Seeing, or not seeing, something for first time

By Dennis Minich

I have written sports in some capacity or another for five decades. Just for recreation, I have watched hundreds, if not thousands, more games. But, regardless of how many games you see or events you cover, you just never know when something is going to happen that you’ve never seen happen before. That is exactly what happened last week.

On Monday, Feb. 4, I had a pretty tight evening schedule planned. I had it figured I could go to Midway and catch two, maybe two and one-half games on the opening night of the tournament. I then needed to head to Harrisonville City Hall for the board of aldermen meeting, head to HHS to catch part of the Wildcats’ boys’ basketball game, and then head back to Midway in time for the night’s finale, which would feature a couple of local schools. Everything went according to plan for one half of a basketball game.

I was watching as the Sherwood boys clung to a one-point lead over Crest Ridge. The way the Marksmen were playing, you could almost feel an upset was possible. But then, with just under two minutes left in the first half, out went the lights. And not just some of the lights, and not just the lights in the gym, but all the lights.

It reminded me of the old riddle: “Where was Moses when the lights went out? In the dark.”

Ten years ago, the whole scenario might have been more dangerous, but today virtually everyone carries a cellphone and virtually every cellphone has a flashlight app. So the flashlights lit up and people could safely move around. I made my exit fully intending to be back for games later in the evening.

But as I drove back to Harrisonville, the scene was quite eerie. Most of the world north of Highway 2 was lit, while to the south was total darkness, except for an occasional farm light which was probably gas powered. At a few spots, even lights to the north were dark.

I made it to Harrisonville for the aldermen meeting, then headed to HHS, but the game had progressed quicker than I had imagined so I only saw the closing minutes. Since I was in a hurry to get back to Midway, I didn’t bother checking the scorebook or interviewing the coach, because the Wildcats were slated to play two more games during the week anyway.

I had barely cleared the school parking lot when I got a call that the Midway games had been cancelled for Monday. Bad weather and cold then moved in. The Midway tournament was cancelled and every team in the area was idle until Friday night, when the Harrisonville girls returned to action.

By the way, I will note that on the official Missouri high school activities website, if you look under Sherwood, the Monday game is recorded as a 22-21 win for the Marksmen. If you go to the Crest Ridge site, there is no listing of any games last week. I have no comment, only the observation.

I’ve seen the lights go out at baseball and football games, including one late night at Kauffman Stadium. I’ve seen lights go out at basketball games before, but never to the extent that a whole evening’s worth of games were cancelled. It was an odd week.

Despite the groundhog’s prediction a few days ago, winter seems to have no intention of turning loose.

And remembering last spring, when winter-type weather carried all the way through April, this could go on for some time. Believe it or not, as recently as late January we had near-record high temperatures. We have also had a ton of near-record cold temperatures. We have had sleet, freezing rain, ice, wet clumpy snow, light blizzardy snow and even thunderstorms. And that is all in the past three weeks.

When I commuted to Kansas City everyday to work, I spent most of the winter grousing that I didn’t know why I continue to live where we have such lousy winters. There are actually places in the country that don’t get cold and I always swore, “Next year it will be different.” Then the last three winters were actually fairly mild and my hatred of the winter months had softened. Again, no comment, just an observation.

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