Coles County Sports sat down with longtime Lake Land College basketball official scorer Jim Closson. Closson is only the second official scorer in Lake Land history, taking over for Jerry Parker 27 years ago.
CCS: Why do you choose to do the games?
Closson: I’m a basketball junkie to begin with. I get to have the best seat and be part of the officials as official scorekeeper. I work with my good friends Brian Butler and Jeff Owens. Previously, my friend Dave Purvis was our timer from 1993-2016 and friend Brent Bays announced until he was taken way too early in 2014.
CCS: Can you talk about some of the Athletic Directors you have worked with?
Closson: I have worked for four, but Denny Throneburg and current LLC AD Bill Jackson really take care of us. These guys are real ambassadors for Lake Land College and classy people.
CCS: Is there an embarrassing moment you can tell us?
Closson: I’m a diehard Illini fan. Deon Thomas, Illinois’ all-time leading scorer, comes to town as coach of Lewis and Clark. I get there early so I can get a couple of autographs for my Illini basketball memorabilia. I had a great talk with Deon and got my autographs. I then proceed to have three fouls on his star player when he should have had two and no way to correct the book. I’m sure he thought: “Thanks, Jim.” Of course after the game, I blamed shot clock operator Brian Butler for not paying attention!
CCS: Talk about former men’s coach, the late Jim Dudley. He was one of your favorite coaches, correct?
Closson: Yes, Jim Dudley and his “Laker Lightning” fast break, shooting 3’s off the break, scoring in the hundreds – and one year the Lakers led the nation in team scoring. He was a great guy, and a great friend to all of us.
CCS: Who is your favorite women’s coach at Lake Land?
Closson: Current head coach Dave Johnson is my choice. Dave’s teams always improve as the season progresses and nobody teaches fundamentals any better. He is so passionate about his team and their efforts.
CCS: How long do you plan on doing this?
Closson: Why stop doing what you enjoy? Get to see two strong basketball programs, good competition and hang out with good friends. Lake Land basketball makes winter tolerable.
CCS: Who are some of your favorite Lakers players?
Closson: Man, that’s tough after doing this for 27 years. But Keith Torian and the DJ Williams were outstanding 3-point shooters who then went on to Division I basketball. They were a part of Jim Dudley’s “Laker Lightning” teams. As for the women, I have to go with the Lindsey twins (Kandy and Kris) from Bismarck Henning. They guided Dave Johnson’s team to the National Junior College Tourney and were so fun to watch play.
CCS: Who is your favorite visiting player?
Closson: Keith Lee from Wabash Valley; he went to play at Missouri. He was quite a player.
CCS: What does an official scorer do that a fan may not know?
Closson: I get here early, verify the players with the coaches and referee’s, go over scoring rules and verify the final score with officials at the conclusion of the game.
CCS: Any other story you want to leave us with?
Closson: Yes, one time I slid my chair back during a game, and the chair unplugged the entire electronic system and scoreboard for a game during game action. We call that a “Laker Moment.”
The Lake Land men’s and women’s teams will be home Wednesday against Lincoln Trail starting at 5:30 p.m. at the Lake Land Fieldhouse.