Following the game

I have only been interning at the Middletown Press for about a month, but I have already began to recognize high school basketball players names and take interest in their season. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like I was the only one who has no personal connections to Mercy High School, but wanted them to beat Career Magnet School tonight in the SCC tournament finals at Quinnipiac University.

I wrote a game story about Mercy a couple of weeks ago and got to talk to Maria Weselyj and Jordyn Nappi, two of their top players. I feel like I have a small bond with that team now and secretly was rooting for them tonight.

Mercy had not won the SCC tournament since 2007 and felt like they had a great opportunity to do so this year. They came into the tournament as the #2 seed with Career being #1 after the tie breakers were applied. The teams split the season series with Mercy winning on Dec. 11 64-53 at Career and when the Panthers came to Middletown on Jan. 9, they came away with a 47-40 victory.

Quarterfinals – Saturday, Feb. 16

Mercy 78, Lyman Hall 48

Career 64, Amity 45

Semifinals – Monday, Feb. 18

Mercy 60, Sacred Heart Academy 34

Career 50,  Foran 37

Mercy and Career were clearly the top two teams in the Southern Connecticut Conference heading into the finals on Wednesday and even though I could not attend the game due to class, I followed on Twitter through the hashtag #ctgb. @NHRHenryC and @Lidivision were at the game and I retweeted them while listening to my professor teach us what kind of map our next project would be about (cartography class, as I am a geography minor).

Mercy took an early 11-7 lead after one quarter and led 25-22 at halftime. I knew it would be a close game, but Mercy seemed as if they were the better team, at least that’s what the tweets led me to believe.

With 2:38 left in the third quarter, Mercy called a timeout down 34-29. This got me worried and I had a feeling it was over. After three quarters Career led 40-29 and that was it.

There is no shot clock in high school basketball so Career played keep away for the entire fourth quarter coming away with a 48-35 win and their second consecutive SCC tournament championship.

This game raised the question of why is there still no shot clock in high school basketball? Career scored 40 points in three quarters (13.3 average) and then 8 over the final 8 minutes basically running out the clock, forcing Mercy to foul the entire time.

@NHRHenryC: “Believe it or not, with basically the entire quarter to play. career is playing keep away and it’s working Mercy #ctgb is forced to foul”

@NHRHenryC: “This game was only 3 quarters. The fans didn’t get to see a fourth Smh #ctgb Career up 46-35″

@NHRHenryC: “Both teams played hard and maybe Career wins anyway but 8 minutes of keep away is straight trash #ctgb

@NHRHenryC: “Crowd screaming play basketball as Career’s Alston shakes up every Mercy defender that tried to guard her. Even made a girl fall #ctgb

You can look at this from both sides, there is no shot clock, so Career played to the rules, they got the lead and earned the right to play keep away. On the other side, that is not basketball…

@NHRHenryC: “@haleyarnaoutis they played keep away for over 3 minutes. That’s not basketball, no passing, nothing. Just one person dribbling.”

I know I would have been incredibly frustrated and mad if I was at the game, because I was feeling for the Mercy girls. They had to foul and foul hard, according to @NHRHenryC, they were in the bonus at the halfway mark of the fourth quarter, that’s not basketball. Like he said and I saw the argument other places as well, as long as there is no shot clock in high school basketball, that will always be a strategy and the teams that earns the right to do it, will always do it, especially in win or go home games. Let’s hope this doesn’t have to happen in the state tournament where Mercy has made the finals the past three seasons and are hungry as ever to win a title.

Not so calm before the storm

It’s been a few days and one giant blizzard, but I am back to tell you about what I did at the Middletown Press on Thursday night, the night before Blizzard Charlotte or Nemo or Snowmaggedon or whatever you want to call it.

I parked in my usual spot, but was wondering why Joe’s car was not there yet. Cathy, the photographer was sitting in her Jeep writing down her mileage, so I stopped and talked to her for a few minutes. Her and Joe had just got back from doing a story about Vinal Tech senior Dante Watson scoring his 1,000th career point last week. I walked into the office and took my spot at my desk when Jim Bransfield walked in with a big story.

He had met with the athletic director’s of both Middletown High School and Xavier that morning when they announced the 15-year tradition of playing football on Thanksgiving Day between the city’s two high school’s would be ended. This was a bigger deal than I thought it was. Joe came in a few minutes later, got the story from Jim and posted it online. The tweet containing the story was posted around 4:30 pm and by the time we left at 10:30 that night, there were 42 retweets. (As of right now, the tweet has 58 Retweets and 7 Favorites)

For the next hour or so, Joe and I looked through the game stories of the last 15 years and wrote up three or four sentences summarizing the annual game. This was pretty cool, especially reading about the amazing performance by current Detroit Lions safety Amari Spievey (Xavier grad). I started at 2012 and Joe started at 1998 and we worked our way to the middle. I only got done through 2008, but the plan worked and we had a cool collaboration for the front of the sports page on Friday.

I put together a few “By The Numbers” stats based off of the game, that was a lot of fun. I love figuring out stats and living by the numbers.

When I was at the Mercy basketball game last week the coach, Tim Kohs told Cathy that senior Jordyn Nappi would be scoring her 1,000th point on February 7. I thought I would be going back there for the game, but when I came in I was told she needed 28 points to reach the goal and it likely wouldn’t happen that night. My girlfriend, Kara’s sister attends Mercy and she went to the game Thursday night. I told Kara that if Nappi did get to 1,000 I would like her to take a picture and send it to me.

I got the picture.

I walked up to Joe and showed him, he almost couldn’t believe it. We blew it. I saved the picture and tweeted it. Once Kohs called in the score later that night, he apologized saying that his stats were off and she only needed 18 points, she finished the game with 20.

I finished the night by writing up a bunch of high school basketball games and then was told not to come in Friday because of the snow. The rest of the reporters were working from home and their deadline was 4 p.m.

Oh, and I love tweeting from the @MPSportsEditor account. I tweeted all of the scores that came in and Joe didn’t even realize it until he checked TweetDeck at the end of the night. That was cool when he was happy to see it.

I can’t wait to get back in the office this Thursday and get back to work.

Learning Something New

So, what did I do Thursday and Friday at the Middletown Press???

I told you what I was doing Thursday while my editor and the photographer were at the Middletown Athletics Hall of Fame…I sat in the office and blogged about that. When they came back I was given the task to find one more college story from a local athlete to finalize the “College Notebook.” After checking on a few athletes, we decided on Erikson Wasyl, a freshman basketball player at Vassar College in New York. Wasyl has just begun to start and as I write this post I am reading that he hit a clutch three-pointer on Saturday to send the Brewers to overtime vs. St. Lawrence University. Vassar won the game 84-80 in extra time.

Those four stories would be my second byline while at the press, but my next “real” one would be on Friday. I was sent out with the photographer again to cover the Mercy basketball game. This would not be a good game, it was actually a really poor game to watch. Mercy defeated Hillhouse 63-23. So how the heck do I write a semi-interesting story about a 40-point blowout??? That comes in the interviews.

I talked to Mercy coach Tim Kohs immediately after the game and he talked a lot about defense and how they worked on their zone Friday night against a team they knew they were going to beat handily.

Joe and I discussed what I was going to try to do differently for this story to make it better before I left and the two things I decided on were: 1. Take better notes and 2. Talk to a player…I did both.

I got a couple good detail plays from the game and talked to both Maria Weselyj and Jordyn Nappi after the game outside their locker room. Both seniors are looking forward to the SCC tournament and the state tournament, where they have been to the finals the last three seasons, they haven’t won and they feel like this year their team chemistry is great and they have their best opportunity to bring a state title back to Middletown.

I rushed back to the office and had about 45 minutes to get my story done before the ridiculous deadline of 9:45 p.m. I finished right at deadline and then Joe reworked the piece a little, put it on the page and sent it off to print. After the pressure was gone he wanted me to rewrite it for the website. I added a nut graph and some extra quotes and made the story more about defense and less a straight game story. One of the news reporters then read my story and gave me some suggestions. This was so cool. The best compliment of the night was from Jeff Mill. He said reading my story was exciting! I never thought about that, but I like that still. I want people to get into the story and keep them on edge.

I left the office around 11 p.m. with Joe and Jeff after another successful and educational night at the Middletown Press.