Around the Hardwoods With Wild Bill

High school basketball has moved into high gear before the Christmas break and so far the parity has been fairly evident. Teams are still assessing their lineups in non-district play, and one matchup, William Byrd against Cave Spring, had a repeat thrilling finish last Friday. Only nine days after Cave Spring won in double overtime on a buzzer-beater by senior Storm Furrow, the Knights and Terriers played the rematch at Cave Spring. In front of a pair of very spirited student sections, the two teams played a classic nail-biter in which neither squad held more than a five-point lead. In the end, Cave Spring commanded a loose ball with less than four seconds remaining and went the length of the court before Michael Phlegar was fouled going to the hoop with two-tenths of a second left. After two Byrd time-outs and a missed shot, Phlegar found nothing but net on the final-of-two charity shots to give the Knights the 48-47 win.

In the unusual game of the week we go outside the Roanoke area for a River Ridge team that will be a familiar foe for three of our local teams. Christiansburg made the road trip to Stuart,Va, where they dismantled Patrick County by 55 points. It was a total team effort for the Blue Demons as 14 different players scored, yet, despite being one shot away from hitting the century mark, the 97 points put up by Christiansburg did not provide the game’s leading scorer. Patrick County’s Jalen Reynolds netted 14 points, more than any of the fourteen Christiansburg scorers. Don’t say this great predictor has not forewarned Salem, Cave Spring and Hidden Valley to be aware of the Blue Demon bench come district play.

For you holiday planners, here’s the  lineup for the K-Guard Holiday Classic, to be played at the Salem Civic Center December 27, 28 and 29. In the opener on the 27th, Patrick Henry takes on Alleghany at 3 p.m., followed by Cave Spring / Brook Point at 4:30 p.m., Hidden Valley / GarField at 6 p.m. and Salem-William Fleming in the nightcap at 7:30 p.m. This is always a super basketball event and I will provide a clear-cut prediction to the K-Guard folks, I predict my gutters will be full of leaves by tipoff.  I should have bought your product.

Let’s handle a little housekeeping from the ever-lingering football season. Congrats to EastMont for their run to the state final at Salem Stadium. Everyone in Shawsville should be proud of the Mustang’s great season that captured that community’s attention. I’m going to hang out with Mustang’s coach Mark Poston. I figure I can pick his brain and easily become the offensive coordinator for a major college team.

Ditto to Dave Crist and the Blacksburg Bruins, winners of the 60th annual Civitan Sportsmanship Award presented Monday. The award, chosen by the Western Va. Football Officials Association, went to a well-deserving group.

Now to the mailbag for some help with night-time interstellar photography and a look at pitfalls in predicting.

Dear Mr. Wild Bill: My husband was inspired by your mention of moon photography, so I have bought him several thousand dollars worth of camera lenses for Christmas. His goal is to take a picture of Haley’s Comet that he hopes will be published in a major magazine. I’m worried the shot will be in the winter and he’ll need special gloves to capture the magnificent tail and trailing ice crystals of the celestial body. How should he practice? (Loretta/Floyd)

Answer: I’ve got great news, Loretta! The comet’s next fly-by will be in the month of July, so don’t fret the gloves. And, your hubby will have plenty of time to get ready for the shot – it’s July, 2061.

Dear Master Predictor: With all your accurate predictions and hunches, do you clean up at the horse races? (Harvey/Charles Town,WV)

Answer: Harvey, there’s a fine line between predictions and hunches that I’ll explain with an experience I once had. When I played hockey, I wore #5. So imagine my excitement when I went to the track and in the fifth race a horse named Five Aces was starting out of the fifth gate. When the odds were posted at fifty-to-one, it was like a sign from the gods of wagering. I rushed to the fifth window and put down fifty dollars. I was so excited, I jumped up and down, never seeing the ponies do the circuit. When I went to claim my four-figure booty, the steward shook his head and pointed to the board – I should have predicted it- Five Aces came in, well, fifth.

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