Going with Carolina in My Mind

I hope Peyton Manning plays well, but I hope the Panthers win.  (Monte Dutton sketch)
I hope Peyton Manning plays well, but I hope the Panthers win. (Monte Dutton sketch)
Monte Dutton
Monte Dutton

Clinton, South Carolina, Sunday, February 7, 2016, 10:47 a.m.

Super Bowl Sunday. Familiar. I think I’ve watched every single one on TV. I probably remember the first five — Packers over Chiefs and Raiders, Jets over Colts, Chiefs over Vikings, Colts over Cowboys — as well as last year’s.

Hmm. Wasn’t there a bad call and an interception?

I remember nothing about last year’s halftime show, probably because I didn’t watch it. I took a halftime break, too. I doubt I’ll watch this one, either. I might mute the TV and provide my own musical entertainment.

I hope the Carolina Panthers win, but I doubt I’ll get bent out of shape if they don’t. I like the Broncos, too, and I don’t think Peyton Manning winning a second Super Bowl would leave me devastated. On the other hand, he’s got one. The Panthers don’t.

This is more my speed nowadays. (Monte Dutton photo)
This is more my speed nowadays. (Monte Dutton photo)

I didn’t always like the Panthers. The last few years I was on the NASCAR beat, I often went to Bank of America Stadium to write columns at home games after the Chase for the Sprint Cup had run its course. I developed an affinity for the team. I found the media operations more organized and professional than NASCAR’s. It was reliable. I knew how it would be ahead of time. There were times in NASCAR when all bets were off. I didn’t know what I wasn’t going to get until I didn’t get it.

In those days, I wasn’t sure whether or not Ron Rivera was a great coach, but I did think he was a great guy. I found him forthright in his answers to my questions. I also liked Luke Kuechly before I really knew how good he was. Cam Newton? I liked him. When he was a rookie, he reminded me a little of a young Muhammad Ali.

Pete Carroll called a pass when a run would have worked just fine. (Monte Dutton sketch)
Pete Carroll called a pass when a run would have worked just fine. (Monte Dutton sketch)

It’s funny, getting older. In some ways, I get more stodgy. In some ways, I don’t. It looks like the Panthers’ merry band, led in hijinks by their modern-day Robin Hood, is having fun. When I played, hell, I wish I’d had more. Newton carries on a bit, but tell me it doesn’t warm your heart when he hands the football to the little kid in the stands.

For my entire career, I’ve heard coaches speak of the player with the mythical “nose for the football,” and it took watching Kuechly to understand what it means. Count the number of times he winds up where the ball is. No. You won’t be able to follow the game. Count the times he doesn’t wind up where the ball is.

I think big plays will determine the outcome because I don’t think either defense is going to give up many long, methodical drives.

The score? Don’t be ridiculous. My expertise is in the field of describing what already happened. I’m no prophet.

(Graphic courtesy of Meredith Pritchard; cover by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Graphic courtesy of Meredith Pritchard; cover by Jennifer Skutelsky)

It’s time, and if you, like me, do your own taxes online through H&R Block, you can buy my novel, Crazy of Natural Causes, for half price with your refund. http://www.amazon.com/gp/browse.html?node=10566987011

(Joe Font cover design)
(Joe Font cover design)

Crazy isn’t my only novel, and it’s far from my only book. Most of them are available here. http://www.amazon.com/Monte-Dutton/e/B005H3B144/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1416767492&sr=8-1

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

Coming soon: my fourth novel, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, from Kindle Publishing. As soon as I have a release date, I’ll let you know.

Follow me on Twitter @montedutton, a bit more irreverently @wastedpilgrim, and a mite more literary-minded @hmdutton. I’m on Facebook at Monte.Dutton, and I invite you to join The Audacity of Dope group. I’m on Instagram at Tug50, and look for me by name at Google+. I don’t expect you to follow me across the social media, but I’d appreciate it if you’d follow, or “friend,” me at whichever system strikes your fancy.

Easley Doesn’t It

Ladarius Williams (Monte Dutton photos)
Ladarius Williams (Monte Dutton photos)
Monte Dutton
Monte Dutton

Clinton, South Carolina, Saturday, February 6, 9:03 a.m.

Hmm. I haven’t written anything about the Super Bowl, other than a humorous column about NASCAR rallying around the Carolina Panthers as something of a home team. I haven’t written about Tony Stewart’s latest misfortune.

It’s because of the basketball, not the kind at Rupp Arena or Madison Square Garden, but the kind at CHS, LDHS and PC.

Chuck Johnson
Chuck Johnson

Clinton High School. Laurens District 55 High School. Presbyterian College. Alphabetically and respectively.

DSCF1925On Friday night, I made my second trip this week to the Raiders’ gym in Laurens. LDHS swept the Green Wave of Easley, winning the girls’ game, 70-45, and the boys’ game, 71-61.

I’m not going to go much into the details. The details are here: http://www.golaurens.com/sports/item/22888-williams-jones-lead-raider-sweep-of-easley

Not my favorite set of uniforms.
Not my favorite set of uniforms.

It was Senior Night, and both teams have lots of seniors. The boys have 10 of them, and that’s one of the leading reasons they are 15-7 (9-3 in Region I-4A). Ladarius Williams, who, partly by virtue of his 6-7ness, is a college prospect, led the leisurely way with 16 points. The regular season ends with road games next week at the Greens, ville and wood, respectively, and the Raiders hope to lock down a home playoff game, which they haven’t played in a while.

The final home game was a bit erratic. Ben Sinclair’s team built considerable leads in both halves, which it partly squandered. In the span of about a quarter — 1:48 third to 2:08 fourth — the lead shrank from 18 to six. Easley (8-13, 2-10) isn’t very good, but it is dogged, which is a reason why the Green Wave upset the Raiders earlier in the season.

DSCF1926The total effect, though, was that of a cat-and-mouse game. It looked as the Raiders were toying with the Green Wave. It was fun but dangerous, and while the Raiders thrilled their fans with spectacular plays, they were also allowing Easley to creep back within range.

On a night in which the team shot better from the field than from the line, Kezario Whitmore hit his 12th and 13th points from the line with 8.5 seconds left. Everyone went home happy with a double-figure victory.

As a general rule, the Raiders and Green Wave went in opposite directions.
As a general rule, the Raiders and Green Wave went in opposite directions.

The Laurens girls looked very good, which was evidence of Easley (1-20, 0-12) being very bad. It was close for a little while, but the Raiders (11-11, 5-7) do not often force twice as many turnovers (34) as they commit, nor often do they accumulate 35 percent more rebounds (42-31) than the opposition.

Tieisha Jones (22)
Tieisha Jones (22)

Laurens has a senior named Tieisha Jones who has caught my attention all year. She’s not particularly gifted, and sometimes she looks a little like a whirling dervish (whatever a dervish is; she whirls, okay?), but she tries harder than anyone on the floor. Long before the game started, I walked past her at courtside and said to her that I had noticed how much effort she put into her play.

She thanked me, then went out and scored 15 points. I was delighted. I haven’t been a good-luck charm in a while.

(Graphic courtesy of Meredith Pritchard; cover by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Graphic courtesy of Meredith Pritchard; cover by Jennifer Skutelsky)

It’s time, and if you, like me, do your own taxes online through H&R Block, you can buy my novel, Crazy of Natural Causes, for half price with your refund. http://www.amazon.com/gp/browse.html?node=10566987011

(Melanie Ryon cover design)
(Melanie Ryon cover design)

Crazy isn’t my only novel, and it’s far from my only book. Most of them are available here. http://www.amazon.com/Monte-Dutton/e/B005H3B144/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1416767492&sr=8-1

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

Coming soon: my fourth novel, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, from Kindle Publishing. As soon as I have a release date, I’ll let you know.

Follow me on Twitter @montedutton, a bit more irreverently @wastedpilgrim, and a mite more literary-minded @hmdutton. I’m on Facebook at Monte.Dutton, and I invite you to join The Audacity of Dope group. I’m on Instagram at Tug50, and look for me by name at Google+. I don’t expect you to follow me across the social media, but I’d appreciate it if you’d follow, or “friend,” me at whichever system strikes your fancy.

 

Blue Hose Smell Victory but Can’t Taste It

PC's John Majors II (4) working against Coastal Carolina's Tristian Curtis. (Monte Dutton photos)
PC’s John Majors II (4) working against Coastal Carolina’s Tristian Curtis. (Monte Dutton photos)
Monte Dutton
Monte Dutton

Clinton, South Carolina, Thursday, February 4, 2016, 10:49 a.m.

Funny thing. I don’t watch that much basketball on TV. Maybe it’s because I get my fill writing about the local high school and college teams. On Wednesday night, after I got through watching Presbyterian College’s men drop another excruciating game, 69-66 to Coastal Carolina, Stephen Curry was going wild for the Golden State Warriors on TV against the Washington Wizards, but I watched Curry pop a few threes and thought, well, he’s not going to drop a hundred, so I moved on to play my guitar, read a while, and watch part of a movie on TCM.

DSCF1853

I like being there, though. I like sitting at the media table at Templeton Center. I like watching wacky promotions like having the Blue Hose mascot, Scotty, go bowling with basketballs against a randomly selected student. Scotty, who’s in training for the Big South Conference mascots’ competition, picked up a spare.

The beleaguered zebras.
The beleaguered zebras.

The cranky fans amuse me. Walk! You missed that one! Get him off his back! You blew it, ref! Poor guys. I’m glad they’re getting paid more than me. It’s only right.

Cliff Ellis
Cliff Ellis

 

 

It’s something of a special occasion when Coastal Carolina comes to town because the Chanticleers are coached by Cliff Ellis, who, back in his youth, led the Clemson Tigers. I’ve seen many of these games. PC won the latter matchup last year, but the Chants lead the all-time series, 16-7, and Ellis is 14-3 against the Blue Hose while at Coastal Carolina.

I covered some games while Ellis was at Clemson, many years ago now. In particular, I remember being at Littlejohn Coliseum and seeing the Tigers win the ACC regular season with home victories over both Duke and North Carolina almost 26 years ago. After whichever of those two games wrapped up the regular-season title, I interviewed players in the locker room — still possible in those days — and came away thinking Clemson was going to have a hard time in the tournament because they acted as if winning the regular season was the ultimate achievement. I was right. That may or may not have been the reason, but it happened.

DSCF1841I hadn’t spoken to Ellis for all those years until after he finished his post-game radio interview Wednesday night. I said, “Good game, Coach,” and he said, “Ah, we gotta hit our free throws.”

He’s 70 now. He looks good. His team is 14-8 overall, 8-4 in the Big South. The Blue Hose are 8-14 and 3-8. They were three points apart. It was PC’s fourth loss by four or less and third in the last four games.

Between them, Ellis and Presbyterian’s Gregg Nibert have won 1,114 college basketball games. Wednesday night marked Ellis’s 706th victory.

Ruben Arroyo, in white, scored five.
Ruben Arroyo, in white, scored six points.

In the earlier game between the two schools, Coastal Carolina won, 87-58, which sounds bad enough, but what made it worse was that the Chanticleers slipped out to a 25-0 edge in the game’s opening minutes.

This time was better. Just not enough better.

Reggie Dillard
Reggie Dillard

Ruben Arroyo hit a three-pointer that gave PC a lead at 14-12. The Blue Hose led three times, once by six, but for only 3 minutes, 41 seconds, of the 40-minute contest. They never fell further behind than 12. They drew closer in the final few minutes, but never had the ball with a chance to tie the score with one possession until there were 2.8 seconds remaining. A half-court shot appeared to be on-line but short.

A new member of my All-Name team, Coastal Carolina’s Colton Ray-St. Cyr, played well, hitting 11 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. Shivaughn Wiggins fell shy of inclusion on the team but led the Chants with 24 points. Badou Diagne, who may make second team and is a cinch for honorable mention, scored 12.

Presbyterian’s top gun, DeSean Murray, had an off night, hitting nine points, but Janeil Jenkins was the only double-figure scorer in the Blue Hose’ balanced, but futilely so, attack. The Chanticleers were bigger and mauled PC on the boards, 35-23.

In some ways, the fact that Presbyterian fell by 29 points to Coastal Carolina on the road but three at home makes sense. The Blue Hose are 7-5 at home and 1-9 away. In the last four seasons, the Blue Hose’ road record is 6-50. Only twice this year has PC lost at home by more than four (10 to Wofford and 11 to Gardner-Webb).

Part of the disparity is that Presbyterian does not have the luxury of playing Clemson, Richmond and Marquette at home, but it’s not a large part.

Blue Thunder
Blue Thunder

They are competitive, at least when I watch them, which is at home. I enjoy the games. I enjoy hanging out at Templeton Center. I enjoy mingling in the lobby. I enjoy watching Scotty go bowling, and the Blue Thunder Pep Band, and the awarding of gift certificates from some new store that just opened uptown, and $10 off at the House of Pizza, and don’t forget to tell them the Blue Hose sent you.

DSCF1848I wish they won more often, but they’ve got three more home games, against Campbell, UNC Asheville and High Point, and two more against schools, Campbell and Longwood, they’ve beaten earlier this season.

Templeton Center has hosted 12 men’s games to date, and I’ve been at 10 of them. Unless a conflict arises, I’ll go to the final three, and this season will wind up going to bed fitfully. Bad dreams will linger from a team that is obviously much improved but can’t prove it, but the Blue Hose will be better yet next campaign, and this year’s squad is at least good enough to leave hope as its legacy.

(Graphic courtesy of Meredith Pritchard; cover by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Graphic courtesy of Meredith Pritchard; cover by Jennifer Skutelsky)

It’s time, and if you, like me, do your own taxes online through H&R Block, you can buy my novel, Crazy of Natural Causes, for half price with your refund. http://www.amazon.com/gp/browse.html?node=10566987011

(Melanie Ryon cover design)
(Melanie Ryon cover design)

Crazy isn’t my only novel, and it’s far from my only book. Most of them are available here. http://www.amazon.com/Monte-Dutton/e/B005H3B144/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1416767492&sr=8-1

Follow me on Twitter @montedutton, a bit more irreverently @wastedpilgrim, and a mite more literary-minded @hmdutton. I’m on Facebook at Monte.Dutton, and I invite you to join The Audacity of Dope group. I’m on Instagram at Tug50, and look for me by name at Google+. I don’t expect you to follow me across the social media, but I’d appreciate it if you’d follow, or “friend,” me at whichever system strikes your fancy.

 

Basketball When It Bounces Funny

(Monte Dutton photos)
(Monte Dutton photos)

Clinton, South Carolina, Wednesday, February 3, 2016, 10:57 a.m.

Monte Dutton
Monte Dutton

Everyone who ever played ball knows the feeling. Sometimes it’s a struggle. The stars align against you. It seems as if the court, or the field, or the race track, or the bowling alley, is tilted, and you’re running, or driving, or rolling, uphill. The refs are blind, and now you’ve gone and made them mad.

DSCF1912Hey! Why come you don’t do nothing about this bum knockin’ the fool out of me? Know what I’m saying? A technical? I didn’t even cuss, man!

DSCF1902Sometimes, for a roving band of athletes, it seems as if they are pilgrims in the hands of an angry God.

Tuesday was such a night for the Laurens Raiders, who entered their home game against T.L. Hanna riding a six-game Region I-4A win streak and coming off a road victory over the Yellow Jackets’ Anderson rivals from Westside.

DSCF1899Hanna (13-6, 6-5 region) won, 70-62. The Yellow Jackets’ big man inside, Stephon Wynn, scored 22 points. As a team, Hanna shot 58.1 percent from the floor. Laurens hit 10 three-pointers and 11 three-pointers. It took a toll, though, on the shooting percentage, and the lethargy of passing a ball around a perimeter and bombing threes caught up with the Raiders and may have contributed to a less-than-stellar defensive effort.

There was no shame in it. At the end, Hanna slowed the game down at the point where Laurens needed to speed it up, and the result was an ending of fouls and confusion but not much progress. The game got out of hand was eventually lost in the details.

DSCF1880Meanwhile, those crazy Laurens girls (10-11, 4-7) had begun the evening’s activities with a 53-50 verdict over Hanna (10-9, 7-3). The recurring weaknesses of the Raider girls’ edition are shooting and turnovers. They committed 24 miscues in a wide range of forms, but Hanna had three more, and while Laurens hit only 18 field goals, it attempted 79, and that was 24 more than the Yellow Jackets, and they were misfiring on 23 of their 32 free throws …

DSCF1887… And Laurens won.

By the way, in the girls’ game, 134 shots were fired in the general direction of the goal by the two teams. The misses, of which 36 were from the foul line, afforded opportunities for 111 rebounds.

DSCF1888The two boys’ teams combined for 90 field goal attempts, 44 free throws, 49 rebounds and 49 turnovers.

Laurens head coach Yoneko Allen gave me my favorite coach’s comment of the year to date.

“My philosophy was shoot it before you turn it over,” Allen said. “If you feel like you’re about to throw that ball away, give it a shot.”

DSCF1889

Here’s what I wrote about the games at GoLaurens.com: http://www.golaurens.com/sports/item/22852-lady-raiders-top-hanna-raiders-fall-short

(Graphic courtesy of Meredith Pritchard)
(Graphic courtesy of Meredith Pritchard)

It’s time, and if you, like me, do your own taxes online through H&R Block, you can buy my novel, Crazy of Natural Causes, for half price with your refund. http://www.amazon.com/gp/browse.html?node=10566987011

(Melanie Ryon cover design)
(Melanie Ryon cover design)

Crazy isn’t my only novel, and it’s far from my only book. Most of them are available here. http://www.amazon.com/Monte-Dutton/e/B005H3B144/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1416767492&sr=8-1

Follow me on Twitter @montedutton, a bit more irreverently @wastedpilgrim, and a mite more literary-minded @hmdutton. I’m on Facebook at Monte.Dutton, and I invite you to join The Audacity of Dope group. I’m on Instagram at Tug50, and look for me by name at Google+. I don’t expect you to follow me across the social media, but I’d appreciate it if you’d follow, or “friend,” me at whichever system strikes your fancy.

 

Just Another Night of Following the Bouncing Balls

Rebecca Walker (5) (Monte Dutton photos)
Rebecca Walker (5) (Monte Dutton photos)

Clinton, South Carolina, Tuesday, February 2, 2016, 8:57 a.m.

Monte Dutton
Monte Dutton

It was just another Monday. I wrote the 25th chapter of a novel, one that’s down the road called Cowboys Come Home, and I wrote a preview of the novel that will be published soon called Forgive Us Our Trespasses. I didn’t shave and shower until mid-afternoon, and then I stopped by the mailbox and ran a few errands, and, all the time, in the back of my mind, I was aware that the Presbyterian College women’s basketball team was at home against Longwood.

Yakima Clifton
Yakima Clifton

I wasn’t going to go. I wasn’t going to go. I wasn’t going to go.

I went.

Taylor Petty
Taylor Petty

 

 

The Blue Hose are streaking. The 75-49 Big South Conference victory over the Lancers was Presbyterian’s second in a span of three days. The Blue Hose are 13-8 overall and 9-3 in conference. Let me be the first to admit that, when I drove over to Templeton Center, I didn’t know what kind of game I was going to see. Longwood fell to 6-15 and 3-9. I didn’t know the records until I picked up the fact sheets.

DSCF1860At the end of the first quarter, Presbyterian only led by a point, 19-18, but it was 37-26 at half, 60-41 after three periods, and, as noted, 75-49 at the end. It was relaxed at the media table. I chatted for much of the game with the man whose job it was to evaluate the referees. Not one word passed between us about referees. We talked about mutual friends, and other basketball teams, and what each of us would do if we were building our own women’s basketball team. It was a constructive conversation, but not so much that I am now contemplating the construction of my own team.

Salina Virola (32), Yakima Clifton (15) and Longwood's Eboni Gilliam.
Salina Virola (32), Yakima Clifton (15) and Longwood’s Eboni Gilliam.

What would I do with it? Certainly not as much as Ronny Fisher is doing with the Blue Hose, who hit 14 three-point field goals and tried twice that many. They shot 50 percent from long range and only 47.4 overall. They outrebounded Longwood by eight, forced the Lancers to make five more turnovers. Cortney Storey, who scored only three points, made up for it with six assists.

DSCF1862Longwood shot 28.8 percent. Fisher had to like that. Presbyterian hit seven of its 18 free throw attempts. Fisher had to dislike that.

Taylor Petty scored 26 points for the Blue Hose. She hit 10 of her 17 shots, and within that total were six out of nine that counted three. Three others scored between 10 and 13. Ciarah Bennett, with 19 points, was the only Lancer who lanced more than nine.

Plus, I got home in time to find out what all the commotion was about in Iowa.

(Graphic courtesy of Meredith Pritchard)
(Graphic courtesy of Meredith Pritchard)

It’s time, and if you, like me, do your own taxes online through H&R Block, you can buy my novel, Crazy of Natural Causes, for half price with your refund. http://www.amazon.com/gp/browse.html?node=10566987011

(Melanie Ryon cover design)
(Melanie Ryon cover design)

Crazy isn’t my only novel, and it’s far from my only book. Most of them are available here. http://www.amazon.com/Monte-Dutton/e/B005H3B144/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1416767492&sr=8-1

Follow me on Twitter @montedutton, a bit more irreverently @wastedpilgrim, and a mite more literary-minded @hmdutton. I’m on Facebook at Monte.Dutton, and I invite you to join The Audacity of Dope group. I’m on Instagram at Tug50, and look for me by name at Google+. I don’t expect you to follow me across the social media, but I’d appreciate it if you’d follow, or “friend,” me at whichever system strikes your fancy.

Just Another Night in the House Ross E. Templeton Built

DSCF1797
Good thing she’s a blur. (Monte Dutton photos)

Clinton, South Carolina, Saturday, January 30, 2016, 5:50 p.m.

Monte Dutton
Monte Dutton

I’m looking live at Presbyterian College’s Ross E. Templeton Center, where, at halftime, the Gardner-Webb University Bulldogs hold a tenuous, 25-23 edge over the homestanding Blue Hose in Big South women’s basketball.

I’ve written better leads.

It’s been a busy week on the local courts. I followed Laurens District 55 High School to Simpsonville, where Hillcrest resides, on Tuesday, watched Clinton High play Chester at home on Wednesday, and drove to Anderson, home of Westside, on Friday. Now I’m halfway through the first half of a doubleheader, which amounts overall to a quarter. The men take on Liberty later this evening.

Gardner Webb's Rick Reeves, who, in fairness, is younger than Jon Voight as Adolph Rupp.
Gardner Webb’s Rick Reeves, who, in fairness, is younger than Jon Voight as Adolph Rupp.

I’m not writing game stories on these tilts, so my notes are a little more ragged. So far, I’ve noted that Gardner-Webb head coach Rick Reeves reminds me of Jon Voight playing Adolph Rupp in Glory Road. I’ve scribbled that I think the Bulldogs’ uniforms are snazzy, but, in spite of my political preferences, I’ve a fondness for bright red.

Red Devils. Red Sox. It might be conditioned from birth.

Allie Wagner pulled down 11 rebounds.
Allie Wagner pulled down 11 rebounds.

Fan bases have their own personalities. Ohio State fans are feisty. Nebraska fans are loyal. Stanford fans are bright. Clemson fans wear bright colors.

Presbyterian fans are cranky. They gripe almost constantly. When I sit in the stands here, I do it, too, because it’s highly contagious, but now I’m sitting at the press table, dispassionate as always. All season, I’ve surmised that referees have been instructed to call traveling more often. It has effectively limited the ability of Blue Hose fans to scream “Walk!” constantly. Some have been known to infect their tonsils on the basis of the word walk alone.

DSCF1809If a basketball court had a lawn, PC fans would scream for the visiting team to get off it.

Coach Reeves/Voight/Rupp just got a technical foul. PC’s Aianna Kelly just hit two free throws, and the Blue Hose have suddenly built a 38-32 lead.

DSCF1796By the way, late in the first half, a Gardner-Webb player named Charlisa Jenkins made a shot for the ages … and was fouled. She was falling to her knees and put up a shot that didn’t seem geometrically possible until it took a bounce off the backboard that must have been affected by spin. Truly, I believe she is the Spin Doctor.

DSCF1829

6:19 p.m.

For many years, I’ve had a hobby of giving teams names they should have, as opposed to ones they actually have. For instance, Tulane should be the Fighting Blacktop. The Tulane Blacktop. It’s really the Green Wave, or, maybe, the Green Waves. In South Carolina, we have a wealth of misplaced nicknames. Laurens should be the Arabians. Irmo should be the Bombecks (dated, I know), Chester the Drawers, Union the Labels, Dorman the Volcanoes, and Pickens the Slims. It was a great loss when Mayo High School stopped playing ball. I miss the Nays.

Sophomore center Evan Maxwell. He's definitely 6-10.
Sophomore center Evan Maxwell. He’s definitely 6-10.

Clinton’s playing Aiken in football come the fall. The Pains.

Ruben Arroyo
Ruben Arroyo

Why did I write this? Because I have decided that the university playing the Presbyterian men in a little while should be the Sweet Land of Liberty.

Of Thee I sing. The coliseum could be the Good Earth.

No one ever listens to my ideas.

8:30 p.m.

DSCF1808Big victory for the Blue Hose women. If one had based a prediction on the looks of the two teams, the only conclusion would have been that the rugged Gardner-Webb squad would have prevailed. One would have been wrong.

Ronny Fisher
Ronny Fisher

The 60-53 victory wasn’t as pretty as it seemed. Both teams shot 35 percent from the field, although Presbyterian was a 10th of a percent more accurate. The only major difference in the statistics of the squads was Presbyterian’s advantage in free throws. The Blue Hose hit 13 out of 15. Janie Miles and Taylor Petty each had three three-pointers, and three were how many Gardner-Webb had as a team.

Every time I enter the mine of Presbyterian’s women, I find another vein of ore attesting to Ronny Fisher’s coaching ability. He is a quiet, humble, patient, methodical teacher of fundamentals. I can’t think of another coach I’ve known who is more unassuming. I can’t think of many who were unassuming at all.

Janeil Jenkins
Janeil Jenkins

8:47 p.m.

Liberty head coach Ritchie McKay
Liberty head coach Ritchie McKay

The men’s team is now four minutes and a second into the second half, and Liberty leads, 43-37. I’ve had high hopes for the Blue Hose, who are vastly improved in every way that can’t be measured, but there’s plenty of time to regain control of this game. At the moment, the Flames are aptly named as they are shooting nearly 60 percent from the field, and have hit seven three-pointers.

9:19 p.m.

Liberty wins, 65-61. The Flames are young and big, and they’re going to get better next year than they are now. Somehow, Presbyterian grabbed four more rebounds, and the two teams made the same number of field goals, but 11 of Liberty’s and only six of Presbyterian’s counted for three, and so were the die cast.

The Presbyterian men (8-13) have risen by one, and fallen by one, 12, and four points in the past two weeks. Coastal Carolina, which clobbered them earlier, visits on Wednesday.

Gregg Nibert
Gregg Nibert

Although I didn’t really need to query him for the purposes of this column, I spoke briefly with Gregg Nibert, the Blue Hose’ indefatigable head coach, afterwards. It seems as if every loss just makes him more determined to turn the corner. Ten of his 16 players are freshmen or sophomores. The splendid sophomore, DeSean Murray, had 23 points and seven rebounds against Liberty. It’s the usual. He entered the game averaging 20.1 and 7.8.

“We’re young,” Nibert said as he walked away. “We’ll be okay.”

On the other hand, Liberty’s roster has 11 who are freshmen and sophomores. It gets better, but it never gets easy.

(Graphic courtesy of Meredith Pritchard)
(Graphic courtesy of Meredith Pritchard)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

The editing process is complete, and I’ll let you know when Forgive Us Our Trespasses is available for download from Kindle Publishing. It’s a tale of crime and corruption, young and old, good and bad, cops and robbers, etc.

Meanwhile, Crazy of Natural Causes, set in Kentucky and concerning the reinvention of a football coach, was published late last summer, and, if you haven’t read it, I’d appreciate it if you’d give it a look here: http://www.amazon.com/Crazy-Natural-Causes-Monte-Dutton-ebook/dp/B00YI8SWUU/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1436215069&sr=1-1&keywords=Crazy+of+Natural+Causes

(Melanie Ryon cover design)
(Melanie Ryon cover design)

My second novel, The Intangibles (2013), is about a high school football coach and his players trying to cope with rapid change in the 1960s South. http://www.amazon.com/The-Intangibles-Monte-Dutton-ebook/dp/B00ISJ18Z6/ref=pd_sim_351_2?ie=UTF8&dpID=51JrJlU8vKL&dpSrc=sims&preST=_UX300_PJku-sticker-v3%2CTopRight%2C0%2C-44_AC_UL160_SR107%2C160_&refRID=0AD3V83MM7SDKFNKQ5YB

(Joe Font cover design)
(Joe Font cover design)

The first, The Audacity of Dope (2011), is about a pot-smoking folksinger who wants no part of being a national hero. The accidental hero learns how to be a real one. http://www.amazon.com/The-Audacity-Dope-Monte-Dutton-ebook/dp/B006GT2PRA/ref=pd_sim_351_2?ie=UTF8&dpID=51zCT-MrcFL&dpSrc=sims&preST=_UX300_PJku-sticker-v3%2CTopRight%2C0%2C-44_AC_UL160_SR105%2C160_&refRID=09V773T1A5GZXP96KS3Y

My short stories, book reviews, and essays are here: https://wellpilgrim.wordpress.com/

Follow me on Twitter @montedutton. I’m a tad more irreverent @wastedpilgrim and a little more literary @hmdutton. I’m on Facebook at Monte.Dutton and Instagram at Tug50. Um, I think that’s it. Oh, yeah. Google+. I’m on there, too.

 

The Ty That Binds

Kezario Whitmore (Monte Dutton photos)
Kezario Whitmore
(Monte Dutton photos)

Clinton, South Carolina, Saturday, January 30, 2016, 1:37 p.m.

Monte Dutton
Monte Dutton

Last night I was driving home from Anderson, pleased that the trip had been worth it because I’d had something to write. Laurens had upset third-ranked Westside, 69-64, for its sixth Region I-4A win in a row.

Westside High School is about 70 miles away. The game was big news. I didn’t want people to have to wait to hear about it. I drove to McDonald’s, where the wi-fi is generally reliable, edited the photos I’d taken, and filed a bare-bones story without quotes. Then I drove home, got out the laptop again, and took my time, trying to do the games — Westside won the girls’ game, 61-39 — justice.

Ladarius Williams (23)
Ladarius Williams (23)

In the business, it’s called “a write-through.”

Westside, Laurens. Laurens, Westside.
Westside, Laurens. Laurens, Westside.

I’m almost never able to sleep after writing assignments. It took Stephen Colbert and most of Seth Meyers to make me sleepy, and the mug of coffee I’d sipped while writing about the Raiders didn’t help.

As I often do at such moments of introspection, a brace of Tom T. Hall lyrics occurred to me. They’re from a song called “Spokane Motel Blues”:

Well, Hill and Bare and Billy Joe, they’re gambling / And old T.P.’s frying crappie all night long / They’re down at Tootsie’s eating chili / I’m stuck in Spokane writing songs.

DSCF1855Yet I didn’t feel the way Tom T. did in that motel room. I was happy as a clam riding home, on the Interstates because my iPhone had tipped me off that the long way was the quickest. The stories don’t get better from high school basketball to Speedweeks in Daytona Beach. The demand for them does.

Laurens' Ty Madden.
Laurens’ Ty Madden.

The Laurens District 55 High School Raiders (13-6, 7-2 region) are red-hot because all cylinders are firing.

After the game, I talked for a moment with Ty Madden, who has awakened. He had scored 21 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Westside (16-3, 8-1) had been stripped of its aura of invincibility. I said to Madden that it was good to have him back, and he said it was good to be back.

I don’t know what happened, but three weeks ago, he had become almost a nonentity. He wasn’t playing much, and when he did, he didn’t play well. He looked preoccupied. Every move looked as if he’d thought, well, might as well, before he made it. A thoughtless cross-court pass would be intercepted and slammed at the other end.

DSCF1837I don’t go to practice. I don’t ride the bus. I just watch them play, and I’ve got enough sense to know that what I see is only a small percentage of what goes on within a team.

I’ve watched Ben Sinclair, the Laurens head coach, shake his head. I’ve watched him put both hands on Madden’s shoulders and talk quietly before putting him in games.

DSCF1362The prodigy has returned. The team has jelled. It’s exciting to watch.

Madden has a considerable basketball intellect when he chooses to use it. He is a savvy player. Last night I found myself watching him being subtle and sneaky. Other players dribble into the lane, waving with the off hand as if learning to swim the breast stroke. Sometimes the officials call them for pushing off. Madden ambles into the lane, and when the defender gets too close, he fires a quick elbow into the ribs, just a flick, too fast for the refs’ whistle reflexes.

Camera magnet
Camera magnet

He seldom seems to be moving rapidly, but part of it is smoothness. He glides on the floor like Henry Aaron in the outfield. When basketball season started, he had his head on straight. Then, for a couple of weeks, it was spinning, or maybe it was Sinclair’s. Maybe it was both.

What’s important, though, is that Madden is back, and when he’s back, it has a unifying effect. The moment he starts playing well is the moment when the overall image of the crossword puzzle that is a basketball team starts to take shape.

Three weeks ago, Laurens had an athletic team. Now it’s a basketball team.

Here’s the “write-through”: http://www.golaurens.com/sports/item/22823-raiders-close-in-on-region-i-4a-leader-with-69-64-win-at-westside

(Graphic courtesy of Meredith Pritchard)
(Graphic courtesy of Meredith Pritchard)

The editing process is complete, and I’ll let you know when Forgive Us Our Trespasses is available for download from Kindle Publishing. It’s a tale of crime and corruption, young and old, good and bad, cops and robbers, etc.

Meanwhile, Crazy of Natural Causes, set in Kentucky and concerning the reinvention of a football coach, was published late last summer, and, if you haven’t read it, I’d appreciate it if you’d give it a look here: http://www.amazon.com/Crazy-Natural-Causes-Monte-Dutton-ebook/dp/B00YI8SWUU/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1436215069&sr=1-1&keywords=Crazy+of+Natural+Causes

My second novel, The Intangibles (2013), is about a high school football coach and his players trying to cope with rapid change in the 1960s South. http://www.amazon.com/The-Intangibles-Monte-Dutton-ebook/dp/B00ISJ18Z6/ref=pd_sim_351_2?ie=UTF8&dpID=51JrJlU8vKL&dpSrc=sims&preST=_UX300_PJku-sticker-v3%2CTopRight%2C0%2C-44_AC_UL160_SR107%2C160_&refRID=0AD3V83MM7SDKFNKQ5YB

The first, The Audacity of Dope (2011), is about a pot-smoking folksinger who wants no part of being a national hero. The accidental hero learns how to be a real one. http://www.amazon.com/The-Audacity-Dope-Monte-Dutton-ebook/dp/B006GT2PRA/ref=pd_sim_351_2?ie=UTF8&dpID=51zCT-MrcFL&dpSrc=sims&preST=_UX300_PJku-sticker-v3%2CTopRight%2C0%2C-44_AC_UL160_SR105%2C160_&refRID=09V773T1A5GZXP96KS3Y

My short stories, book reviews, and essays are here: https://wellpilgrim.wordpress.com/

Follow me on Twitter @montedutton. I’m a tad more irreverent @wastedpilgrim and a little more literary @hmdutton. I’m on Facebook at Monte.Dutton and Instagram at Tug50. Um, I think that’s it. Oh, yeah. Google+. I’m on there, too.

Blame the Names

Deja Marshall (21) (Monte Dutton photos)
Deja Marshall (21)
(Monte Dutton photos)

Clinton, South Carolina, Thursday, January 28, 2016, 3:48 p.m.

Monte Dutton
Monte Dutton

The high school basketball games blend together. Remember when Kiah Young hit the bucket from the corner? Who was that against? What was that great big kid from Greenwood’s name? When did the students dress in Hawaiian shirts?

The experience is more than what takes place on the floor. It’s chatting with a coach out in the lobby, and the banter at the scorer’s table, and standing down at the end of the court with a camera hanging from my neck, making small talk with one of the referees during a timeout.

No griping. I only do that when sitting up in the stands with friends, just for fun. When I’m on the beat, it’s not my place. If I don’t have something friendly to say, I hold my tongue.

DSCF1820Then there’s the routine. I usually wind down whatever work I’m doing at home, then do a little study of the teams, shave and shower at mid-afternoon after working since breakfast, head out, and have an early supper because I’ll be too busy when I get home afterward getting the story in. Clinton High School and Presbyterian College are just a few minutes away. Laurens District 55 High School is 20 minutes. I went to Newberry a couple times between Christmas and New Year’s. I was in Simpsonville Tuesday night. I’m driving to Anderson next to see Laurens visit Westside.

Jalen Carter (12)
Jalen Carter (12)

When the game’s over, if it’s close enough to drive home, I’ll arrive back at the house, put on some coffee, go to the bathroom, hook the camera into this laptop, download the photos, start rotating, cropping and playing around with the images, get the coffee, attach the best photos in an email, put the camera away, get my notes organized, write the story and send it in. I haven’t filed on the road since a playoff football game in November, but I might do it Friday night. McDonald’s has reliable Internet and stays open till midnight on Fridays. I haven’t made up my mind yet. It might depend on where the nearest McDonald’s is. Maybe I’ll take the laptop along and make a decision after the games.

Olivia Hamrick (32)
Olivia Hamrick (32)

Who knows? I like snap judgments. I make them better than the considered ones.

DSCF1811Last night it was Chester and Clinton, both CHS’s, the visitors known as the Cyclones and the Red Devils at home. Both schools stress bright red, but Chester trims its duds in navy while Clinton touches off its wardrobes in black.

The Laurens-Westside game is going to get some interest, as the Westside Rams currently rank first in Region I-4A and the Raiders are second. Clinton and Chester were jockeying for position in the mid-regions of Region III-3A. The Red Devils won, 58-49, and that means they are 9-7 overall but only 2-4 in the region. The Cyclones fell to 10-8 and 4-2. The game was played with lots of intensity on both sides, and it might have been Clinton’s best game of the season to date. Three players — Tay Cook, Young and Jalen Carter — scored 14 points or more. The team shot almost 50 percent from the floor, and if they’ve had fewer than nine turnovers in a game, it wasn’t one I watched and the head coach recalled.

DSCF1802
Shauna Goforth (10)

The Clinton girls aren’t going to have much more than moral victories. Yes, they get old, but at 2-13 and 1-5, losing 40-29 to Chester passed for an honorable showing. A Cyclone named Deja Marshall scored exactly the same number of points as the entire Red Devil team, and when that’s going on, it’s hard to win.

Junior Johnston (21), Demetric Hardin (1), Jalen Carter (12) and Quay Hardin (5)
Junior Johnston (21), Demetric Hardin (1), Jalen Carter (12) and Quay Hardin (5)

Clinton’s girls pass, dribble, rebound, and set picks. They play hard. They try their darndest. If they could shoot, they would be competitive, but they can’t, and they aren’t. Last night they hit 11 out of 54.

I still enjoy watching them play. I find the perseverance admirable.

Last night I added LaTerriya Tibias, Browniee McCrorey, Niquavian Coleman and Phalek Brown to the season’s Hall of Names. When I copy names out of the scorebook, I feel more pressure to get it right than I do transcribing audio. I have to write “Niquavian” carefully so that, later, I’ll read it as “Niquavian.”

Tay Cook
Tay Cook

Meanwhile, I long for a niquavian sunset. Don’t make me mad, or else I might go on a kadyah.

Junior Johnston
Junior Johnston

The most difficult part is the apostrophes that apparently came in voque 15-18 years ago, many of them for no apparent reason. Once an apostrophe was used in names similarly to the way it is used in contractions. For instance, there was a pitcher some years ago named John D’Acquisto and a character in a novel some more years ago named D’Artagnan. Now it’s Ke’Na-Ja, if you’re keeping score, which I am.

M.K. Kelly (14) and Deja Marshall.
M.K. Kelly (14) and Deja Marshall.

By season’s end will I dream of sunset evenings on the beaches of Dakaylia, Shuneiya, Malikiya, and, yes, Malaysia. I will recall the glory that was the reign of Rakevious IV of Kezario. I will scour the shelves of Game Stop looking for a Playstation version of Dahkavi Duck. Then suddenly will I feel eerie, undoubtedly from the vu of Deja Marshall and her 29 points.

To each his own. I remember a time long ago when my full name, Hudson Montgomery Dutton, was a mouthful, too.

Here’s my GoClinton/GoLaurens story on Wednesday night’s Chester-Clinton games:  http://www.golaurens.com/sports/item/22807-red-devils-rebound-against-chester-58-49

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

The editing process is complete, and I’ll let you know when Forgive Us Our Trespasses is available for download from Kindle Publishing. It’s a tale of crime and corruption, young and old, good and bad, cops and robbers, etc.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

Meanwhile, Crazy of Natural Causes, set in Kentucky and concerning the reinvention of a football coach, was published late last summer, and, if you haven’t read it, I’d appreciate it if you’d give it a look here: http://www.amazon.com/Crazy-Natural-Causes-Monte-Dutton-ebook/dp/B00YI8SWUU/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1436215069&sr=1-1&keywords=Crazy+of+Natural+Causes

(Melanie Ryon cover design)
(Melanie Ryon cover design)

My second novel, The Intangibles (2013), is about a high school football coach and his players trying to cope with rapid change in the 1960s South. http://www.amazon.com/The-Intangibles-Monte-Dutton-ebook/dp/B00ISJ18Z6/ref=pd_sim_351_2?ie=UTF8&dpID=51JrJlU8vKL&dpSrc=sims&preST=_UX300_PJku-sticker-v3%2CTopRight%2C0%2C-44_AC_UL160_SR107%2C160_&refRID=0AD3V83MM7SDKFNKQ5YB

(Joe Font cover design)
(Joe Font cover design)

The first, The Audacity of Dope (2011), is about a pot-smoking folksinger who wants no part of being a national hero. The accidental hero learns how to be a real one. http://www.amazon.com/The-Audacity-Dope-Monte-Dutton-ebook/dp/B006GT2PRA/ref=pd_sim_351_2?ie=UTF8&dpID=51zCT-MrcFL&dpSrc=sims&preST=_UX300_PJku-sticker-v3%2CTopRight%2C0%2C-44_AC_UL160_SR105%2C160_&refRID=09V773T1A5GZXP96KS3Y

My short stories, book reviews, and essays are here: https://wellpilgrim.wordpress.com/

Follow me on Twitter @montedutton. I’m a tad more irreverent @wastedpilgrim and a little more literary @hmdutton. I’m on Facebook at Monte.Dutton and Instagram at Tug50. Um, I think that’s it. Oh, yeah. Google+. I’m on there, too.

 

One Never Knows

Ty Madden (30) (Monte Dutton photos)
Ty Madden (30)
(Monte Dutton photos)

Clinton, South Carolina, Wednesday, January 27, 2016, 9:44 a.m.

By Monte Dutton
By Monte Dutton

Basketball is like a box of chocolates. Or a bowl of cherries. Or a peck of pickled peppers.

I find myself frequently intrigued by the events of Clinton and Laurens District 55 high schools. Occasionally I travel to a nearby time, a Newberry, or in the case of Tuesday night, Simpsonville. Sometimes a trip to another place is also a trip back in time. I try to remember if I’ve been there before.

DSCF1798Was this the same gym the last time I was at Hillcrest? I remember the game. It was when Clinton High School’s Bobby Brock told me he was retiring. It’s been a while.

The big news in the present was, as it usually is, the boys’ game, because attendance for the girls’ game reaches its apogee when the crowd for the boys gets there in the fourth quarter, and at both of the local schools I see frequently, the boys are comparatively better.

Hillcrest High School
Hillcrest High School

DSCF1765Let the record note, however, that last night the Raider girls defeated, by 14 points, a team, Hillcrest, that had won the earlier meeting between the two schools by 28. Laurens went plus-42. A magical Hillcrest guard, Quin Byrd, scored 20 or more points in both games, which, otherwise, had nothing in common.

DSCF1764For some insane reason, last night when I was writing about the Laurens-Hillcrest games, I had the notes I took from the first ones. In the former game, the Raiders put up 58 shots and found the range on 11 of them. They committed 47 turnovers. Hillcrest connected on 27 of 64 field goals and committed 27 turnovers, which would have seemed like a lot had Laurens not committed 20 more.

DSCF1759Oddly enough, I thought Laurens might win. The first game was sort of bad on a grand scale. It was silent-movie comedy bad. So bad it occasionally seemed delightful. Farcically bad. Okay, you get the point. It was bad. I had even told Laurens’ coach, Yoneko Allen, that I thought her team might win the second game. Of course, I didn’t actually believe it. I was just ingratiating myself shamelessly to a coach who was having a rough night.

On Tuesday night, Laurens (9-10, 3-6 Region I-4A) won, 67-53. Hit seven three-pointers and outrebounded Hillcrest (7-12, 3-6) by seven. Laurens also outrebounded the Rams in the first game, but that was because so many missed shots were bouncing around.

DSCF1799Then the boys’ team trotted out and completed a sweep of the Rams with a crisp 68-61 victory.

The Raiders (13-6, 7-2) had a rat-a-tat-tat scoring balance behind Chris Statom, who had 18. From there, the scorebook looked like the Laurens offense had been firing a machine gun — 11, 9, 8, 8, 8 … — at the Rams (14-5, 6-3).

DSCF1793Laurens led even after a ragged first quarter and had another rough patch in the first four minutes of the third. Hillcrest occasionally got close but not close enough to raise the temperature in the gym.

The Raiders are playing hard. Sometimes their haste makes waste. Sometimes they get full of themselves. If the boys can pull off another road win, at Westside on Friday in Anderson, a region championship might be possible.

The girls ended a five-game losing streak. It requires such a losing streak to make what happened in Simpsonville — a 42-point swing over two games — possible. Watching them play — and taking notes on it — is a frantic pastime, but one never knows what one might see.

 

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

The editing process is complete, and I’ll let you know when Forgive Us Our Trespasses is available for download from Kindle Publishing. It’s a tale of crime and corruption, young and old, good and bad, cops and robbers, etc.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

Meanwhile, Crazy of Natural Causes, set in Kentucky and concerning the reinvention of a football coach, was published late last summer, and, if you haven’t read it, I’d appreciate it if you’d give it a look here: http://www.amazon.com/Crazy-Natural-Causes-Monte-Dutton-ebook/dp/B00YI8SWUU/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1436215069&sr=1-1&keywords=Crazy+of+Natural+Causes

(Melanie Ryon cover design)
(Melanie Ryon cover design)

My second novel, The Intangibles (2013), is about a high school football coach and his players trying to cope with rapid change in the 1960s South. http://www.amazon.com/The-Intangibles-Monte-Dutton-ebook/dp/B00ISJ18Z6/ref=pd_sim_351_2?ie=UTF8&dpID=51JrJlU8vKL&dpSrc=sims&preST=_UX300_PJku-sticker-v3%2CTopRight%2C0%2C-44_AC_UL160_SR107%2C160_&refRID=0AD3V83MM7SDKFNKQ5YB

(Joe Font cover design)
(Joe Font cover design)

The first, The Audacity of Dope (2011), is about a pot-smoking folksinger who wants no part of being a national hero. The accidental hero learns how to be a real one. http://www.amazon.com/The-Audacity-Dope-Monte-Dutton-ebook/dp/B006GT2PRA/ref=pd_sim_351_2?ie=UTF8&dpID=51zCT-MrcFL&dpSrc=sims&preST=_UX300_PJku-sticker-v3%2CTopRight%2C0%2C-44_AC_UL160_SR105%2C160_&refRID=09V773T1A5GZXP96KS3Y

My short stories, book reviews, and essays are here: https://wellpilgrim.wordpress.com/

Follow me on Twitter @montedutton. I’m a tad more irreverent @wastedpilgrim and a little more literary @hmdutton. I’m on Facebook at Monte.Dutton and Instagram at Tug50. Um, I think that’s it. Oh, yeah. Google+. I’m on there, too.

 

Women Playing Basketball Artfully

(Monte Dutton photos)
(Monte Dutton photos)

Clinton, South Carolina, Sunday, January 24, 2016, 9:11 a.m.

Monte Dutton
Monte Dutton

I make a lot of gametime decisions. A couple weeks ago, I couldn’t make up my mind between the basketball games at Clinton High School and Presbyterian College, so I watched parts of both. Yesterday morning, snow was on the ground, and I figured — in fact, I wrote — that I thought I’d just stay at home like everyone on television was saying.

Two o’clock rolled around, and, there I was, sitting at the Templeton Center media table, watching the Blue Hose women play the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers.

DSCF1793I wasn’t writing a game story. In fact, the reason I went, in addition to preferring basketball in person to basketball on TV, was … this. I watched the game from a different perspective.

Before the game even started, I noticed, for the first time, that Presbyterian fans dutifully stand for the reciting of the Big South Code of Spectator Conduct. It’s because they know the national anthem is coming, so they go ahead and rise for the whole shebang.

DSCF1792When I watch women’s basketball, I often find myself going through a decision-making process in which I carefully assess which players are the prettiest. This, of course, is because I am a man. It’s just good, clean, wholesome fun.

I couldn’t care less which player is the handsomest man, and, in fact, it never even occurs to me. When it does, it’s more along the lines of, Sheesh, I’d hate to meet up with that guy in a back alley.

DSCF1783

An adjective occurred to me. Many women who play basketball are willowy.

DSCF1782Another P.A. announcement that stood out was: “It may be freezing outside, but the court at Templeton Center is burning like the Sahara!”

About midway through the first quarter — women have quarters, men have halves, in college basketball, that is — two of the three referees pored over video as if it were the Zapruder film, attempting to discern whether or not a foul was merely rough or “flagrant” — having already determined it wasn’t fragrant — and, after folding their arms and thoughtfully scratching their chins as they philosophically reasoned, decided to leave the call as originally called.

DSCF1790Meanwhile, I was thinking, There’s got to be some kind of red flag to throw out on the court. A coach should have to request a review. The continent moved three inches while those two were talking. It was a man and a woman discussing the call. No wonder it took so long. If they’d been married, they’d be discussing it yet.

On the positive side, in all the games I’ve written about this year, it seems as if the referees are calling traveling and double dribbling more often. I applaud this, though not on press row because it’s poor form.

DSCF1781

The Blue Hose (11-7, 7-2 Big South) were splendid. Their ball movement — translation: they move the ball around — was the best I’ve seen all year, by any team, in person, and the most impressive part of the performance was how they were unfazed by a wide variety of ploys attempted by the Chants (7-11, 2-7) to slow them.

Ronny Fisher
Ronny Fisher

This is a blog, so I can bury the score if I want. It was Presbyterian 66, Coastal Carolina 42.

With two players scoring in double figures — Salina Virola 12, Rebecca Walker 10 — Presbyterian outrebounded Coastal Carolina, 42-24, and committed 15 turnovers while forcing 21. I would imagine Ronny Fisher, the PC head coach, would have preferred fewer turnovers and a higher shooting percentage than 38.5, but taken as a whole, the performance was impressive.

              I’ve got so many books for you to read, and guess what? I wrote them!

(Joe Font cover design)
(Joe Font cover design)

              The Audacity of Dope (2011) is a freewheeling yarn about an obscure singer-songwriter who finds himself a national hero with all the annoyances that it implies. Riley Mansfield just wants to write his songs and smoke his weed in peace, but that’s not the way it works out. http://www.amazon.com/The-Audacity-Dope-Monte-Dutton-ebook/dp/B006GT2PRA/ref=pd_sim_351_2?ie=UTF8&dpID=51zCT-MrcFL&dpSrc=sims&preST=_UX300_PJku-sticker-v3%2CTopRight%2C0%2C-44_AC_UL160_SR105%2C160_&refRID=1QPG325FX6P3YS6G6QP0

(Melanie Ryon cover design)
(Melanie Ryon cover design)

              The Intangibles (2013) is a tale set mostly in 1968, but it begins with a cameo appearance by November 22, 1963. It’s got a big cast of characters, black and white, trying to make sense of life in a small Southern town during desegregation of public schools. http://www.amazon.com/The-Intangibles-Monte-Dutton-ebook/dp/B00ISJ18Z6/ref=pd_sim_351_2?ie=UTF8&dpID=51JrJlU8vKL&dpSrc=sims&preST=_UX300_PJku-sticker-v3%2CTopRight%2C0%2C-44_AC_UL160_SR107%2C160_&refRID=14MDGFY70Z4HJHMR31KB

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

              Crazy of Natural Causes (2015) takes Chance Benford from football coaching to flawed redemption. Set in the hills of eastern Kentucky, it’s a story of a man who loses everything and has to reinvent himself. It’s a fable on the absurdity of our times. http://www.amazon.com/Crazy-Natural-Causes-Monte-Dutton-ebook/dp/B00YI8SWUU/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1436215069&sr=1-1&keywords=Crazy+of+Natural+Causes

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

              Coming soon! A crime novel, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, about a bad politician and a good cop, with a son going bad to hang in the balance. It’s also the story of a prominent family’s self-destruction. I should know soon when it will be out.

              Follow wellpilgrim.wordpress.com, too. You’ll find short fiction, reviews, and essays there. Follow me on Twitter @montedutton, or, more irrevently, @wastedpilgrim, or, more literarily, @hmdutton. I’m on Facebook at Monte.Dutton and Instagram at Tug50.