Clinton, South Carolina, Friday, December 11, 2015, 9:49 a.m.
Down the stretch of my NASCAR career — that being defined as the 20 years I traveled the circuit — my interest in basketball waned.
The end of NASCAR found me still yearning for football, which I had watched only occasionally in motel rooms, when Thanksgiving and the end of the Sprint Cup season arrived. While others had grown tired of football, I was hungry for it. I watched every Ronco Weedeater Bowl Presented by BuyManganeseNow.com.
Mainly I watched the ends of basketball games, the way all those NASCAR fans who write me watch the races, allegedly. I’m grateful to the fans who haven’t watched a whole race in five years for letting me fill in some of the details.
For all those years, I still enjoyed basketball live, which is why I frequently watched the Presbyterian College Blue Hose play. I bumped into the head coach, Gregg Nibert, a couple days ago at Sadler-Hughes Apothecary and expressed my gratitude because little warms my heart more than watching the Blue Hose defeat The Citadel, which they did recently. In fact, only Furman defeating The Citadel warms my heart more, and, sadly, I haven’t witnessed it lately.
I covered a few basketball games last winter, but this one, I’m seeing a lot of the Blue Hose, the Clinton Red Devils and the Laurens Raiders. Rumor has it I may drop in on the Laurens Academy Crusaders at some point. Byrnes drops in on LDHS (around here, it stands for Laurens District 55 High School) tonight.
The Laurens girls tried 21 free throws on Tuesday night and hit three, but that’s okay. The Raiders defeated Clinton, 41-32, anyway. Laurens swept boys’ and girls’ games in both meetings, but both were closer on the Red Devils’ home floor.
Even though there is no shot clock in high school games around these parts, no one ever slows it down or even puts much effort into protecting a lead.
I think video games are having a negative effect on the quality of actual games, which is to say a tail is wagging a dog.
It’s not enough to scribble quickly the players’ names from the scorebook anymore. One must take one’s time and use quality penmanship because the names are predictably difficult and unpredictably spelled.
I’ve been writing about NyNy Spurgeon, Laylay Todd, Nosia Owens, DeNaisha Floyd, TyCambrius Copeland, Tysheria Henningham and Tydeatris Longshore, and those are all girls. Boys include Kezario Whitmore, E’Nicholas Leake, Kiah Young, Timori Tribble, Xarrius Choice and Tyreke Watts.
Thank goodness for the stray Jessica Johnson or Toby Jackson. Many of the names are melodic and evocative. I just wish they were easier to spell. If Pete Rose knocked on the front door right now and introduced himself, I’d ask, “How do you spell that? Is it Peete Rhoze? Great. I thought so.”
Forty years ago, when I kept the Clinton High School scorebook myself, its opening pages were a sample to be used as a guide, demonstrating the proper means of differentiating a “one-and-one” from “two shots,” for instance. In 1975, the sample was of a game between Jacksboro, coached by Rosy Hayes, and Paint Rock, coached by Ben Sims. This remains the same today.
Nights become weeks, which sprout months and multiply into years, but the Wilson basketball scorebook is a rock, reliable and unchanging.
As a longtime writer of sports, it should come as no surprise that sports show up regularly in my fiction. The first novel, The Audacity of Dope, had as its main character Riley Mansfield, a songwriter who is a former college football player. http://www.amazon.com/Audacity-Dope-Monte-Dutton-ebook/dp/B006GT2PRA/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8
High school football is at the center of The Intangibles, a novel set in a small southern town during the late 1960s amid the tumult of school integration, civil rights and the Vietnam War. http://www.amazon.com/The-Intangibles-Monte-Dutton-ebook/dp/B00ISJ18Z6/ref=pd_sim_sbs_351_1?ie=UTF8&dpID=51JrJlU8vKL&dpSrc=sims&preST=_UX300_PJku-sticker-v3%2CTopRight%2C0%2C-44_AC_UL160_SR107%2C160_&refRID=1C08VW4HZPMABDCKVG9M
Crazy of Natural Causes, released during the summer, is about a Kentucky football coach, Chance Benford, who loses everything. Prominent roles are played by two of his former players. http://www.amazon.com/Crazy-Natural-Causes-Monte-Dutton-ebook/dp/B00YI8SWUU/ref=pd_sim_sbs_351_1?ie=UTF8&dpID=617isaEUZWL&dpSrc=sims&preST=_UX300_PJku-sticker-v3%2CTopRight%2C0%2C-44_AC_UL160_SR120%2C160_&refRID=0CH4ZN9KDV7YNX7RCF6M
Forgive Us Our Trespasses, a crime thriller, is about a couple of one-time high school teammates. Baseball figures somewhat prominently in the plot, with a little basketball and golf thrown in for flavor. This is my next novel and will be out early next year.
Thanks for reading me.