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First Sunday at 38

Again, for those of you expecting something since yesterday, I apologize. I was on the road for almost five hours yesterday, and when I got to Kansas City, I fell asleep right after checking in. I didn’t really get going until 9:15 this morning, and by that time, I had to get in the shower and get over to Buffalo Wild Wings by 11.

TMP-Marian won the Mid-Continent League volleyball tournament championship match in three sets over Phillipsburg. The Panthers won the first set, but the Monarchs rallied to claim their first MCL championship in any event. TMP became a full league member in July, but it participated in some league events last year, including volleyball, wrestling and track.

This year marked the first time since 1994 neither Phillipsburg nor Smith Center won the MCL volleyball championship. The Lady Red won 11 consecutive titles from 1995 through 2005, and the Panthers followed that with six in a row between 2006 and 2011. Smith Center broke back on top in 2012 and 2013, the 13th and 14th for the school, all under coach Nick Linn, who has won 673 matches in 28 seasons at Smith Center. One of his proteges is Phillipsburg coach Terra Keeten, who played at Smith Center as Terra St. Clair from 1989 through 1992. Terra’s little sister, Whitney, played for the Lady Red from 2007 through 2010. Their parents, Ron and Tracy, still come to many matches ,both at Smith Center and Phillipsburg, even though their children have all grown up.

With the championship match going three sets, as well as both semifinals taking the maximum time, I did not get out of Smith Center until 5:30. I stopped at the Belleville Dairy Queen for food and the Marysville Sinclair for a bathroom break.

Then came the real fun.

I was pulled over by a sheriff’s deputy in eastern Nemaha County, about halfway between Seneca and Hiawatha. I was afraid the deputy might think I was intoxicated or was doing something else illegal, but it was because the low beam headlight on the driver’s side was burned out. The high beams still worked, and so did the fog lamps, but I need the low beams on the two-lane highways whenever I pass someone coming from the other direction. If you leave your high beams on when someone is coming from the other direction, you could blind them and cause an accident.

It was the first time I have been pulled over by a law enforcement officer since July 2010, when I was driving from Pittsburg to Tulsa following the Shrine Bowl. I have not received a ticket, thank God, since September 2008, for following too closely.

Last night made me the first person from Russell to get pulled over in Cherokee County, n the very southeast corner of the state bordering Missouri and Oklahoma, and Nemaha County, most famous for producing John Riggins.

The deputy only gave me a warning to get the lights fixed, and I was on my way. I used my fog lamps whenever I needed to turn off the high beams. I got gas in Hiawatha, then got to the Courtyard on Tiffany Springs Parkway. I considered ordering Outback takeaway just before closing time, but I passed. Twenty minutes later, I dozed off.

I’ve been playing poker today instead of trivia. Lisa suggested to me. She’s in that mood because she’s going to Las Vegas this week with her parents. She has to drive back to St. Louis Tuesday to meet them before she flies out of Lambert International Airport Wednesday. It also was a very good idea to play poker because the arrogant know-it-all Rondo was sitting at the bar. Lisa told me she had him once as a customer and she did not enjoy it at all.  Now that Rondo has left, I’m finally going over to trivia. In two poker games, I won a total of almost $20,000 in virtual chips. Not bad.

Today is Lisa’s last day of full-time work at Buffalo Wild Wings. She’s going on to bigger and better things. I’m really, really glad to have had the chance to get to know her over the past few months. It will leave a hole in my heart not to see her anymore, but it’s for the best.  She’s here today, along with Raymie and Ashley, who is doing an awesome job of taking care of me. Alex just showed up, and Brittany is supposed to be tending bar tonight.

I wrote the Smith Center-LaCrosse game story at Buffalo Wild Wings. I’ll get started on my column too. My Monday just got fractured by the fact I have to drive to Morse-McCarthy Chevy in Overland Park to get the headlights fixed. Could be worse. Not going to complain, because it will give me a chance for cheesecake.

Long day coming

Day two of my 10th Mid-Continent League volleyball tournament began at 9 a.m. Actually, it began a little after 6 when I pulled out of my garage in Russell. I decided to take the long way through Hays and Phillipsburg so I could get breakfast at Wendy’s, which is far superior to the crap McDonald’s serves.

Smith Center dropped the first set of its first match this morning to Hill City 25-22, but the Lady Red have come back to win the second 25-9. Smith Center now leads the third 22-7, and it looks like it is back in control. I hope this is the first of a bunch of three-set matches, which will make today longer than it already is. Now I get word that the first match at the other gym, Ellis-Trego, is going three. Yikes.

It happened at the 2010 tournament in Norton. One pool had three-set match after three-set match, and it got to the point where there was a lag time of two hours between one pool and the other. The semifinals that day didn’t start until after 5, and it wasn’t until after 8 when I finally got out of there. Last year at Plainville wasn’t nearly as bad, but it helped that most matches went only two sets.

I’ll be leaving the high school at 11 to go to the other gym and see Norton play. Peggy Cox I’m sure wants to see me.

Gone before sunrise

It’s almost time for me to leave the abode on North Brooks Street and head back to Smith Center for day two of the Mid-Continent League volleyball tournament. Each team will play two more pool matches before the top two teams in each pool advance to the semifinals.

Two-time defending league champion Smith Center and Stockton are 2-0 in pool A, while Plainville and TMP-Marian are 2-0 in Pool B. The four undefeated teams will pair off in pool play today.

Smith Center lost its second consecutive football game last night, as LaCrosse took a 21-0 lead in the first quarter and cruised to a 48-14 victory. The Leopards scored on each of their first two possessions, then tallied again in the final minute of the opening period on Andrew Jay’s 65-yard interception return. The Redmen twice got to within 14 in the second quarter on touchdowns from Cale Rogers (7 yard run) and Kody Zabel (11 yard pass from Thayne Benoit), but never any closer.

LaCrosse rushed for 408 yards, with 164 from quarterback Jack Garcia and 150 more from Jay. The Leopards gained 508 yards against a Smith Center defense which allowed 64 last week to Ell-Saline and 82 two weeks prior to Republic County.

The Leopards had been lying in wait for this game, even though it wasn’t a district game and has no bearing on playoff berths. LaCrosse lost playoff games to Smith Center n 2006 and 2008, the latter at home, and the Leopards made sure they enjoyed every minute of the victory. The final score would have been worse had not a 76-yard touchdown run by Jay in the fourth not been called back by a holding penalty well downfield

LaCrosse is basically in the playoffs anyway. The Leopards are 2-0 in their district and have 1-6 Wichita County next week before closing with Oakley. .

Smith Center was limited to 169 yards. No back gained more than 41.

This is the latest in a season Smith Center has lost back-to-back games since 2002, when it lost all three district games to Norton, Phillipsburg and Beloit to finish 4-5, the last time the Redmen missed the playoffs. If the Redmen are to avoid missing the 2014 postseason, they will have to beat Bennington next week at home and Phillipsburg on the road Oct. 30.

No other surprises last night. Norton 60, Russell 14; Phillipsburg 54, Republic County 6; Plainville 51, Wichita County 7; Osborne 52, St. Francis 6; Hill City 51, Stockton 34; and Victoria 58, Thunder Ridge 34.

Okay enough dilly dallying. Time to get going north.