The Err Up There

March 11, 2010 

Another high school basketball season has come and gone, and despite my hope for photo redemption after last year's hoops, my schedule this year allowed for even fewer chances to actually cover some games instead of just covering my ass with some serviceable photos. And though my first opportunity came on a jam-packed Saturday, I was excited to actually shoot a few games in their entirety.

After starting the day by covering a Tea Party birthday celebration on Feb. 27, my basketball extravaganza started by simultaneously covering Richland's winner-to-state game against Davis and Kamiakin's similarly dire matchup versus Walla Walla. I bounced between the two throughout, keeping mental tabs on whether I was getting good shots of our local kids who were performing well, as well as shots that would help illustrate a loss. During mutual down time, I struggled to flesh out the photo galleries with some non-action, but managed to snag a Richland fan's Gumby suit:

and I tried to capture some fan anticipation during a Kamiakin free throw attempt as the Braves fought their way back into the game:

With a roughly two minute difference between the two contests' game times, I was feeling pretty fortunate, but after a few extended time outs, the game clocks were nearly in synch in the final minute. Even more frustrating was the fact that both games were calling timeouts nearly simultaneously.

Time out at the Kamiakin game? OK, I’ll go check out Richland...dum de duTWEET! gotta be kidding me...

And back and forth it went like that as both games lived up to the basketball cliché of dragging out that final minute of game time. As Kamiakin's chances dwindled, I focused on Richland's contest, and after Davis scored a buzzer-beating layup to clinch a state berth, I snapped this shot of Colton McCargar walking toward his teammates as the Pirates celebrated:

I hustled back to the other game hoping to make a similar frame, but I didn't have the best angle, and after trailing for pretty much the whole game, the Braves didn't look all that crushed:

Aside from a shot of Richland's Calvin Douglas getting blocked from behind:

the juxtaposition of jubilant Pirates with a deflated Bomber were my strongest candidates for publication. My options from the Kamiakin game were definitely weaker. This shot of Walla Walla's Michael Weisner blocking Kamiakin's Shad Fletcher suffers from a lot of noise and a lack of sharpness — symptoms of excessive cropping due to shooting from a spot that allowed me to bounce quickly between the games, but wasn’t the most desirable angle:

My other main option also featured Shad getting rejected, this time by Ryan James:

With four high school basketball photos running in the next day's paper, I knew I couldn't run two blocked shot photos, so I tentatively figured I'd be submitting the cheers and sadness photo from the Richland game and a blocked shot from Kamiakin. Next up was Chiawana versus Mead, but with both teams already qualified for the state tournament, I wasn't counting on getting a good emotional shot.

I had some almost-cool action shots, like when Melanie Valdez fought for the ball:

If only that other Mead player hadn't stepped in the way. As the game wound down, I positioned myself near the bench, looking for emotion and lucked out with this unusual action shot of Mikaela Rivard losing the ball out of bounds right toward me:

And then again as Mead's Chenise Pakootas stripped the ball from Chiawana's Hayley Hodgins as she tried to score a last-second layup to win the game:

Mead took control in overtime and I snapped this shot during a timeout:

And while I like the composition better than the similar Richland shot, the lack of game-winning excitement knocks it down a few pegs, and with Mead handling the Riverhawks in overtime, a more emotional shot just wasn't in the cards. My busy Saturday continued, but I was happy to take a photographic break from basketball to cover the Arc of Tri-Cities' annual Buddy Club Prom. I stayed until the dancing started and then hauled over to River View High School in Finley to catch the winner-to-state showdown between Connell and Columbia (Burbank). I didn't arrive until nearly the end of the third quarter, and with Connell looking like they were controlling the situation, I concentrated on them.

I didn't have a lot of luck getting interesting shots, but bagged a couple of potentials when Connell's Chelsea Riner pressured Columbia's Briana Rivas:

and again when Connell's Maci Whitby went up for a shot:

I checked with sports reporter Jack Millikin to see if Maci had been a big factor in Connell's seemingly impending win, but she hadn’t been very productive. I liked the full-court press shot OK, but stuck around in hopes of something better. Even though Burbank is much closer to us, I figured a paper full of photos illustrating defeat might be a bit much, so I waited for the post-game celebrations:

I wish coach Dan Colby was a little more excited and that I had worked to clean up the background a bit more, but this is one of my favorite jube photos, and it provided a nice contrast to the other local schools who lost their games. Little did I know the following weekend's NWAACC coverage of the CBC women would require more glum sports photography. The Lady Hawks trailed throughout their blowout 95-68 loss to Clackamas, so I spent the whole game working at getting a good shot to illustrate this loss. It's definitely harder to get shots for a losing game than for a winning one, as CYA winning shots are plentiful, and it didn't help that the game was ugly and one-sided. When I first started shooting sports, exciting games easily distracted me. I'd get invested in a close matchup and forget to shoot some pretty big plays.

Now I have the opposite problem. When it's a boring game, I start looking for ways to keep myself engaged, and even though I had already gotten a shot during an earlier game of sports editor Jeff Morrow for my popular "Some Jerks I Know" Facebook album:

I couldn't resist using the black curtain in a shot for some Photoshop fun back at the office:

I ended up choosing a shot of CBC's Caitlin Dill picking up her fourth foul just over a minute into the second half on a charge:

Instead of a couple of possession battle shots:

because we had run very similar shots in the previous week.

We don't receive any flak for running these kinds of photos, but I'm sure the players and their parents don't relish seeing last night's loss in today's paper. I think they understand, however, that in sports, you can't win them all.

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