On the tournament road
On the tournament road
Late suppers of cold pizza. Gas bills the size of a good Connecticut pot hole. Five to six hours of sleep a night. Man I love this time of year. No kidding.
It all goes with the end of the high school basketball season. A special three week or so rush every year that get the adrenalin pumping and leaves you in a state of exhausted numbness when the last game is in the books.
What’s so good about it? Let me enlighten you. Here’s what has me chirping every year about why this is the best time of the year.
Reason No. 1. It is the dream season and it is fun to watch teams dream and players dream.
2. I get to stop in the Mobile station on an almost nightly basis. Hey, it’s clean and has 16 pumps. In and out, boom, boom. Plus I can get my lotto tickets there if need be. Talk about dreaming.
3. The league tournaments always do a hospitality room. Shrimp, cold cuts, soda, chips and area super fan Gene McMahon. They are in every hospitality room I go to. Go beat that.
4. You get to see teams with cool nicknames like the Hilltoppers (Bridgeport Central) or the Tomahawks (Glastonbury). And if you are really lucky you might get to cover Hale Ray (The Little Noises) or East Hampton (Bellringers). They haven’t crossed my path in recent years.
5. You get to see some really, really good players like Bridgeport Central’s Josh Wilkerson, Cromwell’s Kelly Flanigan and Glastonbury’s Courtney Latham. And that doesn’t include our own area performers like Holy Cross’ Scott Herlihy, Gilbert’s Robert Skinner and Nonnewaug’s Caitlin Drakeley.
6. You get to talk brackets every day with coaches and players.
7. You get to refresh your map skills trying to figure out how you get to Wethersfield, Newington, New London, Windsor or anywhere else they stuck a gym and decided to play a game in it.
8 You come to appreciate how strong the custodial profession is having to carry all those keys. A number of gyms I have gone to have had custodial engineers listing heavily to the side with the amount of metal dangling off their belt. I could have had great fun with a magnet.
9. I don’t have to sit home and watch my 34th straight episode of Storage Wars or Pawn Brokers. Even Chum Lee gets dull after a while. And I love NCIS but you overdose on anything and I think this show is on 12 hours a day.
10. I get exercise walking into the gyms. Hey, some even have stairs and some have parking lots far enough away to have to work up a sweat. I promise after the season to start walking again. This will have to do for now.
11. Running into Jim Shove. Now Shove used to coach Holy Cross baseball and bleeds Crusader green and gold. He is a football referee and baseball umpire. He knows games and he knows music, particularly 1960s music. Plus he gets me a table and chair every time I go to Holy Cross. How can you not like that? And it is rare that I don’t get to the Crusaders home at least once during the tournament.
12. I get to take my son Jonathan to some of the games and he gets to do cool things like holding on to the ball at halftime for the referees. Of course, I also have to take out another mortgage for the snacks. Maybe not such a big sacrifice although we cancelled our vacation this year.
13. It gives my wife her space. Hey, I had to get her in here somehow. Just go with it.
14. I get to see memory makers and dream breakers. I have seen Matt Kalin (Lewis Mills) and Dennis Fowler (Terryville) win state championships with last second shots. I have seen Thomaston’s undefeated season and state championship hopes crushed two seasons ago and Torrington get beat at the buzzer in the state finals when Jordan Williams was a senior.
The dream breakers aren’t nearly as fun now that I think about it.
15. I make some money. Okay, I didn’t mean to ruin it all, but you didn’t think I was working for free did you? Almost, but not quite.
16. I get a free tour of some cities like I did Friday night on when I got lost on the way to Immaculate High to see the Mustangs and Gilbert tangle. I stopped to ask directions at a soccer field and they looked at me like I was from Venus. Maybe because there was no English being spoken. Finally one guy seeing that I was lost in space, stopped me and directed me to the school. It took me four stops but I got there. The area I saw was pretty decent.
17, You get to run into old friends who help you get home. Former Register Citizen sports writer from way back, Kevin Hutson, let me follow him out and got me back on Route 84 for the trek home. Thanks Kevin.
18. You get to see Wamogo coach Gregg Hunt and Litchfield coach Jason Harlow on almost a nightly basis. They were at every game I convered last week. Talk about basketball junkies.
19. Litchfieldcountrysports.com head honcho, Tim Gaffney, and I get to exchange daily, `Where are you going tonight? Conversations.
20. I get instructed frequently by my wife to clean off the damn desk which is snowed under with enough stat sheets and bracket pairings to get me in trouble with the Environmental Protection Agency.
March madness, it just doesn’t get any better.