The boys down at the Y have a bad weekend

Published 8:52 pm Friday, July 26, 2019

We always hate to let a yarn linger from one week to the next, but some tales are worthy of the week’s wait. If you like game-winning, net-swishing, heartbreaking, last-second shots, we are spinning just such a yarn this week.

The “boys down at the Y” should’ve known that this whole saga would not end in their favor. It may have started out well; but, as you know, it’s not how a story starts out that determines a man’s legacy.

This particular account unfolded in June of 2000, and it is that very writing you are reading today, with obvious editorial changes and the use of poetic license that expands with the passage of time. You understand. As noted before, June 2000 was a lot of Geritol ago for the boys down at the Y. But I guess back then my buddy Steve Sauter and the others felt invincible enough back then to boast of victory even before lacing up their war boots.

“The loser of this game will have a bad weekend!” Sauter hollered out as the last game of the day commenced – and he, Kerry Frank, Luke Hill and the rest continued that trash-talking theme every time they hit a shot. I will give the boys their due. They could shoot with the best of them, both from the hip and, at times, from the mouth. But that’s what fellas in a gym looking to recapture their youth do.

On this day, Sauter’s team was clinging to a precarious 22-21 lead, meaning my team was one three-point shot away from victory for the good guys and a really bad weekend for the trash talkers.  We got the ball with the chance to win. I spotted up well behind the three-point line, not much more than a stone’s throw east of the Texas line. LaGrange legend Ken Carter saw me and slung a left-handed cross-court pass over the defense. I caught it with a snarl, set my feet, spun the ball in my hands until the seams were right in line with the tips of my fingers, squared up, eyed the basket, and began to put in motion the shot that – in just a moment – would be heard by the moans and groans of my Georgia friends.

But the shot was not without resistance.  Just as I began spinning the ball in my hands, Mr. William Paschal – a Biology professor at LaGrange College – came flying out at me, his 6’4” frame stretched out like a mad grizzly.

“Sorry, Professor,” I said in the middle of my shooting motion, “Class is already in session!” Sauter came flying out at me, too, both hands raised high to contest the shot.  Sauter’s in the insurance business; so, as that thundering shot left the station, I couldn’t help but mutter, “Sorry, sir, but you’re about to be behind on y’premiums.” 

The ball arched high like a rainbow stretching over the tops of those tall pines after one of those big Georgia rains. It sailed with the precision of the space shuttle, and it nailed the landing like a smooth gymnast.

All Steve, Mr. Paschal, and the rest could do was stand and shake their heads. Nothin’ but net – just like the end of “Hoosiers.”

And that’s how the trash-talking boys on the other side enjoyed a bad, bad weekend, way back in year 2000.  I have many witnesses to the truth of this account: Alan Daniel, Louie McClung, Kirk Kilgore, and our old friend Gil Holliday – and others.

For all of you boys at the Y who felt the dagger of that shot that day, thanks for re-reading this tale again. And, please, fellas, accept my apologies for making this weekend a bad, bad, bad one all over again.