Category Archives: Norton HS

To console or not to console

The last day of Kansas’ high school basketball season is upon us. However, it’s all sideshows and consolation games until 1600, when the girls championship games start at six (five too many) sites. The boys games will start at 1815.

I have never been a fan of third place games. Never will be a fan. In Louisiana, the Louisiana High School Athletic Association does not require losers in the semifinals to come back. Kansas, along with Missouri and several other states, do.

The NCAA had a third place game in its men’s tournament from 1946 through 1981. It’s amazing it took 35 years for the NCAA to realize the teams which lost their national semifinals were in no mood to stick around at least 36 more hours to play a meaningless game. The last third place game, Virginia vs. LSU in 1981, was played the same day President Reagan was shot in Washington by John Hinckley Jr. There was serious consideration given to cancelling both the third place and championship (Indiana vs. North Carolina) games, but in the end, the games were played.

If the NCAA had been smart about it, it would have told Virginia and LSU to head for the airport and go home, because the third place game would be cancelled and not played. Then Indiana-North Carolina could be put on hold and postponed to the following day if need be. In the end, it worked out okay, because the president made it through surgery and served two full terms.

To its credit, UCLA won the only third place game it played under John Wooden, defeating Kansas in 1974 after a heartbreaking double overtime loss to North Carolina State, which defeated Marquette for the championship. Two years later, Gene Bartow coached the Bruins to victory in the consolation game against previously undefeated Rutgers. UCLA lost in that year’s semis to Indiana, which completed the last undefeated season in NCAA Division I men’s basketball by defeating Michigan.

I have never heard of a team forfeiting a third place game in Kansas, but I would applaud any coaches who would. It might force the KSHSAA to reassess the worth of third place games.

Basketball isn’t the only sport with a third place game in Kansas. ‘

Volleyball has them, but they go on at the same time as the championship match, which doesn’t add time. I think that’s a big mistake; I would like to see the championship matches played on a center court after completion of the semifinals in both classifications at a site.

Softball usually plays simultaneously on different diamonds. The biggest problems are baseball and soccer, where games can and often do go longer than regulation. Baseball is particularly troubling, since most teams have very few pitchers available due to pitch count limits.

If it were up to me, I would award each team which loses in the semifinals a plaque and medals immediately after that game, and that’s it. If the final day were only two championship games, the KSHSAA could make more money by charging two admissions and spacing the games out by four hours, playing one game at 1300 and one at 1700, alternating between boys and girls early/late each year.

If I were forced to coach in a third place game, I would play the seniors who are graduating and the players who rarely played varsity. The players on the end of the bench have worked just as hard as the starters all season. They deserve the opportunity to shine, if only for one day.

For the varsity starters who were returning the next season, I would play them, but not as much. I would explain it to them as gently as I could. Hopefully they would understand.

I remember Osborne’s girls playing in back-to-back third place games in 2007 and ’08. The Bulldogs won in the former year, and looked impressive in doing so. The next year, their hearts didn’t seem to be into it as much, and they lost.

I’m interested to see how Norton and Nemaha Central handle this. There is a trophy at stake. I don’t want a foul fest, and I don’t want a blowout.

LSU’s men’s basketball program is under serious fire for a wiretapped phone call involving coach Will Wade and the recruitment of Javonte Smart, a Baton Rouge native who is a starting guard on this year’s team. Wade is suspended indefinitely, and Smart will not play tonight vs. Vanderbilt. If the Bayou Bengals win, and they should, since the Commodores are 0-17 in the SEC, LSU will win at least a share of the conference championship and be the number one seed for the SEC tournament. Boy what bad timing, but if Wade indeed committed NCAA violations, he has to man up and pay the piper.

College basketball is corrupt. Yet people keep watching. I’m seriously considering taking a pass on this year’s NCAA tournament. I know I’m not filling out a bracket, that’s for sure.

Norton’s dreams dashed

Norton gave it all it had this afternoon, but Mary Broxterman proved to be too much.

The Royal Valley standout scored 26 points, going 9 of 14 from the field and 8 of 11 from the foul line, to help the Panthers from Hoyt to a 53-44 victory and a berth in tomorrow’s state championship game against Cheney, which leads Nemaha Central by 20 in the final minute of the third quarter.

The Bluejays, who got 16 from Taryn Kuhn and 12 from Hadley Hauser, will face the ladies from Seneca–the birthplace of John Riggins–at noon for third place.

Royal Valley is probably glad to see a new face in the championship game, even if Cheney is the obvious favorite. The Panthers lost twice to Nemaha Central in Big Seven League play during the regular season.

Riggins was born in Seneca because it has the only hospital in Nemaha County. The Diesel grew up in Centralia, a tiny hamlet 12 miles southwest of Seneca.

I’m not a fan of third place games. But I’m not playing in the game. I’m hoping Norton will regroup and come out strong. It deserves to take home something from Hutchinson after a stellar season, one where it had to navigate a difficult Mid-Continent League where Trego has its best team in at least 15 years, maybe ever, and Thomas More Prep is still a tough out even without Kayla Vitztum and other standouts.

I am ambivalent about going. Part of me says stay away because it’s a third place game. Part of me says go because it would be disrespectful to Norton. I stopped covering third place games when I was still going regularly. I missed Russell’s girls playing for third in 3A at Hutchinson in 2013; I had to be in Manhattan to watch Smith Center’s girls play for–and win–the 2A championship vs. Jefferson County North.

The carrot for the third place game is the trophy. The loser of the consolation game doesn’t get one. Now the players will have medals, but other than the sub-state championship plaque, nothing tangible commemorating the trip to state.

Norton won’t hang a banner in the Stull Gymnasium for this one, win or lose. Norton only hangs banners for state champions, a policy I like. Really like. Set the bar very high and challenge the athletes who wear the Norton colors to meet it. And that bar has been met plenty.

There is one school I covered extensively which recognizes just about any trip to a state tournament. Another filled up walls with league championship banners and sub-state championship banners, even if the team was one-and-done at state.

It was not a good day for the Mid-Continent League.

Trego’s girls lost 67-49 to Sterling in 2A, and Thomas More Prep’s boys fell 62-50 to Girard in 3A. No basketball titles for the league this year. Last year, Phillipsburg’s boys reached the 3A final, only to lose 44-42 on a buzzer beater by Halstead.

The Golden Eagles should be a force again next year. Donnie Shubert, who coached Trego’s boys to a state title many moons ago (see below), returns a ton of talent, including his daughter Lili, who was Trego’s leading scorer as a sophomore.

The MCL’s last championship, male or female, was Nick Linn’s Lady Red six years ago. The last MCL boys title? Trego in 2006. TMP won in 4A in 2007, but it was in the old Mid-State Activities Association at that time.

At least the MCL can crow about football championships by Phillipsburg and Smith Center in the fall; Trego’s girls winning cross country, led by individual 2A champion Helen Giefer; Plainville’s Jordan Finnesy winning a wrestling title; and looking forward to what should be good years in track and field and golf.

As I was running a couple of errands in Wichita this evening, an announcer referred to the girls basketball team at Kansas City Schlagle as the Stallions.

Big problem: stallions are always MALE. Schalgle and a couple of other schools perplex me with their choices of nicknames, colors and even school names. I’ll elaborate at some point tomorrow.

The tilapia from Outback was outstanding. Lunch? Not so much. I’m swearing off most fast food seafood forever (not Popeye’s). Why the heck am I eating it in the first place, considering I grew up in the best city in America for seafood?

I have problems in my life, but I could be in Venezuela, where the electricity is out in nearly the entire country, adding more misery to a country where millions are starving, the unemployment rate is 35%, $1 of currency would get you about .00000001 cents American, and the military is blocking all humanitarian aid from Colombia and Brazil.

Maduro is a psychopath, right on par with the fatso running North Korea. Anyone who supports him is also a psychopath. Huey Long was never this bad.

I’m going to try not to think of Maduro as I prepare for bed. There’s much more pleasant stuff to think of.

Should have used a compass!

Norton’s quest for its first girls basketball state championship in 36 years is alive, although it wasn’t easy.

The Bluejays scored the game’s first nine points and led by as many as 11 in the second half, but Scott City fought the whole way, forcing Norton to expend more energy than it would have liked.

In the end, it all worked out. Norton defeated the Beavers 48-45 to advance to a semifinal Friday at 1500 against Royal Valley, which defeated Eureka 56-36. Royal Valley is in the small town of Hoyt, 32 kilometers (20 miles) north of Topeka on US Highway 75. Royal Valley is an afterthought in its league, the Big Seven, where such heavyweight athletic programs like Holton, Nemaha Central and Sabetha reside.

Peggy showed up with Clark and other members of the extended Cox clan. Jennifer Hauser, whose daughters Hadley and Tessa play for the Bluejays, is Clark’s cousin.

A lot of people from Norton were surprised to see me, and with good reason, considering I had not been to a high school basketball game in over a year. Now Sue Rossi, George’s wife, wants me to come back Friday (and hopefully Saturday). Even though Peggy can’t make it Friday, I’ll probably oblige Sue and return to Hutchinson.

This time, I’ll know the proper entrance at the arena. I went to the wrong one when I arrived, and two people from Hutchinson Community College yelled at me I was at the wrong entrance and looked at me like I was totally clueless.

I haven’t been to this facility in six years. I don’t know cardinal directions like I do for the Superdome, LSU’s basketball arena, or Kauffman Stadium. Geez.

It would have helped if there were signs pointing towards the media/official entrance. There were none. I guess I was supposed to automatically know where the northwest entrance to the arena was. There were no indications outside the arena posted by HCC what entrance was what.

In that regard, covering state tournaments at Kansas State was far easier. The entrance nearest Bill Snyder Family Stadium was for the media and officials. Easy. It’s just as easy at Fort Hays.

Now I’m in Salina at Old Chicago. I was hoping to play Buztime trivia, and I am–but not the way I like. The Internet feed which supplies Buzztime’s tablets at the restaurant is kaput, and I’m forced to play as a guest, meaning I won’t have a record of the games. Beggars can’t be choosers. Not the first time this has happened; it occurred many years ago at the old B-Dubs in Lawrence.

I saw on the Buzztime website the Golden Q in downtown Hays has it now. Going to investigate. I have to be there tomorrow to pick up meds at Walgreens, so I’ll have time to see.

There’s something bugging me at Old Chicago. Not just the trivia snafu. That’s another topic for another post.

Hike to Hutchinson

I am dragging myself out of my basement to attend a high school basketball game this afternoon, something I have not done in over a year.

That used to be a way of life for me from early December through early March from 2006 through 2015, but I’ve hardly done it any more.

I’m doing it today because I need to see Peggy, whom I have not seen since before Thanksgiving. Four months is too long.

Norton is playing in the Kansas Class 3A girls state tournament at Hutchinson against Scott City at 1500. Hutchinson is a nice city, but it is just so hard to get to Hutch. There is a significant amount of time on two-lane highways coming from western Kansas, unless you go the long way, which goes through Salina and then McPherson, where four-lamed Kansas Highway 61 veers southwest into Hutchinson.

I’m thinking I’m going to the long way. I’m in need of good seafood, this being Ash Wednesday. The only fast food restaurant which has it is Popeye’s. And I have to go to Salina to get that.

I have been to the Hutchinson arena only once. That was 2013, when Russell’s girls played in the state tournament. The arena has been completely rebuilt from the inside, and I am interested to see the upgrades. I have heard nothing but great things about it.

The Bluejays are in the girls state tournament for the first time since 2008. Norton’s boys went in 2016 and ’17, so its fans know the place.

Norton’s only girls basketball state championship was in 1983, when Kevin Jilka was in his first season as coach. He retired after 30 seasons at the helm in 2012, but I’m sure he and Janet will be there, cheering for his pupil, George Rossi.

I wish this game, and all other Kansas high school state tournament games, were in Manhattan or Lawrence, but I’m not going to get my wish. I would go into detail, but I’m afraid if I do, I’ll write so much I’ll (a) bore people to tears and (b) lose track of time and not get to Hutchinson.

I thought about staying overnight, but nah, I’ll have plenty of time to get back to Russell before 2200, which is my appointed bedtime in order to get into a better sleep routine. If I can get back to Salina in time, I might be able to play an hour or two of trivia at Buffalo Wild Wings or Old Chicago. I haven’t done it since January 27. Too long.

Speaking off too long, if I don’t post this, I will start rambling TOO LONG. Bye for now!

A needed trip to Norton

I ventured to Norton tonight for the first time since late September to see the Bluejays play Stockton in basketball. The main reason I went was to see Peggy and Caitlyn, both of whom I had not seen since early November. They are two of my “irreplaceables” whom I blogged about before Christmas.

Sadly, one of my irreplaceables is leaving soon. More on that in another post.

Peggy told me Caitlyn is transferring from Johnson County Community College to Ottawa University to start the spring semester. It’s a good move for Caitlyn, since her brother, Conor, attends Ottawa, and her sister, Courtney, lives in rural Miami County with Andy and Finley. Poor Chelsea in Colby with Sam and Seth, but at least Peggy gets down there enough so she doesn’t feel left out.

Norton won both games–girls 56-48 and boys 47-41. The Bluejay boys are starting over after losing all of their key players from the last two seasons, which saw Norton reach the Class 3A state tournament. Norton’s girls are finding a rhythm even without Caitlyn and Baylee Miller, who was the starting point guard for the last two seasons.

Norton played tonight instead of Friday because it is hosting its huge wrestling tournament Saturday, and this gave the school an extra day to prepare. In fact, wrestling mats were being rolled out immediately after the boys game ended.

The big news wasn’t the games.

Rather, it was a double homicide which took place in rural Graham County northeast of Hill City. The Graham County Sheriff’s office and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation identified the suspect and told residents in northeast Graham County, southern Phillips County and northern Rooks County to lock their doors, cars and other valuables.

At first, Peggy thought I might have to take US 36 east to Phillipsburg and then US 183 to Hays before jumping on I-70 to get back to Russell. But when I saw KWCH report the suspect was moving towards Phillips County between Phillipsburg and Stockton, I figured it was best I just go back the way I came, US 283 from Norton to WaKeeney and then I-70 to Russell.

I saw FIVE deer on 283. Four were on the sides of the road just south of the Norton/Graham county line, and the fifth was a fawn crossing south of Hill City. No trouble, but deer always worry me, having creamed one on 183 north of Hays six weeks after moving to Kansas, then clipping one between Washington and Belleville on 36 in September 2012.

Going to sleep late tonight. No reason to get up early. Nowhere to go, really. Kansas City is a great place to avoid, especially Saturday when the Chiefs play the Titans at Arrowhead to open the NFL playoffs. The way I figure, every sports bar in the area will be loud and obnoxious. If the Chiefs win, then the fans will be whooping it up and hollering all night. If they lose, then the fans will be emptying their vocabularies of expletives. No thanks.


Valentine’s Day: always a massacre for me

I haven’t posted this week. Maybe it was best I didn’t. 

Especially Tuesday, which was Valentine’s Day. 

I had work to occupy me during the morning Tuesday. Then I left to drive to Hoxie for Norton’s game that evening. I got to town a few minutes after 4, well before the tipoff at 6. Only the varsity games were going to be played at the high school; the junior varsity games were at the elementary school five blocks west of the high school, and there were no C team games, meaning I had a lot of time to wait and wait.

I was stupid enough to venture onto Facebook while I was sitting in my car. I got very, very upset at all the happy couples, reminding me of just how big of a loser I am. I decided to unfollow so many people. 

I’ll never forget 2002. That year, someone I knew from LSU, Erika Papazoglakis Goulas, suggested I turn gay since I couldn’t find a woman. Nice. 

Erika wasn’t the first. A lot of students at Brother Martin suggested I go gay. I hated going to high school for that reason, among many, many, many others.

I was very close to leaving Hoxie before the game. I was willing to admit I wasted the 108-mile trip there, and would go back without seeing any games. I called Crista in tears. I was very upset. She has not called me back. I am not happy about it. If I’m spending all this money, why bother wasting my time when she won’t get in touch with me when I need her? 

I stayed through both games at Hoxie. Hoxie’s gym is pretty cramped, but the floor is nice and shiny, which is much better for taking photographs than in gyms which have yellow-tinted floors, which is what Norton has. Norton’s girls lost 60-42, but the boys won 79-52. I got back at 10:45, which is pretty good considering some nights have been after 11:30. 

I got Caitlyn and Peggy cards and small boxes of chocolate for Valentine’s Day. I sent e-cards to Dawn and a few others. But no splurging like I did on Christmas cards. 

I didn’t do anything Wednesday and barely anything Thursday. Frankly I was tired most of Wednesday. Thursday was a little better, but still not feeling up to getting out and about. 

Norton is playing at Ellis tonight. After I get home, I have no earthly idea as to what I’m going to do for the weekend. I’m missing Kansas City and trivia, but I’m going to go back soon (hopefully). I don’t know about staying home all weekend, but I managed last weekend without much trouble. 

Kansas high school wrestling regionals are today and tomorrow. I do not miss covering those one bit. Too many people, too little space, too much noise, too much chaos. I absolutely dreaded those tournaments. 

Time for no NFL weekends

I’ve tried to avoid watching anything about the NFL in recent days. I need time away from it. It was non-stop NFL pretty much from late July when training camp began through last Sunday when the Patriots defeated the Falcons in Super Bowl LI. The draft combine begins the first weekend of March in Indianapolis, but I could not care less. Wake me when the draft is here. 

Five Patriots have already said they would boycott the White House trip because they hate Donald Trump. It wouldn’t be the first time people have boycotted a White House trip just because they don’t like the particular president at the time. 

I have no desire to go to the White House. None. If there’s any one building in Washington, D.C. I would visit, it would be the Capitol. The White House just doesn’t hold any appeal to me. 

I got to Norton a few minutes ago and discovered I left my seat cushion at Buffalo Wild Wings in Kansas City Tuesday. Not the first time I’ve left something somewhere a long way away, and it won’t be the last. I can replace the cushion, it’s $20. It’s not one of the expensive gel cushions Bed, Bath and Beyond sells. I’ve been thinking about one of those. 

Norton plays Plainville tonight. Last home game for the Bluejays until the regular season finale vs. Hill City on the 21st. I didn’t come to the games Tuesday vs. Oberlin because I was still in Kansas City. I didn’t miss much; Norton won both games easily. 

Don’t know what I’m doing this weekend. Probably not much. If I intend on going to Hoxie to see Norton play Tuesday, I have to be done with my work by noon. Hoxie is about the same distance from Russell as it is to Norton, although not as much two-lane highway. I’ve never been to Hoxie, and I need to go. If it were somewhere else, I may have skipped, but not Hoxie, even though Shelly Hoyt, the girls coach who had so much success there, is now at Madison in Greenwood County. 

One thing I don’t miss in February is not covering regional and state wrestling. It’s exciting, but I just would rather not deal with the crowds. It was always a very stressful time of the year for me. Last year, it wasn’t, and I need as much stress-free time as I can get. 

January almost done

I made that long trip tonight, the one where I get to WaKeeney and realize it’s only half over. 

It’s back to Norton tonight. The Bluejays play Smith Center. These games were originally scheduled to be played Dec. 16, but the roads got nasty that day. Norton wanted to play the Tuesday before Christmas (the 20th), but Smith Center said no, so this was the only mutual date available, unless the teams wanted to play on a Saturday. 

So here I am. I followed the Ness City buses from the Trego/Graham County line to US 24 in Hill City. The Eagles are playing the Ringnecks tonight. 

The trip to Colby was smooth driving, but I lost track of Peggy and Clark. They left during the fourth quarter of the boys game, understandable since (a) Norton had a big lead, and (b) they wanted to eat, and the restaurants would be closed by time the boys game ended. As it turned out, most restaurants in Colby close at 9 p.m., even on Fridays, which isn’t good for a town which not only is home to a college, but also has heavy traffic coming through on I-70. You would think they could stay open until at least 10. 

Then again, I’ll never forget restaurants in Omaha closing at 9 when my dad and I were there for the College World Series. It was culture shock for us. We were so used to restaurants staying open very late in New Orleans. Most would be open until 11, some past midnight. I didn’t expect midnight in Omaha, but to close at 9 during the busiest time of the year in Omaha? 

I met Peggy and Clark at Taco John’s, where we beat the 10 pm closing by a few minutes. I didn’t get home until 12:05. 

Nothing really doing the last three days. I stayed up very late last night and this morning to get work done. I didn’t go to bed until 2:30, but I did get to sleep until almost 8. My work was done by 11. 

I want to go to Kansas City for the Super Bowl at Buffalo Wild Wings. I hear it’s a little hectic around there. The general manager, John Riley, left the restaurant after Friday. I will soon see the fourth different GM at that location. At least I have Minsky’s across Barry Road when I’m in KC. Then again, I might want to avoid KC in the summer. The heat there is worse than Russell. Much worse. It’s not quite New Orleans bad, but it’s bad enough. 

The Super Bowl is Sunday. I wish it weren’t on Fox. I do not like Joe Buck, period. And Erin Andrews is a very, very overrated sideline reporter. Pam Oliver is much more competent. Lesley Visser was great. So was Bonnie Bernstein. 

If Joe’s last name were Brown and not Buck, no way he’s an announcer, much less Fox’s #1 announcer. 

Speaking of the Patriots, I left my Tervis cup with the old logo in the Colby Community Building. No big deal. I’ve got plenty. And I need to get a Saints glass anyway. I’m not a huge Saints fan, but it’s time I give my native city some love against the hordes of Chiefs and Broncos fans. 

It’s been a tough start to 2017. Hopefully February will be better. 

Forgive me, car

My car is going to hate me after today. It probably has hated me for the last five and a half years, but today I’ve been especially rough on it. 

I made the return from Kansas City to Russell in the morning and early afternoon. I had to make a detour at KCK to get something done for work, then at Topeka for gas. I got all the shopping I needed done in KCMO before departing. I considered staying later to see Robb and Dawn at Buffalo Wild Wings, but I said nah, let me get home. 

I pulled into 1224 North Brooks at 2:15. I unloaded the car and FINALLY got my hair cut. I had gone over a month without it being cut. It’s the longest I can remember going without a haircut, at least since I first started wearing it short on Memorial Day weekend 1989. The only other time since then I’ve gone a month without a haircut was when I was in the hospital near the end of 2004. Hair obviously was not a concern. Not when you’re fighting for your life. 

I drove to Norton anyway. I wasn’t planning on going to this game. At first, the plan was to drive today from Kansas City to Columbia for the LSU-Missouri men’s game tomorrow night. However, I couldn’t get tickets or a press credential, and I figured it was too much to stay in a hotel. Also, it’s one game, and it’s not my favorite sport. I don’t know if I’ll even watch, although I might check it out.

Baseball series are better, simply because you’re in a town three days, maybe four. Basketball and football are too hurried. Sometimes a football team isn’t in the locale for 24 hours. It’s fly in, check in to the hotel, check out, play the game, fly out. Same with basketball, although teams hold a shoot-around the morning of the game to get used to the arena and the baskets. 

I almost stayed home, but I figured I’d better go. I haven’t seen anyone from Norton in a month, and it’s the Bluejays’ first home game. Had they played Smith Center as scheduled Dec. 16, I probably would have skipped tonight. 

Norton is playing a team from Nebraska, Cambridge, which is 51 miles northwest of the Bluejays’ nest. It’s more convenient sometimes for teams along the state lines to play out of state than go south, west or east. The Bluejays play their first Mid-Continent League game Friday at Stockton. 

The renovated and expanded gym lobby at Norton is very nice. It was sorely needed. Now if a few other schools could do the same. Ellis, Plainville and Trego don’t need it. Stockton does. 

Now the only problem is the 120-mile drive back to Russell in the dark. The worst is always the leg on US 283 to WaKeeney. No stopping in Hays. Probably going to fall asleep quickly when I get home. 

It’s probably good I got out tonight. I can see myself going nuts staying home all day. God I wish Hays had some place to play Buzztime trivia! It sucks having to drive to Salina, and the Buffalo Wild Wings there doesn’t make me feel as welcome if I want to stay for long periods. 

This is my first trip to Norton in exactly three months. Has it really been that long? 

Bluejays flying high in Oakley

Norton is less than two minutes away from sweeping Oakley in the season opening basketball doubleheader for both schools. 

The Bluejays won the first game 36-23, and the boys lead 53-35 with under two minutes to go. Norton will be off until Thursday when it begins competition in the Topside Tipoff tournament at Goodland. Oakley has a quick turnaround, facing Victoria Monday in the Purple and Gold tournament at WaKeeney. 

I’ve got a 110-mile drive ahead, but it’s all on the Interstate. I should be hone before 11. The drive was very easy; even with stops in Hays I was there by 4:10. 

Nice seeing everyone tonight, especially Caitlyn, whom I had not seen since the sub-state volleyball tournament at Lakin October 22. I saw Peggy November 7 in Hays; we did sone shopping at Walmart.