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A special team of basketball players
Diamond in The Rough -- Part II
With Only Seconds To Go! by Begin Again
 Category:  General Fiction
  Posted: August 1, 2009      Views: 358
Chapters:
1 2 3 4 

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 ABOUT
BEGIN AGAIN 
Begin Again is a resilient "senior citizen". Reinventing and restructuring her life has become almost common place for her.

I love music, books, and sitting by the water. Each of these activities brings a sense of life to me.
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She is an accomplished script writer and is currently at the #10 spot on the rankings.

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The home team, dressed in royal blue uniforms, was charged with excitement. Their laughter and banter reverberated off the locker room walls. They were about to play the biggest game of their lives, the Basketball Championship Game between Page Park and Freeport Hall.

These kids were special, not because of their handicaps, but because they believed in themselves. They had earned the right to play in the Championship Game and now they wanted to prove that they could win. They were eager to get out on the basketball court and make a few hoop shots. On the court, they never thought of themselves as different, only as Page Park's basketball stars.

The shrill of the coach's whistle brought the locker room roar down to a mere rumble. Mr. York, the basketball coach, and Mr. Killion, the District Leader, were extremely proud of this team. They had worked diligently to learn their skills without complaint. After every game, they'd shared hugs and handshakes with their opponents, telling everyone "Nice Game." Winning had never gone to their heads. Sure, winning was fun, but Mr. York and Mr. Killion had engrained in them the importance of sportsmanship and teamwork. The game gave these kids a chance to be like everyone else, a chance to shine. The rules were simple. Every one would get a chance to play, no matter what their skill level.

"Okay guys, this is the big one! Are we ready?"

The noise was deafening as they screamed, "Yes!"

Their excitement was contagious. The sounds drifting in from the gymnasium were almost as loud as the teams. Family and friends were packing the bleachers, waiting for their favorite team. The Page Park Cheerleaders were on the floor, chanting the cheers they'd carefully learned and waving their pom poms about.


"Remember how we got here...."

Before Coach York could continue, Tony, sporting his blue jersey number 9, yelled out, "On the bus, Coach, don't you remember?"

Laughter rippled through the locker room. Coach York smiled at Tony, "Okay, Tony, you got me there!" Lifting his hand in the air, signaling for the team to quiet down, he continued, "What I was about to say, was that each of you have to remember the teamwork and sportsmanship that got us here. We want to win, but not by hurting others. Okay?"

Once again, their excitement exploded! Deciding that they needed to wear off a little steam prior to the game, he pointed towards the door, "Hit the hoops, guys." And without another word, Page Park's team took the court and the crowd went wild.

John, wearing the number 10 jersey, was their star player. When he was on top of his game, he couldn't miss the basket. When he wasn't, well, he just wasn't! Coach York and Mr. Killion prayed that John was on top of his game tonight. Page Park had never been able to come this close to winning a Championship. The entire school was behind the team and knew John could make the difference.

Balls were bouncing everywhere as the team ran up and down the court. Finally, Coach York blew his whistle and Page Park took the bench. From the other side of the gymnasium, Freeport Hall's team, wearing red jerseys, took the court. The same loud applause thundered through the gym and the cheers came from every side.

While the Freeport team warmed up, Coach York and Mr. Killion gave their final instructions, reminding the boys about playing fair, no shoving or tripping, and no verbal yelling. Finally, it was time for the game to begin.

The ball was tipped to John, who immediately passed it to Tony. Tony passed it to Peter, who eyed the basket and shot. The ball hit the rim and instantly was rebounded by John. The Freeport team, arms flailing in the air, tried to knock the ball from his hand. Dribbling away from the basket, he could hear Tony yelling for the ball. Freeport's number 4 slapped at the ball as John tossed it to Tony. Peter recovered it and spun towards the basket, taking the shot. The ball bounced against the backboard and then swished through the hoop. The crowd sprung to their feet, clapping and screaming. Page Park was on the scoreboard and the game was on!

John's entire family was in the bleachers, stamping their feet, screaming and clapping. This was a big night for their basketball star. They knew that Coach wouldn't let John dominate the game, that he'd have to pass the ball, giving everyone a chance to play. None of that mattered. Tonight was his night to shine and they planned to be there to cheer him on.

With two minutes left in the first quarter, Peter passed the ball to John. He shot from twenty feet out, sinking the basket for three points. The crowd went wild. John could hear his name being screamed from the bleachers. He turned and waved. Coach York was on the sidelines, yelling for John to stay focused. He immediately headed down the floor and the buzzer rang. The score was Page Park 22, Freeport Hall 18.

Needing the two-minute break, both teams headed towards their benches for water and a quick bit of coaching. James, John's younger brother, yelled to John. He turned to look up into the bleachers and returned the wave before returning to the floor.

During the second quarter, John was totally distracted. He kept looking for his family in the stands and waving. Tony tossed the ball to him and he missed. Freeport recovered and scored. He missed his next two shots and the free throw shot too. At one point, the umpire even called him for traveling. Usually, traveling wasn't called in these games unless the player moved more than a foot or two. Mr. York called time out, replacing John with Shawn. Rejected, he sat down on the bench.

During the third quarter, John remained on the bench, cheering for his teammates. With Page Park's star player missing, Freeport grabbed the lead. Chants went up from the bleachers, "John, John, John". Everyone wanted him back in the game, but Coach York continued to watch the game. Each time he sent in a new player, John would look at Coach, hoping it was his turn. Instead, another player was chosen. When the buzzer rang at the end of the quarter, Freeport led 42 to 32.

John's family sat in the bleachers in shock. He had sat out the entire third quarter. Would the coach put him in during the last quarter? Could they make up the points or were their hopes of being Champions dashed?

When the final quarter buzzer rang, the player wearing the number 10 blue jersey returned to the court. He stood waiting for the ball, focused on the game. Keeping John out of the game had been the right thing to do. He'd lost his focus, excited that his family was watching him. Now, he was on the floor to play!

He rebounded, he passed, he shot, and he scored! The cheerleaders chanted, "John, John, he's the one...He's the one to get it done!" His mom's eyes were brimming with tears as she proudly clapped for her son. He'd missed out on many things, but this moment was his and she couldn't have been happier.

Freeport battled against Page, trying to hold on to their lead. Second by second, that lead was being whittled away. With two minutes left in the game, the score was 48 to 47. The crowd was going crazy!

Freeport's number 6 was on the free throw line with two shots. He dribbled the ball, aimed and fired. Score! The umpire tossed him the ball again. He dribbled the ball, looked at the basket and shot! The ball hit the outside rim, falling towards the floor. John caught the basketball and fired it to Peter. The score was Freeport Hall 49 to Page Park's 47.

Peter passed the ball to Tony. The Freeport players were everywhere. Tony searched the floor, looking to pass the ball. Spotting Larry, he fired the ball. Freeport's number 4 stole the ball and headed back down court. The clock was ticking the seconds away. Freeport fans could feel the win!

Freeport's number 4 passed the ball to his teammate number 9. He shot! The ball bounced on the backboard. The Freeport fans screamed with excitement. The ball hit the rim and fell. John was under the basket again; he rebounded the ball, spun around and passed to Tony.

Ten...Nine... Tony passed to Peter. Freeport knocked the ball away; Peter scrambled for the ball and recovered. Eight...Seven... Unable to move, Peter searched the floor for someone. Six...Five... John was at center court. Peter passed the ball. Four...Three.

John turned and shot. Up...up...up into the air. The basketball traveled down the court towards the hoop. The buzzer rang as the basketball swooshed through the net. Page Park 50, Freeport 49. The fans went crazy!

Coach York and Mr. Killion were laughing and clapping like crazy. Page Park had won their first Basketball Championship. The entire team was jumping all over each other. High fives were the name of the game. John's mom couldn't stop crying. Tonight was certainly a night to remember!

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