodge High School. So what is the big deal about that you ask? Lots of guys and girls over the years have played for the school. You must understand though, that when Ayres entered junior high school in 1946, JHHS didn’t have a team.
By the time he graduated in 1953, Ayres not only was a member of the JHHS basketball team, he was a two time All-Stater and had been instrumental in leading the Tigers to two state championships and a state runner-up finish.
Talk about a dream coming true!
It wasn’t an easy ride to get to the mountain top for Ayres though. He worked for every inch of ground gained. His story goes hand in hand with the rise that the Tiger team had over the six year period.
During his 7th grade year, JHHS went 0-19 on the season, hardly giving any indication that in just a few short years they would be the talk of prep basketball across the state.
Over the next couple of years Ayres toiled tirelessly to improve his game. It was his freshman year that he finally achieved his dream – somewhat. He was wearing a Tiger uniform but now his dream had taken on a new definition. After getting a taste of what it was to play he now wanted to star for the Tigers.
He continued to work! And grow!
During his sophomore season, Ayres started seeing some playing time. He also got to experience what it was like to win a lot of games, as JHHS had a 45-9 season record. Not only that he got to enjoy winning district and the Class A state championship.
The work continued and so did the growth. No more a gangly, long legged and armed youngster, Ayres now topped well over six feet tall and although still thin was had filled out, able to do battle in the post with anyone.
Knowing his value to the team during his junior year was going to be in the paint, Ayres worked diligently to become a tremendous rebounder, all the while developing a nice little jumper. JHHS would win 50 games that season, still a school record, but fall in their second straight championship game appearance leaving a bad taste.
After now seeing his dream of playing for JHHS, the starring for the team and winning a state championship come true, there was only one thing left to do. That was lead the team to another title.
From dreaming of a chance to play to becoming one of the best players in the state, Ayres led JHHS in scoring and rebounding his senior year. JHHS finished with a 46-6 record during the 1952-53 season that included making it to state championship game for the third straight year and coming home with a second state championship trophy.
His resume shows him being the first JHHS player ever to be named All-State in basketball ball for two consecutive years. He also helped orchestrate the three best winning seasons in JHHS history.
If Jackson Parish would have had a Sports Hall of Fame back then, it would be fairly reasonable to think that he would have had that dream too. The parish does now and he wouldn’t have to dream anymore about it as he is now a member of the JPSHOF Class 0f 2023.