After year after year of tournaments, the Ichione High Basketball team finally made it to State.
Yet now their best player and the reason they was in the championship game, Roman Haddeis, will have to sit out because of a possible torn meniscus he suffered towards the end of the City Championship game.
Coach didn’t want to tell Roman. Roman's our best player, Coach thought, his head sunk on his desk. He's graduating and heading to St. Peter’s College in the fall. A chance like this doesn't come often.
A knock was heard on the door. A 6’7, athletic young man walked in gingerly, limping noticeably as he came in.
“…What’d they say?” asked Roman, almost sounding like he knew what was coming.
“…The doctors recommend you sit out—”
“My leg is fine! I’ve moved well all day—”
“'Well enough' is not good enough! Besides, you feel good now but by game time it’s going to get worse!” Roman kneeled, tears streaming his face.
“Come on, let me play Coach!” he screamed. “You don’t know how much this means to me! I want to win a State Championship for this school!”
Coach looked downtrodden, but he nodded, seemingly considering Roman’s words.
Hours before the game began at 6, everyone—from opposing players to the janitor—watched how Roman would look in warm-ups.
“Not good,” said Coach, who turned out to be a prophet: Roman moved around well early, but the more he did, the more he wore down.
“See?” said the doctor, “He’ll only hurt the team. You must deactivate him—”
“Y-you can’t be serious! You’ll seriously injure hi—”
“We’ll keep him at the end of the bench. That’s my decision!” After warm ups finished, player introductions done, and national anthem sung, the game started, and, much to the Ichione student group’s dismay, Roman sat at the end of the bench.
Ichione did not adjust to missing him, down 35-15 by halftime.
And as the second half began, the students that made the trip for Ichione was crushed and downtrodden, about ready to head home.
But when the team emerged from the tunnel, they saw Roman warming up. They went nuts, chanting his name throughout the half time warm-ups.
Roman wasted no time rewarding the student body's faith once the third quarter started: he made a jump shot on the first possession. The crowd roared, his teammates on the bench jumping in excitement. On defense, he swatted a ball from entering the rim.
The place shook, trembling with energy.
Roman would soon be substituted, but, after trailing by as many as 30 in this game, Ichione won the game by nine, and the state championship was theirs. When the final buzzer sounded, the players and coaches hugged Roman.
And with the state championship in his hands, they hoisted Roman on their shoulders and carried him around the basketball court.