The Vagaries of Basketball and Other Sports

Quick summary of the night: Ladarius Williams missed this shot. (Monte Dutton photos)

Quick summary of the night: Ladarius Williams missed this shot. (Monte Dutton photos)

Monte Dutton

Monte Dutton

Clinton, South Carolina, Thursday, February 18, 2016, 9:55 a.m.

When all the laughter died in sorrow …

It’s the name of a book I read when I was in school. I read a lot then. Still do. The title stuck with me and emerges when the agony of defeat supersedes the thrill of victory.

Pause for a public-service announcement: The best way to learn how to write is to read.

Gaffney, streaking away.

Gaffney, streaking away.

Gaffney (13-11) won the first-round 4A playoff game in Laurens, 79-57, and according to M*A*S*H, suicide is supposed to be painless. It’s true that the Raiders were marvelously self-destructive.

The pain, stretched beyond the immediate, is also about the stern test that will be rebuilding a team that is losing an All-State choice, Ladarius Williams, and three who made All-Region I-4A (Williams, Ty Madden and Toby Jackson). Seniors scored 56 of Laurens’ 57 points Wednesday night.

Major bummer.

Major bummer.

As head coach Ben Sinclair said afterward, “It’s frustrating we couldn’t get the job done. The guys had a good season. They worked hard this year, but the unfortunate thing about our sport is that you get sized up by how you play in the tournament.”

No room to breathe.

No room to breathe.

It’s perfectly natural for fans who have not gone out on the floor and practiced every day, and who have not spent long hours watching video and sizing up the opposition, to be unable to understand what was going on. The players knew how important the game was. They knew, almost all of them, that their high school careers could end suddenly and undoubtedly would end soon.

How did it happen? How did Gaffney, with only four seniors on the team, manage to upend the bigger and heretofore more successful Raiders?

It happens, and when it happens, it’s not from lack of effort. Last night, for instance, my eye zeroed in on another senior, E’Nicholas Leake, streaking around the floor, perhaps with more urgency than plan, but surely with superb effort.

This one went in.

Grabbing a rebound.

He cared. They all cared. For whatever reason, they couldn’t do anything about it. They had fits and starts, but the engine never ran smoothly for long.

Many years ago, when I was more intimately involved in contests of athletic teamwork, the best I could figure was that a kid tells himself he’d better be ready, and for some incredible reason that only shows up in the young … himself just doesn’t buy it. This theory of mine was itself cooked up in adolescence, so it obviously bears little validity, but more than 40 years have passed, and through thousands of ballgames and hundreds of stock car races, I haven’t been able to improve upon it.

Fortunately, it’s why they play the games.

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Here’s what I wrote at GoLaurens.com: http://www.golaurens.com/sports/item/22972

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

As you may have noticed, I use these blogs as a promotional tool for my novels. One, Crazy of Natural Causes, has been out since late July of 2015.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

Another, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, will be out soon. I’m expecting to be given a release date soon. It’s a crime novel about corruption and patronage in a small town. The tale unfolds across two generations at the same time.

(Melanie Ryon cover design)

(Melanie Ryon cover design)

Crazy and Trespasses are my third and fourth novels. The Audacity of Dope was published in 2011, The Intangibles in 2013. I’m working on a fifth, Cowboys Come Home. Most of my books can be examined and purchased here: http://www.amazon.com/Monte-Dutton/e/B005H3B144/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1416767492&sr=8-1

(Joe Font cover design)

(Joe Font cover design)

My short fiction, reviews and essays can be found here: https://wellpilgrim.wordpress.com/

Follow me on Twitter @montedutton, @hmdutton (about writing) and @wastedpilgrim (more humor and opinion). I’m on Facebook at Monte.Dutton and Instagram at Tug50. Look for me by name at Google+. Whew. It’s too much.

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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