Clinton, South Carolina, Thursday, January 28, 2016, 3:48 p.m.
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.
Then 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.
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.
Who knows? I like snap judgments. I make them better than the considered ones.
Last 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.
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.
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.”
Meanwhile, I long for a niquavian sunset. Don’t make me mad, or else I might go on a kadyah.
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.
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
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.