Phi Slamma Jamma

Bringing this years basketball season to an end with a bang for sure. I went over to Lakewood Ranch High School Wednesday last week to photograph the Manatee, Sarasota all-star games. They had a girl’s game. a guys game. a 3 point contest for each, and a dunk contest. It was so much fun.

This was the first year I went to this event. Mostly because I never knew about it in the past. The even was also a fundraiser for two local kids who have had some tragedy strike them. One was Jack, a 19-year-old who played at LWR last year who was in an awful hit and run accident. As far as I know he is make great strides in recovery. The other person I didn’t know much about but he was  a BRHS student who passed away. 😦  I normally don’t pay to get into events if I’m working but I gladly paid to go to this one.


The girl’s game was first of the dock. I played a little favoritism in this game. COvering the Manatee side more heavily due to the fact that I knew a few of the people playing. The was one girl from BCS and two from Manatee High. It was fun to watch some of the girls I didn’t see during the year. The southeast girls show why they made such a deep run towards the state championship this year. They were dynamic.  I also remember being impressed by a few of the long-range snipers on the Sarasota team. There were also a few very talented girls from Booker on the Sarasota side. The game started out with SRQ taking a big lead. I think it was a 10 point lead early in the first. I managed to get a pretty decent amount of good shots. It didn’t take me long to get back into the basketball rhythm. I find it interesting that each sport has its little idiosyncrasy. I like to hide on the baseline, as low as I can. I always like to be as low as I can when I photograph sports, for a few reasons. One it’s a different perspective than most people get to have. Most people are 15-20 rows up in the bleachers looking down on these athletes. The other reason I like to do this is in my mind athletes are supposed to be strong and bigger than life. The lower I can get, the bigger they are going to look. Basketball is tough because there are three refs that basically run a triangle around the offense. There may only be three but there seems like 100 because they ALWAYS seem to get in the way. Basketball is also tough because it’s very fast paced and not super predictable. You cannot relax for a second during play in basketball or you will miss something.

The girl’s game had a three-point contest during half time which was won by one of the ladies from Booker H.S. The rest of the game was really competitive and close but the Manatee squad couldn’t seem to shrink the deficit. Every time the Manatee team made a big shot the Sarasota side answered. The MVP award for the game also went to a lady from Booker.

After the girl’s game was the guys 3 point shoot out. One of the contestants was Cameron from BCS. He did really well but was beat out in the last round by a guy from St Stephens. The guys game was also a closely contested match up. The Manatee squad started off with a 3 pointer from a guy from Bayshore who looked like he was built to play center, not rain down threes. Even with my favoritism leaned towards the Manatee team again I started this game photographing the Sarasota basket. The Manatee players and the lone BCS player didn’t start for the Manatee side. I was also watching the Sarasota side warmup and they were throwing down some crazy dunks. I was hoping I would get one of those early on it the game. I mean I’ve watched the NBA all-star game, all star games don’t have defense. We’ll that doesn’t trickle down to high school. I guess the joy of dunking is heavily outweighed by not wanting to be dunked on in a gym full of people. There wasn’t a stand out moment in the first half that made me go wow, but I did get a few really good shots that I remember going “Yup that’ll look really good.” One of these was a Northport player going up for a lay up or a dunk, not sure which it was, and getting crushed between this guy Alex, from Manatee, and another player from Braden River. I loved the lines in this shot. The other one I remembered was another Manatee player De’Von was on a fast break but when he got to the basket he hesitated for a moment to get his defender off his feet. This along with the fake created a huge size discrepancy that looked really cool.

During halftime was what I was looking forward to the most, the dunk contest. The athletic director for the event had told us (the media) what side they were going to dunk on so we could be ready for it. I headed over to that side with about 2 minutes left in the half because there was a lot of media. THere was at least 3 news stations there. I think it was mostly because it was benefiting Jack, the one who was in the car crash. It had made national news. There was also a reporter from the paper there and then a literal crap ton of team moms with camera. Okay so maybe only 4 but it still seemed like a lot. I switched from my zoom lens to my wide. I wanted to show the height these guys were going to get. I also wanted to show the gym and the atmosphere. That generally helps tell the story a lot more than a tight close crop image. During the warmup these guys did not miss. They were attacking the rim viciously. The first dunk from the Riverview  guy was a solid dunk but in comparison to the two that followed him, left some room to be desired. The second dunk was done by a guy from Venice. He enlisted some help from a Booker guy to lob the ball of the backboard to him and he crushed it. The guy following him was from Lakewood Ranch. He just had so much height and dunked with so much authority that even though technically I believe it was an easier dunk (says the guy who can’t dunk) it was more impressive. In the final round I think between dunking after half a game and maybe a little nerves, they all started missing, a lot. The final round was won because he was the only one to make a dunk and it was no where near as good as the one in the round prior to it.

When it came to the final half of the guys game Cameron, the lone BCS player in the game kind of took over. He was either the high scoring on his side or the second highest with most of his points coming in the second half. Remember how I said I was hoping for a dunk well I got one. Exactly one (aside from the dunk contest) and it came from Cam. It was off a steal and a fast break. Thankfully I was on the right side of the basket and got a great photo of it. The boys game ended with a Manatee win. At the end of the night I had taken 2,200 photos. It was a really fun night and I hope I get to cover this event again next year.



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