"STATE CHAMPIONS…!!!" NFA defeats Niagara Falls HS 62 – 42 in Glens Falls, NY.

*Is this what they mean by MARCH MADNESS…???

Well, It’s taken a little longer than expected to recover from my coverage of NFA’s semifinal game on Saturday and championship game on Sunday up in Glens Falls, NY. When I say recover – I mean just that. Physically, mentally and even for a few moments, emotionally. Covering Newburgh Free Academy (NFA) the past two seasons really meant a lot to me and it’s very rewarding to see them win the big game, on the big stage. Not only did they defeat the #1 ranked HS team in the state, Niagara Falls HS, they beat them good. By 20 points. The game was literally over in the second quarter, and NFA never looked back. Technically working in the Glens Falls Civic Center (GFCC) proved to be a bit of a challenge for me photographically on Saturday. Making the nearly 3 hour drive upstate is just long enough to be a nuisance, and returning home the same night is down right difficult. Doing the round trip, 300-mile drive two days in a row is miserable…

*Rewind back to Saturday’s mindset & observations in the semifinal game against Uniondale. Initially this game wasn’t on our work schedule, but since I had an open schedule, I took the initiative at 7AM to make the drive up. This alone proved to be one of the most important decisions of my weekend coverage. I particularly needed to see the arena since I’d never worked there, familiarize myself with the workflow operations like wi-fi accessible networks for the media, clean bathrooms and most of all – media hospitality. See: food! (There wasn’t any, so I’d mentally file that tidbit away for Sunday’s arrival for the title game…) I wasn’t happy at all with the available light in the arena, and realized that I’d have to return home to retrieve a full set of Dyna-Lite strobes for Sunday’s Final game if NFA got past Uniondale. They did. The light was pretty bad. Game time exposures were ISO 1600, 1/200th. sec. @ f/2.8. Blah. Flat. Ugly. As dark and bland as any HS gym. I’d overshot a ton of images – with plenty of them slightly out of focus and with motion blur even at this level. I couldn’t stand it the whole game, and was already thinking of how I’d install my strobes early Sunday morning. There were other photographers in the arena working the other divisional games on strobes, so I knew I wanted my images for the Sunday’s championship game to “pop” too. Obviously images made with arena strobes have a much better “feel” to them and this was what I’d been preparing for all season anyway. (Don’t forget the impending 300 miles that still awaited me to head home after the game & return early Sunday morning.) I ended up moving 9 photos back to the paper from the game, so I knew that would at least justify the trip by sending more photos than the wire service guy. The above photo at right of guard Marcus Henderson driving to the basket made Sunday’s back page, and was a nice preview to NFA winning, and advancing to the final game, but I wasn’t happy at all with the quality. Yuck!

*Fast-forward to early Sunday morning. OK this was going to be big and deserved a big effort. First I had to head out to Middletown (60 miles R/T) at 8AM to pick up two additional strobes from a colleague, before heading up the NYS Thruway yet again. It was as if I knew the route in my sleep. Considering I woke myself up at 4AM thinking about Pocket-Wizards, Super-Clamps, radio transmitter frequencies I could use in the arena, and installing a remote camera if I had time, I was as ready as I’d ever be. In other words – I was a wreck. Remember to eat something I kept repeating on the two & a half hour return drive up. I did. And added plenty of fluids too.

*(more to come… -cg.)

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