Playoff Game- Minarets vs Kern Valley – By. Kristy Berry

Setting : Minarets VS. Kern Valley, Playoff game, @Minarets Time : 6:30 PM Game Time : 7PM   Every basketball game started with a jump ball, which I did. Before every game, regardless of the team we were playing, I was always nervous about the jump ball. It doesn’t matter how good a team is or how good that particular player is for them to be able to jump and tip the ball. My coach however insisted upon me always getting it.   “You’re a volleyball player, this is right up your alley,” she would say anytime we did rebounding drills, or anything involving jumping.   So naturally I did the jump ball. This game, however, was the most important game. This game was playoffs. This game was the last game I’d play in with my senior teammate Madison Meade. The pressure was on for this game. I had been thinking about it ever since we found out that we were going to be playing Kern Valley. I looked them up on Max Preps to find out that the two centers on there team had scored less than 12 points each all season long. Their point guard however had an average of 25 points a game. My team and I were extremely nervous, the jitters showing by the awkward smiles plastered on our faces. We split up half and half at each of the side doors of the gym, ready to run in to the song “In The Zone”. As I walked out the door to the end of our short line, I saw a shiny nickel sitting happily on the cold ground heads up.   “Look guys! A lucky nickel, heads up. This means something guys,” I exclaimed.   My team laughed it off as I put it in my sock. We ran in doing our warm up and getting pumped up. Slowly the crowd began pouring in, inching my nerves along even further. The ref  called for the Captains at the end of our warm ups, and me and the rest of the starting five walked up to the center of the court. The two girls seemed humble but confident as they shook our hands, unlike our previous opponents, who had been vulgar and proud. We introduced ourselves to them, our hand shakes firm, showing that we meant business. We ran back to our sides and began shooting around. Finally the buzzer buzzed and we made our way over to our sides. I pumped my team up and prayed, asking god to keep us safe and help us to play our best, and that we’d give all the glory to him. I made my way to the center of the court bending my knees slightly and putting my right arm up, preparing myself to win the tip. I sprang up and tipped the ball to my teammate Danny who dribbled in for a lay up. The game began to move in such a fast pace; I made a few points and the crowd cheered and the ball went back in and forth going from our possession to theirs. Usually my nerves would end by the time the game started, but this game they kept raging on. My stomach was flopping around begging me to stop running and instead to curl up in a dark closet away from all the people and expectations. I looked over at my coach and told her I didn’t feel good. She quickly called a time out and I ran outside and puked. As soon as the time out was over I told her I was fine and I went right back in. I felt like I lost a million pounds and was running on the clouds. I was everywhere. I soon began scoring left and right, rebounding balls and getting the ball back to our team. Soon it was half time and the score was 30-36, we had 30. I was so pumped up and proud of my team I ran into our half time room shouting “Mustangs” and “Jesus is Good” as loud as I wanted. When we got into the room I reminded my team that we were in this game and we were so close. I grabbed my lucky nickel out of my sock and put in on the ground by my seat.   “It’s working,” I exclaimed.   We got back into the gym and started the game back up.The other team only had one girl that could play ball, their point guard. The rest of them just set picks for her as she made shot after shot. The game got super intense. By the end of the third quarter we were winning with a score of 45-40. As the fourth quarter started to come to an end the score was 59-56, we were winning. I was so overjoyed. I had four fouls though, so I had to be careful. Unfortunately, I fouled their best player and she made one of her free throws, making it 59-57. I had five fouls, and had fouled out. I sat on my hands, so nervous as my team played on. Their best player had the ball and was dribbling fast down the court with 30 seconds to go. She made her lay up. It was 59-59. So we went into over time, 4 minutes on the clock, I had to stay on the bench. My eyes began to water as I watched the other team take control of the game. The end score was 61-67. I don’t think I’d ever cried so much in my life. As we made our way down the line shaking their hands I felt ashamed of my tears, not wanting them to see them. We made our way back towards are room to have our after game talk. Half the team was crying and the other half was staring blankly off somewhere wondering what they could have done differently. I saw the lucky nickel below my seat and stared at in disgust. I picked it up and looked at the trash can across the other side of the room. I threw the nickel and it made a loud swoosh like the sound of a basketball through a hoop, it seemed to mock me. Everyone turned to me in surprise seeing as it was a rather long shot. The room erupted in laughter, though I did not laugh it felt good to hear it. My coach smiled at me, and I forced a smile. My coach had been more than a coach to me. She took me home from practice every night and often stopped at the gas station to buy me chicken and an Arizona. She seemed more like a friend to me than my coach. She began to tell us that we should not be down on ourselves, that she was so proud of us, and that she had never seen us play so well together as we had done tonight. All of this was true; however, the tears still came down our faces. I looked over at Madison and couldn’t take seeing her face. That had been her last game. She wasn’t crying. Her knee was up on her chair and her cheek laid upon it. Her face was a hot red and you could tell she was about to break. I made my way over to and put her knee down. I sat on her lap and wrapped my arms around her neck.   “I’m gonna miss you,” I whispered. Her body began to shake, and I felt her breaking. Everyone in unison grabbed someone and began hugging them. We all began telling each other how proud we were of them, and how thankful we were to have them on our team. We may have lost, but we grew closer. We would come back, and next year we would be stronger than ever.

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