This Was the Week that Wasn’t

(Monte Dutton photo)

Clinton, South Carolina, Saturday, December 29, 2018, 9:52 a.m.

By Monte Dutton

Sometimes things just don’t go your way. That’s the slogan of my week. It could be the motto, but it would have to be in Latin.

Interdum res non solum viam vestram.

The week has been an adventure that wouldn’t sell because because the protagonist never gets a break. He feels like a ticking clock … and remains that way.

All a blur. (Monte Dutton photos)

The period between Christmas and New Year’s is full of crummy bowl games on TV and holiday basketball tournaments for the high school teams. Laurens County teams fanned out to Clover, Greenwood, Summerville and Chesnee, with one staying home to host a tournament, the Raider Rumble, of its own.

As best I knew, they all began on Thursday. On Wednesday, I was talking to a friend on the phone when he told me the Clinton boys were up 12 on Calhoun Falls. That’s when I found out the Emerald Classic was Dec. 26-28, not 27-29. I hated that because had I known it, I would have driven across Lake Greenwood to write about it. These things happen. As I worked at home on other things, the First Responder Bowl, matching Boston College and Boise State, was on.

Check that. For the first time ever, a bowl game, albeit a small one, was canceled by too much electricity in the air.

(Monte Dutton photo)

The Clinton coach, Eddie Romines, sent a text to the effect that he had thought he sent out something – an email or a text, maybe, or smoke signals, because the high school is only a couple miles away – when the dates had been changed. He might have, though the other media outlets in the county missed it, too.

Since I set up a composite schedule, I’ve had to adjust it quite a few times when notified of changes. Snow cancellations forced numerous moves. For instance, the Laurens Academy girls canceled a game against the Upstate Bearcats, then couldn’t play a game against Southside and wound up playing Easley Home School, a team from Easley aptly consisting of players being home-schooled. Each week, I check my schedule against those on the various athletic department websites before I publish the weekly list on The Clinton website still listed the Emerald tourney as Dec. 27-29. If I had changed it, I changed it back. It’s all a blur.

While I waited for the results from Greenwood – Clinton won 69-47 – I watched a splendid football game between Minnesota and Georgia Tech. I’m kidding. It was a stinker. The Gophers won 34-10.

Evidence that Ninety Six has a girls’ basketball team. The Wildcats have played Clinton twice. (Monte Dutton photo)

On Thursday, the Raider Rumble began at Laurens District High School. The Raiders were scheduled to play at 2:30 p.m. and 7:50. I decided to attend the night game because I didn’t have time for both, and I could get some information about the former game before the latter started.

Little did I know that fate had intervened. Soon after I ordered a hamburger steak at The Hub, my favorite pre-LDHS-ballgame hangout, someone mentioned that the Raiders were playing … then.

Uh-oh,” I said.

See, Ninety Six didn’t show, and they didn’t find out till this morning, so Laurens played a game against Hillcrest that didn’t count, and the game tonight was moved up to 6. They’re playing Carolina now.”

You want the hamburger steak to go?” the girl who had taken my order asked.

I was a bit miffed.

Nah,” I said. “What? I’m going to try to eat a hamburger steak while it’s sitting in my lap and I’m taking notes? I’ll just go take some photos of the second half.”

At the moment, I was thinking, for the second night in a row, I could have seen Clinton play in Greenwood. As it turned out, Laurens won big, and Clinton lost big, and I took some photos of the Raiders’ romp in the Raider Rumble.

I didn’t go to a game on Friday because the District 56 school board called a special meeting that consisted entirely of going into executive session to discuss a personnel decision. A key personnel decision in Clinton is the hiring of a new football coach. I spent over an hour chatting amiably with Rosanne Braswell in her nearby office while the board deliberated in private. When they came out of executive session, they adjourned.

Once again, and for the third straight day or night, I could have been in Greenwood, where the Clinton boys’ basketball team was finishing third by defeating host Emerald in overtime.

Woulda. Coulda. Shoulda.

(Monte Dutton photo)

Back home, with Washington State and Iowa State providing the backdrop, I cranked out basketball stories and selected photos until the wee hours of late-night talk.

The Clinton girls are 11-0 entering Saturday’s game in far Summerville. The Laurens boys played this morning for seventh place in Clover. The girls are playing someone at LDHS, where the Raider Rumble seems almost theoretical. Laurens Academy, a small private school, went 1-2 against the large public schools in the Lowe’s Roundball Classic in Chesnee. Georgia predictably handled the Presbyterian College women Friday afternoon in Athens. The men are at Jacksonville on Sunday.

I’m about to watch South Carolina play Virginia in the Belk Bowl, which I once attended. Then the eyes of the recently Precipitation, but normally Palmetto, State and Catholics everywhere are upon the game in Arlington, Texas, between Clemson and Notre Dame. My nephew is both a Clemson graduate and a Catholic. I suspect he would be undismayed if the Tigers won by 50. Then there’s the game the late Keith Jackson should have pronounced: Oke-luh-HO-ma! vs. Al-uh-BAM-uh!

I don’t think there’s any more basketball to miss until Friday. I think I’ll fix breakfast. It’s 12:17 p.m.

The Barrie Jarman Adventures (Gabe Whisnant photo)

If you become a patron of mine, you’re supporting writing like this as well as my mostly NASCAR blogs at If you’ve got a few bucks a month to spare, click here.

Another way I cobble out a living is with my books, a wide variety of which is available for sale here.

(Steven Novak cover)


The new novel, my eighth, is called Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Lightning in a Bottle is now available in an audio version, narrated by Jay Harper.


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