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The Final Shot
The girls’ shoes squeaked on the polished locker room floor. Their breaths were short and quick, and their pulses raced.
“Alright girls,” Katie said, as she felt arms come around her shoulders in the huddle, “This is the game we’ve been waiting for,” she waited a moment and drew in a deep breath before continuing, “the game that determines who has the better team, the better coach, the better players, this is our game. Our time.” They were playing their archrivals, the Hill Top Raiders.
The girls yelled, their feet brutally stomping the locker room floor.
“Whose house is this?!” Katie yelled. She smiled as she waited for the practiced reply.
“Our house!” The girls screamed. And at that moment, they transformed. They were no longer just a team; they were the Schwenksville Warriors.
The gym was packed. Rowdy teens and nervous parents lined the bleachers; neither one seemed susceptible to blinking. When the final warm up buzzer came alive both team threw their balls on the rack and trotted to their coaches.
“Remember what I said,” Coach Strait growled at Katie as she went to take her spot for the jump ball. “No playing dirty. Clean blocks, quick steals, and no elbows.” He took her by the shoulder and spun her around to look at him. He felt the intensity of her sharp blue eyes drilling into him but spoke anyway. “Do you hear me?” Katie nodded but Coach felt like she wasn’t listening. And the truth was, she wasn’t. Katie Fillips was in another world, and nothing could bring her out of it.
At jump the Hill Top Raiders got the ball. As Katie looked over to see where her girl was, she saw Coach mouthing something to her. She smiled when she realized what it was.
Clean blocks. Katie said to herself. I’ll do my best, Coach.
Within the first minute Raquel Richmond, a short brunette guard from the Warriors stole the ball and half way down the court, passed to Katie. It should have been an easy basket, but what happened next would be engraved in both the crowds’ and players’ minds forever.
Katie snatched up the clean pass, no problem. But when she drove for the lay-up a Raider suddenly came up behind her and grabbed her long curly blonde ponytail, yanking her to the ground. Katie screamed as her body slammed against the unforgiving glossed wood of the basketball court. She waited, laying face down on the court for the ref’s whistle, but only the stillness of the gym could be heard. No one moved. Katie looked up and as she did she saw the Raider that had fouled her standing over top of her.
“Nice try, little girl,” She sneered and walked to the other side of the court. The ref made a no call signal, crossing his hand and shaking his head as he walked up along the base line. That lit a fire under Katie. She jumped to her feet and charged towards the ref.
“Are you blind?” She yelled. “That was such a foul! Did you not see that? She was ALL OVER ME!” Katie face was hot and she could feel it turning bright red. She heard the crowd start to boo the ref.
Good. She thought. At least SOMEONE saw it. Now he has to call it.
Katie crossed her arms over the 15 on her jersey and waited. Come on ref. She thought to herself. Mentally pleading with him. Call the foul.
“Technical. Number15. Number 34 shooting 2.”
Totally not what I meant!
Katie’s jaw dropped. She thrust her gaze towards Coach Strait, who looked livid. He shot her a “You oughta not say another word or you’ll be running suicides at practice,” look and she slunk over to the baseline where her team was huddled around Coach Strait.
“Girls. Cool it. It’s only the beginning of the 1st,” He spoke slowly and clearly, as if he was talking to his 2-year-old daughter. “We don’t need this DRAMA!” He growled, “Put your hands in… Now!” As they broke off though, silently thinking to himself, he knew that it was a foul, but also knew that Katie needed to keep her mouth shut when he told her to. We’ll see what the rest of the game brings… He thought to himself, and took a seat on the bench.
The next 2 quarters went off without a hitch but at the buzzer of the 3rd the score was Warriors 46 Raiders 47.
At 30 seconds to go in the fourth, the score remained the same. Raquel grabbed a steal and once again passed down court to Katie. She was all alone at the bottom of the key with a perfect shot, so she took it. Suddenly though, as her hands started to leave the ball, a Raider appeared out of nowhere, grabbed her wrists and flung them down. An obvious foul, and not the first of the quarter.
Katie kept her mouth shut, until she reached Coach at the other side of the court. “No fouls are being called!” She whisper-shouted. “Do something!” He nodded at her and as he walked up to the ref .He began to get angry. I should have listened to Kate in the first place. These officials are horrible. Then he looked up.
10 seconds on the clock.
Great. He thought to himself.
Katie watched in horror as Coach Strait quietly spoke to the ref. He nodded twice, shook his head once, and nodded again. Katie had no idea what was going on.
“Foul!” The ref yelled as Coach Strait walked towards the bench. “Number 34, Number 15 shooting 2.”
The Warriors cheered but Katie began to breathe heavily. The game depended on her.
10 seconds left. Katie thought to herself. Don’t screw this up.
Katie held her head high as she approached the foul line. She put her foot on the line and blocked everything else out.
It was her, the ball, and the basket.
She shot and she could almost feel everyone in the gym hold their breath. She closed her eyes.
One…two…three… She breathed. Swish!
The scored was tied, 47 to 47. The warriors shooting one.
Katie held position on the line. She looked up at the basket, dribbled three times, and shot.
Swish! Katie breathed a sigh of relief. Yes! She cheered to herself.
The crowed erupted into an ocean of applause and cheers but all Katie could hear was the ominous sound of the ref’s whistle. She looked down.
Oh no. Her face fell. Her shoe was just over the foul line. The crowd gasped.
The game that determined everything, the game both teams had been prepping for the whole season, ended tied 47 to 47 with coaches’ faces in their hands, and players staring at Katie’s foot that just crossed the thick black line.
The buzzer sounded and the ref called overtime. Coach Strait yelled for a time out and talked to his frightened looking team of girls.
“Alright ladies,” He breathed, “You know our play.” They all looked at each other and smiled.
They held their heads high as they stalked onto the court. Raquel held the ball in her palm and called out the play “Victory!”
“Run it,” She breathed at Katie who held her position at the low block. “Move. NOW.” Katie reluctantly obeyed. They held the ball.
No turn-overs, no steals, no blocks. Just passing. And that’s what they did. The clock ticked down the last minute, and that’s when the play began to run.
The four offensive girls put a screen on their defenders and held them back. Raquel came up behind Katie and took her girl while she passed her the ball.
The crowd counted down.
Katie took the ball up to the hoop.
It wobbled in. Rolled around on the rim… Katie held her breath.
Please. She begged silently.
The ball seemed to stop on the rim, not able to decide what it wanted to do. But suddenly, it fell into the net, giving Katie the satisfying swish the ball made as it fell through.
“Yes!” She shrieked as the final buzzer clicked on. She could almost feel the tension in the room dropping to an all time low.
The team erupted into a mob around Katie. Cheers were heard as they exited the gym.
The final score held true at 47 to 49. And the undefeated Warriors held their trophy in their worthy hands.