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Buzz! The buzzer sounds and the crowd goes crazy as my team, the Falcons, won the game against the Rebels to get to the championship in the Skyline basketball tournament. My team started to line up to shake hands with the other team when they started to trash talk.
“You guys suck, we should have won.” One player from the Rebels says.
“How much did you pay the referees?” Another asks. The other team kept going on and on about how they should have beat us. They were just getting frustrated and angry at us. Wow, calm down I thought. They left the gym to check the brackets to see if they still had a chance to play us in the championship or if they were out for good.
My coach pulled my team and I into the corner of the gym to talk to us about the game.
“Alright guys, that was a good game but it could have been better. But, the main thing I want to talk about is the championship tomorrow. Look we have a chance at playing the Rebels again and they are looking to destroy us. So don’t be cocky about the game tomorrow. Just go out there and play better than today. Alright, break!” On that note he broke the huddle and we all went out in the hallway of the school to check the brackets and see who the Rebels play.
“Look, they play the Bulldogs.” I said.
“Ah, I hope the Rebels win so we don’t have to the Bulldogs for one tournament.” My teammate said. My whole team agreed with him on that. We really hate playing the Bulldogs because the coach is extremely annoying, he just sits and yells at the kids the whole game, and the parents are obnoxious because they scream and yell for their kids the entire game.
The next day we were back at Skyline only to find out that we played the Rebels. So, we started to talk and focus on what we would need to do to beat them. We talked to coach and set up a special play to use if needed. The Rebels are a decent team that plays the same fast-paced style of basketball that we do.
After we did our warm-ups for about a half hour before our game, we started to watch the championship game for the, at the time, eighth grade division. My team watched as the team accepted their trophy. That could be us I thought.
I started to do my warm-ups, shooting layups on each side and a few jump shots. Buzz! The announcer started to announce my teammates’ names. He went down the line finally getting to me.
“And last but not least, number 55, Seth Machin!” The crowd cheered as I came on the court. The game was starting.
I started sitting on the bench because we needed our big men in the game, the Rebels were a tall team. The referee threw the ball up in the air for the jump. My team’s biggest guy won the jump, knocking the ball away from the other team. We immediately came down and scored. 2-0 was the score at the time; we played some defense and scored again. The other team missed a shot and we came down and scored yet again. Six point lead, but nothing to get comfortable with. The whole time the plays are racing through my head.
Right when I come in the score just kept going up. Right off the bat, I catch a pass from my teammate, I shoot it and…Swish! I just knocked down a three to make the score 17-8. I am feeling good about myself at the time. The other coach calls a timeout to set the other team straight. They were playing so bad and out of control that they couldn’t score. The coach just yelled at them. When they came out of the huddle you could see their emotions in there eyes. They did not want to lose to us again.
Our point guard dribbled the ball up the court. He threw the ball down into our biggest guy on the court. He did a nice move to get by the guarding him, score and get fouled. He made his one free throw that he got to make the score 20-8; we were definitely feeling good about ourselves. But then, they started to come back. They came down and made a three. They stole the ball made a layup, and stopped us from scoring again. They came down and made another three; 20-13 was the score at the end of the first quarter of the championship.
The game was definitely getting more intense in the second quarter. The other team was furious and needed a pretty decent come back to get back in this game and win. Baskets kept falling in for both teams. 22-16, 24-16, 24-19, 26-22, the score kept rising. The other team started to play defense and pressure us full court. The pressure was building immensely.
At this point, things started to go wrong. The ball got stolen from us and the Rebels scored. We missed a shot and the made a three. 26-27, they had taken the lead and made a partial come back. I got the ball and took a quick shot that bounced on the rim a couple of times and eventually fell in the basket, one point lead. All we need is a short run and we can take control of this game I thought. We then started to put pressure on the other team like they were doing to us. But, they managed to break through our tight defense and do a nice move that got past the guy we had back and they scored. We were losing by one with 30 seconds left in the first half, things were looking like were going to beat us in the championship, or at least they thought.
“Timeout, timeout!” my coach yelled from the sidelines. We all huddled in and started to talk.
“Alright guys time for one, that secret play we worked up. Just to recap here’s how we will do it. When I say one you guys will get the ball to Austin who is outside the three-point line on the right side of the floor. Nick set up on the elbow, Braxton on the block. You two are very important for this play to work right. Seth you will be right on the three-point line on the left side of the floor; and Michael will be in the left corner just outside the three-point line…”
“Hurry up coach, get back to the game!” the referee angrily yelled at my coach.
“Just a second.” My coach replied back. “Alright, we need to go through this quickly. So, Austin will get a screen from Nick and dribble the ball across the court towards Seth. When Seth is open and Austin can get the ball to him, he will pass to Seth. Once he catches the ball, he will fake a shot and pass to Michael, who should have gotten a screen from Braxton down low in the corner. When Mike catches the ball he will knock down a three to give us the lead. After that lockdown defense: no points.”
“Falcons on three,” my teammate started to say. “One! Two! Three! Falcons!” we all said at the same time. We walked back on the court ready for one. We passed the ball into Austin from the sideline.
“One! One!” he yelled into gym, the sound echoing of the walls. We quickly set up as the clock counted down. In that moment, it seemed like the clock was moving extra fast. Nick came off the elbow and blasted the kid playing defense on Austin, that kid had no idea what was happening. On the court, Austin quickly dribbled the ball between his legs. He then flew across to the other side of the court at light-speed. The brown, composite-leather ball spinning as it flew straight towards me. I faked the shot and kicked the ball out to Michael, in the corner, who nailed the three, giving us the lead. Yeah! That’s what we want I thought.
The other team couldn’t believe what happened and they couldn’t score on us. The buzzer went off and we walked the court at halftime, with a two point lead.
“Perfect execution, that’s how it’s done.” My coach said to us as we walked off the court.
I started sitting on the bench for the third quarter. As I was sitting there I thought about how things were going in the game what I was going to do when I got back in the game. I played a lot in the first half so I sat the whole third quarter to give everyone equal playing time. But, nothing really exciting happened during the third quarter anyway, so I didn’t really care.
Now it is time for the really exciting part I thought as I walked onto basketball court. The score was 45-36, and we were winning. We were feeling pretty comfortable with our lead, but you can never be sure in basketball. The ball was passed in and my team casually brought the ball up the court, not really sure what we were going to do yet. A kid from the Rebels saw that in our eyes, stole the ball and scored. That’s when the other team got their run. Basket after basket they took the lead with a 12-0 run that made the score 45-48 they were ahead. Five minutes left in the game we needed to do something. We decided to start cherry picking (incase you don’t know, that means to run down the court going for short shots right when the ball is rebounded by your team).
So, we cherry picked, scoring and making the score 50-48. Two minutes left, this was one of the most intense games we have played in our lives. Fans are cheering and screaming, the coaches are telling us what to do every second, the gym was just filled with noise. The Rebels desperately threw the ball at the basket, it didn’t go in.
“Seth, cherry pick.” My coach screamed. And on that note, I sprinted down the court as fast as I could. I caught the ball in the corner, took a few dribbles and shot a running shot over the tallest kid on the court that went in. the crowd celebrated as the buzzer sounded and my team won 54-48. We happily accepted our trophy as the other team watched angry at themselves and us.
From this game I learned that if you really work hard towards something that you want you can achieve it. I achieved winning a championship with the help of my teammates, it will be a day that I will remember forever.