The Winning Shot

Anyone can try out for their dream sports team just by signing up. But the real question is, who will be qualified into the winning team?

It just so happened that one day, two best friends were strolling down the streets of New York City, looking for any possible sort of entertainment. Xavier and Viktor, who were just kicked out of the house five minutes ago for knocking over a vase, were suffering from the heat of the raging sun above, when they finally saw their lifesaver. An ice cream truck was coming in their direction and the kids waved like maniacs for the truck to stop. Luckily, the driver pulled over, and Viktor used his pocket money to buy two refreshing mint ice creams. Just as they were enjoying themselves, Xavier spotted a poster on the ice cream truck that read: The NJB tryouts are open! Please register before June 16th to play in the Summer League!

Xavier and Viktor exchanged glances. It would be a huge honor if their team won the season. The children dashed back home and yanked open the door. They looked at the calendar and it read June 16th. It was the last day they had to register for the tryouts.  They pleaded with the adults to let them participate, and after a lot of begging, they agreed to sign them up.

The next day, the two friends went to the gym where the tryouts were being held. However, when they saw the members of each team, their hearts sank. Viktor was put on the Panthers, while Xavier would be playing on the rival team, Jaguars. They shuffled to the benches to wait for their turn, and finally they were called up to play the last game of the tryouts.

“Three, two, one, let the game begin!” roared Coach Michael.

Xavier’s team quickly arranged themselves into a Triangle Offensive and surrounded the other team. They successfully dribbled and passed the ball to each other. Soon, the score was ten to nine. Viktor was the star of the Panthers, but the Jaguars’ strength in numbers allowed them to take the lead. Xavier told the team to block Viktor while he got to the hoop. This plan was immensely wrong. Viktor spiraled around the opponents and scored a three-pointer with a swish. The sudden turn of tide shocked Xavier so much that he was frozen when the ball was passed to him. His shock converted into panic, and the air was filled with electricity. His hair stood on end as if it had been zapped. Xavier uselessly threw the ball onto the ground, wishing it would be with anyone but him. Then, the match ended.

That day, Xavier received many resentful glares from his teammates for his cowardice. Even the enemy team chose to stay away from him. Worst of all, Viktor told him ‌he was ashamed of him. These words of pure disgust were said with a tone of such ice  that Xavier ran away without looking up. However, he was actually filled with steely determination once he returned home. He was going to show his worth and would not rest until he defeated the Panthers in the finals.

For the next month, he practiced day and night his techniques of both offense and defense. The matches flew past like a breeze, and victory was surely in their hands. They had fought through the teams like an unstoppable army, and earned their place in the finals. Xavier was the only one who remained cautious and worked into the night to create a battle strategy to counter Viktor’s Motion Offense. He woke the rest of the team up one hour early to discuss his plans. When Viktor retrieved the ball, Jake, the strongest and oldest teammate, would screen him and steal the ball from him. He would pass it to Xavier, who would score the winning shot. The team marched confidently into the stadium. Xavier himself put on a brave smile, but deep inside, he was trembling like a mouse being chased by a cat. Cold sweat trickled down his neck as he put on his uniform.

The final match began with both teams testing each other’s defense. Xavier was guarding Viktor, who looked a bit ill for some reason. He would not meet his eyes. Xavier ran up and down the court, playing both offense and defense. Finally, their team gained ball control and passed the ball to Xavier. Viktor shockingly refused to block the pass. Xavier, confident in his abilities, was about to shoot a half court when he felt himself swept off his feet. Viktor had slid and tackled him and the two players crashed onto the ground, with Xavier on the bottom. Viktor was disqualified for the foul, but the damage was done. Xavier, who was the star of the team, was left on the ground broken. He had been betrayed by his best friend, which proved that even the nicest people would take extreme measures to get what they wanted.

His teammates helped him to his feet and the referee asked him if he was to keep playing. Xavier was tempted to say no, but  when he saw the smug grin on Viktor’s face, his heart boiled with anger. He nodded to the referee, and the match continued. He could no longer run, for his ankle was surely twisted. But he had gained one advantage. The Panthers thought that he was now useless, so no one was guarding him. They were now piling up upon Jake, who suddenly spotted Xavier wide open at the three point line. He passed the ball to him, and ignoring the screams of agony inside him, Xavier shot the ball. Then, he felt himself faint and landed on the ground with a thud.

Later, he only remembered blurred memories when he woke up in the hospital. His teammates beamed at him and explained how they finally won. Xavier smiled weakly, but inside, he was glowing with pride at how he went on to the end and helped his team win the season.