The sound of the referee's whistle filled my ears. Sweat dripped off me; my legs felt heavy; my lungs begged for oxygen; my head throbbed. I felt the blood pulsing through my head, let out a cough, sat down on my cushioned seat, glanced up at the navy scoreboard—58.7 seconds left. Our lead was eight, but it felt like two. I needed water as if I were stranded in a dessert.
Our lead dwindled, much like my stamina. Switching my attention to our coaches whiteboard, I saw our press-breaker, spread, drawn up. We got the 15-second warning from the ref, and our coach said, “If you get a shot, do not shoot”. I squirted water in my mouth. Some splashed of my teeth and onto my sweat-soaked jersey. The horn blew. Coach’s words echoed in my head, while I jogged to my spot right in front of the opposing bench. Waiting for Lisle to exit their huddle, I looked up at the bright lights; I felt like an NBA player.
Peter took the ball out and slapped it to initiate our play; I faked short but went long. As my man went to double the ball, I saw it floating towards me. My instincts took over. The court ahead me was wide open, only the basket ahead of me. A wide-open layup presented itself; thus, I forget what my coach barked at us a mere 30 seconds earlier. The crowd roared louder as they too saw the points per game boost that lied ahead of me. I took a dribble and reached toward the rim, my sweaty hand let go of the ball. The layup bounced off the backboard and clanked off the rim and rolled in and out. After the blink of an eye, I saw the ball soar across the court, and a Lisle player strode out into a wide-open layup. Looking at the crowd, the shocked faces pierced my soul, what had I done? I sat there frozen, unable to comprehend what had just happened. The ref’s whistle filled my head again—Lisle timeout.
I took a seat on the bench. With our lead down to six, the look on coach’s face said it all. Again I looked up at the bright yellow numbers on the clock, 32.6 seconds left, plenty of time for our lead to slip like the ball in my hand. Only into the third game of my career and I had gained the reputation of disobeying coaches, could this destroy my season? What about my career? After swishing around another big gulp of water in my mouth and a deep breath I heard a screaming voice, “Tell me, what did I just say, Will!” Head down and sweat dripping off me, I replied, “Do not shoot.”