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The music pumped through the headphones. The boy, who was focused on the simple task at hand, walked into the gym only listening to music. The large crowd expected to fill the arena hadn’t formed yet, but they would come. They had to. With his gym bag wrapped around his arm he followed the athletic director of this grand arena to the locker room. The day had finally come. He’d dreamed about it from the day he had entered high school and now it had finally arrived, and his senior year, too. The boy, still oblivious to all that was around him, continued listening to his music. This was his way of calming his nerves. It was meant to get him ready. At D1 Academy, he ruled and reigned. This school was notorious for its fans; expectations were extremely high for all sports. Nothing less than a championship would quench the insatiable demands of the fans. This didn’t nor couldn’t affect him because not one person in the entire school was above him; all were beneath him. Everyone wanted to be his “friend” and didn’t mind doing whatever he wanted. Teachers sucked up to him, not to mention his deep ties with the principal of the school. He was untouchable. He was captain. He was god.

“Tim, Tim, TIM!” He hadn’t even realized his teammates who had filed into the locker room with him.

“We can go out and shoot once we’ve finished getting into our uniforms,” shouted Reed the team’s co-captain. Tim slowly nodded his head. Five minutes later he had all that he needed with the exception of his black Apple iPod. His shoot-around went flawlessly. Every shot that he put up went in. He could score at will but his favorite things to do were drive to get easy points in the lane and to get to the free throw line. Throughout the entire season he had become the state’s leading free throw shooter percentage wise with 95. Feeling confident in his ability to score the basketball Tim decided to stretch and get as loose as he could before the game could start. This gave him an opportunity to scout his opponent’s best player.
His number was ten and he was incredibly fast. He had an amazing shot and could shoot the deep three with ease. One of the incoming fans shouted a name that was barely audible to his ears. Chad. As time inched closer and closer to the start of the game the arena became more and more crowded. Three minutes until game time. He, with his team bringing up the rear walked over to their bench. The anthem was sung followed by each team’s starting line up and after that game-time. Within the first couple of minutes the ball had seen both ends of the court and many points had been scored. Tim started out hot. His first five shots, which were all threes, finished at the bottom of the net, but unfortunately Chad also opened up firing. He had scored 12 out of the teams last 15 points and wasn’t looking to slow down anytime soon. It was almost like a one on one battle between Chad and himself. He would hit an open jump shot and Chad would hit a three. He would hit a three and Chad would score in the paint. He could hear the crowd, his crowd, and that fueled him. He would not lose here especially on a stage as grand as this. By halftime the score was 45 to 39 in favor of D1 Academy. Tim had 20 and was sure victory was at hand. Chad, he later found out, had 19 and was looking to make a run in the second half.
Sweat dripped down Tim’s face as he gulped down the yellowish liquid he assumed to be Gatorade. This was what he had dreamed of. He was poised and determined. Halftime went by in a blur and the second half began, much to Tim’s dismay, like the first. Up and down and up and down some more. Tim was getting frustrated. Chad was keeping his team with in an arms reach and that just didn’t seem possible. Tim gave his best shots but no matter how good they were Chad always came back swinging. Until this point he had never faced anyone this good, but it was almost over. One minute remained in the fourth quarter, except the score was tied. He hadn’t realized it until the crowd’s reaction began shifting; 80 to 80. What happened next changed his whole high school career. Tim had wasted as much time as he possibly could, but the open three had been too enticing. As he took the shot he knew he had made the wrong move. The three had gone in, but he had left too much time on the clock and he saw it in Chad’s eyes. This was not going to be good. Five seconds remained and Chad’s team had the final possession. Ball in; 5…4…3…2…1 and the shot was up. It was too perfect. Unearthly silence filled the gym as everyone waited in anticipation of what was to come. A hoist from well beyond the three point line was Chad’s choice of weaponry. Money, Chad had done it. The away crowd and his team exploded in joy. Chad had somehow made the shot, yet no smile crossed his lips. He panted heavily and stared, wide-eyed into Tim’s eyes. He was visibly shaken, yet Tim couldn’t blame him because so was he. Tim looked out into the stands only to witness the evil and disgusted glares of his “friends” and peers. This was not how this game was supposed to go. Over-time, preposterous! In that moment he realized that life at D1 wouldn’t, no couldn’t, ever be the same. This heavyweight battle was going to take a lot more than either had anticipated and neither of them could, for the first time, predict the outcome of what was about to happen next. The match was just getting started and it would be a fight till the finish to claim the prize.





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