Story and photos by Mark Carpenter –
Coach Wanda Massie and her Venture Hawks basketball squad were back in action on Tuesday morning as they battled Scioto County in a special contest held at Manchester High School before an enthusiastic audience of students and staff who were enjoying the special treat.
The Hawks struggled offensively in the first half and found themselves trailing 19-12 at the intermission, and then came the highlight of the day as they brought out their secret weapon to attempt to orchestrate a second half comeback.
Out of the locker room wearing number 45 and dressed in the blue and gold of the Manchester Greyhounds was the Venture Hawks legend himself, “Dunkin” Darrel Grooms, who had sat out the first half, which may have been part of the reason for the teams’ struggles on the offensive end.
Grooms, whose range seems to be somewhere in the parking lot, did his best to energize his team and he certainly energized the crowd, who quickly began the chant of “Darrel, Darrel, Darrel”, especially after Grooms drained a three-point shot from the mid court line, ala Steph Curry.
With Grooms firing away from all points on the court and big man Tony Meeker getting inside, the Hawks tried valiantly to make up ground on their visitors, but they could not seem to stop Scioto County from scoring at will.
With T.J. Liston, Connie Riggs, and Michael Bailey doing their best to cut the deficit, it just continued to grow as Scioto County was unstoppable in the paint. Though Grooms thrilled his new fan club with a couple of more “long” three-point goals, in the end it was not nearly enough as Scioto County rolled to a 45-27 victory.
This was the second time that the Hawks had played a game at a local high school during the day, allowing students and staff to be part of the festivities. On Feb. 16, the Hawks battled Highland County on the floor at North Adams High School and dropped a tough 51-49 decision, despite a 30-point performance by “Dunkin” Darrel.