Not all madness needs a bracket

March Madness is slowly changing to April Awesomeness in the NCAA and now that the Miami Heat's win streak is over the NBA season drones on into summer.

I haven't followed the NBA since the days of Pistol Pete and Dr. J but basketball season never seemed to last this long growing up. The NCAA Tournament has caught my attention from time to time and I love local high school and college basketball.

It's the same way with me and baseball. The television version was no good. If I couldn't get my hands on the ball myself I wanted to at least have the pleasure of getting a splinter in my butt.

The seasons of my youth were marked by the day the local high school team played its last game, except for baseball, which lasted until they rang the school bell in the fall.

Basketball therefore started sometime around Thanksgiving and was a distant memory by Easter. Weather didn't matter much as long as the snow wasn't too deep, even though we competed on whatever driveway was available.

We played numerous games, dictated by the numbers, how dark it was and how long we'd been going at it.

When we were fresh off the paper route two-on-two or three-on-three was typical. Call your own fouls (usually after the play goes against your side) then argue about it while you get a breather.

When two or three of us were all that were around we shot games of "21" where you took a free throw then the rebounding player had to make a shot to get to the line. Free throws were one point and action play was two. Trick was you had to end up with exactly 21. Strategy dictates you intentionally miss shots sometimes while hitting the rim.

My next-door neighbor was a master of making and missing from the free throw line in "21" but he wasn't imaginative enough to hang with me when we played a game of "HORSE."

While we were sitting next to each other at a high school basketball game recently reliving the glory years of junior high he reminded me of the best shot I ever made in a game of "HORSE."

To play "HORSE" or "PIG" if you were in a hurry, someone started out and took a shot and if he made the shot the next person in turn had to make a shot from the same spot using the same moves or you got a letter. The game continued until someone had been nailed with enough letters to spell the barnyard animal.

Being short on straight-forward talent, I tried to win by either taking really simple layups or crazy trick shots.

One day I had my compadre pinned down with an H-O-R-S. One shot and he would be done. I figured I needed something crazy. I dribbled the ball down the sidewalk until I was in neighbors yard and behind a pair of head-high bushes. Bounce the ball once off the sidewalk and punt it through the hoop at a distance equivalent to a half-court shot.

Now that's March Madness baby!

Karl Terry writes for Clovis Media Inc. Contact him at:

karlterry@yucca.net

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