'Darton Krazies' add fun to playoff game

Opinion column

Carlton Fletcher

Carlton Fletcher

Are we gonna let the elevator bring us down? Oh no, let's go, let's go crazy. Let's get nuts.

-- Prince

It was tough for someone like me, who was raised on baseball and football, to admit, but I decided quite a few years back that the most exciting sporting event in our sports-mad country is the NCAA basketball tournament.

Other things have surpassed sports' importance in my life -- I didn't even watch but a few minutes of the Super Bowl this year, and that was mostly for the ads -- but I still get excited about the first two rounds of March Madness each year.

I got an early taste of the madness Friday night when I, on a whim, decided to attend the Darton State College Lady Cavaliers' NJCAA Tournament-clinching regional contest against Denmark (S.C.) Tech at Darton. It was the first basketball game of any sort I'd watched live in years and, other than the fact my daughter attends Darton, I have no real ties to anyone associated with the team or the school.

My plan was a simple one: Find a secluded place to sit and watch a little of the game, go by and pick up some pickles and tater tots for dinner (another story) and call it an early evening. But something happened on the way to the pickle emporium.

I found myself so caught up in the Darton-Denmark game -- and especially in the atmosphere at the local college's beautiful Cavalier Arena -- that thoughts of skipping out early were replaced by a desire to take in all the sights, sounds and action around me. And there was plenty.

First and foremost, Darton's Lady Cavaliers play fun, up-tempo basketball. No offense to anyone associated with the college's past women's teams, but hiring Lea Henry as coach was the best thing Darton officials have done since starting the program. In a very short time, she's taken a run-of-the-mill program and turned it into a national title contender.

Watch her coach for even a game, watch her will her team to play with the same intensity she had when she was an All-American player, and you know she's not one to accept anything but her players' best.

As good as the action was on the court -- despite missing several easy scoring opportunities, the home team went up 32-21 at 3:55 in the first half and you just knew the game was in the bag -- there was enough going on away from the action to keep even casual fans entertained.

College basketball is at its best when a team attracts a rowdy fan base of college students who are creative -- and crazy -- enough to put an almost electric charge in an arena. (Think Duke's Cameron Crazies.)

Darton had its own Krazies in abundance Friday night: Faces painted in shades of the team's red and white colors; one guy dressed as Luigi Mario; supporters holding up homemade signs and Fathead-sized mugs of Lil Wayne, one of the Powerpuff Girls (I'm pretty sure it was Blossom), Quagmire from "Family Guy" and the Tasmanian Devil; and synchronized shouts of "Yes, Yes, Yes" on any made Darton free throw and "No, No, No" on any Denmark Tech attempt. If you closed your eyes, you'd swear Daniel Bryan was on the card of a WWE match.

By the time the Lady Cavs went up 47-26 at the 18-minute mark in the second half, the only drama left in the contest was whether Denmark Coach Javon Gilliard would get a technical foul or spontaneously combust first. Alas, the tightly-wound Gilliard got only a warning and just barely managed to keep from blowing a gasket.

By the time Darton Criminal Justice department head Manswell Peterson did his "look at the scoreboard dance" to Usher's "Yeah" -- further cheesing off the already dejected Denmark fans and delighting the Darton Krazies -- Henry and her Lady Cavs were already planning their March 18-23 trip to the national tournament in Salina, Kan.

As I left Cavalier Arena, Darton's Krazies were celebrating their team's 75-55 victory to the strains of the Black-Eyed Peas' "I Gotta Feelin'." I walked out of the arena as the Peas hit the familiar refrain, "Tonight's gonna be a good night."

Yes, it was, Will.i.am, Fergie and ... ummm ... those other two guys, it definitely was.

Email Metro Editor Carlton Fletcher at carlton.fletcheralbanyherald.com.


SWGAconservative 2 years, 8 months ago

As a Darton Alum we have one of the best schools anywhere.
GO CAVS!!! Congrats on your win and best of luck in the next round.


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