Category Archives: high school basketball

Baby Boy Basketball

Zach focuses on tough defense.

Zach defends.

With my focus these days squarely upon my high school senior and his final-year activities, I must admit that I’ve totally forgotten about his school’s underclassmen.

Specifically, my friends’ baby and almost-baby boys.

So when my pal Beth told me that her middle son, Zach, was playing his last home basketball game last Saturday morning, I decided to put my Nikon 85mm lens on my Nikon D700 and head to our high school’s gym to catch some freshmen action.

Matt shoots.

Matt shoots.

When I walked in, I saw my long-time friend Donna. I checked out the court and, sure enough, her baby boy, Matt, also was playing. Cool beans! Two for the price of . . . well, none, because there’s no charge to watch subvarsity teams.

“Not in MY house!” Matt blocks a shot.

“Not in MY house!” Matt blocks a shot.

Not having shot indoor sports since volleyball last October, it took me awhile to adjust to the fast-paced flow of the game. Fortunately, the lighting was pretty good (ISO 1000), and the company (Beth at first and then Donna and her two daughters) was great.

Carter tries for two points.

Carter tries for two points.

After the game, I walked into the hall, where I saw more parental friends: Diana and Charles (our very own royalty!). Sure enough, their baby boy, Carter, would be playing in the B game. So I figured I might as well stay and continue to snap away.

Clayton beasts it up on defense.

Clayton beasts it up on defense.

As I did, who should I see but yet another bud, Mary S. Her #1 son is Jared #1, one of the kid’s besties. She was there to watch her baby boy, Clayton. Once again, I could shoot two birds with one camera, while sitting between Diana and Mary.

Carter contests the layup.

Carter contests the layup.

Of course, for me the best part of the morning was the gabfest rather than the (rebound) grabfest. It’s nice to share some time and thoughts with a great group of gals. Getting decent photos of their handsome, young men? Icing on the proverbial cake!

Up Top, Part II

What goes up, must come down . . . but will it be through the basket?

A couple weeks after I took photos of our high school’s girls’ basketball team, it was time to snap a few of the boys. Hey, I’m nothing if not an equal-opportunity action photographer!

Our opponent Aaron slices through our defense on his way to a layup.

The lights still were bright, thank goodness. I stood at about the same spots on the walkway and tried to keep up with the elevated speed of play.

Jamarkus and Trevon try to corral a rebound.

Our opponent was our school’s arch rival as well as one of the top teams in the entire state of Texas. They could go all the way and win the title!

Mike hangs in the air as he shoots a jumper.

Even though our guys clearly were outmanned and ultimately outgunned, they never lost their spirit and motivation.

Austin drives down the court.

No team has ever won a game by just rolling over and giving up. Our boys played hard until the final buzzer.

Trevon makes a strong move towards the basket.

It’s hard not to be pushed to do your best as a photographer when your subjects are playing their hearts out. Thanks, guys!

Up Top, Part I

Pearl puts up a shot.

Usually, the best part about shooting high school sports at our district’s closest fieldhouse is the walkway above the court. It’s easiest for my Nikon D700 and Nikon 85mm lens to isolate the plays from up top, above the action.

Intensity adds to the layup’s momentum.

But a few weeks ago when I was snapping shots of our high school’s girls’ basketball team, I noticed something equally important: New lighting!

Alexis shoots.

Those brighter bulbs over the court meant that my ISO was at a rather sedate 800 instead of its usual 1600-plus in this venue. Made it so much easier to process my photos.

Nicole drives in for two points.

And what about the athletes’ play on the court?

Natalie hones in on the basket.

Equally brilliant!

Basketball Jones, Part IV

Sam (#34) battles for a rebound.

My whirlwind photographic tour of our high school’s basketball teams ended with the boys’ freshman A and B squads last Saturday. When I got to our school’s small gym, the game had started. So I pulled out my Nikon D700 and 85mm lens and began shooting at one end of the court.

Dominique tries in vain to block David’s shot.

I really liked this different vantage point; however, I couldn’t get good photos at both ends.

Jacob runs past the defender.

So after the first quarter I climbed into the bleachers for more photo flexibility.

Jordan drives in for a layup.

Even though they’re only freshmen, these boys have a lot of talent, heart, and drive.

RJ and Greg form a defensive sandwich.

They’ll be making us proud on the varsity before long!

Jacob gets ready to pass.

Although basketball is very much a vertical game, I usually shoot horizontally, because I can hold the camera steadier. Then I just crop the photo as a vertical if that seems more logical.

Marcus closely defends the opponent bringing the ball up the court.

I did a much better job shooting the A game, which was first, unfortunately for the B team. I think I just got tired of snapping away, plus I was having fun talking to my friend Steph and taking intermittent photos of two of her kids in the stands.

Big brother Matt brings the ball up.

Not that I forgot to take pix of Megan and Ben’s big brother Matt on the court, though!

Basketball Jones, Part III

Anne (wearing white) battles for the loose ball.

As much as I appreciated photographing the fluid moves and accurate shooting of our high school’s girls’ and boys’ varsity basketball teams, sometimes it just seems too easy for the players. They’ve been honing their skills for years outside and inside, and it really shows. Layups and no-look passes are second nature for them, as they swish baskets at one of our school district’s two large arenas.

Brittany jumps high to shoot closer to the basket.

Meanwhile, the varsity wannabes are toiling in our smaller high school gym playing in front of some of their parents and few of their fellow students. Their skills aren’t quite ready for the big time, but they put just as much heart and soul into playing as the varsity. They’re the subvarsity squads.

Des looks to inbound the ball.

I traveled to our high school last week hoping to snap some pix of the girls’ freshmen and junior varsity teams. I know a few of the players, and I was curious to see the level of talent.

Tori needs a teammate.

Unfortunately, our competition didn’t have a freshmen team. Fortunately, though, the two players I wanted to watch were moved up to the jv and got to play. There’s Tori, the daughter of my friend and masseuse Tina (that’s her hand pictured in January 25th’s photo of the day).

Cori passes to an invisible teammate.

And there’s Cori, who wore the flashiest shoes on the court. Both girls were in classes with the #2 son in elementary school; Cori is in his English I class.

Going for the rebound: Errr . . . you’re both on the same team!

What I discovered as I was snapping away with my Nikon D700 and 85mm lens (aka, the low-light champs) is that these subvarsity girls could rock the gym! They were scrappy and played a fast brand of basketball.

Anne is about to lay the ball up for two points.

They showed off great moves to the basket.

Not in OUR house: Liset blocks a shot.

They stayed tough in the paint.

Who’s got it?

And they battled from start to finish. They weren’t about to share the basketball with the other team.

Brittany and Melissa want that basketball!

Nope, not one bit!

Basketball Jones, Part II

Pearl finds the way to the basket is blocked.

Four days later, I went back to that same fieldhouse where I had taken photos of our high school’s boys’ varsity basketball team. This time the girls’ varsity took center stage. I still was equipped with my Nikon D700 and 85mm lens. But I also had some different shooting angles I wanted to try.

Brooklyn looks for a teammate to pass to as she's closely guarded.

As I was driving away from the facility the first time, I was bummed that I hadn’t tried to take any photos from the seats close to the court. I remedied that with the girls. As you can see from the first photo, that was a great vantage point . . . for some of the pix. But too often spectator heads would be in my way.

Natalie attempts a jump shot.

So after the first quarter, I climbed the steps and went to the walkway above the court. From there I could shoot uninhibited.

Auty tries to snag a rebound.

My camera was set for an ISO of 1250-1600 so that I could have a fast shutter speed. As I’ve noted before, I shoot on aperture-preferred mode—I set the aperture (how much light is let in), while the D700 changes the shutter speed. But I make sure that the speed is at least 1/250th of a second (too slow means blurry photos; no one thinks you’re a good photographer with those).

Brooklyn defends her team’s goal.

Back in my previous life, I was a sportswriter in Chicago. My specialty was girls’ high school sports. In the mid-1970s to early 1980s, the girls’ game was starting to take off, but it had a long way to go. I remember sitting through one suburban high school game during the second quarter and thinking, “If there’s one more jump ball, I’m leaving.” Back then, two players tying up the ball meant a jump, unlike now when they just change possession.

Sure enough, the 24th or so tied ball happened, and I just had to walk out. It was so boring!

Lauren goes in for a layup.

That was then. I’m happy to report that our girls’ team and its opponent, which is ranked as one of the best in the area, played just as hard and as physically as the boys did.

Auty and Pearl make a sandwich of the opponent.

The girls don’t work above the rim like the guys, but they’ve got great skills and never quit.

Nicole cans a three-point shot.

My varsity high school basketball shooting jones has been quelled, for now. Next time? I’m going to sit, watch, and be thoroughly entertained!

Basketball Jones, Part I

Ryan leans in for a shot.

The main reason I bought the Nikon D700 was for indoor sports photography. The D700 has a well-deserved (so I’ve found) reputation for being a low-light (nonflash) champ. That capability is important when the ISOs are high, and the court action is fast and furious.

I put the D700 and its low-light action-shooting companion, the Nikon 85mm f/1.4 lens, to the test at two basketball games last week—our high school’s boys’ and girls’ varsity teams both played at the same indoor facility where I shot these volleyball pix (with my Nikon D300 and the 85mm).

Mike is ready to make his move.

What’s great about this facility is that there’s a walkway above the court that brings the play at the basket right below you up close and personal.

Richard takes the ball to the basket.

My ISO was mostly set at 1000–1250, so my shutter speed was fast enough to stop the action.

Austin makes a free throw.

And there was plenty of action to shoot!

Colin tries a close-in jump shot.

The boys play a very quick, physical game.

Mehdi looks for room under the basket.

The defense doesn’t like to budge an inch!

Our defense surrounds the shooter under the basket.

I mostly shot from one end of the court up above.

Ry tries to block the shot.

But the 85mm also did a fine job when the action was at the opposite basket. Thanks to some judicious cropping, I snagged some good close-ups at both ends.

Frank (#15) and Austin try to stop the shot.

I even moved into the stands near the end of the game to get a photo of the coach’s huddle.

Coach Wilson talks strategy with his players.

Yes, the D700 performed admirably!

A 64-63 victory!

And so did our team!