When Intramural Basketball Begins
He races down the court. He stops, jumps, and launches the spiraling brown ball towards the goal . . .
It was our second game of intramural basketball. We had lost our first game; fortunately, it was a preseason game and did not affect our standing. Having never played together as a team before, we struggled the entire game to find our rhythm. Unfortunately, this game would be against the exact same team we had played the week before, the team we had lost to.
Because I had played basketball throughout middle school and my first year of high school, I had experience playing. I knew the rules; I knew how each team played; I knew how to work the ball down the court; I knew how to defend; I knew how to get around defenders; I knew how to stop someone from getting around me; I knew how to shoot; I knew how to fake someone out; I knew how to get a rebound–all in theory. Surprisingly, after years of not playing basketball (aside from a pick-up game once in every blue moon), the motor coordination and muscle memory that I had so diligently trained for years slipped away like everything I study after finals. Despite not being able to shoot nor dribble, I still joined a team.
If they hadn’t understood that I couldn’t shoot or dribble when I told them, my team definitely realized that somewhere in the first few minutes of the game. The ball slipped away from me several times, my defending was slow and messy, and my shots . . .
By the time the second game rolled around, I had gone to the RAWC several times to scrape off some of the rust and was, at the very least, a little more prepared to play. The game began as all intramural games: both teams met in the middle; the refs said something about respecting their calls, making mistakes, and playing fairly; and we prayed. Each team then cleared the court except for their starting five. The basketball went up, shortly followed by the frames of two players. It was a lively game. Almost immediately, points started racking up on the scoreboard as each team darted up and down the court scoring lay-ups and short jump-shots. Some teams play with coordination and slowly tear through their opponents defense. That was not the case for either team. We raced up the court and dribbled in for a shot, leaping for the rebound or racing back to defend our goal from the counter-attack. Substitutes, including me, regularly hopped on the court, relieving drenched teammates from the furious pace of the game.
For most of the game, neither team could pull ahead until the last few minutes when our opponents sunk several three-pointers in a row. Tired and irritated by our missed shots, we were down and had to catch up with little time left on the clock. Fouls began racking up on both teams as we became more than a little hot-headed. After some free throws, the clock said we had only a minute to catch up by five points, which, I soon found out, is quite a long time in basketball when you include forced fouls and time-outs. Up and down the court, we went, trying to catch up. With only twenty seconds left we were down two points still and with the ball in our half. It was now or never.
Nathan passed the ball in-bounds to Jordan. Immediately, the clock began racing towards zero as several defenders clumped around him. With a feint to one side followed by a powerful stride to the other, he navigated the maze of defenders, sprinting at full-speed down the court. The clock screamed three seconds. He races down the court. He stops, jumps, and launches the spiraling brown ball towards the goal. All eyes lock on the ball that forms a perfect arc as it sails through the air to the goal where it passes through the net with that beautiful swishing sound. The clock blares. We had won.