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Feedback on HS basketball story ...

Discussion in 'Writers' Workshop' started by pressboxramblings07, Mar 10, 2008.

  1. I just got back from a state basketball tournament and a team we cover won the state championship. Here's my story from the game. I know the score isn't until the fifth graf, but I think it works, but I was just wanting to get a little feedback. Thanks.

    AUSTIN - You would never know you drove into Laneville, Texas, if not for the wooden sign.

    It welcomes you to the small town and lets you in on a well-known secret: Laneville loves its basketball. The town is glued by basketball in such a way the closest comparison might be the one in the film, "Hoosiers."

    The secret is also a history lesson. Laneville has two state championships, back-to-back in fact, in 1992 and '93.

    And the townspeople, most of whom sat in Section 37 at the Frank Erwin Center Saturday night, will be anxious to add 2008 to that sign next week.

    Laneville culminated a magical run and wiped away bad memories from last season by winning its third state championship with a 56-50 victory over Goodrich in front of 10,262 fans.

    "I wanted this for them. Any coach wants to win a state championship, but after being so close to winning last year, it hurt the kids to taste that," said Laneville coach Brian Nichols, whose team lost to Nazareth in the title game last year.

    The team and town that are so bound by basketball are, in more ways than one, bound by relation. Marcus Anderson, who scored 25 points in the final, said the Yellowjackets won as a family.

    "We are all kin-folk and we dreamed this in the backyard," Anderson said.

    Anderson's father, Marcus Anderson Sr., played in the state tournament in 1986. He was Laneville's leading scorer, like his son, but Marcus Jr. has something else.

    "Being able to do something my daddy didn't accomplish means a lot to me," Marcus Anderson Jr. said. "I think he'd be proud of me because I led this team like he did and we won state."

    Laneville (32-5) won the Class A Division II crown much like it did in Friday's semifinal. It dominated the paint, but this time against a team with an obvious size advantage and also a stellar basketball reputation.

    Goodrich (32-6) could not get close shots to fall or beat Laneville on the boards. The Yellowjackets won the rebounding battle, 47-36, and had 18 on the offensive end.

    "In order for us to beat them we had to control that part of the game," Nichols said. "Our perimeter players did a good job of cutting down the penetration."

    Championship game MVP Byron Blanton played bigger than his 5-10 stature with a double-double. He scored 18 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and twice put back misses through the bucket.

    Fellow post player Gerraylon Carey, who had eight blocks in the semifinals, added three more to his eight points and nine rebounds.

    Careys' and several others' older cousin, Mark Carey, and another senior from last year in Alfred Upshaw, had seats right behind Laneville's bench and joined the mob after the final horn sounded.

    Blanton gave Laneville its largest lead, 41-31, with 1:29 left in the third. He caught the ball in the bottom-left corner, made a nifty fake left and drove the baseline for an easy layup.

    Goodrich cut the lead to four on an Akemo Wright 3-pointer midway through the fourth quarter. The Hornets, who did not attempt a 3-pointer in their semifinal, airlifted six in the second half but Wright's was the only one to fall.

    Goodrich got within four twice after, but Laneville snatched three offensive rebounds - two on missed free throws and another on a putback - to keep Goodrich on the Yellowjackets' side of the court.

    "I think that goes back to show you what type of young men they are," Nichols said. "They have so much heart and so much desire to win."

    Nichols wears a variety of hats at Laneville. He's the elementary school principal, the transportation director and the junior high basketball coach. He never wanted the spotlight, always directing it to his players.

    He choked up talking about his five seniors, who he started coaching in seventh grade and every game since. They make up almost half of Laneville's 2008 graduating class of 13.

    "You know what makes them click," Nichols said. "There's always that tradition to uphold. As small as we are, that's always there.

    "This is something they've wanted and they earned this."

    The sign will prove it.
  2. forever_town

    forever_town Well-Known Member

    I'm sorry, but burying a final score five grafs in for a preps gamer doesn't work for me. At all.

    If this were SI and Game 7 of the NBA Finals, different story. You could get all Dr. Z and it'd be expected. But for a preps gamer, brevity is the soul of readability.

    Don't get me wrong. I enjoyed reading the narrative. but I really hate seeing the score buried for a preps gamer. That may be on me, though.
  3. dawgpounddiehard

    dawgpounddiehard Active Member

    Thanks for posting.

    Before we look at the buried final score, your audience is the people of Laneville?

    It seems like to me you are writing for a state-wide audience or even bigger. If this is a local team, why not focus more on Marcus Anderson doing something his dad never did? Or how the team is all "kin-folk" as Anderson said?

    Doesn't the town already know it's small and it has a wooden sign displaying the two state titles?

    See what I mean? Maybe you missed your audience here?

    That being said, it does flow nicely and is a pretty decent effort, especially how you tied in the final sentence with your lede. Only problems I have are with certain phrases that do not add to the story or showcase your skills as a writer.

    For example:
    "Laneville culminated a magical run..."
    "...twice put back misses through the bucket."
    "...made a nifty fake left..."
    "...airlifted six in the second half..."
    "...snatched three offensive rebounds..."
  4. spnited

    spnited Active Member

    I have a major problem with the lede because it doesn't tell me anything. You could probably substitute 1,000 different town names from around the country and have the same story.
  5. Angola!

    Angola! Guest

    The reader also doesn't find out until the 11th graf which state title Laneville won. Just because folks in Laneville know what classification they are, doesn't mean the rest of your readership does. Especially, because the 1As are split into two divisions in basketball. It can be confusing for the reader.
  6. ... and now I'm off to apply for a job at Starbucks. Or jump off a cliff.

    Just kidding. Thanks guys appreciate it.

    forever_town, I knew the score in the fifth graf would be the first thing mentioned. And nine times out of 10 I would agree with you, and I went back and forth about it the entire time I was writing the story. But I decided it flowed enough to where it worked, but I do see your point.

    dawgpound, I wish I could tell you better how long I spent on the approach to this story. I was disappointed from the get-go. I looked EVERYWHERE for Marcus Anderson Sr. because I wanted that to be the lede to this story. But the game was late and I didn't have hours to search, so I had to go somewhere else. I appreciate your other points, too.

    Angola!, I had issues with the classification, too. I couldn't put it in the graf with the score because the two Laneville had won previously weren't as a Division II team. I'm sure you know since you're in Texas, but it was just 1A back then. Looking back, there were places I could have moved it up, though.

    Thanks again everyone.
  7. dawgpounddiehard

    dawgpounddiehard Active Member

    No, no need to apply at Starbucks... although you might make more money starting off! :)

    This is a good gamer, but with a few tweaks it could have been great. I'm glad to hear you noticed about the story line with the dad, but I understand deadline issues, they are a bitch.

    I don't see the problem with the final score in the fifth graph. Sure, 99 times out of 100 it needs to be high up, but it may work here. For two reasons, in this small town, most readers will have been there and know the final score. Also, if the layout has the final score somewhere, like in the head or subhead... you might be able to get away with it. But don't make a habit out of it!
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