Sometimes the Ball Bounces Funny

(Monte Dutton photos)

(Monte Dutton photos)

Clinton, South Carolina, Friday, December 18, 2015, 10:45 a.m.

One of the curious aspects of sports is it is mostly a product of humans. The humans are inside bulky automobiles, at the end of sticks, heavily padded, and/or assisted by teams of mechanics, coaches, caddies, and entourages.

Monte Dutton

Monte Dutton

The effect of humanity is nonetheless ubiquitous.

Fans often act as if the sports are simple. They are not.

Take last night at Laurens District 55 High School. Basketball teams consisting of girls and boys, in that order of starting times, played similarly composed teams from nearby Hillcrest High School, which shares its district with others.

DSCF1456The Raider boys played almost as well as is humanly possible, and, again, this is human in the imperfect sense.

And the Raider girls? Vice versa.

Both teams tried. Both teams walked on the floor determined to win. Same gym. Different results.

Ty Madden (30) scored 22.

Ty Madden (30) scored 22.

It’s difficult to handicap basketball games with the season relatively young and region competition just beginning, but, logically and based on rational factors, the Laurens girls should have been favored, and the Laurens boys should have been underdogs.

Au contraire.

The Rams (3-3) won the girls’ game, 62-34, over the Raiders (6-3). The Raiders (7-2) won the boys’ game, 92-62, over the heretofore unbeaten Rams (5-1).

DSCF1450It has been a familiar refrain of mine to note the difference, in NASCAR, between a good race and a good story. The same is true in basketball between the good game and the good story.

Those two games Thursday night were like the first lap between the tortoise and the hare. Honestly, I think it’s possible that, when the two teams play again, the outcomes could be reversed, and it’s likely the games will be closer.

DSCF1440Sometimes a mysterious group mentality descends over an arena. It’s not a matter of one player coming down with the flu, or another coping with poor grades or a lovers’ quarrel. It’s not psychology. It’s sociology, and the coach doesn’t have time to commission a study.

I saw something I’d never seen Thursday night. I saw a team commit 47 turnovers, and 31 were in one half. That same team, by my calculation, hit 11 out of 58 shots, many of which appeared to be quite makeable.

Perhaps you have guessed it was the Laurens girls.

DSCF1437Yet that same team had defeated Woodmont, 51-46, two nights earlier.

Afterwards, head coach Yoneko Allen was every bit as mystified as I. To summarize, my questions were related to the general “how bad was it?” and her answers were variations of “as bad as it could be.”

DSCF1435If you’re interested in the specifics, here’s the story I wrote:

When the Hillcrest boys ran on the floor, they looked a little like an elongated football team. Seventeen players dressed. Given what ensued, all of them played. One difference in the game was the Maddens. Laurens’ Ty scored 22. Hillcrest’s Lavassit and Daylin combined for one.

But Maddens alone could not account for this wide, wide world of blowout. The Raiders slipped out to a 24-7 lead, and the margin briefly reached 31 (48-17) before holding steady at 28 (48-20) during the halfway intermission. The biggest margin was 88-54 with 2:32 remaining.

DSCF1453Thirteen of the 17 Rams scored, though none more than 12. Four Raiders had 10 or more. Laurens shot better and more often, tracked down more of the shots that missed, and committed fewer turnovers.

I can’t account for the differences in the games. Maybe all the girls skipped lunch. Maybe it was a crack in the time/space continuum.

More likely, it shall remain a mystery, and many more will follow.


(Melanie Ryon cover design)

(Melanie Ryon cover design)

At least my novels are intended to have mysteries. Please consider buying them here. Most of my books are listed.

Most of my non-fiction — as in sports, current events, whatever I happen to think fits at the time — is here. I write short stories, book reviews, and musings about writing — and, uh, whatever I also happen to think fits at the time — at – and I hope you’ll sample the fiction-and-books blog from time to time.


About Monte

For 20 seasons, I mostly wrote about NASCAR. I'm still paying attention, but I'm spending more of my time these days writing novels and songs. I try to blog regularly on whatever happens to strike my fancy.
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