Wednesday, March 6, 2013

#slice2013 6 of 31

Day six of the slice of life challenge.

As some of you may remember from your high school days, sports have always been a big deal. For a lot of high schools, football is the main sport, while for others it's baseball. At my high school, the two main sports that get the most hype are soccer and basketball.

Last night was the varsity boy's basketball game that either got them into the finals or was the end of their seniors. So, basically, it was a pretty big deal and everyone who was anyone came to watch.

Abby and I sprint into the gym. We're two minutes late and Abby is freaking out about the possibility of the game being completely sold out. She's freaked out quite a few times tonight. First she forgot it was a black out game and couldn't find a shirt, then she realized her parents were going out to dinner and she didn't have a ride, and then when my dad and I finally got to her house to pick her up it was 6:50 with a fifteen minute car ride to the high school. My dad drove slightly over the speed limit, and I brought her an extra black tee.

While running to the booth, we peek into the gym. The game hasn't started; they're doing the thing at the beginning where all the players run out onto the court and you yell and scream for your team. It looks pretty crowded, though. I didn't think it would be this packed since it's not home, but it is an important game and our high school basketball team has some pretty die-hard fans.

"Excuse me!" Abby pants. We're both winded and looking pretty good in our all-black ensembles. "Are you still selling tickets?"

"Of course!" The lady at the booth says, smiling.

"Great, I'll take two."

"Thanks, Ab," I say, "I'll pay you back when we get in there."

The ticket lady stamps our hands and we run into the gym. There are absolutely no places to stand on the bleachers so we head up to stand on the stairs behind my friends Katie and Brianna, between the wall and a pack of seniors. It's the worst place to stand since you can't see anything that's going on, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Abby looks at me. "I hope you know that we are not staying here after half time."

I laugh. "Yeah, I know."

We don't see much of the players for the first half since Katie's head is right in my line of vision, but I have a perfect view of the scoreboard. By halftime, the teams are tied 32-32 and judging by the equal amount of screaming from both sides, it's been a pretty good game.

The whistle blows and kids start pouring off the bleachers from all directions. Abby and I get down and stand at the bottom, scanning our options. We decide to go over and stand on the stairs on the right side so we have a perfect view of the court. As we're making our way up, my friend John screams down, "Larkin, thank god you're here! I hope you know you're going crowd surfing!" I raise my eyebrows at him and laugh. John is always looking for crowd surfing volunteers since the last time he did it the coach threatened to suspend him if he ever "tried that funny business again."

It's a lot cooler on this side next to the parents' bleachers than it was on the other side next to the wall and Abby and I can see everything. We stay pretty solid throughout the second half, but so do our rivals. The game ends and we're tied: 49 to 49. The crowd is off the walls. John convinced some poor gullible freshman to try out crowd surfing. It lasted for about two seconds before the coach noticed and popped a couple blood vessels in his forehead.

The first two overtimes come and go, both teams just playing keep away. A couple of the star players try for a shot, but everyone is too scared to turn over the ball to take too many shots. The score remains 49-49.

The first minute of the third overtime, the other team scores. The other side of the gym erupts, sure they've won. But there are still three minutes left. Our coach calls a fifteen minute time out as the two groups of fans scream at each other across the court. Abby leans over and whispers to me, "Hey, I'll get your shirt back to you another time. I'm kind of sweating." I burst out laughing, but know exactly how she feels. My own shirt isn't wanting to unstick itself from my back. John screams at me from two rows down, "Larkin stop laughing! This is serious!" Abby grins back and holds up her middle finger. I quickly smack her hand down. If the coach had seen that, she would have been kicked out quicker than she could say "we won."

The infinite fifteen seconds finally end and the game is back on. Two minutes go by and no one scores. Abby is pulling out her hair. Another twenty seconds and the ref calls a foul on one of our players. Our fans immediately start screaming, letting the ref know just how bad that call was. Their player misses the first but makes the second. The game is over unless someone makes a three pointer in the last forty seconds.

Ten seconds left and the other team has possession.

Eight seconds and one of their players makes a bad pass, our team regaining control.

Five seconds and Conor Hayes sprints down the court and stops right at the three point line, making a beautiful shot right before a rival player slams into him knocking him to the ground. The ref blows his whistle to call a foul on the other team just as the ball hits the rim and falls through the net. I start screaming, but can't even hear myself over everyone else. The fans have gone mad. Abby jumps on top of me and we both start jumping up and down with the rest of the fans on the bleachers. The steps shake dangerously underneath me, but no one seems to care. Conor has tied the game, but it isn't over yet.

Somehow, everyone manages to grow quiet as Conor lines up on the free throw line. We are watching his every move. He bounces the ball twice, rolls it around on his hand. Bounces it one more time and takes a deep breath. He closes his eyes for a split second and then shoots. The orange-brown blur arcs through the air towards the net. Time slows down as the ball swooshes through the welcoming net and the silence is lifted. People who I have never met before start hugging me and all I can hear is the deafening roar of "CONOR." Before I know it I am being pushed from all directions down the stairs towards the court. I grab Abby's wrist and we sprint down together, pushed and pulled by the swarm of kids.

I'm not really sure what happened after that. Somehow I ended up in the middle of the court one second, and then the next second I was being jostled out of the gymnasium towards the parking lot.

One thing's for certain; Conor Hayes will forever remember that game.


  1. Love this Slice! Took me right back to the energy and thrill of being at a high school game. I felt like I was right there with you. :) Thanks for sharing!

  2. WOW - I loved your description of the game! I also love that your mom is your biggest inspiration!

  3. What an exciting game! Your descriptions were perfect! I couldn't hear my husband talking because of the screaming fans in my head. You have a gift for bringing a story to life. I can't wait to read everyone of them the rest of the month.