‘Tis the Season

27 02 2010

February 26, 2010

Well today was a feast of high school basketball… and a good amount of driving.  I covered four games at the Class A Divisional tournament in Hamilton.  I got to the station at about noon to pick up a camera and head out to catch the second half of the 12:30 semifinal game.  However, when I got to the station I saw that we were completely out of cameras (I problem that’s been occurring more and more).

At first I tried coordinating a camera switch with Kevin, who was already shooting a court story in Hamilton, but as he was running low on batteries, I elected to just wait 15 minutes for Christian to get back with his.  Sure enough I didn’t have to wait long for his return and I snatched his small camera (an annoyance for shooting sports… on the bright side keeping a steady shot with small cameras has been strengthening my left tricep) and headed out.

I got to the gym at halftime of the boys semifinal game between the Dillon Beavers and the Hamilton Broncs.  Unfortunately for the hometown Broncs, they had no chance at victory against the superior Dillon squad.  Hamilton shot a dismal 18% from the field, as it seemed they were trying to score five points every possession they had the ball.  Needless to say they were unsuccessful in their hurried efforts and turned the ball over 21 times in the contest.  Embarrassingly enough, the mercy rule clock (where the clock runs continuously if one team is ahead by 40 or more points) had to be kicked into action during the final minute of play.  In fact, a Broncs player couldn’t even get his second free throw off in time when the buzzer sounded to spell a 64-23 Beavers win.

Following that game, I stayed for the first quarter and change of a semifinal matchup in the girls bracket between the Anaconda Lady Copperheads  and Frenchtown.  Anaconda looked head and shoulders above the Lady Broncs right out of the gate as they jumped out to a 35-9 lead before halftime could pause the massacre.  I had to leave at that point to head back to the station and make my edits for the 6:00, but Anaconda went on to handle Frenchtown by a final of 64-38.

Three and a half hours, two highlight sequences, and 94 miles later:  I walk back into Dale Berry court for more Hamilton-hosted basketball.  This time I get to cover an entire game as I’m in time for tip-off of the semifinal between the Stevensville Yellowjackets and the Corvallis Blue Devils.  This game was one of the highest intensity contests I’ve ever covered as it was clear that the two teams were not fond of each other.  Considering the geographical separation of just 14 miles, it was easy to understand the rivalry vibe these teams were emitting on the hardwood.  Both teams love to run up and down the court and certain segments of the game felt more like a hockey game.  And, like many rivalry games, the intensity and nerves caused for general ineptness in offensive execution.  The teams went into the locker rooms tied at 21 for halftime.  However, Corvallis had a stroke of offensive efficiency in the third quarter where they outscored the Yellowjackets 14-6 to take control of the game.  The Blue Devils went on to win the game 47-37.  That outcome pits the Blue Devils (14-5) against Dillon (16-3) for the divisional championship tomorrow night.

The nightcap contest for my hoops-frenzied day was a girls semifinal matchup between Stevensville and Dillon.  Both teams struggled to score in the contest as the game remained in single digits until the second quarter.  I had to leave before halftime to get back to Missoula and make edits for the 10:00 news, but Stevensville ended up with the low-scoring victory 36-30 over Dillon.  That puts the Lady Jackets (11-9) into the Championship game vs. Anaconda (15-4) tomorrow night.

12 hours after arriving to the station… I went home.  Gotta love the high school basketball playoff time of year!


St. Ignatius Rollercoaster

15 02 2010

February 12, 2010

When I set out on my trek to St. Ignatius Thursday night, I had no idea how many twists would indeed be in store for me.

Before I even got to leave the station I was informed that I would have to be shooting with a small camera [a pain in the butt for shooting sporting events, compared to the bigger on-the-shoulder cameras] due to the death of one of our station’s only three large cameras… twist number one.

Luckily I managed to easily find the gymnasium which I had never been too before.  Unfortunately, I walked into it at a sharp 7:30 expecting the boys’ game vs. Plains to be getting underway… when in actuality I was witnessing the beginning of the fourth quarter of action in the girls game.  Slightly disappointed (twist number two) at the delay I would be facing until the game I needed started, I parked myself into the stands.

This delay meant I would not have time to cover the game in Frenchtown tonight, so as the girls game drew to an end so did I draw out my weapon of media… in hopes that some type of exciting finish to the contest would deem it worthy of taking the spot of the previously assigned Frenchtown game for the 10:00 news.

An exciting finish is exactly what I got.  As the final seconds of the clock ticked to an end, the Plains girls drove down the court with just enough time for one last desperation shot.  With approximately two seconds left on the clock, a girl dropped an 18-footer to knot the game up at 32 (a score you’d expect on the gridiron… not the hardwood).  This buzzer-beating shot was the single biggest game-changing moment I’d captured yet this season in high school sports (twist number three), albeit not on the grandest stage of action.

At this point I had to call my sports director Jake to inform him of the major delay.  However due to our station being the Olympic-hosting NBC affiliate, he informed me that the opening ceremonies would push our newscast back an extra hour… thus the delay really wasn’t unmanageable (twist number four).  To overtime they went.  Once again I waited to film until the final seconds.  This time, Mission’s post converted a lay-in to tie the game at 37 with just 10 seconds to go.  However, she butchered the free throw attempt in a dramatic air-ball fashion… to double overtime we go.

In the final seconds of now double OT, a Mission post-player knocked down two free throws to give her squad a two-point lead.  This time Plains was unable to get off a desperation shot, and Mission prevailed by the final of 42-40.

I stuck around long enough to get three highlight shots from the opening seconds of the boys game and then get back in the jeep to start the 45-minute journey back to the station.  Once back, I edited the two games into just two-shot highlight sequences.  [Unfortunately some nights’ casts are so loaded I can only get the essence of the game in with two shots.  Other nights with more media-deserving high school teams and games I can get up to four or five.  And when shooting Griz athletics I can be awarded a bountiful number of up to 10 highlights.]

Remember the thrilling buzzer-beater that sent the girls game into overtime?  Well, the tape had glitched at just that point and I couldn’t use the shot (twist number five).  I have Jake look at the tape with me and there’s nothing that can be done.  Literally the most dramatic moment I’d captured in my young career of high-school shooting… and it’s useless.  Jake gives me a sympathetic shake of the head.  The single second of all my night’s footage that I desired to have was the single second of all the night’s footage that the tape had destroyed… maybe it was karma… maybe I unknowingly upset the gods of technology.