The Art of Victory

Author’s Note: Book business to the side, the former sportswriter needs a moment… Thanks for reading, A.S.

I’ve watched a good bit of high school basketball in the past months, both my youthful alma mater, and other local teams as well. From what I’ve seen versus what I remember, a glaring fact emerged. There is an ART to closing out a win on the basketball court.

If you’re a high school player, the biggest lesson to take from this is (I’ll put it on top rather than make you work for it): Every Possession Matters!

If you lose a game by a basket, 3 points or less, afterwards, think back or watch film about all the wasted possessions. I’m not just talking about turnovers, because some T.O.s are inevitable. BUT, SOME ARE NOT! Some come from forcing a pass that wasn’t there, rather than making two quick passes to get the ball to the same place, or from dribbling too much RATHER than passing. Or from NOT PLAYING WITHIN YOURSELF, or in other words, trying to do more than you are capable of. Know your limitations.

How many times have you seen a great defensive steal followed by a mindless turnover, trying to force a fast break basket that isn’t there – trying to make that night’s highlight reel? You won the battle, back it out and relax, run your offense. When you gain an advantage, keep it.

Next, forcing a ridiculous, needless, ill-advised or just plain bad shot does not show up in the statistics as a turnover, BUT IT SHOULD!! There is not a shot clock in high school basketball. Take good shots! No defender can run as fast as you can pass it. If you are winning a game in the waning minutes and you force a (include above adjectives) 3-point shot – any shot – your opposition should shake your hand or kiss your cheek as they go the other way to win the game. YOU GAVE THEM THE GREATEST GIFT THEY COULD ASK FOR!

Conversely, NEVER reward the opposition’s offense by fouling a shooter putting up a desperation, low-percentage shot, or any 3-point shot. They are trying to turn the ball over to you – let them. Don’t give them a chance to correct their mistake at the charity stripe.

On both offensive and defensive fast breaks keep sprinting to the basket until there is a result. As I’ve told the biddy teams I’ve coached, if we have a fast break there’s a good chance we’ll miss the layup, just like the opposition. Keep going to the basket. When a second or third shot is made on a fast break by a second or third player, it’s because the defensive team got OUT-HUSTLED, hanging back and watching. You see it all the time after the first shot gets blocked. THIS MIGHT BE THE ONE POSSESSION THAT CAUSES YOU TO LOSE THE GAME!

Lastly, if you want to win basketball games, PRACTICE YOUR FOUL SHOOTING. If you can’t hit your foul shots down the stretch of a tight game, chances are you’re going to lose. This is partially your coach’s fault. If you’re not shooting 50 to 100 foul shots every day in practice – some of them while your winded – you’re being set up to lose. Shooting them in street clothes at lunch doesn’t count. YOU’VE GOT TO CARE ABOUT IT. Find your shot, work out your routine, do it exactly the same way every time, learn to concentrate, making them amid distraction. Until you AND your teammates do, you’re going to drop the close ones. If you’re one who hoists 3’s with reckless abandon, you shouldn’t be shooting less than 75 % from the line. AGAIN, CONCENTRATION IS THE KEY! The teams I played on shot just under 70 % from the line and won over 80 % of their games (combined).

When I played in the early 1980s our style was pretty boring I suppose. We passed it until we had an open shot. In fact, we passed up good shots for great shots. We could also nurture a win down the stretch. I watched two different teams recently lose late leads, and then, the contest. I asked myself is Coach Tex Williams’ “Victory” offense obsolete? If the man-to-man “D” gets too aggressive, you go to the line. If they overplay, you cut backdoor or back it out or take it to the other side. And, you can score out of it if need be.

If winning is everything, “Victory” is relevant.

© 2018


Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me


Just over 30 hours remain to enter to win a free copy of my new novel, The Lost Lantern. The deadline is 11:59 p.m. Pacific time Sunday, tomorrow, December 3. It’s easy to do.

Just click on this link:

 Lantern ThumbIf you win it will be delivered to your door.  If you’re not a reader, give it to one on your Christmas list. Your odds of winning are quite high. If you’re doubting its worth, read reviews on my Amazon author page:

Good Luck, thanks, and Merry Christmas! A.S.

Pictured above, Coal River at Twilight from the Hayes Bridge.





© 2017

The Ballads of Two Thin Men

HUNTINGTON, WV – Had the pleasure of seeing Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt together in concert, two chairs, taking turns, accompanying each other, singing harmony, Hiatt playing leads. If you get the chance and are so inclined, don’t miss it. Well worth it. Had to borrow some words to get this ball rolling again. Thanks for reading, A.S.


Heard the ballads of two thin men, yet I’m empty of all words.

For a song that is in search of, a bridge and a third verse.

Now Hiatt he would blues it out, Lyle would take it deep,

The difference would be negligible, their writing not discreet.


“She’s no lady,” he proclaims, although she wears his ring,

“She’s my wife,” he coyly lets us in, complete is his slow zing.

That image always makes me smile, unlike the next great find,

Sad to think, without a blink, “She’s already made up her mind.”


Johnny tests the great conquest, with this the perfect line,

From narra’tor – “His beer was warmer, than the look in her eye.”

If his “Smashing a perfectly good guitar” don’t tickle,

Neither “Tennessee Plates,” nor “Baby Drive South” – you’re fickle.


“Honey it’s so early, we probably shouldn’t speak yet,”

So “I’m gonna wait, just a little bit longer,”

“My Baby Won’t Tolerate” an “Icy Blue Heart,”

So if you failed to Lovett, “It Feels Like Rain,” and “You’re Paper Thin.”


© 2017



Author’s note:  I added story mentioned in poem below, to celebrate the author and his amazing talent early on. I was blessed to be accepted in the world of these five Marshall University grads. Thanks for reading, A.S.


We gathered the troops for one last time,

A respectable number, by your count or mine.

For two soldiers down, who gave it their all,

They followed the path, led the way, took the call.


The tall one, he lumbered into our first meeting,

A student by day, he impressed me at sixteen.

He killed the Gazette, wrote a gem of a story,

’Course I spoke in similes, my Coach in metaphors.


Three years later I’d be working, not far from his desk,

And a friendship began, hope I wasn’t a pest.

It wasn’t too long, we circled the country,

Eighty-five-hundred miles, three weeks, no worries.


I was on his old porch when the Jersey kid came,

He accepted me too, let me in, just the same.

His bag was tennis, so I hit him a few,

But to take just a game was a victory for Drew.


When the point guard-with-teeth, came back to town,

The wheels were all turning, he’d never back down.

We took in The Boss, down Lexington way,

And played us some hoops with Tom A. and Dan K.


Cherry crossed The Hall, and I got a beat,

The setting just right, destiny complete.

But the turn of the century brought ’bout some change,

Life as we knew it, God rearranged.


Now Yod and the wordsmith are in MU’s Hall,

But these verses I pen, ’cause I’m taking a fall,

My point guard and brother, though shaking a fist,

Should have been in the building, he sorely was missed.


The width of his berth, I still can’t believe,

Left town for the mountains, then on to the sea.

Took a bride and a cottage, on an island reprieve,

But in mind and heart, he’s absent without leave.


© 2016 


First Step In The Empire

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Author’s note: Thanks to Emily and the staff at Empire Books & News for hosting my book signing last Wednesday evening. I had a great time and though we moved just a handful of books, The Long Shadow Of Hope is now STOCKED there, which is a first step in my estimation. I am pictured with a REAL book connoisseur, Mrs. Danford, Lakewood Elementary’s fabulous librarian. West Virginia Wesleyan and University of Kentucky-trained, she made the trek down to Huntington though I would have gladly delivered to her. Thanks Mrs. Danford and to everybody who helped spread the word! Here’s a little whimsy about getting started.

No matter where the journey ends,

From here to Timbuktu,

There is a common stride to take,

Whether three or ninety-two.

The final tally can’t be known,

Nor courage ’long the way,

Unless you burst out of the blocks,

“Get started,” as they say.

No matter what your goal might be,

Or what you hope to solve,

Unless that eager first-step-make,

You’ll waste your new resolve.

Both wins and losses come about,

By taking that great chance,

So dream, then take a solid step,

How else will you advance?

© 2016


The Long Shadow Of Hope is available at and



I do it against my good judgement,

The argument is truly not there.

I do it though I’m ready this a.m.,

For one in the cool morning air.

I do it though exponentially,

The dangers undoubtedly rise.

There’ll be drunks and thieves in a hurry,

That can quickly lead to demise.

I do it though I’ll likely be weary,

There’s work round here to be done,

And despite yesterday’s travels,

I’m as fresh as a fawn in the sun.

I do it not knowing my schedule,

In theory it’s a day that is mine.

I do it because I respect you,

And I cherish the time by your side.

I do it because it’s enlightening,

Though there’s sweat and pain on the climbs,

Cause the conversations that follow,

Inspire that guy in my mind.

The four letters that make up the title,

Sent without regret.

Had behind it a world of decision,

But these words it spawned to reflect.

© 2016


The Fictitious And The Less Fortunate


I look up from the fret board

Through a haze of river water and wine

And into your brown eyes

during that “slip away” line

That you know is about you

Our friends, attentive but unaware

You smile, making it more special

As my love for you swells in my chest

And I choke back emotions I’ve felt

This entire Memorial weekend

The highs and lows of living and dying

Dodging bullets and feeling bulletproof

But perception is wrongly so much of reality

We must step back and reassess

and responsibly finish the deal we started

unlike the songs I’ve penned trivializing

the uncommitted breakups

of the fictitious and the less fortunate.


© 2016


Wonderment (continued)

AAU 79 crpd

Author’s note: Because this had tones of a romantic walk, I had to go on with it. My roommate freshman year of college was one of my greatest friends. Though we came from different towns, we’d been friends since we were twelve, a rarity among foes at the time. That was due to our participation on AAU teams, and our coaches who had the wisdom to bring us together. Link to You Gotta Believe on home page.  Thanks for reading, A.S.


REMINDED of a white surprise so long ago,

Inches and inches of insulation — and isolation.

So beautiful, so unexpected, so tranquil, we just had to be a part,

Before it was invaded.

In the earliest winter light, a whole city in sight,

And yet, just quiet. So noticeably quiet.

Soft crunch underfoot, breathing, no wind,

A little laughter of appreciation.


Capitol dome, the Kanawha, the future, my fall,

Equally inactive — and uninvolved.

As if the whole world stopped – unresolved.

So many mysteries yet unsolved.

We’d fought battles as foes.

We’d fought battles as friends.

We’d fought battles as teammates with victorious ends,

Though I’d miss the last one hundred twenty five.

I’d been to the funeral parlor for you,

You’d sat by my hospital bed,

Just before the first battle I missed.

This time the next year, I’d be gone.

Three times struck, no leg to stand on.

With nary a goodbye.

Soon to be

Out of control, lost, struggling, searching,

Wonder what it all meant.

© 2016


Aftermath Stew

Author’s note: The Lost Lantern, my second novel, will be available SOON on, through kindle direct publishing. The first, The Long Shadow Of Hope, under contract, just waiting, and waiting, and waiting. This is what I’ve been feeling the last 48 hours. Thanks for reading! A.S.


TYING loose ends before its launch,

A slippery, dangerous game.

Mind going twelve ways all at once,

Emotions at least half the same.

Pull hard, play dirty, suffer with worry,

Seems to be what they say.

Suffocate, palpitate,

Acid here to stay.

Tighten the noose, wind the clock,

Cause sand is slipping through.

Quit weighing the middle, beginning, and end,

Get this far behind you.

It was supposed to be fun, a journey to,

The pages of my mind.

If the content could touch this aftermath stew,

The reviews would read just fine.

© 2016