Local March Madness: Ten-gallon hats don’t fit a little head

Published 6:44 pm Friday, March 16, 2018

Well, March Madness is in full swing. With it, I can’t help but travel back to those good ol’ days with the boys down at the Y.

It has been a good many years since our last net-swishing, rim-shaking, trash-talking reunion. But we’re about to have one right here and now.

Ah, we had some good times twice a year for years, as we popped in on the “boys” on every bi-annual visit to see grandma, and we always showed them some Texas moves they hadn’t seen before. But as much as I have enjoyed writing a bragging column as soon as my feet hit Texas dirt, there was one trip that would allow none of that.

On that trip, there were very few successful long-range shots from just this side of Selma.

No dipsy-doodle moves through traffic climaxed with a Jordan-ish finger roll.

No spin moves topped off with a cherry and a soft left-handed scoop shot.

No amazing no-look passes to a cutting teammate.

There was none of that. All this trip provided was a few jeers from my peers, led by my old high school comrade, Steve Sauter — he who in high school was voted “Most likely to get quoted” — or, so I remember.

Once — before I realized that nothing good was going to happen for me on the court that day — I went inside and offered four or five little moves before adding a little 10-foot fade-away shot, which six-foot-two Sauter promptly squatted away like a windshield wiper swiping away the rain.

Sauter was gracious as he helped me up off the floor, and said, “Welcome to Georgia!”

Once I unleashed one of those shots from downtown that spun its way gracefully toward the goal like one of those little tops we used to buy at the store when we were kids. I watched the shot spin all the way to the goal and had my fist already clinched in anticipation of the sweet sound of the swisssssh I was used to — only to see the shot gulp in and plunk out. I couldn’t help but to shake my head and say, “Man! What’s a fella gotta do t’day to get a shot to fall.”

From the sideline, the fella most likely to get quoted hollered out his condolences — with a grin, “Want some cheese with that whine?”

The futility wasn’t just a one-day event. It carried over to a second day, and two days was all the time I had to try to recapture what I thought I remembered I used to have.

We were so bad those two days we made the other old guys look good, fellas like southpaw Ken Carter, Bad wheels Kirk Kilgore, the LaGrange College “Professor,” the legendary Bubba Hill and one old fella I can’t name because his wife didn’t know he plays down at the Y.


She says he has bad knees and shouldn’t play, despite his pleas that, “Honey, they all have bad knees down there.”

But there was a silver-lining stashed away in the midst of those dark, stormy-looking clouds. On the last game of the last day, the writer from Texas started “feeling it” again, and right at the end, we let a shot fly from the spot way out on the right wing that we’ve won many a game from before heading back to Texas. It’s that shot I mentioned earlier just this side of Selma, but I think this one was nearer to Meridian.

And, by some miracle, when it reached the end of its journey, it nestled itself softly in the twine of the net and played a little tune that I thought sounded a little like Willie Nelson stringing “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain.”

My buddy Sauter was pretty excited — I think maybe he likes Willie Nelson — because he offered a congratulation with equal enthusiasm to his earlier “Want some cheese with that whine?”

He said, “Now that’s a ten-gallon-hat shot if I ever saw one!”

Now you know why he won that most-likely-to-get-quoted back in 1974.

But, you know, as much as I appreciated the love, I couldn’t even bring myself to let out even a little grin, not the way I had been playing. Somehow a ten-gallon hat shot just doesn’t fit right on a one-and-a-half gallon head.