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“Hey Bob, you taking part in basketball? Since it starts tonight.”
“Of course. Besides we have a chance to be excellent with that new kid Chuck from Detroit that is supposed to drain NBA distance three-point shots with his eyes closed all day, and you being able to dunk. We also have Steve, and your brother Hubert. He can sure let it fly. While Steve is pretty good in challenging situations. Coach Rolle is an impressive coach who teaches us all the fundamentals,” Bob enunciated. Jumping as he was shooting a shot.
“You are right we should be at our prime. Maybe with our fascinating team we could be in the playoff, or even the championship”, I mentioned. Elevating my hands as we had won.
“Are you kidding me we are not that reliable.”
“You never know a heroic thing could happen. Oh I better buzz off to class, being late won’t be tolerated.”
“Yeah I’d hustle up if I were you. Mrs. Wells won’t care if I’m late.”
“After school there will be the first basketball,” came over the announcements.
“ Did you listen to that kids,” yelled Mrs. Jefferson.
“ Why does Mrs. Jeff think we can’t hear?” exclaimed Steve. “She is the one who has ghastly hearing. Besides I knew there was going to be a positive practice for a week.”
“I hope we motion the same offense as last year because it was good fro our privileged team.”
“ The answer is…Yubert,” questioned Mrs. J”.
“ Twenty-eight,” I answered.
Shaking her head, “no, Mr. Ballin. Please pay more attention or you won’t be able to compete in any basketball because of a bad grade. The answer twenty-seven not twenty-eight.”
Following school we had our first practice, then our second, and our third, then five more, finally our first game. We were playing the Ryville Eagles. We crushed them 69-12. I lead the team with twenty-three points and eleven rebounds. Hubert had fourteen points, and five assists. Steve made five baskets four ten points. Chuck made four for four three-pointers, and had eighteen points. Bob had a bad game with only four points.
We won our next ten games easily. Then we had gruesome game vs. West Point who was very good, but we squeezed a win with a clutch free throw by Steve to hold out a three-point win 54-51. It was midseason, and I had an average of 21.8 points per game and 12.1 rebounds per game, and we were 11-0. Our team won our next ten, and we wee 21-0 with one game loft. The one team left to plat were the Ugo Wildcats who were undefeated at 21-0, and they were ranked number one while we were number thirteen in California for sixth graders. Everybody thought we didn’t have a chance against a team of that caliber, but we proved everyone wrong by winning in three overtimes 81-76. Hubert made a nice assist to me for a lay up to cinch the five point leas. If I had missed it the Wildcats would have had a chance for a three-pointer to tie for a fourth overtime. Coach Rolle was so excited for everybody, and himself he didn’t know what would happen in the playoffs,
The cougars won the first game against the cardinals of Westbrook 59-46. We had to only two more games to compete for the championship No school of the size we had, had ever made it to the divisional championship, Our team would play against the Bilington Rockets. They were supposed to be very good, but the top player who averaged 36.4 point per game got mangled when I pushed him in the first quarter. Over in the crowd I could her someone yell cheater. After he went out we were able to defeat them, 69-60. If they had him, we probably would have been crushed. He was really that good.
The Cougars then advanced to the sixth grade California National Basketball Championship. We got to go down to San Diego for a week to prepare for the game. It was awesome because we got to miss school for it. Our families also came with us and stayed in this really fancy hotel that was reserved for us. Near the hotel, Brick house Stadium, was where we were to compete. Whole the vacation our team got to go watch the eighth, seventh and fifth grade championships. They were all very good games.
The night before the big game, the team members all joined in one of the rooms and watched the movie Hoosiers so, they could believe in winning the games, but Coach Rolle didn’t come because he said he wanted to go out. As we were watching the phone rang in our room. My dad went to seize it. “Hello…” Coach Rolle was dead. There was a drive-by shooting. After the shot he died instantly with a wound to the lungs.
It was the next morning and we were to report to the arena, but we didn’t have a coach. My dad spoke to the organizer of the championship about Mr. Rolle. They told him they either forfeit or find a new coach. We didn’t want o forfeit so dad became our coach. One hour before the game we organize warm-ups. It wasn’t the same with out Rolle. Before the game they honored our coach.
The score at halftime was 39-26. The Bluedevils wee leading us. During the half my dad announced to us that it didn’t matter if we won Coach Rolle, and all the others would be proud of us, but he also told us if we won it would be great. We decided that we would dedicate the trophy to our dead coach. That pleased all the team. My tam went back and got ahead with two minutes left in the game, but then a Bluedevil made big shot to lead by one with seven seconds left. Dad called a timeout, but didn’t know what to run, so we thought what Coach Rolle would do, and made a play.
The ball traveled in to Hubert, dribbled quickly to half court passed to Steve back to Hubert. Then he saw me breaking away on a back door. He threw the ball straight at me, two seconds, I go up, one second, and I dunk it. Then the horn, we won, because of the win everybody goes nuts! After the celebration was over they game us the trophy. We all knew that if it weren’t for Coach Rolle they wouldn’t have gotten that far. We dedicated it to his name. WE all knew that he was glaring down at us.
Three days after the game we went to he funeral of Coach Rolle. It was very sad.
On Friday we got the sports paper and on the top was written TEAM. Our team was on the front with the trophy. We surly were a TEAM.