Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Valley Senior Guard Austin Hinkle Sinks 2 Free Throws With One Second Remaining In Overtime to Send the Tigers Past Hoover, 45-43, and Into Next Week's Class 4-A State Boys Basketball Tournament At Wells Fargo Arena


With one second--yes, just one tiny second--remaining in overtime, Austin Hinkle didn't exactly follow instructions.

No problem.

No problem at all.

Hinkle, displaying ice water in his veins, drilled two free throws that wound up sending his Valley basketball team to the state class 4-A state tournament tonight, suddenly bringing hope to his coaches, teammates and Tiger fans everywhere that perhaps their high school can win a second consecutive championship.

The Tigers from West Des Moines won their ninth straight game and pushed their record to 19-4 with a 45-43 victory over Hoover of Des Moines in a gripping substate finale that tested the heart strength and function of everyone who played, coached, officiated and watched at the Ankeny Centennial High School gym.

So it's on to the state tournament again next week at Wells Fargo Arena in downtown Des Moines for coach B.J. Windhorst and his Tigers, who won the 4-A championship last season.

I've been saying and writing that Valley is a team nobody wants to play at this stage of the season, and I'm even more firm in that belief now.

Think about Hoover.

Hoover clobbered Valley, 45-30, during the regular season, but that was before 6-foot 6-inch senior Quinton Curry joined the Tigers after missing most of the season with a knee injury.

Valley is a much better team with Curry in the lineup, and it definitely showed tonight.

Getting back to Hinkle, the 6-foot senior guard was fouled in the final second of the 4-minute overtime.

"I was pushed out of bounds [following a missed shot by Hoover]," he told me.
I mentioned to Hinkle that I was a bit surprised one of the three members of the officiating crew had the balls to call a foul with one second remaining in the overtime session.

He seemed to agree.

What Hinkle and I were referring to was the feeling among basketball coaches, players and fans that officials are hesitant to call fouls in the final minute [certainly in the final second] of any game because there is some sort of unwritten rule that people don't want a foul to decide a game.

At first, the scoreboard clock showed that there was just a half-second left in the overtime when Hinkle was fouled.

Another half-second was quickly added, meaning a full second remained.

Miracles could still happen.

Hinkle made his first free throw, giving Valley a 44-43 lead.

He was supposed to purposely miss the second free throw, but he also needed to bounce the ball off the rim to put the ball in play.

Hinkle hit the rim with his second shot all right, but banked his second shot off the backboard and through the basket, giving Hoover one more frantic shot that theoretically could have decided the game, but was nowhere near the basket.

No miracles for Hoover.

No one--no Valley coach, no Valley player, no Valley student manager, no Valley fan--cared that Hinkle didn't quite do what he was supposed to do.

The Tigers were ready to celebrate--and celebrate they did while posing for pictures after the game, one of which is attached to this essay.

It was a tremendously fun night for all Tigers.

Not so much fun for Hoover.

Monday, February 27, 2017

What a Joke

For some unknown reason, watching the Academy Awards show on TV became a tradition in my home many years ago.

Maybe it was because there wasn't much else to choose from on the tube.

It was either watch the Oscars being handed out to make-believe people who work in a make-believe business or watch Australian Rules Football on ESPN or an 'I Love Lucy" rerun on some other channel.

I recall preparing for the Adademy Awards show by driving to Babe's restaurant in downtown Des Moinest to spend $4 or so for a large pizza, opening a can of Diet Pepsi or some other beverage and watching people from Hollywood show off or make fools of themselves while wearing tuxedos and glittery dresses.

That shows you how long ago it was. Babe Bisignano was still living, he still had a restaurant and he was still selling $4 pizzas.

Those were the days, my friend.

We were going to a lot more movies in those years.

Now we go to hardly any.

I can't remember how long it's been since we actually saw a movie in a theater.

More than a year, I guess. Maybe two years.

But we kept the tradition going last night by watching the Academy Awards show on TV.

And what a mess it was.

Hollywood can't get it right these days either on the big screen or on TV at its own awards show.

I was still awake when the biggest screwup of all time happened in the final minutes of the Oscar show.

I was the dumb one. Maxine was the smart one. She was already sleepiing.

She didn't have to watch 'em hand out the Academy Award for the movie that didn't win.

Think about it.

That's like giving the Super Bowl trophy to the team that lost the game.

Over the hill actors Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway had either been in the sauce or didn't know what they were doing for some other reason when they told people in the building and the TV audience that "La La Land" won the best picture award.

But a minute into the celebration by "La La Land's" cast and crew, producer Jordan Horowitz stepped to the microphone, and said the real winner was "Moonlight."

"This is not a joke," Horowitz said as the cast and crew of "La La Land" left the stage.

Yes, it was a joke.

The joke was on Hollywood, which isn't getting much right these days.

Where was that "I Love Lucy" rerun when I needed it?

I guess I'll continue watching all of my movies on the Turner Classic channel for the next year.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Drake's Women Got the Joint Jumpin'

I'm very happy for the marvelous Drake women's basketball players and coaches who won their 17th consecutive game tonight and assured themselves of the Missouri Valley Conference regular-season championship.

And I'm certainly not the only person to be fired-up for these rampaging Bulldogs following their 70-57 victory over Northern Iowa at a Knapp Center that had never been as electric and as jammed full of fans for a women's game as it was tonight.

Indeed, these talented Drake women got the joint jumpin'. 

There was a whopping crowd of 6,456 in the 7,000-seat building--the biggest turnout ever to see the Bulldogs play a women's home game--and most of the fans obviously were cheering for Drake.

Ty Patton, Drake's sports information director, quoted Bulldogs coach Jennie Baranczyk on Twitter as saying, "Tonight's record crowd was a testament to the state of Iowa. I've lived in 6 states and have never seen support like this."

Baranczyk obviously deserves a lot of credit for Drake's amazing success this season.

Now I hope Jennie doesn't screw this whole thing up and leave for another job at season's end.

It's happened at Drake before, you know,, that a successful coach has left the university for a job that pays twice as much.

But, hey, let's not borrow trouble on a fun night like this. Let's enjoy Jennie and her outstanding coaching style as long as we can before she takes another job in the Big Ten or some other higher-profile conference.

The Bulldogs improved their Valley record to 16-0 and their overall record to 23-4 with tonight''s victory. Also a women's program high are the 17 consecutive victories.

It's Drake's first outright Valley regular season championship since the 1999-2000 season.

Lizzy Wendell, a senior from Blue Springs, Mo., led Drake with 21 points over a UNI team that's 13-3 in the Valley and 20-7 for the season.

Thanks to John Meyer and Ty Patton of Drake's publicity office for sending me the facts on the Bulldogs' victory.

The editorial comments are, of course, mine and not theirs.

I didn't attend the Drake-UNI game. I was at the Bill Coldiron Fieldhouse on Valley High School's campus in West Des Moines, where the Tigers absolutely crushed Ankeny Centennial, 68-37, in a boys' regional semifinal.

I've been telling my kids that Valley is a team nobody wants to play now that Quinton Curry, the 6-6 senior who missed most of the season because of a knee injury, is in the starting lineup.

Make no mistake, Curry can be a game-changer. He makes everyone else in the Tigers' lineup better.

We'll know more about that Tuesday when Valley plays talented Hoover at Ankeny Centennial.

Like most of you, I think Hoover should be favored. But Valley coach B.J. Windhorst, whose team won the class 4-A championship last season, is a wonderful motivator and outcoaches a lot of other guys.

So, like I said, we'll see.

A spot in the state tournament will be up for grabs. It should be fun.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Rich Rogers Never Met a Broken Bug He Couldn't Fix


I was sorry to learn of the death of Rich Rogers, who never met a broken Bug he couldn't fix.
Rich Rogers
Rogers, longtime owner of the Rich's Skelly service station in the Valley Junction part of West Des Moines, died Monday at 77 years of age.
I got to know Rich 40 or so years ago when he ran his always-busy gas station/car repair business.

The reason I was on a first-name basis with him was because, at various times when my three sons were making the transition from boys to men, we owned four Volkswagen vehicles--two Bugs and two vans.

The first Bug [also known as a Beetle] was a 1959 version that I bought from Dan Callahan, a former standout high school and collegiate basketball coach in these parts.

Indeed, Callahan was such a well-known coach that he was one of Maury John's assistants when Drake finished third in the 1969 NCAA Final Four at Louisville, Ky.

The interesting part of the black '59 Volkswagen was that it had no gas gauge.
But it did have what was called a reserve tank that usually had enough gas in it to get the driver 25 or so miles down the road.
The first time I took the '59 Bug out for a ride, I thought I had run out of gas. I'm not God's gift to the car repair business or anything, so someone had to point out to me how to turn on the reserve tank so I could get to a gas station.
We had a lot of Volkswagens and a lot of other cars in those days because we had so many drivers.
All of my sons wanted to be behind the wheel of something or other, so I'd joke to people that I "had to have five cars so enough of 'em were running well enough to please everyone."
After the black 1959 Bug, we had a 1968 dark green Bug, plus the two Volkswagen vans--one a 1965, then a 1972.
Rich Rogers kept all of those vehicles, plus the Ford and the two Pontiacs I had in those days, in operating condition
It seemed like I had one car being worked on in Rich's garage and one in the parking lot waiting to be fixed every couple of weeks.
Rich kept 'em all in great shape.
Later in his life, after selling Rich's Skelly, he worked or volunteered for the city of West Des Moines, transporting senior citizens to medical appointments.
Rich would drive a van that picked up the seniors at their homes or apartments and took them to the offices where they had their appointments.
One of those seniors who rode in Rich's van in those years was my mother, who lived to be 94 and enjoyed visiting with Rich on her occasional rides to and from the doctors' offices.
Rest in peace, Rich. Thanks again for all the great work you did.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Judy & Spot


You may recall that I wrote a while back about the passing of Judy Currier, the mother of my daughter-in-law Donna.

Following the celebration of life for Judy [pictured at the left], a few of us were talking her at the home of Donna and her husband.

After a while, Spot entered the conversation.

Spot and shoes, that is.

Spot was Judy's cat, and no one knew Judy or Spot more than Janey Ladd, Judy's twin sister.

"Spot developed an affinity for 2 peoples'  shoes," Janey explained.   "Ethel's and mine."

Ethel is Ethel Kolenz, a longtime family friend.
She is pictured at the right, speaking at Judy's celebration of life.

"When either of us [Ethel or Janey] came to see Judy, Spot would immediately rub his nose,
face or body against our shoes," Janey explained.  "If you let him, he would lay across your shoes and roll back and forth.  

"We thought perhaps it was because we both wore the same brand of shoes.  But both of us wore different brands from time to time and Spot's behavior continued.  Spot never did this to anyone else's shoes.  But he went crazy whenever Ethel or I came in.  Not once in a while, but every time we were there.  He never chewed the shoe laces, but simply made sure--as only cats can do--that our shoes were his."

Very good stuff.

I know little or nothing about cats, so I'll let Janey tell the rest of the story:

"Judy got Spot about 10 years ago when she was working at HyVee," Janey said.   "A co-worker told her she had a litter of cats and wanted to give away all the females.  Judy asked for one and chose Spot.  

"After a few weeks, Judy took Spot to a vet to get shots, etc.  At that visit Judy was told Spot was a male cat. When Judy went to work the next day and informed her co-worker, that Spot was a male, the co-worker did her best to ask for Spot back, saying she wanted to keep all the males and only give away the females.  As it turned out, Spot was only one of 2 males in the litter.  Judy kept Spot.

"Spot got his name because he has black spots against a white background. Judy already had a female cat named Baby, who was a Calico.  Baby was small and welcomed Spot quite rapidly.  They became good friends.

"Spot grew to become a very large cat at over 25 pounds.  He was a BIG boy, but not really a fat one.  He loved belly rubs, treats and a few specific people's shoes.  If there was a knock on the door and someone came is, Spot would come out from wherever he was to greet the visitor.  He would 'talk to you' and very often would crawl up your leg in greeting. 

"The family called Spot our dog/cat because he acted more like a watch dog than a cat who ignored visitors."

So there it is, the story of Judy and Spot as told by Janey.

Oh, by the way, you may be wondering where Spot is now.

Judy's son Jim took Spot to Colorado, which he now calls home.

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Finest February Day Ever


I'm saying without hesitation that this is the finest February day in Iowa that I can ever remember.

If it isn't the best, it will do until someone proves to me that there's been a better one.

When I checked the temperature this afternoon, if was a balmy 73. Later, it rose to an even more balmy 75,  which was a record high.

Bright sun, breeze out of the south.

Absolutely amazing on Feb. 17.

If someone were to be walking on the sidewalk along Woodland Place in West Des Moines and asked me, "Is this Heaven?" I'd say, "No, it's Iowa in February."

Believe me, I'm not letting this tremendous day go to waste.

I'm doing everything humanly possible to take advantage of the fantastic conditions that God has given us on this Friday in February.

And I hope you are, too.

A Special Night for a Very Special Young Woman

Megan with Mother Donna Maly


Smiles were all over the place and everyone was in a mood to celebrate tonight after Valley's boys' basketball team stormed past Mason City, 65-45, in the Tigers' final home game of the regular season.

Because it was the regular-season finale at the Bill Coldiron Fieldhouse on the Valley campus in West Des Moines, it was Senior Night.

Honored before the game on the court and after the game in the cafeteria were senior players, student managers and cheerleaders.

School officials did it up big in the postgame celebration. Everyone feasted on cake and all the finin's--some of the fixin's being sandwiches, pizza, cookies and punch.

Among the senior student managers honored was my granddaughter, Megan Maly. She is pictured at the top of this column with her mother, Donna, and below the column with grandma Maxine Maly and grandpa Ron Maly.

We're all very proud of Megan, who courageously whipped childhood leukemia.

She also was a student manager on Valley's football team, and plans to pursue a degree in athletic training at Northern Iowa after receiving her high school diploma.

Indeed, Megan is a very special young woman.

Megan with Grandma Maxine Maly
Megan with Grandpa Ron Maly

 Megan and the rest of Valley's boys' varsity boys basketball student  managers

Sunday, February 12, 2017



This is ground-breaking business for me.

I'm planning to originate and complete a Facebook essay on this fairly-new (well, it's 5 1/2 weeks old) iPhone 6S-Plus.

I'll tell you right now. a bunch of my old press box cohorts who are now enjoying themselves with Grantland Rice and the guys at the stadium in the sky, would be saying stuff like, "Say it ain't so!" If they saw I was writing stories on my telephone.

At the moment, I'm on a road trip, the feature of which is the fifth consecutive Super Bowl party hosted by my son and daughter-in-law at their home in Woodbury, MN.

It's almost time for the kickoff in the game between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons, and the party-goers have already dug deep into the dining and drinking.

But there's still plenty of food and beverages left untouched, so no one will go home hungry or thirsty.

All of which leads me to the football game.
In the days leading up to the game, I was asked by plenty of people which team I thought would win and which team I wanted to win.

"At this stage in my life " I told a friend, "I don't care about which team I want to win as much as which team I want to lose."

"Well, which team do you want to lose," the friend asked."

"The Patriots," I answered, "because they've already won too many Super Bowls and because I don't particularly like their coach, Bill Belichick [pictured].

"He reminds me too much of a couple of coaches I had to deal with in my newspaper days."

"Sounds great to me," the friend said. "If you want the Falcons to win, so do I. As for Belichick, I don't like him either."

Friday, February 3, 2017



Remember when it cost a kid 16 cents to attend a movie?

Remember when the actors and actresses didn't use profanity in movies?

Remember when a box of buttered popcorn cost 10 cents at a movie?

Remember when ushers using flashlights escorted you to your seat in a movie theater?

Remember double features? In other words, 2 movies for the price of one?

Remember when there was always a newsreel before every movie?

Remember when people had to stand in lines a city block long to buy tickets to some movies?

Remember when a cartoon was shown before every movie?

Remember when people would applaud at certain times during a movie, and when the movie they liked ended?

Remember when a movie was "held over" because it was so popular. That meant it stayed in the theater longer than originally scheduled.

Remember when some small towns in Iowa actually had movie theaters?

Remember when an adult could buy a movie ticket for 25 cents?

Remember when actors and actresses always kept their clothes on in movies?

Remember drive-in theaters?

Remember movies with bedroom scenes that had two single beds, even when people who were married to each other were sleeping in them?

Remember when cowboys sang in movies?

Remember when people dressed up to go to movies?

Remember when movies had happy endings?

I remember all of that stuff.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Butterflies, Birds & Blueerry Pie


To a certain degree, I guess I'm trying to figure out where these  coffee-and-free-pie sessions on  Wednesdays at Village Inn are going.

I mean, today one guy was talking about butterflies and another man and his wife were talking about birds.

Hey, you figure it out.

I'm calling it the versatility of people whose careers have mostly been involved with writing about, talking about, supervising or observing collegiate athletics.

After all, these sessions started as gatherings of folks such as a few retired sportswriters, a TV/radio sportscaster, a retired sports information director, a guy who financed Drake's women's softball stadium, a man nearing his 100th birthday [Paul Morrison, of course] who still works as Drake's sports historian and...well, you get the idea.

I can't remember anyone talking about flying to Mexico to see monarch butterflies until today. 

Two folks [a guy and his wife] had talked about bird-watching in the past, and said more about it after looking for more birds on a recent trip to Texas.

The guy who talked about butterflies had just visited Mexico with his wife to see monarchs, which go there every year in what's known as a migration called "one of the most spectacular natural phenomena in the world."

The monarchs--estimated to be a billion or so--leave the U.S. and southern Canada and fly to central Mexico, arriving in late-October. They begin their return trip in March.

Even someone like me, who knows little or nothing about monarch butterflies other than they're very pretty and very graceful, calls that phenomenal.

The guy who talked about viewing the monarchs said he and his wife spent six days and nights in Mexico looking at them.

Meanwhile, you and I were up here in Iowa freezing our you-know-what off.

But it wasn't all butterflies and birds at at the coffee-and-pie session.

I stayed for 90 minutes before going to the mall for my 2-mile walk. We talked about the state's four major-college men's basketball teams, Drake's outstanding women's team, football recruiting and a few other sports topics.

By the way, my pie was blueberry [pictured]. That's why I needed the 2-mile walk afterward.