Thursday, March 31, 2011

Weathering the Storm...

I was shooting a baseball game the other night, as the sun was going down I noticed the dark clouds to the west and a strong wind blowing in from that direction. It was just a matter of time before the storm. All I was hoping for would be able I'd get something decent from the baseball game before the rain came in. Well, a couple innings into the game the lightning started, and the field was cleared. I only had about 20 minutes before my next assignment, so I decided to leave. As I was walking across the parking lot a beautiful streak of lightning went across the sky. So, I figured I'd hang out and wait for a weather shot. I pretty much decided I'd use the steeple to the church parking lot I was sitting in to frame the shot and sat and waited. The lightning streaked across the sky a couple times and it either wasn't what I was looking for or I was a little late on the trigger. Finally, there were about three huge stretches of lightning. This was the one I liked the best.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Beginning of the Good Ole 8am/7pm Split...

I'm doing this a little backwards, the Bronte game was actually the second game and this was the first, forgive me for posting slightly out of order... So, after their thrilling last-second win, Eula was playing for a state championship on Saturday. Early, very early in the morning. Now anyone who knows me knows that I am so NOT an early riser, so shooting a game that starts at 8:30am is not my idea of fun. And, to add to that, with the start of the South by Southwest Music Festival starting, there were no rooms (well, none affordable, there was a room at the Hilton downtown for $350/ night, would love to hear about that when I turned in my expense report!), so we had to stay 30 minutes south in San Marcos. It didn't help that after getting dinner and finishing the slideshow from the Bronte game the night before I didn't get to bed until about 2:30am. So, after a nice four hour nap it was off to the game.
The team they were playing looked really good and had a really great game against their semi-final opponent. So, I didn't have really high hopes for Eula taking state. However, one of the colleagues reminded me of the Tenaha team (maybe not the same players) they were playing had lost to Roscoe two years earlier. That Tenaha team had gotten most of its points from turnovers and in transition, not from set plays and really tight defense, which is what gave Eula so much trouble in the game against Evadale two days earlier.
Well, that's exactly what happened. Eula did a good job of taking care of the ball, shot a lot better, looking like a lot of the early game jitters weren't there like what might have been a couple day earlier. Then, of course, Kainon Irons, their big man who played such a huge role all year had yet another great game. Along with the other starters shooting well, and hitting some big threes every time Tenaha tried to start making a run. It was fun to watch, I've always said my official position as a journalist is I won't openly pull for and will NEVER cheer on the sideline/baseline during a game as it's not professional, however, it's always easier to cover the winning team than the losing team.







Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Opposite of Yesterday...

Well, 24 hours after Bronte went nuts hitting 70% of their shots in the state semifinals, they couldn't hit much of anything. A lot of those problems may have been the team they were playing. Paducah, was incredibly athletic and had a pair of trees in the Dragons' two post players. Both players were long and were great leapers, plus the whole team played great defense. It was pretty much a recipe for disaster. It was kind of sad really, had they won the game it would have been one of those great storybook endings, the coach and his two sons the team's star players winning a championship in their last year playing together after having made it to the same place last year. But, it just didn't work out that way.
One beef I did have, along with most of the others in the arena is the ridiculous speech that is given to the players after the games. The UIL has been doing this the last couple of years, I guess as a way of trying to "comfort" the kids after the game. I've been in situations like this and I can honestly say, there's NOTHING anyone is going to say to make these kids feel better. So, making them stay on the court while someone gives some kind of a cookie cutter speech about how hard you played and the games you won to get there etc. are going to make them feel better. Honestly, it looks more like someone who wants to stand in front of a couple thousand people and says "Hey look at me, I'm in a position of power!!" So, instead of letting these kids get off the court as soon as they can and let the tears flow among their teammates, these poor kids have to stand on the court in front of everyone while someone gives an empty speech that's supposed to make these kids feel better.







Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Shooting the Lights Out...

The night after watching Eula's heart-stopping last second Bronte, making their second trip to the state tournament in as many years, came out and put on a show of how to hit the open three. The Longhorns, led by brothers Dakota and Kerwin Rawls, made it look like they couldn't miss anything and Roxton was giving them plenty of open looks. And, when they weren't getting open looks they were driving to the basket and taking complete advantage of Bronte's considerable size advantage. They were playing like they were unbeatable. It was a lot of fun to watch and left them only one game from the championship.








Monday, March 21, 2011

Last Second Thriller...

After the girls championship week I was back in Austin for some early-morning basketball with Eula playing in the state semifinals against Evadale. At first, it was looking like Eula was going to pull away with things rather easily. The Pirates big play post, Kainon Irons, was taking the game over and no one could stop him through the first quarter. Then Evadale's big men started to contain him and things started getting tougher. But halftime Eula was down and it wasn't looking like there were going to be able to hang. The third quarter was much of the same and it was looking bad for Eula. The only thing going right was Irons getting his points, but he was getting smothered by defenders.
Then things started to click for Eula and they were able to start getting some turnovers. Irons had kept them close enough to make it a game and the guards were starting to make plays. Along with Evadale's two big men getting in foul trouble, which opened Irons up a little more. Eula took a lead late in the game, only to have Evadale tie it up with less than three seconds left. Eula calls timeout to set up a play. They got the ball down the court quick and into the hands of their best outside shoot, Jacob Archa, who got an open look and nailed the three as the clock expired. It was a pretty great play especially since Archa had only one field goal for the day and was 1-7 on threes before that. It was a great clutch shot, however, and made for some great photos. I was able to get both the sports front photo and a local front photo to go with fan story we were running. Games like this are what make this time of year so much fun.








Friday, March 18, 2011

Peyton's Redemption Song...

Last year the Wylie girls basketball team nearly won a state title with a team full of senior role players and an outstanding sophomore guard, Peyton Little (#24 in the photos), who wasn't afraid to shoot from anywhere. Well, after all the seniors graduated and this year's team of mostly sophomores and freshmen lost seven games of its first 10 games and was 5-12 at one point I figured the chances of making it to Austin were nothing but a pipe dream.
But, then the underclassmen on the team started learning their roles and the blue chipper was gaining more confidence in her young teammates. They easily won district (not a huge surprise) and started making statement wins in the playoffs. With only one senior on the team, who was a really solid player and great leader, it was starting to look like they were making a run a year earlier than expected. And, with Peyton Little, a junior who has already committed to play at the University of Texas, and who is good enough to play on most guys teams, they were looking unbeatable. I also wonder how many teams saw the 12 losses and thought about overlooking them.
After a pretty easy 23-point win in the state semifinals and a game that held Little "in check" with only 23 points. It was a wonder if she had hit the wall or decided to save her best for last. Well, Little showed very quickly that it was the ladder. Scoring 20 of the team's 29 first half points and a championship game-record 43 total points, she left no doubt who the best player on the court was and that she wouldn't have a repeat of last year's disappointment. With all but one of these players coming back, next year could prove very interesting. And, the best part of the whole thing is, since we staying in Austin, I had no problem getting to the game early and had all the batteries for my cameras. Plus, I was able to set the broken lens to its widest angle for the remote and later for the celebrations shots.