Dim Lights, Tough Names and Dubious Distinctions

(Monte Dutton photos)

(Monte Dutton photos)

Clinton, South Carolina, Tuesday, December 29, 2015, 8:50 a.m.

Everyone’s perception is skewed by his (or her) perspective. A man sitting in the stands pays extra attention to his son, or the daughter of a friend, or the son of a man who owns the store where he “trades.”

Monte Dutton

Monte Dutton

Last night, when I walked into Willie Scott Gymnasium at Newberry High School, for a holiday tournament game matching the Clinton Red Devils against the Batesburg-Leesville Panthers, my first thought was, Are all the lights on?

Part of my job in reporting on such games is to snap some photos. All I really have to do is provide one that’s acceptable. Willie Scott Gymnasium required some extra effort. I have the type of digital cameras — two that are similar because, back during those hectic times on the NASCAR road, I misplaced one long enough to think I’d lost it — that work well taking photos of kids opening Christmas presents but are not up to the standards that professional photos require.

This is because I am not a professional photographer.

Batesburg-Leesville's QuaJae Wingfall (11) and Clinton's Jalen Carter.

Batesburg-Leesville’s
QuaJae Wingfall (11) and Clinton’s Jalen Carter.

My knowledge of photography is a practical one. My very first sportswriting job required taking a few photos, so I’d stand on a sideline, snapping photos of a running back sweeping in the general direction of me, then letting the camera hang around my neck while I scratched out, on a notepad, 1-10-20, K. Jackson swp l +5 / 2-5-25 …

Low bridge.

Low bridge for Derrick Mitchell.

So, 34 years later, I’m back where I started. The process has been upgraded technologically, which doesn’t mean that I whisper sweet nothings in Siri’s ear and she takes care of everything. It means that I now tweet occasionally: @GoClinton, boys, 2:52 3Q, Johnston lay-in puts Clinton up, 37-28, over B-L.

While snapping photos, I sometimes scrawl tallies (field goal attempts, rebounds, turnovers) on the back of my left wrist, later to be added to the notes on the legal pad sitting idly at a seat behind the scorer’s table, or in the first row of the stands, depending on the width of said table and demand for its occupancy.

DSCF1534

The Panthers’ Jicosha Stewart (4) and Clinton’s Josh Williams (14).

Then, of course, I lick my fingers and erase the ink on my hand, readying my makeshift, human (not virtual) chalkboard for the next game.

As Waylon and Willie sang, “Back to the basics of love …”

Tay Cook (5), Tymori Tribble (11).

Tay Cook (5), Tymori Tribble (11).

As long as I sat in NASCAR press boxes, for 20 years and approximately 500 races, never once did I scrawl tallies on my wrist. My racing stories would have been so much better!

I see lots of oddities watching high school games. I was away for so long that I was as likely to see Cesar Chavez High — on the south side of Phoenix, on Baseline Road, which I often traveled to and from the race track — play as the Red Devils. Over the years, I watched high school games occasionally, spur of the moment, saw the teams warming up as I drove by and decided not to. There were Magna Vista in Virginia, near Martinsville; Oxford in Alabama, near Talladega; and the Tivy Antlers in Texas, while I was working on a music book (True to the Roots: Americana Music Revealed), several years before Johnny Manziel played there.

Tymori Tribble (11)

Tymori Tribble (11)

In basketball this year, already, I’ve watched one team commit 47 turnovers in a game and another shoot 7.7 percent from the field for a quarter. The latter team was Clinton last night, and the Red Devils shot over 50 percent in the second half and won, 57-49.

Then there was the time another team swished three out of 21 free-throw tries.

It’s still 2015. They’re not even playing the meat of the schedules yet. No telling what treasures await.

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Batesburg-Leesville’s Tabius Butler (45), Clinton’s Tyreke Watts (23) and Jaquarius Hair (25), who scored 24 points for the Panthers.

Last night I got to watch Jicosha Stewart, Bishop Cannon, QuaJae Wigfall, Jaquarius Hair, Tabius Butler, DreKobe Chandler, the Merritts (Montez and Jontavius), Mikal (Check the Spelling) Hartley, Tyheem Shepard and Zadrius Burgess take on familiar Red Devils such as Kiah Young, Tymori Tribble, Braeden Webb and Tyreke Watts.

Braeden Webb

Braeden Webb

I could win a spelling bee of ineligible words.

Here’s what I wrote about the ballgame: http://www.golaurens.com/sports/item/22553-red-devils-advance-past-batesburg-leesville-57-49

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

The sports stories pay a few bills, but where I really make a living is in my novels. The current one is right here for a mere $3.49 to download. 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)

If you like to read that old-fashioned paper — or, for matter, tally your hand with a ballpoint pen — my first two novels, The Intangibles and The Audacity of Dope — are among the offerings here, and they’re both available the good, old-fashioned way. 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)

My fourth novel, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, will be out early next year. I’ll let you know as soon as I find out.

My fiction (as well as reviews and essays) is featured at www.wellpilgrim.wordpress.com.

 

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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