Kazu and Viktor jumped for the ball while it was in the air, with Kazu being the one to tip it to the Mustangs, with Lionel catching it and throwing it to Daryll as the ten-minute clock for the quarter began. Daryll was only around five-foot-six, yet to hit his growth spurt, so he was used to playing with people taller than him. But, this time, he was guarded by Cheng, who was the same height. Khris was around six-foot-one, having started his growth spurt, while Michael was six-foot-three, also starting his growth spurt. The Chase twins were each six-foot-five, along with Russ, but while the chase twins were still growing, Russ was near the end of his growth. Kazu was the clear tallest on the court, standing at six-foot-eight. Viktor was around six-foot-six, nearing the end of his growth. The Fletchers were all six-foot-five and still growing. Daryll immediately took notice of all of this looking for mismatches on offence, someone who has a clear advantage. The problem, however, was that every passing option was tightly guarded.
“Fine, I’ll do it myself” Daryll muttered to himself before speeding past Cheng, wondering why a player at a school famed for their defence would let him pass by so easily.
As soon as Daryll had a little space from the defender, near the mid-range, he jumped for a shot. He looked around quickly as he jumped, noticing nobody near him, but as soon as the ball left his hand, he suddenly felt sick. Pressure came on his body, and fear shot through him. He couldn’t think, but he was too deep into his shooting form to successfully pass or fake. That’s when he realized what got to him, as he saw a figure suddenly in the air beside him, slapping the ball down to the ground, as Tyler quickly grabbed the ball and tossed it to Cheng, who ran down the court fast and made a layup. When Daryll looked over to see who blocked him, he saw Tyrell looking down on him, his blank expression burning into the mind of Daryll, before Tyrell went back to guarding Lionel. Khris walked over to Daryll, patting him on the back.
“Get down the court, I’ll inbound the ball to you. Don’t worry about that shot, just stick with the plan.” Khris said warmly.
Without a word, Daryll ran down the court as Khris inbounded it, bringing the ball up and remembering the talk the team had the week before the game.
The team was having a meeting after practice in the gym, preparing for the game against the guardians, and Lionel asked a question.
“How are we going to beat them? If Tyrell is such a monster, and Tyler can steal almost every pass, how can we pass and shoot?” His excitement and fear were clear. Khris raised his hand.
“Even Cap had a hard time against the three brothers when they’re together. We rarely let them play together whenever we had games because it was unfair, and Cap was the only one who could beat them.” Khris’s confident tone once again cracked for a second, as it did the first time he talked about the Fletchers. Coach rubbed his chin.
“Well, you guys all knew how each other played, so they knew how to defend each of you perfectly. They don’t know what we can do, so we can use the element of surprise to score against them.” Coach didn’t sound completely confident. Khris raised his hand again.
“If we show them our cards too early, they’ll have us figure out by the second quarter.” Khris pointed out. Coach nodded.
“I agree, which is why I came up with a rather unorthodox game plan. Each quarter will highlight a different player. Khris and Lionel are the best shooters we have, so they’ll each get a quarter. Michael is great around the basket, and he’s fast, so he’ll take a quarter. We can’t do too much passing during your quarters, because of Tyler, so I’m counting on you guys to score and get valuable experience.” Coach’s uncertainty faded away as he spoke, figuring out his plan. Daryll raised his hand.
“But that’s only three quarters.” Daryll sounded worried. Coach pointed at Daryll.
“You’ll be taking the first quarter, but don’t do it to score. You’re a mid-range shooter, but we don’t need that. We need you to pass the ball around. The first quarter won’t be focused on scoring, we’ll be focused on learning their defence.” Coach’s confidence was fully there.
“But I can score coach.” Daryll’s tone showed hints of feeling insulted.
“I expect at least six points in the first quarter, whether you get those points or your teammates get those off your assists, we still need six points to start. But whatever you do, we have to defend against this team as our lives depend against it. This whole game needs to be a low scoring game. Khris, you’re guarding Tyrone. Kazu, You’re guarding the rim. We don’t know what these other two kids on their team can do, so I’m trusting the defence of those two to Michael and Daryll. So for this last week, we’ll be focusing on your skills. Now, hands in.” Coach reached out his hand, as every team member put their hands on top. Khris spoke up.
“Playing against this team isn’t just about winning, but it’s about being able to get as much experience as possible against the best defensive school around. Let’s do our best.” Everyone nodded as Khris spoke. Russ started the team chant.
“Whose house?” He yelled loudly.
“Our House!” The whole team responded just as loud.
“Now Let’s Get It!”
Russ joined in with the rest of the team as everyone exclaimed.
Having remembered the talk from the week before, Daryll calmed down, taking a deep breath. He looked around for any openings, seeing none again. He happened to glance at Tyrell, immediately getting that sick feeling again when he saw him. Daryll couldn’t even move.
“Daryll!” Khris yelled as Tyrone stole the ball from a paralyzed Daryll, running down the court for another easy layup. Khris inbounded the ball to Daryll again.
“You need to pay attention. I get that he exudes pressure, but if you can’t focus against him, you’ll never be able to focus against the top three.” Khris exclaimed.
Daryll stayed silent, taking another deep breath and bringing the ball up for the third time. He carefully looked around, trying to figure an opening, but this time he avoided looking at Tyrell. He noticed Kazu with his hand in the air, higher than everybody else’s. Daryll tossed it up high towards Kazu, but Tyler suddenly appeared, jumping in the air and snatching the pass. This time, however, the Mustangs were able to run back on defence.
Now it was the Guardian’s turn on offence, and Tyler had passed the ball to Tyrone. Khris got into his defensive position, noticing that everyone on the Guardians was spread out among the three-point line, leaving the middle completely open.
“So you’re going to try to go one-on-one with me, huh? You trying to impress somebody? Oh wait, you guys have nobody in the crowd.” Khris jabbed, jokingly. Tyrone laughed in response.
“Our fans should show up around halftime, there were issues with the travel. As for going one-on-one, I know your weakness, so I know you can’t stop me.” HE said confidently, this time, though, it wasn’t a joke.
Tyrone started dribbling harder and faster, moving side to side, but Khris stayed in front of him. Then, suddenly, a body hit Khris, as Tyrell set a screen and Tyrone bolted to the basket. Kazu ran in front of the basket in hopes to stop Tyrone, but Tyrone immediately stopped and jumped back, shooting the ball as it went in the basket. Manny laughed in the stands.
“Thought you said your team was good, quitter. But to me, it looks like the Fletchers are the only threat in this gym.” As Manny spoke, he also glanced over at High-Rise and Macbeth. Kory stayed silent.
The ref blew the whistle as the Mustangs called a timeout. Coach stayed calm as he spoke to his team.
“Alright, we’ll switch it up real quick. Lionel, you’re out, Daryll, you’re out. Lory, Russ, you’re in. Khris, you’ll play the point. Russ, you’ll play shooting guard, you’re going to guard Tyrone.” Coach explained. Khris’ eyes widened as he stood up.
“After one play? I can take him!” Khris almost yelled.
“Sit down, you guys know each other too well. That first play was me allowing you a chance to see if he’s much better than before, but I want Russ to also gain experience against a top offensive player. You’ll be back on him next quarter. Ready, break!” Coach said as the timeout ended. The Mustangs then had another unsuccessful offensive possession. Tyrone brought up the ball, seeing Russ in a defensive position in front of him.
“They took Khris off of me? Seriously? I get this is a practice game, but come on, giving up so early?” Tyrone immediately had a disinterest in his voice. Russ had a smile on his face.
“I know no failure, and I never lose. This isn’t us giving up, this is us winning.” Russ had his cocky tone back in his voice.
Tyrone looked at Russ, annoyance on his face as he immediately shot the ball before Russ could react, and the ball went in.
“After I introduce you to failure, you can tell failure that I won’t be joining them tonight.” Tyrone had a slight interest in his voice but was still clearly not as into the game as before. Tyrone turned and ran back to get back on defence. Russ stood there baffled.
“That was the worst comeback I’ve ever heard,” Russ said, more concerned about the words than the actions that Tyrone took. Khris ran past Russ with the ball.
“Yeah, he’s not quick on his feet with comebacks, now let’s get some points,” Khris said. When Khris got over half-court, he saw something completely unexpected. Tyrell had switched and was now guarding Khris.
“You aren’t scoring on me, and we both know this. You aren’t scoring anything this quarter.” Tyrell had no expression in his voice.
Khris didn’t respond, thinking of what to do. He noticed Kazu near the basket, yet again with his arm higher than anyone else’s. But, he also noticed that Tyler was ready to intercept any pass that was coming.
“Looks like you got us, I can’t score on you and I can’t pass. So here’s what I’ll do.” Immediately Khris shot a very high angled shot, but Tyrell was able to scrape the bottom of the ball with his fingertip.
“Some plan you got there, I can still affect that shot.” Tyrell showed some interest.
“I know, that wasn’t the plan.” The ball hit off the side of the rim after Khris spoke, but Kazu was able to tip the ball back up and into the basket. Tyrell immediately looked back over at Khris.
“Smart, but you’ll never get that shot near the rim again.” Tyrell glared at Khris.
Back on defence, Russ wasn’t able to stop Tyrone at all. For the remaining of the quarter, the Mustangs didn’t score another point, and the Tyrone was nearly unstoppable on offence. When the first quarter ended, the Guardians had thirty points, while the Mustangs only had two.
In the break between quarters, the Mustangs were surprisingly calm. Manny took notice of this and nudged Kory.
“You guys knew you’d get destroyed, didn’t you? To put your players through that on their first game, yet you guys call me the villain? Whoever set up this game is the real villain.” Manny laughed.
“This is a good wake up call as to how hard this season will be. If our players couldn’t handle it, they wouldn’t have come to this game. They all knew what they were getting into.” Kory wouldn’t look over as he spoke.
“Hearing about how hard it is to go against the Fletchers, and going against them. Plus, you noticed it too, right? The pressure Tyrell puts on just by being there? Your point guard can’t handle it. If I hadn’t come and seen it today, I’m not sure I’d be able to handle it without knowing about it ahead of time. He’s more terrifying now.” Manny had a more serious tone than usual.
On the Mustang bench, Coach stated who would take this quarter.
“Khris, you have Tyrell on you, so you won’t be taking this quarter. Lionel, Tyrone will be switched to you, so you’ll be taking the shots this quarter. You’ll be bringing up the ball, so get us some points. Lory, sorry but you’re back on the bench. Ready, break!”
Meanwhile, on the Guardian bench, Coach Riley’s brother was giving his game plan.
“Tyrell, I want to try out your offensive side. Do what we practiced, alright?”
“Yes sir.” Tyrell had no expression again.
“Also, let’s try defensive set three. You’ve proven you can shut them down, so now let’s try perfecting another style.” The coach said.
The entire team responded.
“Yes sir!” The team’s voice boomed through the gym, getting Manny’s attention.
“Oh? They’ve got spirit. Are you scared, Kory?” Manny was back to laughing.
Kory didn’t respond again. Tyler slapped Tyrell’s arm as they walked back onto the court.
“They scored points, so I guess that means your prediction was wrong.” Tyler joked.
“They scored once, you said thirty points, so let’s hold them under that.” Tyrell was completely serious.
“Nope, coach wants us to focus on our defensive sets, so if they have a shooter this quarter, they’ll be scoring. We’ll take the first quarter as our victory. Now, this is less than a practice game. It’s just normal practice.” Tyler got back on defence.
Soon the second quarter started. After a successful offensive attack from the Guardians, Lionel brought up the ball, but immediately everyone on the court noticed the change in defence. Tyrell stayed on Khris, but everyone else stayed just outside the paint. Lionel was immediately insulted by the seeming disrespect.
‘How could they slack off me on defence as if I can’t do anything?’ He thought as he stood at the top of the three-point line. ‘This shot is extremely important.’
As he thought, he shot a three-pointer, making the basket and pointing at the Guardian’s coach.
“Disrespect me like that again and I’ll ruin your whole team myself!” Lionel announced.
Tyler walked up to Lionel with a smile.
“You think you’re a threat for a good shot? You guys are just our testing ground. Our coach wouldn’t be shaken by this. Plus, until you can stop us, your scoring won’t matter.” Tyler was fully confident in his own words. Lionel gritted his teeth but got back on defence. In the stands, Taylor was cheering.
“Go Lionel, yeah!” She cheered. Rachel was annoyed.
“Can you not fangirl so much? He isn’t going to notice you.” She tried to explain.
“Oh shut up, I’m having fun!” Taylor continued to cheer, even though the Mustangs were yet again unable to stop Tyrone. As the guardians ran back on defence, Tyrell nudged his brother.
“Let’s do my play next.” Tyrell almost showed excitement. Tyrone nodded as they turned for defence, watching as Lionel brought the ball over half. Despite his three-pointer earlier, the defence did not change. Annoyed again, Lionel shot another three-pointer, just barely missing. Kazu tried to grab the rebound, but both Viktor and Tyrone were boxing him out, as Viktor grabbed the rebound.
On the Guardian's offensive possession, Tyrell set a screen for Tyrone, who went around it, but Lionel was there to help on defence.
“Gotcha,” Tyrone spoke with a smile as he threw the ball near the basket, and Tyrell jumped in the air, catching it and dunking it in. Manny’s eyes widened in the stands. High-Rise and Macbeth were both on their feet in amazement. Kory stayed seated, watching intently. Manny noticed and smiled.
“Looks like he finally learned how to dunk properly. Makes him that much more dangerous. How will your team handle it, quitter? Maybe you’ll have to become the Genius again just to give your team some hope.” Manny looked over to see Kory’s reaction. With no response from Kory, Manny watched the game continue.
Just like the possession before, Lionel shot a three-pointer, making it this time. However, on defence, with the threat of Tyrell looming, Lionel didn’t help when Tyrone used the screen set by Tyrell, and because of this, Tyrone shot an open mid-range shot before Russ could recover on defence.
The second quarter continued like this, with not much else happening. Neither coaches changed their game plan, resulting in a rather boring quarter. When the quarter ended, the guardians had fifty-five points, twelve of them coming from Tyrell and the rest from Tyrone. The Mustangs had twenty-three points, twenty-one of them coming from Lionel, who made seven out of eleven three-point attempts.
As it was halftime, both teams went to their locker rooms.
“Why would they disrespect me like that? I shot so well, and they never guarded me!” Lionel kicked a seat over in anger as he spoke. Daryll sighed.
“Can you put me and Lory back in to start the second half?” Daryll had a sense of impatience. Coach stood near the door, clearly thinking.
“Michael, you’re taking the third quarter. Lionel, you’re out. Lory, Kazu will need help with the rebounds. Russ, you’re back out, Khris, you guard Tyrone again. Daryll, you’re in. Double team Tyrone with Khris. It doesn’t look like Cheng will do anything on offence, but if he tried, Michael, you watch both Cheng and Tyler.” Coach explained. Kazu raised his hand.
“Coach, I’m really tired. I’m not like the Fletchers, I can’t play a full game. Can I take a break?” There was exhaustion in Kazu’s voice.
“Fine, Lory, you’re playing center. Let’s try to stop the seemingly unstoppable.” Coach responded.
Meanwhile, in the stands, Manny continued trying to talk to Kory.
“You guys scored more than, I think, anybody expected. But, the Fletchers aren’t exactly playing like themselves.” Manny was serious, but Kory ignored him.
As Kory ignored Manny, Macbeth walked over to talk to Kory. Manny waved as soon as Macbeth was near.
“Hey, old buddy, enjoying the game?” Manny smiled as he spoke. Macbeth ignored him.
“Hey Kory, did you notice his improvement?” Macbeth stated to Kory. Manny interjected himself into the conversation.
“He can dunk now, we all saw,” Manny said sarcastically. Both Kory and Macbeth were ignoring Manny.
“Tyrell’s defence is much better. I mean, yeah, Tyler got a few steals on the passes, but Tyrell guided the ball wherever he wanted.” Kory responded to Macbeth’s earlier statement.
“But they haven’t been doing their normal communication. Do you think they’ve moved past it?” Macbeth had slight concern in his voice.
“What if they’ve gotten so used to each other that they don’t need to communicate anymore unless something major happens. Now that they’re always on the same team, working on their chemistry is that much better.” Kory was completely in the conversation, speaking fast.
“And the pressure he puts out. I think he forced some of that guy's three-pointers to miss.” Macbeth was also deep in the conversation, speaking just as fast. High-Rise walked in while Kory and Macbeth spoke.
“How?” High-Rise asked. Kory looked up at the tall figure.
“I guess you wouldn’t notice, but Khris kept Tyrell’s attention on himself. Slight movements showing that if Tyrell took his eyes off of Khris, he’d get open and shoot a three. But, sometimes Lionel would shoot in between those movements, and Tyrell would get a chance to glance at Lionel while he shot. Every tie Tyrell looked at him, he missed.” Kory explained, slowing down while he talked so High-Rise could catch everything.
“It’s very impressive.” Manny laughed, nodding his head in agreement.
“Couldn’t that be a coincidence? And why did only you guys notice?” High-Rise scratched his head, confused. Macbeth smacked High-Rise’s shoulder playfully.
“Well, for starters, we’re all smarter than you. If Cap were here, this would be the smartest group of people when it comes to basketball, minus you. As for coincidence, could be. But when Tyrell walks back into the gym, just go stand near him for a second. Then tell me if you don’t feel that pressure. Then tell me if it’s a coincidence or not.” Macbeth smiled as he spoke, completely impressed, as a fan.
The Guardians re-entered the gym from the guest locker room and started their shoot-around. Macbeth walked back to his seat, but High-Rise went and stood next to a stray ball that rolled over. He picked it up and called Tyrell over.
“Tyrell, here you go! This rolled over here.” High-Rise held the ball out to Tyrell. Tyrell went and grabbed the ball, looking up at High-Rise in the eyes. High-Rise was frozen in place.
“Thanks.” Tyrell then turned and walked away. As soon as Tyrell walked away, High-Rise let out a deep breath.
“Not a coincidence.”
The Mustangs son entered the gym, but as they entered, a rumble was heard. Just as Tyrone said earlier, a crowd of Guardians fans marched into the gym and got in the stands. They were all extremely loud. Daryll walked over to Khris during their shoot-around.
“How come we can’t get fans like that?” Daryll asked.
“Just don’t let it get to you.” Khris shot a ball, unbothered.
“Have you ever played in front of fans?” Daryll kept asking.
“None of us have, but I constantly practiced with extremely noisy things coming from a headset, so I doubt it’ll bother me.” Khris shot another ball.
“I’ve never really played in front of high school fans like this. In my first year last year, I didn’t get to play. I’m nervous all over again.” Daryll’s voice got shaky. Michael walked up behind Daryll.
“Be nervous during a real game. We’re being toyed with, but the fans don’t know that. If we can’t beat the Guardians, let’s beat the fans. After all, nothing excites me more than silencing the opponent's support.” There was a large evil grin on Michael’s face. Khris raised an eyebrow.
“Did you just turn into another person?” Khris asked.
That’s when the buzzer went off, and the second half of the game was about to start. How will Michael score against the Guardians? Will they be able to slow down Tyrone and Tyrell? Find out next time!
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!