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Basketball Urge Still Strong

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Soon after graduating high school where basketball had been the focus of so much of my attention for years, I was often struck by the urge to take the court. The bounce of a ball, the squeak of rubber soles on a court, the smell of Firm Grip as I walked behind a bench – it all pulled me in.

I enjoy covering high school basketball because I love the sport and it’s fun to watch the athletes progress from year to year. As the decades have gone by, the pull has lessened and I’m comfortable with spectator status. However, this past season’s basketball action tugged harder than most for some reason. (Not that I could have, certainly, but I wanted to. My mind and heart may still be in the game, but my knees and lungs have retired from athletics, thank you very much.)

I found myself wanting to get back in the lane and mix it up with the post players, hearing the voices of coaches Keith Clark and Jim Anderson commanding “take her up with you!” I had the urge to shout similar advice myself this season. While the girls I watched seemed perfectly comfortable shooting the ball with a defender in tow, there was way too much pushing for my liking. When did it become acceptable to push someone else out of position? As far as I know it’s still against the rules (though I know coaches encourage this while blocking out and posting up).

Oh well, I just have to get used to things changing. The fact that a player can, in effect, dribble once while “gathering the ball” and then take off dribbling again still surprises me. And referees obviously aren’t worried about anyone carrying the ball as a violation. Some players – male and female – appear to be turning dough while bringing the ball up the floor.
In the early years of marriage, Mike and I played with some friends in some informal co-ed match-ups. I later continued with some like-minded women who also loved basketball and wanted to stay somewhat in physical condition. We played 5-on-5 half court. I even thought it would be fun to enter a 3-on-3 tournament at Prim. Oh my God, what a wake-up call that was. Nothing is more difficult than 3-on-3. Each of the three players must be constantly on the move. I don’t recall ever playing any sort of organized ball again after that. Hmmm.

When Lorn got old enough we enjoyed playing yard ball with him, and it was rewarding watching him progress to the point I was no longer able to compete one-on-one.

We looked forward to Lorn playing in school and we thank his classmates for applying enough peer pressure that he did start in junior high. Seems our boy loved playground games, but was not as keen on the structured drills and laps of practices.

In both his games and for others I cover for the newspaper, I watch most of the action through a camera lens. This took some getting used to, and I still catch myself watching rather than taking photos. Well, that was a great play. Too bad I didn’t press the button.

The NCAA championships for men and women have been exciting this year. I probably wouldn’t have watched as much as I did if it wasn’t presented for my viewing pleasure with Mike in charge of the remote. I usually watch while multitasking, but some games are more riveting than others. I must admit, I didn’t feel the urge to go up against the post players last week. High school girls? Maybe. Aliyah Boston? No way.

Anyone up for a game of “HORSE”?

Lori Freeze is news editor of the Stone County Leader. Contact her at lori@stonecountyleader.com.

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