A look at the present, informed by the past

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By Grant Lucas
The Bulletin

The past is a poetic enigma.

We should remember it (the Alamo, the Maine, the Titans) yet let it go (“Frozen”) or be (the Beatles). The past can motivate you (Ridgeview’s George Mendazona erupting for 19 overtime points after a frustrating four quarters), and it can be your undoing (the Summit girls trailing Sheldon 21-3 after the first quarter and 43-8 at the half). It is memorable (Bend High’s Mario Mora hitting a game-winning 3-pointer to defeat Sisters) yet forgettable (the Redmond girls committing 36 turnovers in an early-season loss to Century).

The past does not define you, but it is what you make it. So let’s make this past week’s basketball games, including the season’s first Intermountain Conference contests, a thing of the past — by dating them 105 years … when the past was the present.

Based on Bulletin archives, the earliest basketball games involving teams representing the communities of Bend and Redmond were played in 1911. The sport of “basket ball” (as it was frequently written a century ago) was 20 years old.

Ten years earlier, in 1901, the Crook County Journal (based in Prineville but circulated in Bend, which until 1916 was part of Crook County) published a story about the rising popularity of a sport that Dr. Seuss might fancy, as it involved “tossing a great big mushy ball around a gymnasium and trying to pass it into a basket.” The ball was described as “a great, balloon-like affair.” There was no running with the ball; dribbling as we now know it would not be allowed for another eight years.

So picture this sepia-toned basketball world of 1911 — the low ceilings of gymnasiums and “club halls” and the “catcalling and jeering” of fans — and listen to the archaic poetry (which in my head sounds like a voice-over on old-timey newsreels) when compared with today’s lingo. And yes, the verbiage is real, pulled directly from century-old game accounts from The Bulletin and Journal:

2016: “Bend’s Cole Beaumarchais shook his defender with a crossover before stepping back for a 3-pointer.”

1911: “A clever basket tosser, Beaumarchais, for Bend, greatly enthused spectators with quick work before tossing a pretty throw from the center of the floor.”

2016: “With Kelsey Norby draining three 3-pointers en route to a game-high 15 points, Summit held Redmond scoreless in the third quarter as the Storm cruised to a road win.”

1911: “To Norby belongs the credit to the squad’s steadiness as the Summit girls got together with a rush and covered themselves with glory with excellent basket shooting.”

2016: “Despite each team racking up 18 field goals, including three 3-pointers apiece, the Bend girls pulled away for a 16-point win by outscoring Ridgeview 23-7 at the charity stripe.”

1911: “In a rattling and hotly contested game, the Bend lassies ran up a score of 23 by throwing foul goals to defeat the Ridgeview ball tossers by a score of 62 to 46.”

2016: “Trailing by as many as 12 points — and by nine in the fourth quarter — Garret Albrecht led a late Ridgeview rally that allowed the Ravens to put away Bend 56-50.”

1911: “This was no ‘tiddle-de-winks’ game but one of the whirlwind variety. In a fast and rough contest, Albrecht, one of several crack basketball players for Ridgeview, frequently located the basket and contributed most materially to the final score.”

There was catcalling and jeering by fans back in the day, hostile environments in which ball teams did play. School bands and boxes of chocolates awaited teams at train stations, players back from long treks to not-so-far-away locations. Players battled “strange floors” and sometimes scarlet fever, which would not have a vaccine for another 13 years.

The past is just that; no use in going back. But without it, who knows where we’d be at? Basket throws and foul goals laid the foundation for 3-point goals and free throws. Like throwing a foul goal, Mark Twain has a point — especially with this pastime: History does not repeat itself, but it does rhyme.

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