It takes guts to draw a charge on Jalen Slawson.

I’ve seen a bushel of high-school basketball games this season and a peck of college ones. I’m not sure which is bigger, a bushel or a peck, but I’m not sure which kind of game I’ve seen more of, either.

71488108_2721132081231510_2025560994029240320_o (2).jpg

Monte Dutton

They overlap, too. One of the reasons I was sitting on media row at Timmons Arena 90 minutes for a women’s game last night was that I had to finish a photo gallery from the boys game at Clinton High School the night before. While the Paladins were taking the measure of the Samford Bulldogs, I learned that the Laurens boys had upended Easley in the 4A playoffs.

Apart from the obvious differences in a sport at two levels – taller, faster, quicker, presumably more educated – two differences between the states of the preps and the collegians stand out.

High school kids couldn’t buy free throws with cryptocurrency, and they don’t draw charges.

I pondered these matters while mainly looking through a camera lens and tallying up turnovers and rebounds on a notebook jammed into the right-side pocket of a pullover.


It is not unusual for a high-school team to hit a higher percentage of 3-pointers than free throws. Players are better at draining contested jump shots from far away than in converting uncontested set shots from 15 feet’s distance.

How can this be?

My guess is that the kid, standing in a driveway paved with concrete or asphalt, grass growing through a few cracks here and there, with the light of dusk fading, practicing free throws … doesn’t exist anymore.

He’s launching rainbows, trying to find his (or her) pot of gold in a raggedy net.

Meanwhile, sitting behind the baseline, watching the lane through the aforementioned camera, I find myself wondering why no one sees what’s there for the drawing.

A charge.

High-school basketball doesn’t even have that little no-charge zone, protected by a little arc. etched into the lane. Yet he doesn’t take one for the team. He tries to block the shot. He leaves his feet. He gets himself in foul trouble instead of giving it to the kid roaring into the lane like he owns the joint.

This is a little easier to figure because it was as true back in my day, when seatbelts were a safety innovation that drivers treated like they were vaccinations or something, as it is now.

No one takes a charge on the playground. No one takes a charge at the Y. Claiming one often leads to a fistfight or, at the very least, angry words being spoken. It’s considered wayyyy uncool.

It’s also resonant because just about the only thing I was ever good at was drawing charges, at least in games organized enough to have referees present.

Most high-school offensive fouls involve either the throwing of an elbow or an offensive player running over a defender because the former can go faster forward than the latter backwards.

Of course, I have copious other quibbles: (1.) refs who call walking because they anticipate it, not because it happens, (2.) refs who don’t call walking when it is, (3.) the habit of players, mostly boys, who cannot resist responding to a foul that wasn’t called on one end of the court with an even harder foul that will be called on the other end, and, of course, (4.) players being congratulated by all their teammates for missing a free throw.

Way to go, bud. Now be sure to miss another one.

The boys are generally the better athletes. The girls invariably have more sense.


Clinton native Monte Dutton is Furman-educated and has been a sportswriter for most of four decade. At DHK Sports LLC and its three website, Monte is committed to filling the void in local sports coverage created by the decline of other media.