Clinton, South Carolina, Friday, January 22, 2016, 9:14 a.m.
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).
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.
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.
One 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!
Middle 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.
Another 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.
White 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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.