Winter's top notes, quotes &amp; amp; anecdotes
You've seen too many basketball games, read too many game stories and heard too many references to the box-and-one defense.
You're tired of all the so-called "facts" from so-called "coaches" with so-called "qualifications."
You want simple, straight-forward, pointless awards and anecdotes and you want them from someone whose social life revolves around making it home in time to watch "Late Night with Conan O'Brien."
Well, I'm your man.
I went to 49 high school basketball games this year, which makes for a lot of interviews, stories and comments from some Springfield basketball fans like, "What are you doing here -- does South Range not play tonight?"
I watched a lot of good games, saw a lot of good players and met a lot of good people. Here's some of the highlights from the games I've seen.
Top players, coaches
Five boys players most fun to watch: Fitch junior Terrell Eargle, Harding senior Mike Phillips, Poland senior Neil Harris, Struthers senior Jim Franceschelli, Bristol senior Craig Giesy.
Five girls players most fun to watch: Boardman junior Amber Bland, Poland senior Kristy Gaudiose, Howland senior Darcy Quinlan, Western Reserve senior Anna Marie Ricciardi, Ursuline junior Courtney Davidson.
Best players to interview: Bland and Phillips.
All-name team: This year's theme is "Names that are fun to say." Mooney senior Anastasia Vouvalis, Poland junior Audrey Iudiciani, Mooney junior Valentino Singer, Chaney senior Chance Peay, Mooney junior Patsy Daltorio. (Mooney has a lot of great names.)
Toughest player: Salem junior Molly Baumann, who throws a pretty fierce forearm shiver while setting a screen.
Best coaches to interview: Poland boys coach Ken Grisdale and Boardman girls coach Ron Moschella.
Best-dressed coach: Warren Harding's Steve Arnold. Smooth.
Warmup song that needs to go away: "Eye of the Tiger." Listen. I liked Rocky III. Really. And I'm sure "Eye of the Tiger" was the world's greatest song when it came out -- in 1982. But for the love of gravy, can we stop playing it before every blasted sporting event?
Best place to see a game: Struthers Fieldhouse. All basketball games should be played in fieldhouses and all football games should be played on grass.
Worst place to see a game: Canton Civic Center. How do I loathe thee? Let me count the ways: Cavernous facility; 8:30 p.m. games that don't start until 9; hallways lined with cigarette smoke, bad food; $5 parking charges and plenty of unfriendly people.
Best boys game I covered: Warren Harding's 84-79 double overtime win over Fitch.
Best girls game I covered: Canfield's 53-48 win at Poland.
Game that needs to happen: Both of this year's Boardman-Ursuline girls basketball games drew tremendous interest, yet there's a good possibility they won't play next year because they'll be in different leagues, and neither team wants to play at the other's court. That's a shame. I don't care if they have to play in Alaska, this rivalry should continue.
Best student section (boys): Poland. Loud. Creative. Spirited and ... annoying. Special mention goes to Springfield, Lowellville, Mooney and Sebring.
Worst fan outfit: At the Uniontown Lake-Fitch sectional boys basketball game, one of the Blue Streaks fans was wearing a cow costume -- with udder.
Best hair: Boardman junior Jay Davis and his free-flowing 'fro. Special mention goes to Mooney junior Jonathan Freaney for most resembling Luke Skywalker.
Scoring standard: The area had a number of girls top 1,000 career points this season. Here are the ones we know of: Newton Falls senior Desiree Sterling, Southington senior Rebecca Derr, Boardman junior Amber Bland, Niles senior Stacia Ray, Liberty senior Jessica White, Western Reserve senior Anna Marie Ricciardi, Poland senior Kristy Gaudiose, Hubbard senior Katy Jo Mroski and Mooney senior Aieshya Dixon.
Best shoes: Canfield's Chad Baker and his red and white retro Reebok pumps.
Best cheerleaders: Rayen.
Best concession stand food: Ursuline's pepperoni rolls.
The five quotes I loved the most (from the second half of the season):
U"The best synopsis is that we were thoroughly, convincingly thrashed in all aspects of the game," said Poland High girls basketball coach Jamie Dunn after a 54-26 home loss to Boardman. "What I thought probably isn't printable."
U"With about 15 seconds left in the game I thought to myself, when the buzzer goes, I am going to have to be a gracious and humble loser," said Sharon boys coach James Hoy, after his Tigers hung on for a 57-52 victory over Grove City.
U"Everyone had a glaze in their eyes. I don't know if it was the deep freeze and they hadn't thawed yet." Crestview girls coach Tanja Simione said after the Rebels scored just 28 points in a loss to Leetonia.
USeveral Poland fans wore leotards for the Bulldogs' regional semifinal win over Avon, but coach Ken Grisdale wasn't one of them. "I tried one on, but it split and my wife said I wasn't going out like that. But I was singing 'Let's get physical.'"
U"I don't even look anymore because it depresses me," Canfield girls coach Pat Pavlansky, on the Cardinals being 14 girls over the limit for Division II.
XJoe Scalzo covers high school sports for The Vindicator. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.