Chapter 20 BACK IN THE GAME
The very next day Marney was practicing again with the Challengers. With another game only a few days away, she had a lot of catching up to do.
She stayed after school, she even stayed late weekends. She had something else to prove now-that nothing was going to hold her back. Nothing.
On game day, there were people crowding out the door. Usually it’s full but never like this. The gym was filled to capacity and something else, there were cameras, lots of them. I saw at least two news vans parked outside and I scanned the crowd to see if I could spot any scouts. Would they be dressed in suits? Would they be wearing a jersey from their team? Would they be incognito? I guessed that if they were there, the coach would know. So, I walked over to him and just asked, “Hey Coach, are there any scouts in the audience today?”
“Why? You expecting some?” He looked at me sarcastically. He was about to shake his head no to me when all the sudden he took a double take to the stands, “We’ll I’ll be...”
“What?” I asked.
“Well, it’s a little strange, but yes, I see a couple,” he answered.
“Coach, why would that be strange?” I asked.
But the coach got distracted, it was time to start the game and I had no more time allotted to me. He was already talking to someone else and walking away.
So, I walked away too and wondered as I looked up into the stands what was so strange about what he saw.
Suddenly, the bell sounded and the referee was throwing the ball into the air. Marney’s team got it and sounding like a freight train, they rolled down the court with that ball toward the basket. Up went the ball and straight into the basket. The crowd went wild as they got their first two points.
Every time Marney got the ball, there were at least ten flashes of cameras one right after another. After several minutes of camera flashing, the other team’s coach walked over to Marney’s coach and poked him in the chest. They started arguing. The players on both teams got distracted and stopped playing.
The ref blew the whistle, called “Time Out!” and met with the coaches.
Finally after some shouting and pointing towards the photographers, the ref told the coaches, the game would go on with no more arguments, reporters or no reporters.
Oh boy, I did it again. I covered my face in shame.
The ref blew the whistle. I looked up to see the teams rolling into action. The ball flying down the court to an opposing player, but Marney came too fast and bore right into the other player’s chair. The ball knocked against her chair and flew over to another player on Marney’s team. The play was theirs to rule. Marney’s teammate threw the ball back to her, she caught it and threw it into the basket for another two points.
The game continued to dazzle throughout the night. Marney led the Challengers through a great fight, as usual. The opposing team wasn’t bad either. But when the game was over, the Challengers reigned champion and Marney’s reputation as a star player was saved.
I ran down toward the court to talk with Marney but I couldn’t get in between all the people surrounding her. I peeked through the crowd and saw Marney and several people introducing themselves to her, handing her their cards. I even heard a few times the words, “play for our school.” They were the scouts. So what was so strange about them? I didn’t get it.
Once again there was complete silence while we drove home.