Some of my earliest memories from the 60’s involve the sound of someone dribbling a basketball down the court while the crowd cheers. I love the smell of a gymnasium – hardwood varnish, basketball leather, a bit of sweat, popcorn, cinnamon suckers. In my mind I can still see all those tiny gyms of my childhood – Grady with their wooden bleachers behind a barrier (like in “Hoosiers”), San Jon’s brick walls, Amistad’s cavernous court that turned into a dance floor every New Year’s and Christmas, Logan’s little gym with three rows of built-in wooden seats under tall casement windows and the stage at the end. Mosquero still has one of those tiny gyms (and the best concession stand in the state).
When you live in rural New Mexico like we did (and do), you don’t miss a basketball game. Not only do you likely have someone in your family playing, it’s a social event, and out here we take our social events wherever we can find them.
This year is no exception. We gather at the Logan High Gymnasium (new in 1979, so new to me. . .), find our family and pals in the stand after hugging and greeting half the town in the cafeteria/lobby, and hunker down for a few hours of clapping and cheering for the home team. During the breaks we go to the concession stand and have a frito pie and a Dr. Pepper, or a barbecue sandwich, and we wander past the tables where the elementary homecoming king and queen candidates have their suckers and raffle tickets for sale. We visit mostly. We visit in the cafeteria and then we visit in the stands. And then the buzzer goes off and we become rabid, ruthless, loyal fans of the Logan Longhorns.
I love high school basketball. Football is fine, but I grew up with small town basketball. It’s no accident that “Hoosiers” is one of my favorite movies of all time. I understand every nuance of the characters, every complaint with the coach, every game-winning shot at the buzzer. It’s a season that I anticipate all year, and when December arrives, I’m thrilled to put on my glittery Longhorn shirt and head out the door to the high school.
This year the Longhorns are shining – the boys’ team is 14-3 and the girls are 15-3. We’ve beaten three 2-A teams, which is the class above us, so we’re excited about our eventual seeding when we get to state tournament time. Last Friday we had a heated battle with the Tucumcari Rattlers, winning in the last minute by six points.
But first we have to begin district play. Tonight. Against the Fort Sumner Foxes. There. And they’ve already beaten us once in the EPAC (Eastern Plains Athletic Conference) tournament. Aughhhh. The tension. . .
It’s a fever, this excitement about our basketball season. If we’re unable to attend an away game, we have folks text us the scores. We watch for updates and photos on Facebook. But mostly we attend, despite the miles and miles of travel required out here in the sticks. Across the plains of eastern New Mexico, you’ll see a line of car lights headed from House to Ft. Sumner tonight as we all drive the 100+ miles to see our team play.
And it’s not just our personal fever here in Logan. All across New Mexico, in Class 1-A or Class 5-A and every class in between, high school basketball dominates the news. We’re all putting on our brightly colored booster shirts and heading out to the gym to cheer on our team every Friday night.
It’s not much different than it was in 1966 when I was first going to games. It’s still a community social event with great food and high excitement.
I’ll keep you posted on the Longhorns progress. We have until the middle of February to prove our mettle and get a berth at state tournament. And I plan to be there with bells (and my glittery Longhorn shirt) on. . .Pin It