Sunday, February 24, 2008

Big 5-0 Says The Doctor Is In

Celebrations aplenty will be going on Saturday, March 1st at The Commuter Gallery, starting around 7 PM. Clark's turning 50 and Leslie is now Dr. Cunningham to you, bud. Come on down for tons of fun.

Also the Boo Hoo Ramblers will be playing at Blind Willie's Tuesday, March 4th, which happens to be Clark's official Born On Date. So come out for music and celebrate Clark's 50th birthday again.

2007 EKA Chapter Championship Report

The Edgewood-Kirkwood, Atlanta Chapter's 2007 Championship Tournament defied the predictions of the expert prognosticators as all four top seeds lost their First Round matches. Fortunately for the spectators, this was due to spectacularly outstanding tossing by the underdogs which produced highly entertaining, tightly contested cases.

The Schultz-Wilkins match started deceptively, with both players missing on their first two tosses, but they quickly heated up and there was only one more open quarry during the rest of the case. Mr. Wilkins grabbed a small lead with the help of a second-dalrymple shell, clinging to a 21-18 lead at the end change.

But three strong hits from Mr. Schultz to start the 5th evened the score, as Mr. Wilkins had to content himself with salvage points. Then the tide turned again, as Mr. Wilkins won four straight quarries to stretch the margin to seven points. Mr. Schultz twice closed to within three, but could not take advantage of Mr. Wilkins' miss in the penultimate quarry; any hit would have closed the gap to one heading to the terminal toss. Mr. Wilkins then hit, forcing Mr. Schultz into a last-toss boc attempt that was unsuccessful.

The final score of 44-39 set a new mark for combined total points scored and, though it was no consolation to Mr. Schultz, his score of 39 is the highest losing score recorded in Modern Organized Boccelism. Those would not be the only records set on this day.

The Guberman-Altherr First Round duel started out looking like a mismatch, with Mr. Guberman charging to an 11-1 advantage halfway through the second dalrymple. But six tosses do not a case make, and Mr. Altherr heated up while Mr. Guberman cooled off; Mr. Altherr's stay to finish the first end produced an 18-18 tie.

The players stayed even for the first seven tosses of the second end, but four consecutive hits by Mr. Altherr just as Mr. Guberman started a string of six straight misses effectively decided matters. Mr. Guberman picked up two quarries in the eighth to claw within range of a boc on the final quarry, but could not execute the desperate maneuver, sending Mr. Altherr to the Semi-Finals with a 38-31 victory.

With the withdrawal of the esteemed Tom Pittard from the tournament, the number eight seed Todd Leopold moved up the bracket only to find himself facing the 2007 Regular Season Scoring Champion, the second-seeded Stephen Priest. Mr. Priest discovered to his dismay that a mountain of points scored in the summer count for doodleysquat in the Fall Classic.

To the bewilderment of the assembled crowd, Mr. Priest could manage only five hits in the first end, with Mr. Leopold's steady bowling carrying him to an 18-10 lead. Mr. Priest began to find his form late, but Mr. Leopold's tink of the handle to end the seventh dalrymple seemed to seal the favorite's fate.

Or did it? Mr. Leopold opened the eighth with back-to-back misses, and Mr. Priest seized the opportunity with a hit followed by a stay that brought a roar from the crowd and narrowed the deficit to two points. But Mr. Leopold did not miss again, which left Mr. Priest needing an improbable four-point shot on his last toss to equalize; the hit and quarry point scored were insufficient, allowing Mr. Leopold to stave off the comeback attempt 33-31.

At this point Ganesh seemed to be smiling on the top-seeded Jeff Gates. His three strongest challengers had been eliminated; Mr. Pittard's withdrawal created the possibility of a First Round bye - one by one, the obstacles to the Championship Cup were being removed. From the alternate list no man appeared to take the court.

So it was left to a fair damsel, Ms. Shelly Curson, the sixth alternate, to defend the integrity of the Tournament Bracket, and the challenge proved to be no formality. Ms. Curson produced a steady barrage of hits which perhaps unnerved Mr. Gates, who suffered through six straight misses in the third and fourth and trailed at the end change 17-11.

But Mr. Gates rebounded with authority, tying the case with a clover in the fifth and then winning three quarries in the sixth to take the lead. The margin was four points going to the eighth, but Ms. Curson took advantage of her opponent's miss on the first toss to trim the gap to two points. Mr. Gates continued to miss - any hit by Ms. Curson would even the match - but Ms. Curson was not playing to tie. An amazing shell on the next to the last toss reversed the score, and when Mr. Gates missed on his final toss it was over, 30-28 for the alternate over the top seed.

After an exciting and surprising First Round, the two Semi-Final matches produced a return to form of sorts, though close play continued to be the order of the day. The first Semi-Final pitted Mr. Lee Wilkins against Mr. Todd Leopold, and the players alternated hot and cold stretches in the first end, after which Mr. Wilkins held a 15-13 lead.

Neither player could seize a lasting advantage, with the score tied after six. Mr. Wilkins took a two-point lead to the eighth, and the gap remained at two after the players alternated winning the first two quarries, but when Mr. Wilkins won the third quarry uncontested, Mr. Leopold needed at least a four-point shot to stay alive. His afternoon of play came to end with a miss, with Mr. Wilkins earning a trip to the Finals 33-29.

Then it was time to see if Cinderella, in the form of Ms. Shelly Curson, could waltz all the way to the Finals. Mr. Dave Altherr appeared to be ringing the chimes of midnight, however, with a 10-point clover in the fourth putting him in control 18-10 at the end change.

The dance was not over yet, though; Mr. Altherr's fifth-dalrymple ayrault left an opening and Ms. Curson sashayed on through, using her second shell of the day to ignite a mini-run strong enough to take a two-point lead heading to the eighth.

At last the magic waned as Ms. Curson's tosses bounced achingly close to the target but failed to strike; Mr. Altherr scored back-to-back hits to take a two-point lead of his own, but missed initiating the final quarry. Any hit by Ms. Curson would at least send the case to Sudden Death Extra Quarries, if not win outright with a bonus point; again, however, the ball took a cruel bounce, and Mr. Altherr found himself an unlikely Finals' participant thanks to a 28-26 victory.

The Edgewood-Kirkwood, Atlanta Chapter Championship Final featured the intriguing storyline of the grizzled veteran facing the challenge of a brash rookie. Mr. Lee Wilkins was no stranger to Tournament Play, winning the previous two contested Chapter Championships, in 2002 and 2003. Mr. Dave Altherr, on the other hand, was completing his first season and had collected his first victories in the final Regular Season event.

After the players alternated winning uncontested quarries, the score stood at 2-2. From then on, the match ceased to be a competition between players and became the battle of one man against history and the record books. Mr. Wilkins would record 11 consecutive hits before missing again, but by then the score was 25-6 and the only question was what the final tally might be.

To his credit, Mr. Altherr continued to give challenge even though his only hope of victory was via the benevolent intervention of Ganesh, scoring a respectable 16 second-end points while splitting contested quarries 4-4. But the stage belonged to Mr. Wilkins, who never faltered, scoring 27 points in each end for a record-shattering total of 54.

The 54-23 triumph also included a record 27 hits, three more than the previous best and only five misses away from the dreamed-about No Misser. Remarkably, Mr. Wilkins failed to record one of his signature botflies in the case, but did not need any on his way securing his third Chapter Championship and becoming the first recipient of the Lamar Cup. The new cup will have many names added to it over the years, but only one name will be at the top of the list, Lee Wilkins, the 2007 Edgewood-Kirkwood, Atlanta Chapter Champion.