It was the fourth quarter we were down by ten with five minutes to go in the national championship. The score was 62 to 72. I was single handedly keeping my team in the game with 40 points and 8 assists. I had been the best player in highschool and now I was the best player in college. We needed to get a stop on this drive. As I watch my man slowly come up the floor with the ball I knew it was just me and him, he called for an iso. As he moved to dribble I saw my opportunity, I reached in grabbed the ball and started racing up the floor I hit the free throw line take a step and jump just as I feel someone tug my jersey I throw the ball up as I fall to the floor. I hear the whistle that sends me back to the free throw line.
I can hear the roar of the crowd but I only care about one person my mother the one who sacrificed so much for me to be here today, and as I look up and spot her in the crowd she nods and has a look of such determination you would think she was taking the free throw. The ref threw me the ball I took a deep breath two dribbles shot all net, the next one up all net.
I ran back up the court ready to get back on defense. I turned around just in time to see my man sprinting up the court with the ball and start to pull up from just behind the three point line. I turn and start to jump and miss the ball, I start to turn well i still in the air and I see the ball miss. I land on his foot and feel my foot turn and roll, I immediately scream out in pain. At first I thought I had broken it but as the trainer came running over, I knew I wanted to stay in the game.
“I want to stay in the game”, I said as soon as he kneeled down next to me.
“okay Bryce he said let's justs get you taped up and we will get you right back in”
“okay but it better be quick”
I slowly stand up testing the ankle I feel sturdy enough but with a fair amount of pain. I grimace in pain as I walk off but quickly look over my shoulder to where my mother sits in the stands. I see her sitting there with a look of severe displeasure. I quickly give her a thumbs up and sit down on the bench. That's when I notice the hush that has gone through the building. We quickly take off my shoe and sock and I see that my foot has swelled up a lot. I can tell from the look on the trainers face it is not good.
“Are you sure you want to go back in” he asks
“You know I wouldn't let any other player in I hope you understand”
“Alright let's get you taped up”
We have cut the lead down to five when i'm ready to come back in and sitting under the scorers table.the score is 67 to 72 with 2 minutes to go. I tried to run back on the court but instead the pain got to me and I had to slowly jog others might call it a limp back onto the floor. I replaced blake a season long benchwarmer. I looked over at the bench and the look on my face must have been worrying because coach immediately called a time out. As I walked over to the huddle coach immediately pulled me side.
“Are you sure that you can continue”
“Without a doubt”
Someone tosses me a gatorade and I head back in. My ankle begins to throb again as I walk around waiting for the ball to get inbounded. We roll the ball in and I pick it up around half court the score is still 72-67 them with less than a minute to go. My defender up on me as soon as I pass half and with my ankle I cant really cut very hard I pass to Parker in the corner who passes it back, I see him start to run towards Billy who is setting a screen on the three point line. I pass before he comes off the screen he catches and buries the three.
I begin running back down pumping my fists I can hear the crowd getting louder and louder. I know something is wrong as soon as I begin to fall, as I fall my ankle rolls again I scream. As i'm rolling around in agony my senses dull I can barely feel my teammates and coaches gather around me trying to console me,but then I think about the dream that I am living right now that many would die to have. The dream that i'm not just living for me for my family and everyone back home who have guided me encouraged me and helped me along my journey to the top.
Then i'm back teammates gathered around me my brothers reaching their hands to help me up knowing that I will not abandon them knowing me better than I know myself sometimes. I reach my hands up they help me up my coaches know im staying in. 45 seconds remaining we know we have to lock up. The horn sounds and they begin to bring the ball up the court I know my man will take the last shot. I let him stand at half dribbling the ball, then with ten seconds left on the shot clock he begins to dribble he goes left then right then left again he has me by a step as he takes it to the basket. He takes on step then two as he gins to go up I leap with him not quite as high as normal but just enough to alter the shot enough that it clangs off the back of the rim, we grab the rebound and I immediately call for the ball.
I start to dribble up the there is 20 seconds left I stand at half and just dribble until their is 10 seconds left. I see the screen coming and I begin to run the screen hits my man perfectly 3 seconds I pull up 2 my man is gone left in the dust 1 I release the ball. The crowd goes quiet I hear the buzzer go off then I hear the swish of the ball going through the net. I see my teammates rush me, we lay their in a pile on the floor screaming out of pure joy. I decide through all the pain struggle blood sweat and tears it was all worth it. I look up to see my mom tears watering her eyes. What a game I tell myself.