Smith, Dodd leave legacy at Carbon Hill
Jun 01, 2014 | 2409 views | 0 0 comments | 42 42 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Johnathan Bentley
Johnathan Bentley
When I was in middle school, there was this up-and-coming basketball player.
As a seventh grader he could throw down dunks and dominate anybody around when kids gathered after school at the outdoor goals.
The kid was smooth on offense, and was a terror in the lane on defense. 
If you came toward the goal with a lazy shot, there was a chance that same ball would hit an innocent bystander 20 feet away. You had to keep your eyes open just in case.
I was seeing greatness in the making, or so I thought.
By the time that same player hit the ninth grade, the competition suddenly caught up. That was pretty much it. I never saw him play a second of high school basketball. 
That often happens when a kid is bigger and stronger than his counterparts.
That is not what happened to Gerald Smith. 
I heard of Gerald’s exploits when he was just a seventh grader at Carbon Hill. People were talking. 
“There is a kid at Carbon Hill who is dunking in the seventh grade!”
I had seen it before, but Gerald was something more.
Rather than being remembered as that kid who could dunk in seventh grade, he became that kid who could play any position on the floor, whether it was center or point guard. He was also the same player that led his team to the Final Four twice and signed with Samford University.
It’s hard to live up to the hype in any sport.
Gerald did.
While Smith was putting together his record-setting career at Carbon Hill, Caroline Dodd was doing the same for the Lady Bulldogs.
Following Dodd’s arrival at Carbon Hill, the Bulldogs went from the team getting hammered every game to the team doing the hammering.
The team’s fortune changed in the course of one year. It was no coincidence.
There were other good players alongside Dodd during her four-plus-year career, but she was always the player with the ball in her hands when the game was on the line.
I remember her sinking the game-winning shot against Bibb County in a game that sent Carbon Hill’s girls to the regional tournament for the first time in history during her junior season. 
She followed with a return trip to the regional as a senior, again carrying the load for a team that won 24 games. 
Dodd, who signed with UAH, averaged nearly 26 points a game during her final season and topped the 2,000-point mark for her career. 
How good is she?
I’ve never heard of any player winning four county tournament MVP awards.
That’s simply unheard of — until Dodd did it.
A lot of times athletes will peak in their freshmen and sophomore years. 
Dodd and Smith both got better — a lot better — and brought Carbon Hill basketball to prominence along the way.
And I don’t even need to mention how well both did in the classroom with GPA’s near the top of their class.
Smith and Dodd, who graduated just last week, were the only seniors for their respective teams in the 2013-14 season. I found that fitting since they were both the face of their respective Carbon Hill basketball programs.

I was recently thinking about next high school basketball season and realized how different things will be without those two hitting the court at Carbon Hill.

It may be a while before we hear about the next Carbon Hill seventh grader dunking the basketball.
Johnathan Bentley is the Sports Editor at the Daily Mountain Eagle. He can be reached at