Clinton, South Carolina, Wednesday, December 30, 2015, 9:12 a.m.
It seems as if everyone is headed to Miami to watch the Clemson Tigers continue their quest for the national, by-God, this-great-game-of-football championship.
Something about football makes people want to say it. This football game. This football team. That boy just loves him the game of football. Coaches never say “this basketball game” or “that’s just the game of basketball.” Football coaches look tempted to stand at attention and put their hands over their hearts when the hosannas ensue.
Okay. I get chill bumps sometimes.
The Clemson fans, though, are filling up their Facebooks with tales of traffic woe in Jacksonville and photos of key lime pie in Islamorada. Instagram seems largely orange and, quite possibly, enhanced.
Meanwhile, last night I watched the finals of a holiday basketball tournament in Newberry and got home happy as a clam and happier than the football team from Texas Tech.
Yet Clinton lost.
It was a Bonnaroo. A track meet. A swim meet, accelerated. Other metaphors, even worse.
While the Bulldogs started covering the Red Devils when they got off the bus, the Red Devils had to wait for the Bulldogs to leave the dressing room because they were already there. You see, that’s really the home-court advantage.
Clinton fired up 65 offerings at the Bulldog-guarded hoops. Twenty-nine went in. Just two of them counted extra. Newberry finagled 35 of its 91 attempts, seven of bonus value, through the holes enclosed by the rims. Given the profusion of shots, rebounds were inevitable, and Newberry secured 54 of the game’s 90.
The final score was 80-74. The final utterance was “whew.”
It was lightning war, which, in German, is “blitzkrieg,” which is not only a part of the history of warfare but also, indirectly, the origin what every football team does at least occasionally on defense.
Both teams used all their rosters and damn near exhausted them. It never slowed, though. The teams never stopped pressing, and sprinting, and dashing headlong in pursuit of basketballs scattered errantly. They were knights errant of a sort, lacking trusty chargers.
Eight players scored in double figures. Tymori Tribble (25) and Kiah Young combined to score 45 points for the Red Devils.
On the surface, the turnovers might have seemed excessive. Clinton surrendered the ball 16 times unduly, and Newberry was guilty of 15 blips on the blooper screen. Given the pace of the game, though, totals were stingy.
It’s fun to cover a game in which the coach of the losing team doesn’t fret about what went wrong. Clinton’s Tosh Corley wrung neither of his hands, sauntered out of the locker room with head held high and, to paraphrase, said the effort was great and regrets nonexistent. He spoke of playing the same team again next week in Clinton with great relish, not to mention Duke’s Mayonnaise. His players left Newberry High School and second place in its holiday tournament with as stately a bearing as one can reasonably expect from a team that just fell agonizingly short.
Here’s what I wrote in a more formal sense about the game: http://www.golaurens.com/sports/item/22565-newberry-slips-past-clinton-80-74
I also write short stories … and book reviews … and essays about writing … and other items that inexplicably seem to fit there … at www.wellpilgrim.wordpress.com.
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Coming soon to an electronic device near you is Forgive Us Our Trespasses, a tale of crime and corruption in an otherwise bucolic Southern town. The dates aren’t etched in stone yet, but I expect it will be out in a couple months or so. Stay tuned.
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