The first day of High School in Ontario Canada was starting, and Coach Mitchell Riley was dropping his son, Michael Riley, off his new school, Montville High School. Michael got out of the car, taking in a deep breath and looking around in excitement at his new setting. A fresh start for him, as most of his old classmates, went to other schools. This was Michael’s chance to create whatever image of himself that he wanted, and he wanted to be seen as the star of basketball. His father, Coach Mitchell Riley, rolled down the window to speak to his son.
“Alright, have a good day, I’ll be back when school ends for tryouts, but try to see if there’s anybody in the school that would be interested. Don’t forget to hang up that flyer, your principle permitted us. I don’t want you and the Chase twins to be the only people that show up to tryouts.” Coach Riley yelled out, then he turned up his music and sped off, leaving his son standing there.
“Couldn’t say ‘have a good day, son’ or anything? Only got sports and work on your mind again, huh?” Michael sighed, but his disappointment in his father soon disappeared as his excitement for his new school rose again.
He headed into his school, the academically excellent Montville Secondary School, home of the Montville Mustangs. Michael walked the halls for his first time, holding a map he had gotten at the door. The first thing he noticed was the purple coloured walls, but the second thing he noticed was that through one of the halls was a board full of flyers. The flyers contained information about many different clubs, almost all of them being academic. The only non-academic clubs were the girl's volleyball team, the track teams, and the cross country team. Michael reached into his bag, pulling out a flyer for the basketball team that he made in his spare time, posting it onto the board. He knew the situation about the basketball team, how it was in danger of being terminated, so he wanted as many people to join the team in hopes of keeping the team alive.
Michael went through his first school day, learning about all the classes he’ll be taking, but at lunch, he spent the time going around and asking anybody he could about joining the basketball team.
“I’m too busy to join.”
“I don’t care about basketball.”
“Just because I’m tall doesn’t mean I can play sports.”
Michael was rejected by every person he asked before he entered the cafeteria. Michael continued to look and ask around, but there was no success. He went and sat down at a table by himself, pulling out his phone and texting his father about his lack of success. But, when he pulled out his phone, something caught his attention from the corner of his eye. Two students were sitting across from each other, and one had just pulled a basketball out of his schoolbag. As soon as the basketball was on the table, the student sitting across from him put his book down and the two began talking. Michael immediately got up and marched over to the two, finally feeling some hope.
“Do you two play basketball?” Michael asked as he sat down next to the student that had the book.
“He does, I don’t” The one with the book didn’t even bother to look over to Michael, so Michael instead fixed his gaze onto the student with the basketball.
“Well, the tryouts start today after school in the gym. Please come.” Michael tried his best to give a warm smile, wanting to seem welcoming.
The one with the basketball nodded his head.
“I saw the flyer on the wall. I’ll be there. We both will, I’ll be the only one playing, though.” The student spoke in an extremely confident voice. Michael could almost immediately tell that the kid was confident in his ability, which caused even more hope in Michael.
Michael smiled and stood up to walk away.
“My name is Khris, by the way.” The one with the basketball yelled out.
Michael stopped, realizing that his quirk of forgetting to ask for names came up again. It was never a huge hindrance to him, but it was something that people used to say made him seem rude or stuck-up.
“Oh, I forgot to ask.” Michael chuckled, slightly embarrassed. “I’m Michael! See you later.” Michael then turned again and walked away, texting his father.
‘I got one, his name is Chris, and I have a feeling he’s pretty good!’ He texted.
‘Good job, I’ll be there early to meet with the principle, so don’t be surprised if you see me walking through the halls, just mind your business and don’t be late to tryouts. Also, forgot to mention earlier, don’t tell anybody about the team’s situation. Only we need to know.’ Coach Riley immediately responded.
Michael couldn’t get anybody else to consider joining, and soon, junior lunch ended. As Michael left and senior lunch began, he noticed one student who was significantly taller than the others walking towards the cafeteria. The tall student was skinny, with little muscle or fat on him. However, he had long arms. Michael immediately ran over to him.
“Hey! Do you play basketball, by chance?” Michael couldn’t hide his excited tone. The tall student looked down at Michael.
“Yeah, I was on the team last year.” The tall student’s voice was soft and shaky, which Michael took immediate notice of, but he put a big smile on his face regardless.
“So you’re going to try out this year?” Michael tried to sound happy, but he had the thought in his mind that this tall kid didn’t possess talent.
“I wasn’t planning on it, no. Aren’t you going to be late for your class” The tall kid looked at his watch. The smile on Michael’s face quickly turned into confusion.
“Why not?” Michael completely ignored the class comment.
“Last year the coach refused to put me in a game, we lost every single game, and the locker room was toxic. I hated it, therefore I don’t want to play for him anymore. Neither do the other kids.” The tall student started walking past Michael as he spoke.
“Wait! We have a new coach.” Michael raised his voice a little. The tall student stopped and glanced back.
“You sure?” A little excitement was in the tall student’s voice.
“Yeah! He’s starting tryouts after school today. Please come, and tell anyone from the team last year.” Michael put the smile back on his face.
“I’ll think about it.” With those final, the tall student walked away.
“Oh crap, I didn’t get his name. Maybe at tryouts.” Michael sighed, pulling out his phone and beginning to walk to his next class. He was texting his father.
‘So I talked to a tall kid from the team last year, he said he’ll think about it, but I think he’ll tell his old teammates about the new coach.’ He texted.
‘Good job.’ Coach Riley immediately responded again. Michael couldn’t help but smile at the praise he was getting, since it didn’t come to him often. His father only cared about basketball and his job, which Michael didn’t know much about. Because of this, Michael took whatever praise he could get. This was the reason he started playing basketball, relishing in whatever praise and support his father gave him while he played.
The rest of the day went like any other normal school day, and Coach Riley had arrived at the school during the final period to meet with the principal. He walked into the office and sat down across from the principle, trying to sit in a posture that gave off confidence to match the sense of power that the principle’s posture gave.
Mrs. Frank, the principle, was a rather pretty woman, looking to be around the age of forty-five, the same age as Coach Riley. She wore a black suit with a black tie and a white shirt, clearly going for a professional and powerful look. Her desk was covered in files.
“Mr. Riley, I know we’ve had this talk before, but considering your lack of a member of The Experts, I think I’ll have to stress this more since you don't seem serious enough.” There was a sense of sadness in Mrs. Frank’s tone.
“I’m sorry Mrs. Frank. Our school isn’t a hot zone for sports.” Coach Riley tried to match his voice with his posture as he spoke.
“Regardless, the board wants me to explain it again, so let me re-explain your situation. Before the season you have to win one of the three invitational tournaments for your team to move forward, or else the board will shut you down. And then, you have to make it into the provincial playoffs, meaning you have to finish in the top two teams in our district. Do you understand how hard that is to do with these new Experts joining the scene?” Mrs. Frank didn’t smile or show any emotion on her face as she spoke.
“Yes ma’am.” Coach Riley decided to keep his responses short, knowing that nothing he would say would particularly help the situation at all. This was a tall task for a school that had won no basketball games the year before. The task was even more difficult since this would be Coach Riley’s first official coaching position. His brother was a coach, but Coach Riley was normally a player, never really focusing on strategy. He only took up this coaching job since nobody else was stepping up to it.
“Alright, let’s drop the formalities for a bit Mitch. I know how much this team means to you, I remember your passion back when we used to go here.” Mrs. Frank’s entire tone and body language changes, switching from her powerful posture to a more relaxed one. Coach Riley’s posture did the same.
“Yeah, so this situation is hard. But it was nearly impossible to get one of those kids. They were like celebrities! Just getting their attention was near impossible, and with our reputation, who would want to come here to play anyways?” The tone of defeat was in Coach Riley’s voice, which Mrs. Frank took notice of.
“Yeah, I couldn’t believe the last coach. Couldn’t win a single game and refused to change anything. You know how much I love sports, I think they’re important, but this decision is beyond me. I am cheering for you, however.” Mrs. Frank put a happier tone on while she spoke, trying to encourage Coach Riley. Then the final school bell rang. Coach Riley stood up from his chair and walked to the door.
“Well, my tryouts will be starting soon. Do you have anything else to say.” He said while opening the door to exit the office.
“Yeah, your players are all required to have at least an eighty percent average. Not difficult, and I doubt you’ll have any problems. I remember how smart you were, so I’m sure you can influence this team. Also, if you ever need to have a team trip, just bring it up with me. I’ll do what U can to help. Okay, Mitch?” Mrs. Frank started to clean up her desk.
“Thanks, Fiona, it was nice talking to you again.” Coach Riley took a single step out of the office before Mrs. Frank spoke again.
“Also, fix your voice. For a guy talented in reading tones, you sure are terrible at controlling yours sometimes. Also,” Her voice immediately turned soft. “Please win. Give our students something to cheer for. I truly think it’s very important to have events like sports games and things like that. So please don’t fail, Coach Riley.”
“I won’t, Mrs. Frank.” Coach Riley headed out the door and walked towards the gym, where a teacher was staring into the gym from the door. Coach walked up to him but didn’t go in yet, wondering if his class went past the school bell.
“Excuse me, is your class not over yet?” He asked.
“It is, but I can’t stop this. It’s too amazing.” The teacher had a smile on his face. Coach Riley could hear voices in the distance from the gym.
“Eighty-four… Eighty-five…. Eighty-six” The voices echoed through the gym, the sound of a ball perfectly going through a basketball hoop accompanied each number.
Coach Riley quickly walked into the gym, ad what he saw was baffling. He saw an entire class of students crowded and watching Khris standing at the 3-point line, shooting basketballs, and making every shot. He felt a shot of fear through his body, but he quickly got past it.
“He’s at, about, eighty-eight…. Eighty-nine……. Ninety….” The teacher was mesmerized by the display as he spoke. “He simply asked if we could have a shooting competition to end class, which I agreed to since all the students were tired out and we had spare time. I didn’t make it past three before he was at ten. Then he just kept going.”
Michael soon arrived behind his father, peeking in at all the commotion and smiling at what he saw. He also had fear strike through his body, but just like his father, he got control of it quickly.
“Oh, That’s Khris, the kid I texted you about. I knew he’d be good.” As he spoke, the realization struck him that this kid could be a threat to his position as the star of the team.
“Stop!” Coach Riley yelled. Everyone turned to look at him. “You, shooter kid, try that from another spot behind the 3-point line.”
Khris nodded and walked over to a different spot, picking up the ball.
“I’ll do you one better.” He closed his eyes and shot the ball. The ball was still in the air when Khris called out the next number. “91…”
Every student in the gym started going wild. Coach was speechless for a quick second but quickly gained his composure.
“Alright, class is over. Let’s go!” The teacher yelled as the students shuffled out of the class quickly. Khris, however, stayed, explaining to the teacher that he was staying for tryouts. Then the teacher left and Coach Riley fully walked into the gym. Michael followed, going and picking up the basketballs scattered on the floor with Khris, putting them on the basketball racks.
Soon, 6 more students enter the gym. The Chase twins, the tall kid, and two others. Coach Riley had everyone in the gym line up.
“Seven of you, huh? I guess that’s enough, for now. Quickly, when I point at you, say your name, position, and what you believe your biggest strength is.”
Coach Riley immediately pointed at every student in the gym one by one, learning their names. The tall boy was named Kazu Mink, a center, and he believed he was best at rebounding. Just like Michael had earlier, Coach Riley took a mental note of Kazu’s voice and tone.
The Chase twins introduced themselves after, both as power forwards. Lionel believed his strongest attribute was his shooting, but his tone of voice was still quiet. Coach Riley could tell that Lionel still felt embarrassed. Lory felt his best attribute was rebounding. His voice showed confidence, which Coach Riley took a mental note of this too.
The shortest player introduced himself as Daryll Daniels. The best way for Coach to mentally explain his body would be sloppy. He wasn’t overweight, but he wasn’t quite in the best shape. Daryll thought his best attribute was his mid-range shot. His voice was normal, almost too normal for Coach to distinguish anything about him based on it.
Michael introduced himself next, noting that his best attributes would be his speed and his finishing around the rim. His voice was confident, trying to match the tone that Khris naturally had earlier when they met. Michael had been paying close attention to everyone’s tone just as his father did, not noticing anyone that stood out to him as much as Khris had earlier.
Next up was Russell Foster, who had a well-defined body.
“The name is Russel Foster, some call me Russ, I can play any position, but my height is best for small forward. I’m best at winning, but from a basketball standpoint, defence is what I specialize in.” His voice exuded cockiness, which both Coach and Michael took immediate notes about. Neither of them liked it.
“That was entirely too much,” Lory spoke out, clearly picking up on the cockiness as well, turned off by it.
“Take me on one on one and I’ll teach you that every word I saw is important.” Russ’s tone was even cockier this time.
“Give me the ball then, let’s see if you can stop me.” Lory stepped out of the line and walked up to Russ, getting in his face.
“Enough! Everybody give me ten laps around the gym, full speed.” Coach yelled out, disgusted by the display form the students.
The students groaned and began running, with Michael far in the lead, and Kazu far behind everyone. Lory and Russ were racing each other around the gym, while Khris, Lionel, and Daryll stayed next to each other, running fast but it didn’t seem like they were going full speed.
While everyone did their laps, Coach noticed a student entering sitting in the stands reading a book. Coach didn’t know this, but this was the student that was sitting across from Khris at lunch. His book had a black cover with no writing on the cover, so nobody could tell what it was about. He walked up to talk to him.
“Who might you be?” He asked. The student didn’t look up from his book.
“Kory, I’m just here to wait for Khris to finish the tryout so we can go home,” Kory responded, his voice sounding normal as well.
“Well, do you want to try out?” Coach wanted more than seven students trying out.
“No, nor does this team need me to. You have Khris here, you’ll be fine without any other players as long as you’re a decent coach.” A slight tone of annoyance was in Kory’s voice.
“My son messaged me about him. Is he that good?” Coach asked. Kory finally looked up from his book, a confused look on his face.
“Messaged you? Tell me, how did he spell Khris’s name?”
“C-H-R-I-S. Is that wrong?” Coach tilted his head slightly as he spoke. Kory looked back down to his book, his confused expression was gone.
“Yeah. Both mine and my brother’s names start with ‘K’ not ‘C’ which is a common mistake.” Kory’s voice showed more disinterest than anything. He knew what Coach’s reaction would be when the realization hit him.
“Does that mean anything special or…” Coach stopped because that’s when the realization hit Coach, his eyes widening.
“Now you got it, coach.”
“Your last name, it’s McCormick, right? So he’d be Khris McCormick? The shooter of The Experts? He wasn’t at the press conference, so nobody knows what he looks.” Coach’s voice showed bewilderment.
“Well, now you know what he looks like.” Coach picked up on Kory’s tone, realizing that the conversation dragged on too long.
Coach was in shock as he turned away and started walking down the stairs, but gained his composure by the time he reached the floor, walking back in front of the students who were lined up again. He pointed at Khris this time.
“Name, position, strength.” He showed confidence through his voice again.
“I play shooting guard, my strength is, well, my shooting. My name is Khris McCormick, but you guys call me Deadeye.” Michael and Coach quickly understood why Khris had such a confident voice.
The gym went silent, everyone was in shock, except Daryll. Daryll had no idea who the Experts were. Everyone else, however, realized that standing next to them was one of the students who were promoted by a professional basketball player as people who could become the future of basketball. Fear shot through the other students, them not quite being able to shake it off. Despite Daryll not knowing about the experts, fear also shot through him. He couldn’t understand why. The fear hit Lionel the most, as he was the most discouraged.
“Why are you here? There are better schools, isn’t this a waste?” Russ spoke out, being the first to shake off some fear. The cockiness in his voice was completely gone.
“My brother wanted to go here, so I came here. The best academic school is best for his college applications.” Not a single change in his tone, everyone could tell that Khris was completely confident in himself in every aspect. Coach needed to get everyone focused back on tryouts.
“Alright, let’s start practice and see where everyone is with their basics.” Coach clapped his hands as he spoke.
With that, the practice started. During the basic drills, Michael stood out, being the fastest. Khris dribbled the ball the best but actively avoided going close to the basket. Lory and Russ competed with each other, but Russ was more athletic. Daryll and Kazu, however, were extremely average in everything they did. Lionel shot well, but not nearly as good as Khris had earlier.
After a couple of hours of drills, Coach called everybody back into line.
“Alright, so you guys did pretty well today. Obviously with no other students trying out, if this continues, you will all make the team. To be honest, for every tryout that has no more new students, I’ll be treating them more as practices. I expect strong showings out of all of you. With that being said, the team will be finalized next month, and then we will have a practice game before the pre-season tournaments. Our practice game will be against the team that my brother coaches, the Greenwich Guardians.” The students listened attentively as Coach spoke, but Khris suddenly had a worried expression.
“We aren’t ready for them.” Khris stood as he spoke out, the first sign of non-confidence coming out of his voice. However, it was subtle, and only Coach Riley picked up on it. This perplexed Coach.
“Why?” He asked.
“Well, the Fletcher Triplets play for Greenwich. The only team with three Experts. We need an advanced and smart offence to put up any type of a challenge for them, or else we may not have a team after that game.” Khris fixed the subtle change in his voice.
All the students looked confused, except for Lionel. Lionel showed nothing but fear and trauma in his face. That’s when Kory came down the bleachers and stood behind Coach, tapping his shoulder and handing him a folder.
“This is all you’ll need. I made a copy to give you after practice privately, but since this came up now, I guess you can have it. This is a folder with information on all fourteen of the Experts. Considering that Greenwich was one of the stronger teams before the Fletchers joined, I’d advise you used that folder to get any advantage you can. But you can do with it as you want.” Despite his actions, Kory had a disinterested tone in his voice still.
Coach thanked Kory.
“I’ll study this and have something prepared for you guys in terms of a game plan when the game gets closer. As for now, let's focus on finishing tryouts this month. You’re all dismissed.”
The sense of uncertainty was clear in the gym as the students left. Khris’s words got to the students. Coach started cleaning up the gym, frustrated at Khris for speaking up, but happy that he got information on the Experts.
Meanwhile, in Greenwich, Coach Riley’s brother, Matthew Riley, had just dismissed practice, but pulled the Fletcher Triplets aside and informed them about the practice game, telling them not to play too seriously in that game, since it was just a practice game. After this, the Fletcher Triplets were outside the school waiting for their ride.
“So, we go up against Khris first. I wonder if Kory will play?” Tyler, the oldest triplet, asked with a basketball in his hands.
“If he does, it should be a good game. If not, I think they’ll score no more than thirty points, whether we play serious or not.” Tyrone, the youngest, was eating as he spoke. A very common thing for him. Despite his gluttony, however, he was well built.
“It doesn’t matter if Kory plays. I’ve only gotten better this summer. Even The Captain won’t be able to score on me. I want to show Khris at least a bit of that. Let’s break his spirit before the season even begins. This game will be a massacre.” Tyrell had a blank expression on his face as he was looking down on his phone while playing a mobile game. His disinterest mixed with confidence as he spoke. He knew they were going to win, regardless of who they were against.
With only one month to practice, the Mustangs will have to go up against one of the strongest teams containing members of the 14 experts. How will the team prepare, and do they have what it takes to withstand the potential massacre that Tyrell predicted? Only time will tell!
Bio: Hi everybody! My name is TheMagnificentOne, but you can call me Mag. I am a film program graduate and want to try book writing instead of continuing scriptwriting. I usually write stories about sports, superheroes, or war. It's my dream to create comic books in the future, despite my inability to draw. I hope you all enjoy the stories I write and stay Magnificent everyone!