Spirit’s Seasons, A Series – Basketball, Episode III

FOLLOWING THE GAME’S Pledge of Allegiance and handshakes all around, Larry controlled the tip. Sylix received the batted ball and hit Tyee with a pass like a frozen rope as he moved down the sideline. The Tulameen boy jump-stopped at the 3-point line and launched a perfectly arcing attempt that fell through the bottom of the net, swish! Four of the next five times down the court Tyee repeated the successful shot at the arc, and just like that, 15-2. Coyote called time. The Sasquatch had started the game with a 2-3 zone defense. Coach Chilcotin reasoned that the solid zone could help keep his boys out of foul trouble. But he realized that another approach was in order. He assigned Hondo the task of guarding Tyee man-to-man, as closely as possible, and instructed him to prevent Tulameen from even touching the ball. The rest of the team members were instructed to play a diamond or 1-2-1 zone defense.

Throughout the rest of the half both boys picked up fouls as the officials called Hondo for holding Tyee, and Tyee was caught pushing off Hondo a few times. The other members of both teams started scoring and, with evenly distributed points at half-time, the Sinkiuse team led 38-25 as the boys headed to their locker rooms. Tyee, Larry, Hondo, and Phillip had three fouls apiece. Both coaches gave the same speech, We can’t pick up any more fouls, play smart, don’t foul, be quick but, slow the game down and use the clock, and above all, don’t get caught fouling!

Throughout much of the second half both teams did slow the game down. Both teams tried to use up as much clock as possible before attempting a shot. But by the fourth quarter most players had two or three fouls and some kids had four fouls. With four minutes left before the final buzzer and trailing 55-40, Hondo got whistled for his fifth foul and the Sasquatch were playing four against five. But something strange and discernible started to happen. It was almost miraculous as if the Sasquatch were playing with a new found mission, the role of an underdog, possibly an extra rush of adrenalin. The three Smohalla guards were moving like a blur, stealing the ball, driving the length of the court, and outscoring the Bobcats. Levi, Caleb, and Cole were playing far above their previous skills. But Spirit was perceptive. He instinctively knew what was happening. So, as a show of sportsmanship that would certainly calm the Sasquatch, he pulled Chase-In-Winter off the court and had him sit next to Peoples. But the lead official blew his whistle, approached Spirit, and declared, “You can’t pull a player off the floor.”

“I’ve never heard that before, I think it’s just good sportsmanship.”

“Don’t matter, it’s the rules. If ya pull him off the court both the boys on the bench will be ineligible to enter the game, it’s in the book. You can have him stand at half-court if ya wanta, but he’s gotta stay on the court.”

Spirit instructed Chase, Jr. to stand on the court at the mid-stripe in a respectful parade-rest position, and the game continued. Just as Spirit had presumed, at four-on-four, the game continued at a more natural pace. With one minute remaining in the contest Pierre fouled out. Spirit motioned to Larry Lillooet and the intuitive center knew what to do. Finishing the game, three-on-three and with two Bobcats standing motionless at midcourt, the final buzzer blew, 63-56.