Heart of a Champion This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

I pulled into the school parking lot. This is it: finally time to show off my abilities, I thought. I stepped ­into the gym and immediately smelled sweat from our hard practice the night ­before.

I knew I had to dominate this game if I wanted to be noticed by any college scouts who were there. I had worked hard all season, anticipating this moment.

Trying not to let my excitement and anxiety show, I waved to my teammates. As I walked over to join them stretching on the floor, I felt a tingling sensation run through my body – I was so nervous.

In the locker room our coach gave a pre-game speech. I was too excited to pay attention. All I heard was, “This is it for the seniors – do or die.” She was right; if I lost now, my season was over.

We all huddled and I yelled, “Intensity on three: one, two, three!”

“Intensity!” shouted the team. Everyone sprinted onto the court to warm up. I watched the other team and decided that they were going to be tough, but nothing we couldn’t handle.

The announcer began to introduce the starters. “Beginning with the visitors, at 5'5" we have number 11, Katie Smith …”

“And for the home team …” He announced the first four of the starting five. “Forward, six-foot, ASHLEY MCCALL!” I sprang up and ran down the lane, my teammates smacking my hand. At the end was my coach, who said, “Leave it all on the court.”

I sized up my opponent as I stood in the jump ball circle. She had a firm grip when I shook her hand, but I felt she was the weaker player. I was still shaking with fear when the ref blew the whistle. I jumped, reaching as high as I could and, with relief, tipped the ball back to my point guard. I was proud we could start the game with a possession.

My point guard called for our ­motion play. I set a screen for my shooting guard; she popped out and received a fast catch from the point guard. I posted up on the opposing post player; she was strong but I knew if I could fake her out, I could easily get around her.

After calling for the ball, Sara, our shooting guard, passed it to me. I faced the basket and faked a shot. The girl jumped. Yes! I thought. I stepped around her and scored the first points of the game. I felt great.

The other team scored a quick three pointer. That girl was going to be a good shooter all game, I suspected.

At half-time the score was tied at 42. I had scored 15 points. I could hear my dad yelling and acting like a second coach. I was burning for a win and I was not going to stop until I got it.

The third quarter began. I wanted the ball so bad; I tried to steal it from the other team. The referee called a foul without hesitation. This was a huge mistake since I had already committed two fouls. I had to calm down and play smart. If I tried too hard, I would lose the game. I had to trust my teammates.

With only one minute left, my team was down by two. If we were going to win, we needed to get the ball, quickly score, and play great defense. The ball was passed in, and I drove to the basket. I was able to score a quick two, according to plan. “Play defense!” I yelled. The crowd was cheering. Both benches were on their feet.

My team was nervous but ready to win. We forced a turnover by trapping the ball, causing the opposition to throw it out of bounds. We had possession with 23 seconds left. Even though I had 26 points, I wanted more than anything to make the game-winning shot. I passed the ball inbounds to my point guard; she ran 10 seconds off the clock so we could ensure a final shot.

She called out “Red,” so I set a screen on her defender. I rolled to the basket and she hit me with the pass. As soon as I caught the ball I was triple-teamed. With three seconds left, I passed the ball back to her.

She shot a two-point jumper and I watched as the ball soared through the air and swished through the net. Everyone ran onto the court to celebrate. I hadn’t made the game-winning shot, but I was too excited to care.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

Join the Discussion

This article has 23 comments. Post your own now!

Mike14 said...
Jun. 6, 2011 at 1:01 pm
That is so silly!Good story!
heatlebron6 said...
Nov. 11, 2010 at 8:42 am
This is a great story. When i play basketball i always think possitive and not negative. I think that is what everyone should do.
Jessielee said...
Nov. 1, 2010 at 1:04 pm
This is an amazing story, I enjoyed reading it. You did a great job! Goodluck with more basetball years :)
sundevil44 said...
Mar. 9, 2010 at 1:05 pm
go Phoenix suns yeah!
cavalier87 replied...
Mar. 9, 2010 at 1:17 pm
i agree definetly go suns and cavaliers!
twilightandbiscuits replied...
Mar. 9, 2010 at 1:18 pm
indeed. indeed
lollz replied...
Nov. 1, 2010 at 1:06 pm
cool i hate the game its sucks
suck it replied...
Nov. 1, 2010 at 1:16 pm
i hate the game of b balls i hate it so much it just ticks me off I WISH IT
CelticsAllDayWilson25 replied...
May 23, 2012 at 12:06 pm

Basketball go hard but the Suns and Cavaliers suck it all about them


twilightandbiscuits said...
Mar. 9, 2010 at 1:00 pm
very inspiring article
yo yo yo replied...
Nov. 1, 2010 at 1:02 pm
i hate b ball its boreing
kez07 said...
Jan. 23, 2010 at 5:29 am
this was a awsome story....very inspiring
cavalier87 replied...
Mar. 8, 2010 at 12:39 pm
indeed. indeed
awesomeooyster brown replied...
Mar. 9, 2010 at 12:57 pm
cool article.
twilightandbiscuits replied...
Mar. 9, 2010 at 12:59 pm
AquaMan said...
Nov. 11, 2009 at 1:38 pm
This was a pretty well written story, but i couldn't reall get into the story. I wish the author would have pulled me into the story more at the start of the story.
cavalier87 replied...
Mar. 9, 2010 at 12:52 pm
i disagree. the author did fine
DellsBallas said...
Nov. 11, 2009 at 1:36 pm
This was an awesome article. I liked that the way it was written, very interesting. Yet they kept it short to avoid the reader to get bored.
IizFrozen said...
Nov. 11, 2009 at 1:33 pm
This is an ok article that is inspiring.
Brodie S. said...
Nov. 11, 2009 at 1:25 pm
this was an amazing story. it says the girl doesnt just want the game winning shot but she wants to win. the story would have been even better with a little more detail.
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