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.

Small Basketball Gets an Extra-Large Crowd

(Monte Dutton photos)
(Monte Dutton photos)

Clinton, South Carolina, Friday, January 22, 2016, 9:14 a.m.

Monte Dutton
Monte Dutton

On Thursday afternoon, the largest crowd of the local basketball season watched the White teams play the Red. The games took place at Clinton Middle School, where both teams reside. Where once there were the Bell Street Wildcats and the Martha Dendy Panthers — back in my day! — now those schools have closed, and CMS is located in the building where I went to high school.

Clinton Middle School now puts two football and four basketball teams (boys and girls) under the lights (because fields and courts both have lights).

This little girl apparently couldn't make up her mind between the Red and White teams, so she opted for a black shirt.
This little girl apparently couldn’t make up her mind between the Red and White teams, so she opted for a black shirt.

The games began at 12:30, and the house was packed because the games were scheduled so that all the students could parade into the gym and watch. In other words, the cash gate wasn’t as high as games at Clinton and Laurens high schools or Presbyterian College, but the crowd was, in my estimation, bigger.

Javier Boyd (20), Riley McSwain (14)
Javier Boys (20), Riley McSwain (14)

As an old-time promoter might point out, empty seats don’t buy hot dogs, though popcorn was the popular choice on Thursday.

As I am not a connoisseur of the middle school basketball scene, I made many observations that may or may not stand the test of empirical data.

DSCF1724One is that while college cheerleaders are often beautiful, and high school cheerleaders are often cute, middle school cheerleaders are precious. They are adorable. Almost cheerleaders in miniature. And they were cheering for both teams!

DSCF1733Middle school basketball is similar to other variations, though it is played by scale models. They run just as hard. They are not as efficient. They don’t shoot well, though I’m sure the pressure of a big game has some impact. Boys and girls accustomed to playing in front of 200 were playing in front of close to 10 times that many.

Then is there the unique problem of the writer in regard to the games. It is awkward to refer to “the White team,” or, God forbid, “the White girls.” I quickly concluded that the “the girls’ White team” read better than “the White girls’ team.” I could refer to the Red with abandon, because no one, particularly Republicans, thinks “red” denotes communism anymore. I would hesitate to call such a team a Red army, but that was never likely.

DSCF1736Another hindrance is that, at higher levels, I never find a scorebook in which the players are listed as Jayden A., Noah R., Jeremiah B., and so on. They never total the books, either, but I’m still pretty handy with quick arithmetic, owing back to a time many years ago when I kept such books.

DSCF1745White won both games. Red took the boys into overtime. The girls’ Red team played a half with only a free throw, but proving it a fluke, a field goal was produced in the third quarter and the Red rallied to a 34-10 loss. It might have been a close game were it not for the existence of a pocket rocket named Terriaunna Bennett, who pumped in 20 points. The leading Red scorer, Serenity Baker, had four.

Jakeivius Anderson (11), Ike Waldron (20)
Jakeivius Anderson (11), Ike Waldron (20)

The rebounds were even. The turnovers weren’t. White hit 15 out of 51 shots. Red was four out of 22. The winning team swished one of its eight free throws. Red hit two, so there was that.

Referee Gene Simmons found plenty of use for his whistle.
Referee Gene Simmons found plenty of use for his whistle.

The boys’ game was a torrid affair. In spite of a fast pace, the two teams were tied only at 23 when scheduled time expired. White won the overtime, 10-3, and the game, 33-26. The teams split 41 turnovers over an extended span of 27 minutes (Red, 21-20). The winners dominated the boards, 43-30, and from this thriller emerged my favorite statistical oddity of the 2015-16 season to date.

DSCF1755The Red team hit eight field goals in 34 attempts. It also converted eight free throws in 34 attempts.

The winning team tried 51 shots, 17 more than the defeated, and hit 11 of them en route to victory.

Stephen Curry was nowhere in sight, though he is the only player in the National Basketball Association who remotely looks like he could be in middle school.

Thus far, the I-85 Line is holding, but Clinton High School has rescheduled its home games against Chester for Wednesday, January 27, so now I can hole up at the house tonight and wait for the power to go out.

Here’s my story on the middle school games: http://www.golaurens.com/sports/item/22754-white-tops-red-in-clinton-middle-school-rivalry

 

(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

Most of my books can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Monte-Dutton/e/B005H3B144/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1416767492&sr=8-1

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.

 

Sometimes They Swish and Sometimes They Clank

(Photos by Monte Dutton)
Ed Drew (34) (Photos by Monte Dutton)
Monte Dutton
Monte Dutton

Clinton, South Carolina, Thursday, January 21, 2016, 9:01 a.m.

Eight point four seconds to play. Blue Hose with the ball. Charleston Southern up one.

The Buccaneers stayed up by one. Markus Terry passed up a better shot than Reggie Dillard took. Presbyterian head coach Gregg Nibert hoped to get the ball to DeSean Murray, which only made sense, because the Blue Hose only needed two points, not three.

DeSean Murray (3) and CSU's Aaron Wheeler.
DeSean Murray (3) and CSU’s Aaron Wheeler.

And … I also know Nibert wanted to get the ball to Murray because I heard him say so on his postgame show, because I was sitting next to Eric Thacker, the host, at the time, and Gregg was on the other side. It wasn’t a major scoop. Going to Murray, who scored 17 points and grabbed 11 rebounds (and came into the game averaging 20.8 and 7.8), would’ve polled somewhere around 90 percent among the attending at Templeton Center.

Austin Venable (35)
Austin Venable (35)

Eight point four seconds are enough time to get the job done but not without haste, and the Blue Hose fell again to Charleston Southern, which has mastered them over the years. The Buccaneers won Wednesday night’s Big South game by one, 73-72, and lead the series by 10, 16-6. Before the most recent game, CSU had beaten PC by margins of 36, 39, eight and 26 points.

One is not enough, but it’s an improvement.

The game was uncommonly tight. Neither team led by more than six until Charleston Southern took a 67-60 lead with 3:05 to play.

DSCF1717

Presbyterian roared back and led by one, with 15.4 seconds on the clock, compliments of Dillard’s three-point play. After CSU’s Armel Potter hit a pair of free throws to give the game its final score, it was Dillard, who had scored 12 points, who took the final shot.

DSCF1712You hit some. You miss some. Timing is everything, sure, but if Dillard hadn’t made the play 10 seconds earlier, the final shot would have been anticlimactic.

DSCF1710It was tight in every way. Charleston Southern (8-11, 4-4 Big South) shot 44.8 percent from the floor. Presbyterian (8-11, 3-5) shot 42.6 percent. The Bucs’ free-throw shooting was poor (47.4), but the three-point shooting was not. CSU hit 12 of them in 34 attempts, five (in 11 tries) by Raemond Robinson, who had only one stray free throw in three tries to score 16.

DSCF1711Both teams had 37 rebounds. Murray had 11 for PC, Aaron Wheeler 10 for CSU. Wheeler, a smooth senior from Morristown, Tennessee, made none of his 20 points from behind the arc. He’s 6-4 and plays taller.

Next the Blue Hose go on for a visit to UNC Asheville on Saturday and return home to face Liberty on Jan. 30.

Shortly I’m off to the local rivalry between the Red and White teams representing Clinton Middle School. It is a league game. We used to have two middle schools, but when a new high school rose, the old one was renovated to be a middle school, which, for some reason, costs an awful lot of money. This is a long way of saying that the not new, but improved, middle school fields two teams in at least football and basketball.

And this promises to be a classic.

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

Take my novels. Please! Three of them – Crazy of Natural Causes, The Intangibles and The Audacity of Dope – are available so far. You can consider all three, as well as my non-fiction books on subjects like NASCAR and Americana music, here: http://www.amazon.com/Monte-Dutton/e/B005H3B144/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1416767492&sr=8-1

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.

 

How It Came Alive

(Monte Dutton photo)
(Monte Dutton photo)

Clinton, South Carolina, Wednesday, January 20, 2016, 10:09 a.m.

Monte Dutton
Monte Dutton

Tuesday took me by surprise. You see, I was holed up in the living room, writing the 24th chapter of my modern western, background provided by a succession of pirate movies on TCM, most of which starred Errol Flynn.

The plan was to work all day and cover the Laurens Raiders all night. I live a simple life.

Then I started getting emails, texts and social-media transmissions inquiring about my opinion of NASCAR’s latest rule changes.

(HHP/Tim Parks photo for Chevrolet)
(HHP/Tim Parks photo for Chevrolet)

I knew the Media Tour was going on. I knew it was the day of Brian France’s annual address regarding the State of Sport, held each year in front of both houses of Media Congress, the Senate of Broadcasters and the House of Writers. I didn’t know he was unveiling so many new bells and whistles that the role of fireworks displays at NASCAR is now going to be played by the actual races themselves.

Next up: Starting fields set by driver fly-overs in their own jets.

As you can tell, I’ve only studied it enough to crack jokes, and not very good ones, at that. So far, all the show has completed is the monologue. I’ll have more to say later, as is quite often the case.

(Monte Dutton photo)
(Monte Dutton photo)
Madisen Smith (22) scores for Greenville ahead of LDHS's Bre Nance. (Monte Dutton photo)
Madisen Smith (22) scores for Greenville ahead of LDHS’s Bre Nance. (Monte Dutton photo)

It was a cold Raider gym which Greenville High School visited last night. It may have seemed familiar — Laurens being Raiders in green, Greenville being Red Raiders in spite of its ville being green — but those bright red uniforms — upon review, I think I would describe the shade as amaranth — made it seem like the gym was getting warmer while Greenville (17-1) was winning the girls’ game, 85-53. The game featured 132 shots, 81 of which failed to disturb the nets. As a direct result were there 97 rebounds, some of which occurred as a result of the 26 missed free throws. The two teams also combined for 70 turnovers, 48 of which were committed by the Raiders in green.

The game was played on a grand scale in terms of flawed numbers. In spite of them, it didn’t seem so bad for the home team. Greenville was overwhelming. The fast breaks were like cavalry charges. Resistance was futile.

K.C. Cofield scored nine points for the Raiders. (Monte Dutton photo)
K.C. Cofield scored nine points for the Raiders. (Monte Dutton photo)

Laurens was sort of in it for a half, down 33-20, but the 53 points Greenville scored in the second half were just … too much. Laurens (8-9) tried. Really hard. It was just … too much.

(Monte Dutton photo)
(Monte Dutton photo)

The Laurens boys were responsible for ignition of the second game, in which they scored the game’s first 12 points. They wound up winning, 63-50, but Greenville (8-10) never mounted a serious charge. Laurens (11-6) actually pulled away gradually after the Red Raiders got within five points at the end of the first period. The edge was six at half and seven after three quarters. LDHS (it stands for Laurens District 55 High School, the number not being deemed necessary, thank God, for the acronym) had to overcome serious foul trouble in the relentless, mainly pressing, game of both teams. Eight Laurens players scored, led by Toby Jackson with 17.

E'Nicholas Leake (21) has a certain ephemeral quality. (Monte Dutton photo)
E’Nicholas Leake (21) has a certain ephemeral quality. (Monte Dutton photo)

I like it when Toby Jackson scores 17. It’s much harder to spell that Kezario Whitmore added 14. Also, the easily spelled Wayne Brown led the Red Raiders with 14. Danyaus Williams-Byrd (Greenville), Dahkavi Duck (G) and Dantaevious Henry (Laurens) were among those who failed to score.

See? I can spell names when I have to. As long as the keeper of the scorebook can, too.

Here’s my account of the games at golaurens.com: http://www.golaurens.com/sports/item/22740-jackson-whitmore-lead-raiders-past-greenville

(Graphic courtesy of Meredith Pritchard)
(Graphic courtesy of Meredith Pritchard)
(Melanie Ryon cover design)
(Melanie Ryon cover design)

Take my novels. Please! Three of them – Crazy of Natural Causes, The Intangibles and The Audacity of Dope – are available so far. You can consider all three, as well as my non-fiction books on subjects like NASCAR and Americana music, here: http://www.amazon.com/Monte-Dutton/e/B005H3B144/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1416767492&sr=8-1

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.

 

In the Absence of Cam Newton

Alex, in plaid shirt, with his friends. (Monte Dutton photos)
Alex, in plaid shirt, with his friends. (Monte Dutton photos)

Clinton, South Carolina, Monday, January 18, 2016, 3:12 p.m.

Monte Dutton
Monte Dutton

What do you know? It was a Sunday with the NFL playoffs going on, and I watched precious little football.

My great-nephew was celebrating his 13th birthday at a bowling alley in Cayce (Columbia suburb), I don’t see Alex Montgomery Howard as much as I used, and neither does his great grandmother, and so my mom and I traveled to Park Lanes to see Alex and his younger brothers Anthony and Josh.

Josh. Full of mischief.
Josh. Full of mischief.

When I left, I felt grateful to the Carolina Panthers for taking a 31-0 halftime lead over the Seattle Seahawks. As it turned out, there ended up being a reason to listen to the end of the game on radio.

Anthony. Wide open.
Anthony. Wide open.

Once there, courtesy of my phone’s directions,I tried to be useful, so I prevented Josh and Anthony from rolling another ball down the lane and, most likely, into a gutter, before the pins were cleared. Kids were allowed to use a metal frame, was similar to a miniature ski jump, in order to roll the ball down the jump and then the lane. I proved adept at studying the roll of the balls enough to align the jump for the purpose of making the occasional spare possible for a kid who needed my help to hoist the ball into the jump. Anthony wasn’t satisfied with gravity, so he kept shoving the ball down the jump so hard that it left the tracks before it reached the lane.

Linda and Herman Mcaulay.
Linda and Herman Mcaulay.

It’s the first time I’ve seen Alex socialize because some of his school friends showed up. With his glasses and stocking cap, I thought Alex looked like Waldo, and, like Waldo, he was frequently hard to find.

Ella and her grandmother. The generation between took the photo.
Ella and her grandmother. The generation between took the photo.

In the video room, Anthony and I steadfastly opposed the advance of frightening mechanical monsters with our trusty firearms. The difficulty wasn’t really reloading in time. It was popping quarters into the machine before the monsters got us. Thankfully, it was just a game, more interested in gobbling quarters than devouring players.

DSCF1665I also raced my Dodge Challenger against Josh’s Chevy Camaro through city streets, tunnels, a desert, and a dirt trail. My Challenger had really stiff shocks. That way I was able to soar over jumps that magically took me from the outskirts of Paris to the cactus-strewn desert of Arizona. I won the head-to-head and finished third overall to Josh’s fifth. When he asked me to slow down and let him catch up, I laughed maniacally.

DSCF1664They’re all happy kids. Josh is the charmer with the twinkles in his eyes. Anthony is a perpetual-motion machine. Alex is veering into adolescence but still at least seems astonishingly sane.

The grown-ups all sat around and swapped charming tales of the kids. I ordered some boneless wings for myself and a two-corn dog plate for Mom. That’s what she wanted, and it may have had something to do with it being among the menu’s least expensive items.

DSCF1667

On the way home I listened to the radio account of the Pittsburgh-Denver game while pretending to listen to my mother’s review of the party, and how precious the kids are, and how “Ella looks good, doesn’t she?” and that she thinks Tony, Ella’s husband, looks like Tom Selleck when he was younger.

I gave Alex cash, because it had been so long since I’d seen him that I no longer had the slightest idea what he was interested in, and I certainly didn’t want to bring him something related to his obsession of six months ago. I figure there’s a good chance the money will be spent at Game Stop.

DSCF1662I had some flashbacks to a time, not so long ago, when Ella was the age Alex is now, and I took her on trips to places she may never get to go again. She’ll be 32 next month. I can’t see her as much in her children’s personalities because they are all boys, but, of course, I can see her in their faces.

DSCF1653When Alex was born, I told her that his birth was one more chance, in our maddening and dysfunctional clan, to “get it right.”

So far, so good.

(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.

 

I Don’t Bite My Nails, but If I Did …

(Monte Dutton photos)
(Monte Dutton photos)

Clinton, South Carolina, Sunday, January 17, 2016, 9:49 a.m.

Monte Dutton
Monte Dutton

I almost didn’t go. I had been going back and forth about it all day. What probably cinched it was New England pulling two touchdowns ahead of Kansas City, and I needed to gas up the truck for a little trip, and go by the ATM, so, what the heck? I drove on over to Templeton Center, where the Blue Hose were playing the Highlanders.

That’s Presbyterian College Blue Hose versus Radford University Highlanders. A match made in Scotland.

DSCF1764As I walked through the lobby, I picked up one of the scoresheets placed conveniently in racks, and I scanned the rosters, thinking, well, this should be a great game. PC was 7-10 overall and 2-4 in the Big South. Radford was 10-8 and 3-3. The Blue Hose were at home, and, I thought, well, that makes it a toss-up. By the heights and weights, the two teams appeared to be about the same size.

DeSean Murray
DeSean Murray

I sat down at the space set aside for me by PC sports information director Simon Whitaker and started experimenting with one of my cameras. I do not have the quality of equipment used by professional photographers to shoot sporting events. Somewhere on my spacious estate, I have some quality equipment that requires the use of film that is shiny and sensitive, not convenient and virtual.

My next observation was that either Presbyterian overstates the size of its players or Radford understates them, and, perhaps a little of both. The roster claimed that the Highlanders had two players who were 6-8 and another at 6-7. PC had a pair of 6-9s, a 6-8, and a 6-6. Yet, running up and down the floor, the heads of the Highlanders in red seemed to bob at a slightly higher level than the Blue Hose in white. I put some study into this. Presbyterian’s splendid sophomore forward, DeSean Murray, is listed at 6-5. So is Radford freshman forward Ed Polite Jr., who is a fine player but doesn’t seem more polite than anyone else. A pleasant young man, I’m sure. Polite is from Lanham, Maryland. I have a close friend from Lanham, Maryland.

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My considered estimate is that Polite is about two inches taller than Murray.

In the Templeton Center rafters, emblematic of Big South membership.
In the Templeton Center rafters, emblematic of Big South membership.

It didn’t start great for the Blue Hose, and this may have contributed to my exaggerated assessment of Radford’s official size. The Highlanders once led, 9-1, and the Blue Hose had only three points in the game’s first four minutes. Neither team led by as many as eight points again. Presbyterian tied it at 16 on Murray’s artful invasion of the lane at the 8:43 mark. The Blue Hose led, 31-26, at halftime and for most of the way. The biggest lead was seven on several occasions.

Austin Venable
Austin Venable

The balanced Highlanders — four players scored in double figures — tied the Blue Hose over and over during the final 20 minutes but only finagled the lead once, 51-49 with 11:34 to play.

Gregg Nibert
Gregg Nibert

The final score was Presbyterian 69, Radford 68. At the buzzer, a halfcourt shot caromed off the backboard and rimmed out. That’s how close the game was.

Presbyterian head coach Gregg Nibert labeled it “a great team win.”

DSCF1769At home, the Blue Hose are 7-2. Away, they are 1-8. This is due, in some measure, to the traveling appearances of Presbyterian against Clemson, Richmond and Marquette, but the road woes seemed more glaring because, two nights earlier, the Blue Hose had allowed Coastal Carolina to slip away to a 25-0 lead at the start and lost, 87-58.

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Murray scored 22 points, but Radford smothered him in the final five minutes. He only hit eight of 18 but was six out of eight at the free-throw line for the night altogether. He also led the team with eight rebounds, but Reggie Dillard, who hit the free throw that made the difference, scored 10 points and had seven rebounds. Markus Terry scored 15 points. For Radford, Polite scored 15, as did Rashun Davis, and Cameron Jones added 14. Polite pulled down 12 rebounds.

Coaching basketball will drive a man crazy, and Nibert has been doing it here for 27 years.

DSCF1766“It was a great win after Thursday’s debacle,” he said. “Coastal played good. Don’t get me wrong, but to come back [two days] later … I tell you what. That was resilient.”

Notice how Nibert used “debacle” and “resilient” in the span of one paragraph. That comes with coaching at a school with quality academics. It’s almost osmosis.

“They’re good,” he said of Radford. “We finally found our starting lineup, and we finally found our guys coming off the bench.”

I must spend too much time fiddling around with that camera. I hadn’t even noticed those guys being gone.

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(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 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 appreciation 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. 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.