Hoop Dreams

Three weeks ago my 8th grade basketball team had a game and only five players showed up. The other team we were playing also only had five players show. So from the start we knew the game would be a battle of attrition, with a lot of tired bodies, hustle and fatigue. I love games like that. I was excited before the opening tip.

The game was awesome. Both teams were playing their hearts out, toeing the line between playing hard defense and not getting into foul trouble. A lot of kids were resting their hands on their knees during breaks in play because they were gassed but neither team had subs. It was a completely back-and-forth game, and both our team and the other team traded buckets and the lead as the game came down to the wire.

In the fourth quarter we were down by 5 with two minutes left. I remember turning to the other coach and saying “we are NOT losing this game.” I wanted this win so badly. The kids were playing the best defense they’d played all season and really leaving it all out on the court. We deserved to win this game. We had the better squad, we were playing better basketball.

With 30 seconds to go we had whittled the lead down to 1 and stole the ball.

I called timeout and called the guys around.

Look guys, I’m not going to call a play, because plays haven’t been working for us. Remember what’s gotten us here. I want you to set picks, move without the ball, and let’s get an open look.
If you get open, shoot the ball. We can’t win if we don’t shoot.

Our point guard brings the ball down with 30 seconds left and begins to move the ball around. We swing it around the perimeter a bit and our big man gets open in the corner. He lets it go. Bam. Nails the jumper. We’re up by 1, and I’m going crazy on the sideline, jumping up and down and yelling “DEFENSE DEFENSE DEFENSE!” The parents are excited, both teams are amped, and we need a stop to seal the game.

With 20 seconds left, the other team brings the ball down. At the 15 second mark, our point guard steals the ball. We won! We won! I’m thinking to myself. The other team’s running after him to foul in an effort to extend the game. The point guard runs backwards a bit in an effort to avoid the foulers and throws it to our forward under the opposite basket. If we can run out the clock for 13 seconds, the game is ours.

Our forward catches the ball under the basket.

Yes! Yes! We got this we got this!

Our forward turns and goes in for a layup. On the wrong basket. And makes it.

I look at the other coach. The players on our own team are dumbfounded. Our forward realizes after a few seconds what he’s done. The other team is up by one.

I can’t believe that just happened.

We bring the ball down the floor again with 10 seconds on the clock, get a shot up, and it rims out. We lose by 1.

Hoop dreams.

[1] I wrote this over a year ago somewhere else. I like the story and wanted to try a few different display techniques. Inspired by but much crappier than NYT - Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunel Creek. The NYT web team is amazing.

[2] While it was an unbelievable way to lose, everyone was a good sport about it. In the grand scheme of things I assure you city basketball is not that important.

[3] These photos aren't from the actual game.

[4] The prevailing thought in my mind leaving the gym that day was "well, at least this will make a good story."

[5] This post is different from the others in that it's labeled as an "experiment." It's not necessarily clean markup nor responsive. I'm okay with that.