The Free Throw

October 12, 2010
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It was an early winter morning in a small school basketball gym in Illinois. The gym was small with 6 basketball goals in it. That is where Kyle Johnson and his teammates from the Warriors were practicing. Kyle is a small 12-year-old boy who lives in Illinois. Kyle has played basketball for the Warriors for 4 years now. It was nearing the end of practice and near the end of each practice they always shoot 5 free throws each. When it was Kyle’s turn to shoot he was very nervous because he had never been very good at free throws. Kyle took a couple dribbles then just threw the ball up towards the basket. He did not make any of the 5 free throws. He knew he was bad at free throws but he never really took the time to improve his shooting.

It was Sunday afternoon and the Warriors were getting ready to play a game against the Bulls. All of the parents were sitting in the stands across from the bench. With 2 more games in the regular season the Warriors needed one more win to lock up a spot in the playoffs. Kyle was so excited but so nervous at the same time, he felt like his stomach had rolled over. The Bulls took a 20-12 lead early in the game and at halftime the score was 32-20. Kyle had led his team in points with 10 points in the half. In the second half the Warriors came out strong scoring 8 straight points. After that the 2 teams went back and forth scoring. But with 1 minute to play the score was 56-53 in favor of the Bulls. With 20 seconds now Kyle was pushing the ball up the court and decided to drive into the lane. As he was going up for the lay-up and he was fouled. When he looked up and saw the ball going through the hoop he knew he had to make 1 free throw to tie and both free throws to win. The score was 56-55 with 15 seconds left. Kyle was at the free throw line extremely nervous. The ref gave him the ball for his first shoot and Kyle dribbled the ball once then shot it up the ball hit the back rim and out. All they could do know was tie. Kyle’s second shot rolled around the rim for what felt like a year and out. Kyle’s heart dropped. The Bull’s ran down the last few seconds of the game. The final score was 56-55 the Bull’s won. Kyle was devastated his face was red with anger and sadness. After the game Kyle didn’t want to do anything except going home to his room.

The next day at practice some of Kyle’s teammates asked if he wanted any help with free throws. Kyle said “that would be great” So after practice Kyle and his teammates practiced free throws for a long time. By the end Kyle had started making a few and he had a little more confidence in himself. When Kyle went home after practice he started practicing shooting again. He started making more and more and by the end he was only missing a couple. He and his team kept practicing free throws and everything all week. They had to get ready to play a game on Sunday.

It was Sunday afternoon and the Warriors had another game against the Heat. The Warriors had to win this game to guarantee a spot in the playoffs. Before the game each player on the Warriors shot 5 free throws. Kyle made 3 of his 5. When the game started the Warriors started pounding on the Heat taking a 14-2 lead. But the Heat did not quit they scored 6 straight points to make it 14-8. At halftime the score was 28-14. The Warriors were very comfortable with their lead but Kyle was a little upset because he was 1 for 4 on free throws today. Kyle was on the bench now getting a rest, his face was a light red from working so hard. In the second half the Warriors did not let up taking a 36-18 lead in the first few minutes. With a little under a minute the Warriors were winning 50- 32. So they just ran out the last few seconds and guaranteed themselves a spot in the playoffs. The Warriors were so happy they were jumping up and down and celebrating because they were in the playoffs now. Even though the Warriors won Kyle was still pretty upset because he only mad 2 free throws today.

The Warriors won their first game in the playoffs and were now in the finals against the Rockets. When the game started the Rockets took a 4-point lead but the Warriors caught up with that soon. The teams were just going back and forth, neither team having the chance to pull away. At halftime it was tied at 26. Kyle had not shot any free throws yet today. In the second half it was still a back and forth game. The biggest lead of the half was 6 points. In the last minute of the game the score was 40-40 and Kyle was going in for the lay-up and was fouled. So with 20 seconds left and Kyle was at the line having the chance to win his team the game. Kyle looked very nervous at the line as he was about to take his first free throw. His first free throw bounced off the backboard and in. It was 41-40. Now that he had one free throw down he relaxed a little for his second free throw. His second free throw rolled around the rim and in. Kyle had made both free throws and his team was winning 42-40. The Heat could not score in the last 20 seconds so the Warriors were the champions. Kyle’s team ran out to Kyle and celebrated with him because they were the champions. And Kyle made 2 free throws to win the game.





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