Mo's Manic Monday - Click

Posted: Monday, March 12, 2007 by Travis Cody in
22



Welcome to the March Madness edition of Mo's Manic Monday. Don't forget to visit our host and fearless leader at It's A Blog Eat Blog World.

Our theme today is the word Click.


Click

Blue, 53-52, with 33 seconds left in the third overtime of an epic championship game between two teams of 12 year olds.

I had thought the blue team would be over-matched. The red team was a traveling all star team, using our friendly little tournament as a tune up for their league championship. They hadn’t been challenged in four games, winning each contest by more than 20 points.

The blue team wasn’t even the best in our league. But something had clicked for these kids in the opening round. They were confident and playing well. They had beaten our league powerhouse to advance to the championship game – another overtime stunner.

Here we were again. I clicked my whistle against my teeth, then exhaled through it and called the teams back to action after the time out.

On the inbound, Red tried a long pass off a play that had worked to perfection all game long, but Blue had it’s defense well prepared this time and the ball sailed past everyone and went out of bounds across the other baseline.

On the subsequent inbound for blue, Eleven worked for defensive position and I rewarded his effort with another charge call against blue. Eleven was a crafty kid who had scored 32 points in the game, including three buzzer-beating long-range jump shots. One of those shots had been from near mid-court and was responsible for this third overtime.

The young man was also a natural athlete with good defensive instincts. He was just one of those kids who knew how to play. Blue’s coach exploded off his bench at my call, the first interference from either sideline since the third quarter. I waggled my finger at him. I wasn't about to call a technical, and he knew it. But he didn't abuse that knowledge. He grumbled and sat down.

Now there were only 7 seconds remaining. Blue was up by a point. Red took the additional time out they had been granted for this third overtime.

As the teams made their way back onto the court for the final :07, Blue deployed at mid-court, not wanting to risk a foul with the full court press. Two red players came to where I stood beneath the basket. Eleven stopped at the foul line, and the other boy prepared to inbound the ball. I blew my whistle to alert both teams that play was about to resume. I gave Red the ball.

He rolled the basketball onto the court. And it clicked in my mind that they were trying to save the time on the clock by getting the ball as far up the court as possible without touching it. That’s a good strategy, and Blue was vulnerable to it because they had decided not to pressure the inbound.

But as I counted three, Eleven showed no sign that he was ready to pick up the ball. He was going to let it roll as far as he could. I counted four, and silently screamed at him to pick up the ball. You see, you only have a five count to get the ball inbounds, and the ball must touch someone. Otherwise it’s a violation.

Such an incredible game should not turn on my whistle. All the plays had been bang-bang to this point, straightforward and relatively easy calls to make. Traveling, three seconds, jump ball, even the block/charge calls had been simple enough to get right. I didn't want a petty infraction to figure in the outcome.

As my hand dropped and I counted five, Eleven had still not picked up the ball. I actually gave him another half count. Then I blew my whistle.

"That's five seconds. Blue ball, this way."

For a moment, the gym was eerily silent. It was as if my call was settling into the collective consciousness of the crowd. And then, click, like a light turning on, the reaction exploded.

The blue side heaved to its feet, elated as they discovered that it was now their game to win.

The red side clamored its disbelief and displeasure, unaccustomed to such an impudent challenge to their dominance.

It's not a well-known rule. If you don't know the game, you might not be aware that there are time limits in situations other than three seconds in the key. I didn’t want to call it. Most would say it shouldn’t have been called. But how would that have been fair to the blue team?

Blue raced down to where I stood, anxious to get the ball in play and run out the clock. Their excitement could no longer be contained. Red didn't have a time out left; but they might still have the character to overcome their shock. If they weren't totally demoralized by the rapid reversal of the game, they might be able to force Blue into a mistake.

Blue inbounded and Red immediately fouled. Only two seconds ticked off the clock, leaving :05. Blue still needed to focus. We had all seen what Eleven could do and how little time he needed to do it. Five seconds was an eternity. One made free throw would guarantee at least a tie and possibly an unbelievable fourth overtime, two shots would win it.

Blue was celebrating. They sent only the shooter to the line. The other players fell back to prevent fouling on a rebound. There were plenty of hugs and high fives. Eleven wore his confidence like a cloak.

The blue player missed the free throw. A red player scooped the rebound out of the air and fired a pass to Eleven. He grabbed the ball, took a steadying dribble, and loosed the shot from thirty feet for the win.

The ball hit the front of the rim…bounced high…dropped straight down…and clanged off the front of the rim.

The buzzer sounded.



22 comments:

  1. Hi Trav. Great CLICKING post, haha. Come on over and check mine out when you have a moment.

  1. Skittles says:

    Another example of your talent. Good job :)

  1. I loved the click! You're such an awesome writer. :)
    I always love to read your stories.

  1. oh trav i don't like ball games honey, but i do like cake!!!

    smiles, bee

  1. Jamie says:

    Wonderful piece of writing ... very evocative.

  1. lisa says:

    How apropos for this time of year! :-) great story.

    and Travis, the 'Cuse got robbed. :-(

  1. Bond says:

    Thanks for letting me see this game and the excitement which can be tournament basketball....even for 12-year olds.

    Enjoyed this one my friend

  1. Matt-Man says:

    We just had the awards ceremony for my 12 year old's B-Ball league. The look of determination on his face when he is dribbling down court and taking it to the hoop is a hoot. Cheers...

  1. julie says:

    THis story brought back memories of Sara and her no holds barred approached to the game. Thanks!

  1. julie says:

    This post brought back memories of Sara's "no holds barred" approach to this game. Thanks Travis!

  1. FINALLY - a story to which I can relate! Awesome job, Trav: the suspense, the action, the details. Great, great work.

  1. Aaaaaagghhhhh - you gave me the shivers reading the last 2 sentences!!! Great writing :)

  1. Claire says:

    Hey, as this wasn't about rugby or football (proper football, not american), i just cant get emotionally invloved,lol.
    Very clever though, i like the idea of a mental click, i need to have more of those moments.
    Toodle Pip.

  1. Travis says:

    Imma: I'll be there shortly!

    Skittles: Thanks again for the review sweetie!

    CWM: **bows, tips hat**

    Bee: No worries honey - glad you came by.

    Jamie: I appreciate the compliment!

    Lisa: Syracuse seems to have the biggest and most legit gripe today.

  1. Travis says:

    V: It was a real kick to be a part of too.

    Matt: They are serious between the lines, aren't they?

    Julie: No other way to play it!

    Songbird: It's the time of the year for it!

    Heather: Shivers - wow! Thanks!

    Claire: Thanks for stopping by luv!

  1. Sanni says:

    HA! Another great reason That´s why "The Academy" awarded you with the Best Writing BL-Oscar =)

  1. That's a great story and I'm not a big sports fan...(she says with her toes kicking the dust at her feet).
    My dad wasn't either but he knew the value of taking my brother to every ballgame in town.
    Congratulations on your award! That was a neat thing for Sanni to do for you talented folks.

  1. Neila says:

    Great post! Perfect for March Madness. This reminded that I desperately need to work on my bracket!

  1. Travis says:

    Sanni: Thanks again for the Bl-Oscar. I meant to put it in my sidebar this weekend.

    Gracie: I appreciate you taking a moment to read a sports story!

    Neila: Get to work on the bracket!!

  1. JohnH985 says:

    Great story and you did the right thing in your call. Have to play it fair for all.

  1. Lizza says:

    Basketball is very popular here, so I can relate to this one. What an exciting story!

  1. Travis says:

    John: Agreed. I was lucky too. In the aftermath a lot of parents were looking for me. But our league president stepped in and pulled out the rule book.

    Lizza: This is arguably the most exciting month in my sports calendar. I love football too, but the tournament is just different. Thanks for stopping by.