Turnovers … by Alan B. Gibson

Posted January 10, 2018 at 9:46 am

Thanks “Stripe” for ruining a good night of basketball

I was looking for the chair.

What should have been a great boys’ high school basketball game last Thursday night in neighboring Byrdstown, was all but ruined by the actions of a “Stripe” who wanted to let everyone in the gym know he was in charge.

The game between Clinton County and Pickett County is on thin ice anyway. After being swiped away from the schedule for several years, a sit-down lunch meeting was held several years ago between the coaches and officials from the two schools and some interested members of each community, and the game was put back on the schedule on a home and home basis.

The status of the game has been a bit shaky ever since, and we all know it won’t take much to see the game again removed from the schedules.

But the schools need this game. The players need this game. The communities need this game.

What we don’t need is a “Stripe” who wants to make sure everyone in the gym – and there were a lot of fans in the gym on both sides of the floor Thursday night – knows he’s in control.

The girls’ game was over, and Coach Brent Smith’s Lady Bobcats delivered what many of us were expecting. He has a really, really nice team this year, and Clinton County is considerably younger and inexperienced.

No contest, but to Smith’s credit, he backed off coming down the stretch and although the Lady Bobcats were knocking on the century mark, he didn’t really press forward nearly as hard as he could have.

Nice team this year, Brent – I would expect you to enjoy a deep run come tournament time.

Next came the boys’ action, and what should have been a much better contest between two really nice boys squads.

Not even four minutes into the contest, and after a series of “no calls” that were only being ignored on one end of the floor, Coach Todd Messer stood, raised his arms in the air and shouted out his objection, likening the call to what one might find on their boots after walking across a field full of male cattle.

He wasn’t very loud. He didn’t curse. I wouldn’t even classify his slang word as blackguarding. In fact, I’ve heard Todd string those two words – bull c*@# – together more times than I could count.

As far as what is the norm for Todd when he wants to show his displeasure toward officiating, and knowing he had crossed the state line – this particular gesture was extremely calm.

Still, old “Stripe” wasn’t going to have it – the farthest away from Messer of the three man officiating team, he came running clear across the floor to make sure everyone knew he was in full control of everything going on, throwing a technical foul on Messer and then making sure at the table that everyone in the building knew it was being assessed to the Clinton County head coach.

I was still looking for the chair. Todd was looking behind him to see what one of his assistant coaches had done to deserve a “T”. I was still looking for the chair – the chair that Todd must have thrown out onto the floor to cause such a display of arrogance and authority by old “Stripe”.

There had to be a chair. There would be no other reason for an official – even “Stripe” to put on such a display – being the official the farthest from Messer, to stage such a show for the fans to witness.

There was no chair. No action by the assistants – just a “Stripe” showing his authority.

Thanks Stripe – for ruining a night of basketball.

From that point on, Coach Messer had to remain seated and in fact, said later he was even told at halftime by the officiating crew, that if he attempted to talk to them at all, he would be ejected from the gymnasium.

Looked a lot like they had been warned that this coach from Clinton County was a wild man who needed to be taken out early.

Did “Stripe’s” overzealous actions cost Clinton County a victory. Maybe. Maybe not. But he did certainly rob the players of a chance for a good contest. He did certainly rob the fans of a chance to enjoy a grand night of basketball action between two bordering counties that have a lot in common, including friendships and kinships.

Old “Stripe”, in an effort to prove his authority, took the mood of a good game out of the air. The players were never able to regain their competitive spirit, and the fans – on both sides of the gymnasium – never seemed to completely get back into the action. The game itself, never regained a good competitive and fun to watch flow.

Thanks, “Stripe” for being in control and letting everyone know it.

I’ve been watching and reporting on high school basketball for a long, long time, and I’ve come to know and become friends with a long list of basketball officials, most of whom are really good folk and most of whom realize that we’re not in the gym to watch them.

We’re there for the benefit of the student athlete (first and foremost).

We’re there for the benefit of the school.

We’re there for the benefit of our communities.

When a good game is over, fans should not even be able to remember who the officials were.

Not the case last Thursday night, thanks to old “Stripe”.

I have said several times after the conclusions of these renewed CCHS/PCHS games that it produces a “great gate”, filling the stands with fans regardless of which school’s turn it is to host. While those words – “great gate” – may have been misunderstood as a reflection of how much the host school is going to put in its coffers, what I really mean is it’s a looked forward to event for both communities that draws fans to the gym in numbers that not many other match-ups do.

It’s a chance for friends to come together for a night of good basketball. It’s a chance for cousins from opposite sides of the state lines to come together and enjoy high school roundball action, and perhaps some bragging rights.

When Thursday night’s contest had ended, friends gathered in the middle of the floor and talked. Cousins met up in the gym lobby and exchanged back slaps. Former players gathered up in groups to renew friendships.

I was right there with them for awhile. Not once did I hear anything that resembled “that was a great game – huh” – not even from Pickett fans.

Thanks “Stripe” for that.

The communities need this game. The schools need this game. The teams need this game.

What we don’t need is a night ruined by an old “Stripe”


It’s high school basketball season and I’ll see you in the gym – don’t bother me until April!