Plunging deeply into high school hoops
Notes and a column after sitting courtside for seven games over three days
Note: See that picture? That’s how I cover high school basketball and beginning last Thursday, I covered a ton of it for my old newspaper, The Norman Transcript. In all, I wrote five different game stories — two on Thursday night, two on Friday night, one Saturday afternoon — and one column, drawing from two more games Saturday night, each contest part of the fifth annual Joe Lawson Memorial Invitational.
Covering the high schools means keeping your own stats and the pic above shows two of my game sheets. I’ve been keeping them just so — shots, rebounds, steals, assists, turnovers and a running score — since the beginning of my sportswriting life. If you look close enough, you’ll see each player’s name and number followed in the next column by 2s for made 2s, 3s for made 3s, dashes for missed 2s, plus signs for missed 3s, circles for missed foul shots, filled-in circles for made foul shots; and in the next column small Os and Ds for offensive and defensive rebounds; and in the next two columns, tic marks for steals and assists; and to the right of that a running score, including the source of each point and, when it feels important, sometimes the time on the clock it occurred. If you really look closely, you may notice different colored ink for different quarters and dotted lines in each category to separate the first and second halves.
Above all of it, beginning in the top left corner and extending left to right, turnovers are kept by team, and at the very bottom of the page are a few quotes I picked up before the teams left the court. I don’t total everything, just the stuff I figure I’ll need for the story. Frequently, I’ll go back and total something in the middle of the story I think I need, like shooting totals in one of the quarters, or one team’s or player’s offensive rebounds.
The point is, whatever I might need, I have it.
It’s what I do, and though I known some sportswriters who manage able keep turnover by player, rather than just by team, and even the possession arrow for crying out loud, I remain amazed I’ve taught myself to do this much with a fair amount of accuracy.
Oh, by the way, though I used to try, I don’t keep fouls. I hear the PA announce them and I might right down the time a key player picks up a key foul, like a second in the first quarter, a third in the first half, or a fifth, what I’ve mostly learned is the moment a whistle stops play, I can’t help but disengage, then lock back in when play resumes.
Perhaps that’s interesting, I don’t know.
The column I came up with late Saturday night, one deadline, which you can read below, is super specific to Norman High and Norman North boys and girls basketball, and, therefore, may not draw broad interest in this space. Nonetheless, here it is, I worked hard for it and, as I say in the column, I hope Norman folk will latch on to these teams because each is interesting and its own good story.
Though the nightcaps at the North Gym Saturday were the championship games of the fifth annual Joe Lawson Memorial Invitational, and the boys championship offered an early Christmas gift in the form of an unscheduled Crosstown Clash six days before the first scheduled one, the crowd was fair but not fantastic.
There were a few more Norman North students and a few more Norman High fans.
Maybe the NHS Gym will be rocking on Friday, and certainly, on Jan. 19, when the Clash returns to North, the seats will be full.
These teams deserve it.
Earlier Saturday, the North girls fell 55-50 in the third-place girls game to Midwest City, but I swear if they can just slow down a little, keep their head and take a breath, they’d win a rematch and perhaps the vast majority of their remaining games.
They’ve got a chance.
Then came the evening.
The NHS girls fell in their championship game, 44-35, to Putnam City North.
Next up, the early Clash, the NHS boys came from behind in the fourth quarter to claim their championship game, 49-44, over North.
Let’s stick with the boys a moment.
Though the crowd was good but not great, the play on the floor was everything you want from a Clash.
It was so good, what the crowd lacked in numbers, it frequently made up for in volume.
The biggest difference between the two teams?
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