Basketball

BERKSHIRE EAGLE FILE Once, it was hard to imagine there would be a high school basketball season. As the campaign nears its end, it’s been a success.

Success can be measured in many ways. A Duck Boat parade is most certainly a sign of success.

But here in Berkshire County this winter, the idea that a high school athlete’s parent had to wash their child’s basketball uniform amounts to a major sign of success.

Just Friday night, Hoosac Valley’s two basketball teams got on buses in Cheshire and drove south to Monument Mountain High School, and the games were on. So far, Hoosac, Monument, Mount Greylock, Mount Everett and Wahconah have played basketball and the games have gone off without a hitch.

Of course, there are no fans present at these games, but some of the gyms still look a little overcrowded.

Take Monument for example. The home team sits where it normally sits, but on socially distanced chairs instead of on the front row of the bleachers. And those bleachers are all pushed up against the wall. The visiting team sits on the other side of the basketball court, also in socially distanced chairs.

The clock and scoreboard operator sits at one table, the shot clock operator sits at one table, while the official scorer sits at a third table. There is a fourth table at Monument for the media.

On the opposite side from that table are a number of chairs stacked up. I imagine that they are used in the gym during the day.

But once we have a tip-off, it’s basketball.

The staffs and the administrations at the aforementioned high schools deserve plaudits for the successful launch of the winter sports season. That the basketball, Nordic and Alpine skiing and swimming seasons have gotten off to good starts is a tribute to parents, teachers, administrators, coaches and athletes.

Sure, we’re missing sectional and state playoffs this winter, which is too bad. However, had you asked me just after Thanksgiving if I thought there would be winter sports, I am not certain I would have been able to answer the question in the affirmative.

With Drury, Lee and eventually Pittsfield and Taconic joining the party, it is fair to say that the winter basketball season has been a pretty successful one.

So, what have I seen that I like? What have I not liked?

What I don’t like is the situation at the free throw line. When a shooter is fouled in the act, he or she gets two free throws. On the first free throw, nobody except for the shooter is allowed at the foul line or along the lane. Not usual, but no big deal because there aren’t rebounds on the first shot anyway. It’s on the second shot that I have a little difficulty with.

Only two defensive players, one on each side of the lane, are allowed on the second free throw — or for the front end of a one-and-one. That, of course, makes it more difficult for the offensive team to get an offensive rebound on the free throw miss.

I do understand the health and safety reason for limiting players on the lane. If you have been watching basketball for some time, you know that an offensive putback on a missed free throw in a close game could be a huge play in the game. It’s the type of play that can spur the trailing team into catching up and going ahead.

The other major rule change is no opening jump ball. A pregame coin toss determines who gets the ball first in the first quarter. After watching that several times, It wouldn’t pain me to see that rule installed in games, once the pandemic is behind us.

This isn’t the NBA, where there are multiple jump balls. Like in college, high school games require the use of possession arrows to tell fans, players and officials who gets the ball next. Is there really a need for one jump ball?

I wonder if, however, in an effort for school districts to save money, that virtual swim meets might become more of a thing?

A virtual meet is actually a real meet when kids from Team A swim in their pool, but kids from Team B swim in their home pool. Then times are compared and winners are determined.

It isn’t as much fun as a dual meet, and it sure takes all of the excitement out of that final relay race that would determine a winner or a loser.

Virtual meets have gone on across the state, and have worked out as well as can be expected. While it isn’t something I would ever like to see come into play, we’ll wait and see.

So, thanks to everyone for getting through this winter.

And don’t forget, Fall II will be here sooner than you think.

Howard Herman can be reached at hherman@berkshireeagle.com or 413-496-6253. On Twitter:

@howardherman.

Sportswriter-Columnist

Howard Herman is a sports columnist at The Berkshire Eagle. The dean of full-time sportswriters in Western Mass., he has been with the Eagle since 1988, and is a member of the New England Baseball and Basketball Hall of Fame.