3 Years Earlier
Khris walked onto the court with his four teammates for the summer; Kory, Cap, Trent, and Robin. Cap was talking to Kory on the side of the court, as they always did, even when they weren’t teammates. Cap and Kory constantly thought up new ways to beat their opponents. But, when they weren’t on teams, they would have debates on how to stop each other before and after games.
Robin was doing his exercises, consisting of one-hundred push-ups, one-hundred sit-ups, and twenty laps around the court. This was a daily routine, regardless of what team he was on. Robin got lucky with his team this year, as his particular skills were nearly perfect for this group.
Khris was having a shooting battle with Trent, seeing who would miss first. By the time each player hit ten in a row, Trent missed a shot.
“Oh darn, guess I lose. That’s enough for today anyway, I’m all warmed up for the summer,” Trent said, feigning sadness. Khris immediately knew that Trent threw the competition.
“Dilly-Dally, you’re living up to your name,” Khris mocked, continuing to shoot.
“Oh please, if I got serious, nobody except for Tyrell himself could stop me. There’s no need to try hard. You and Cap will do all the scoring, Kory will expose the entire defence and offence of the others, and Robin is amazing at what he does. All I have to do this summer is to sit in the corner and wait. The teams worked out in my favour this year,” Trent smiled, waking off the court. “Plus, I have to record a new song I wrote.”
Khris glared at Trent as he walked off the court, angry that Trent wasn’t taking the game seriously, as usual.
Khris glared at Trent as the Krakens walked off the court, ignoring Hig-Rise, who walked in front of Trent. Trent noticed and winked at Khris as he walked by. Daryll walked up behind Khris as glared.
“Is there a problem between you two?” Daryll asked. “You know, beyond what happened when we got here?”
“Manny and Kory would be considered arch-enemies. Cap and Tyrell may be considered arch-enemies. Trent and myself would also be considered arch enemies. But for different reasons. Other than Cap, I was the only one to ever call out Trent for his weaknesses to his face. I think he’s wasted potential, while he thinks I’m a one-trick pony.” Khris had annoyance in his voice.
“Weakness?” Daryll asked.
“His nickname was Dilly-Dally for a reason. He never took basketball seriously. He is so good at it and has the potential to maybe be a top-five Expert, but he’d rather use basketball as a way to get attention for his music career,” Khris sighed. “If I had that height and jumping ability, I’d be unstoppable.”
Daryll watched Trent as Trent met up with his team, then tapped Khris on his shoulder.
“We’re at court five next game. Macbeth’s game is still going on, want to watch the end?” Daryll asked.
“No, but you can. By the second quarter, that game was probably over. Macbeth could sit on the bench by then, so you won’t find any information. Watching Robin can be boring, depending on what you value,” Khris turned and walked over to the bench, where the team’s duffle bags were, kicking his up and walking to the bathroom.
Michael was in the bathroom washing his hands when Khris came in. The two nodded at each other when Khris walked by, then Michael went back to washing his hands. That’s when someone else walked into the bathroom, wearing a Krakens jersey. He was slightly taller than Michael, around six-foot-four, and had a lean muscular build. As soon as the Kraken player saw Michael, he walked over with a stern face.
“Hey, you’re a Mustang, right?” The player pointed at Michael’s jersey, his voice as stern as his face. Khris’s ears perked when he heard someone talked to Michael.
“Yeah, I am.” Michael kept his words short, picking up on the tone of the player.
“I want to apologize for Trent earlier. Giles told me what happened, so I had him sit the second half of our first game. Those Experts are weird, they turn into completely different people whenever it’s game-day. Trent is mouthy and Giles is quiet.” The Kraken still was stern, but an ounce of sincerity was in his voice.
“Giles?” Michael asked.
“Oh, right, he goes by High-Rise to most. I just refuse to use that name for a teammate.,” The Kraken let out a slight chuckle, his stern image slightly cracking.
“Ah, yeah we call Deadeye by his real name too. But we call the other by their names or nickname, depending on their preference.” Michael softened his voice, trying to sound friendly.
“Well, I just wanted to apologize for that,” The Kraken walked past, towards a stall.
“What’s your name?” Khris called out. Michael suddenly realized that he forgot to ask for a name.
“Xavier, Xavier Venti. The Kraken captain. I’ll see you out there,” The Kraken responded.
Xavier went into the stall. Khris finished and went to wash his hands. Michael was still there, and the two Mustangs glanced at each other, mutually deciding not to talk while Xavier could hear.
Michael waited for Khris to finish washing his hands, then they both left the bathroom, walking towards court five.
“The captain had the power to sit an Expert for half the game?” Michael was confused.
“I have a feeling this will be different than the Guardians. Call it a hunch, but I don’t think Trent and High-Rise are the only ones we need to worry about,” Khris had a serious tone and was visibly serious as well.
“Bet I’ll outscore you,” Michael put a playful yet serious tone on, smiling at Khris.
“I don’t see that happening. I’m playing Trent, there’s no way I’m any less than my best. I’m scoring at least sixty points, so if you can beat that, I’ll tell The Mentor to make you an official Expert,” Khris became playful as well.
“The Mentor?” Michael asked.
“That’s what we call our teacher. Anyways, let’s warm-up,” Khris cracked his knuckles as the two approached court five.
The Mustangs were on the court, warming up as the game before had already ended. Kory was on the bench talking to the coach, while everyone else paired up to stretch. Lionel and Lory were stretching each other, and that’s when Taylor ran down the stands and stood on the sidelines next to them.
“So, like, you guys played amazing. I keep it up! Especially you, Lionel,” Taylor had a huge smile on her face. “You showed real expertise.”
Taylor winked at Lionel and ran back up the stands to Rachel before either Chase twin could respond. Lory laughed, looking at Lionel.
“I don’t know what she sees in you,” Lory stated, finishing the stretches.
“Who?” Lionel responded, watching Trent on the other side of the court. Lory realized that Lionel didn’t notice what happened, and laughed to himself.
The buzzer rang, signalling that it was time for the game to start. The Mustang players gathered around Coach, waiting for instruction.
“Alright, here’s the plan. Daryll will play the point, Khris will play shooting guard, Michael will play small forward, Russ will play power forward, and Lory will play center. This team isn’t the best at rebounding, despite the height. Lory and Kazu will be switching with each other by quarter. Russ, according to the folder, Trent doesn’t do much on offence except catch and shoot. He’s really tall, so you’ll have to force him to make bad shots. As for High-Rise, just stop him from getting the ball. This will be a tough one, but you guys pushed hard over the last few weeks for this opportunity. Russ, get them started.” Coach turned and sat on the end of the bench.
“Now Let’s Get It!”
It was time for the jump ball. Lory looked up at High-Rise, who stood at six-foot-eleven but wasn’t muscular at all. High-Rise wasn’t skinny but wasn’t quite in shape. His arms were extremely long. Lory knew that he wasn’t going to win the jump ball, but he still was going to jump as high as he could.
Russ lined up across from Trent, noticing how tall he was. Trent stood at six-foot-nine, even though he wasn’t a center. His arms weren’t long, but Russ noticed that Trent’s legs were very muscular.
The ball was thrown into the air, but despite Lory’s best efforts, High-Rise won the jump despite barely jumping in the air. The Kraken point-guard got the ball and took his time scanning the defence. Russ guarded Trent closely in the corner, while Daryll played loose on the Kraken point guard. The point guard looked at Daryll, a disgusted look on his face.
“Connor Crinch,” The point guard said. “Remember my name.”
Daryll raised a brow, then Conner jumped and shot a deep three-pointer, with the ball going in.
“That idiot left Connor open,” Lionel said, frustrated on the bench. Kory glanced over.
“You know him?” Kory asked.
“Before you guys came, there was a few of us that were the top prospects in our division. My brother and I, Connor, Quinn Gains, and Ron Knightly. Connor and Quinn are on the Krakens, so I assumed they were taking it easy. Quinn is amazing at shooting because he has deep range. Connor can sometimes hit those shots. That was a bluff,” Lionel responded, still only watching Trent.
Daryll brought up the ball for the Mustangs, shaking off Connor’s shot, and watching around for an offensive option. Russ and Lory stayed around the three-point lines with Khris. Michael cut into the paint, and Daryll threw the ball to the rim. Michael jumped and tipped the airborne ball into the basket.
Connor brought the ball up, seeing that Lory was doing his hardest to cut off the passing lane between High-Rise and the ball, but Quinn was far from Khris, well behind the three-point line. Daryll was playing close defence on Connor this time, which is what Connor wanted. Connor darted past Daryll, and while Daryll was chasing after him, Connor passed the ball to Quinn, who took the deep shot and made it. Khris immediately took note.
Daryll scanned the Kraken defence again, but before he knew it, the ball was out of his hands. Connor had stolen it and already got the layup. Daryll shook it off quick, bringing the ball back up, more cautious this time of Connor stealing the ball. Khris backed away from the three-point line, but Quinn followed him closely, knowing the reputation and skill of Khris. Instead, Michael ran around the perimeter, getting behind Daryll and taking a handoff pass. Michael immediately darted into the paint, where High-Rise was waiting for him. Michael spun around him and went up for the lay-up, but High-Rise’s hand was there to swat the ball away
Lory had gotten the rebound off the block, tossing it back to Khris, who jumped and shot the ball. Quinn tried his best to block the shot, using his other hand to block Khris’s face, trying to throw him off, but Khris’s shot went in regardless. As Trent ran by Khris to get on offence, he spoke to him.
“I see that you’re back in form now that you’re brother is watching,” Trent said with a smug tone.
Khris ignored Trent and went back on defence, staying close to Quinn this time. Lory was trying his hardest to block off the lane, but High-Rise wasn’t trying to get the ball, he was just waiting around the rim for tip-ins if possible. Xavier moved back from Michael, catching a pass from Connor. He dribbled the ball, looking Michael in the eye with a smirk on his. Xavier drove the ball in, and as Michael chased him, Xavier stopped in his tracks, stepped back, and shot the ball, making the mid-range shot.
“Alright, D up!” Xavier yelled to his team while running back on defence.
Khris took the ball up this time, as Daryll ran and set a screen for Michael. Michael ran around the screen, but High-Rise was waiting, so Khris didn’t pass. Instead, Khris stood just over the half-court line and shot the ball over Quinn, the ball going in. The Kraken coach called timeout. The Mustang players gathered around Coach.
“So, the Experts aren’t all we have to worry about. Their point guard is smart, but it’s subtle. Notice how he didn’t try shooting after the first shot and knew who would be in position. Daryll, I think he’s not perfectly confident but shot the first shot as a bluff. Play a little looser so he can dart past you,” Daryll nodded at Coach’s words. The Coach turned to Khris. “Khris, make your mark get the ball. His shot isn’t super quick, so give enough room that you can recover and affect his shot. Whatever makes the point guard pass to him instead of an Expert. Michael, your mark is great at stopping his momentum, be wary. But, I think you’ll be fine.”
Michael and Khris both nodded, then the timeout ended and both teams went back onto the court. Michael gave Khris a look and a nod, and Khris returned both the look and the nod. With no words spoken, they communicated exactly what they wanted. It was almost as if they mentally spoke two words to each other. ‘Locked In’.
Connor brought the ball up, noticing that Khris wasn’t playing tight on Quinn, but everyone else was tightly guarded. Connor glanced at Trent, who was clearly not giving any effort to get open. Connor then looked at Xavier, who noticed this as well.
“Timeout!” Xavier yelled.
The whistle blew and the second Kraken timeout started. The Mustang players gathered around Coach, but Coach didn’t know what to say exactly, as he said everything in the last timeout. Knowing that he had a rare chance to step in, Kory stood up from the end of the bench and entered the huddle.
“Guys, can I just add something. Connor and Xavier both seem to be smart. Then noticed that Trent was being lazy again, but I think Connor might have noticed that some of us were about to heat up. This timeout is to cool us down even more, so whatever you do, stay hyped up,” Kory turned and sat back down on the bench.
Michael and Khris looked at each other again, nodding. Lory tapped Russ on the shoulder, a sly smirk on his face.
“You’re going to be a background player this game. Don’t let Trent score too many on your head when he decides to play,” Lory knew that he didn’t need to say much, and he was correct. Russ was immediately fired up.
When the timeout ended, the Mustang players noticed a new look on Trent’s face. Khris tapped Russ on his shoulder.
“Trent will go off for approximately five minutes. He jumps really high when he shoots, mixed with his height, it’s hard to stop. I’m trusting you with this,” Khris smiled at Russ, and Russ returned the smile.
Xavier was ready to inbound the ball, noticing that everyone was playing tightly, trying to cut off passes. The five-second inbound count started, and Xavier struggled to find someone open. With a single-second left, Xavier went with the Kraken’s safety play, tossing the ball up high to a height that only one player could catch.
High-Rise caught the ball up high, turned around and faded back, shooting the ball. Lory tried his best to reach the height of the ball, but he couldn’t get close. The shot went in, and the Krakens went back on defence. Russ ran past Lory.
“Don’t let High-Rise score too many on your head,” Russ remarked mockingly. Lory couldn’t respond, knowing that High-Rise would be a major task for him and Kazu to overcome.
Khris brought the ball up for the Mustangs, standing just over the half-court line, with Quinn already playing tight defence on Khris. To Khris, the defence meant nothing. He knew that nobody outside of the Experts could defend against his shots. Khris glanced around, noticing that nobody was able to get open. Due to this, Khris decided to play solo for a while. He started dribbling fast, putting the ball between his legs and behind his back, getting Quinn to stumble a bit. As soon as Quinn stumbled, Khris shot the ball, getting another three-pointer.
As Trent started to run back to offence, he noticed a smug look on Khris’s face. This caused Trent to turnaround and take the inbound pass instead of Connor. Russ was waiting, ready for Trent to pull out some tricks. As soon as Trent passed the half-court line, he jumped as high as he could and shot the ball. Russ jumped as well, trying to block the shot, but he was unable to get anywhere near the height that Trent shot the ball from.
“Sit down, you’re not important to this battle,” Trent remarked to Russ, before turning around and running on defence.
When Khris brought the ball up this time, Trent was the one guarding him instead of Quinn.
“I can jump high enough to block you. You’re done,” Trent has a sly smirk on his face, but Khris returned the smirk with a smile.
Just like Khris had done to Quinn on the last play, Khris started dribbling faster, making little tricks as he did. Trent wasn’t stumbling, so Khris started driving in. When Trent started chasing Khris full speed, Khris made a hard stop at the three-point line, causing Trent to trip as he tried to suddenly stop as well. With the trip form Trent, Khris had enough time to shoot the ball, getting another three-pointer. Unlike Trent, Khris didn’t say a word, letting his actions do all the speaking he needed.
When Trent brought the ball back up, he noticed that Russ was still guarding him. He immediately looked at Khris, disgust on his face.
“You won’t even try? Pathetic!” Trent yelled towards Khris.
As Trent yelled, however, Russ had stolen the ball, running to the opposite side of the court and making a layup. Khris walked up to Trent as soon as the layup was made, a smile on Khris’s face.
“The guy guarding you has spent the last month guarding me in practice. Considering that I’m better than you, you’re going to have trouble with him. Good luck, Dilly-Dally,” The bravado in Khris’s voice only served to anger Trent even more.
Russ ran back on defence, stopping next to Trent, who stood still in anger.
“I can already tell why you were rated the lowest of all the Experts,” Russ had confidence in his voice.
Trent turned and look down at Russ, his face full of rage. Russ looked up at Trent, his face full of cockiness and determination.
As the first quarter continues, Russ and Trent are now challenging each other. It is the underachieving Expert against the uncrowned captain of the Mustangs in an all-out battle of basketball. Who will win, and how will this battle affect the entirety of the game? Come back and find out!
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!