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“You’re gonna have a tough time,” Lory mentioned to Daryll as they walked out of the locker room.

“What makes you say that?” Daryll asked.

“Because he’s there,” Lory pointed his finger at a Sabre player that had just come out of a locker room.

“Who’s that?” Daryll asked.

“The final player in our district that was a hot commodity before the Experts showed up. One of the top five from around here. Ron Knightly. He never told me what team he went to, probably because he didn’t like the rest of us much.” Lory responded. “He never had good teammates, so he always lost to the rest of us.”

Lionel and Russ came out after, Lionel immediately noticing Robin running around the court. Robin still was not stopping or slowing down, no sweat appearing on his body. Russ noticed as well, nudging Lionel while he was mesmerized.

“How does he move all that muscle so fast? Why isn’t he slowing down? What is he?” Russ showed excitement in his voice.

“The next victim,” Lionel responded, his excitement clearly higher than Russ’s.

Russ and Lionel relished in the chance to take on an Expert that looks like a monster simply by running.

Kory and Kazu were the last out of the locker room, with neither paying attention to anyone else. Kazu was deep in thought of how he couldn’t participate in the game, forcing Lory to have to be the centre this game. Kory was contemplating his mother’s words from the night before.

Soon, every member of the Mustangs was at the bench, with half of the team doing nothing but watching Robin run. Michael nudged Khris, not taking his eyes off of Robin.

“How exactly does Robin play?” Michael asked.

“Nobody outworks him and he never gives up. Don’t expect him to score much, but he doesn’t need to. We can never let anybody on the court have any room while Robin is on the floor. I’d wager that he is similar to Kory in some ways.” Khris responded.

Michael was surprised that someone else got compared to Kory, considering how unique Kory was in Michael’s eyes. Kory then walked up behind the pair.

“Don’t laugh at him when he talks. Just act like he said a full sentence and move on, he hates when people try to point out how he speaks,” Kory mentioned. “Good luck, he’s one of the top three physically strongest Experts.”

Lory happened to overhear that last part, letting out a sigh of disappointment, knowing that he’d have to go up against Robin.

The team went through their warmups, but Kory didn’t join. The most Kory did was stretch, but he wasn’t expecting to play in this game. The buzzer sounded, signalling that the game was about to begin. The Mustangs gathered around Coach, ready to go up against the Sabres.

“Alright, Kazu will not be playing today. Lory and Lionel, you’ll be switching with each other as centres. It’ll be tough, but I’m sure you two can do it. Lory, you’ll start. Russ, you’ll be the power forward, while Michael will be small forward. Daryll and Khris will play the guards. Focus the scoring around Khris and Michael, as usual. Ready? Break!” Coach announced his plan, then turned and sat on the bench. The team then formed a circle around Russ, as Russ began the chant.

“Whose House?”

“Our House!”

“Whose House?”

“Our House!”

“Whose House?”

“Our House!”

“Now Let’s Get It!”

“AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH”

The teams starting players all met at the centre of the court. The Sabres starting point guard was Ron Knightly, who stood at five-foot-eleven. Macbeth started at the shooting guard, standing at six-foot-one. Wayne Williams was the starting small forward, standing at six-foot-five. Jeff Anders started at power forward, standing at six-foot-six. Robin started at centre, also standing at six-foot-six. Most of the Sabres had a similar lean build except for Robin. Robin had an extremely muscular tone.

“He looks like he was chiselled by a Greek God,” Daryll mentioned to Khris, snickering at his own comment. Khris also chuckled.

“He and Deon Sloan used to work out all the time. They’re both freaks of nature physically. But it’s not all for a show, Robin is crazy amazing. Even low he was rated lower than Deon, I’d rather play against Deon than Robin,” Khris looked over at Daryll, who showed that he was slightly impressed, but didn’t understand the full weight of what Khris just said. “For context, Deon is rated as a top-five Expert.”

Daryll’s eyes widened, wondering why Khris would rather play Robin instead of a top-five player, but he knew that Khris had good reasons.

Lory and Robin lined up for the jump ball. When they both jumped in the air, Robin shot up much faster than Lory, winning the jump ball for the Sabres. Lionel stood up when he saw how fast Robin shot up, in complete shock.

“Lory is one of the fastest jumpers I know, it’s how he’s so good at rebounds. How did Robin get up faster?” Lionel asked.

“It’s how he’s the best rebounder from the Experts. Seems he got faster, though. Everyone is improving so much,” Kory responded.

Ron took up the ball for the Sabres, taking one glance at his teams offensive set, then he looked Daryll in the eyes with a smirk on his face. The entire Sabre team started moving around as Macbeth and Robin set screens for each player. Suddenly, however, the ref blew a whistle. Everyone’s attention turned to Macbeth who was laying on the floor, with Russ standing over him.

“Foul, purple thirty-three,” The ref announced.

Russ had a shocked expression on his face, turning to the ref.

“I didn’t even touch him! He flopped!” Russ exclaimed, but Khris immediately ran over to calm Russ down.

“The call is final, they won’t change it. Just be wary of it next time,” Khris said calmly.

Russ took a deep breath and set himself up on defence again. Robin ran over to Macbeth and helped him up, Macbeth had a pained expression on his face.

“I guess these refs don’t quite know Macbeth yet. He’s also gotten better at his acting. Russ needs to be careful, he’s targeted,” Kory explained to Lionel.

“What do you mean?” Lionel asked.

“It’s in the folder. It should say ‘he’s an amazing actor’ or something like that. What do you think that means in terms of basketball?” Kory responded.

Lionel’s eyes widened as he realized that Macbeth was going to act his way into getting fouled often. Once a player gets six fouls, they foul out and can no longer participate in the game.

“Is that why he’s been sitting out after the first quarter every game? His job is done?” Lionel asked.

“Why he sits out is a mystery to me, honestly. But, his job is probably done within a quarter,” Kory responded.

The ball got inbounded to Ron, as he took a seconds glance at his offence, then he went back to smirking at Daryll. The Sabres movement began again, but Russ was careful as Macbeth set the screen on him. Russ made sure that there could be no mistake that there was no contact between him and Macbeth. Ron still looked in Daryll’s eyes, but he passed the ball to Wayne, who had just gotten free from Michael off of Robin’s screen. Daryll was surprised that Ron knew where to pass without having to look at his teammates. As soon as Wayne got the ball, Wayne drove into the paint and got a layup.

Daryll got the ball for the Mustangs, scanning his team’s offence. Lory set a screen for Khris, but then the whistle blew again. Macbeth had acted like the Lory was holding him on the screen, and the refs fell for it. The ball now belonged to the Sabres. Kory showed frustration from the bench, along with Coach Riley.

Ron brought up the ball for the Sabres, ding the same thing as he did before, scanning and then staring into Daryll’s eyes with a smirk. The Sabres offence started a different play than before. Macbeth was the one getting free off of a screen, and Ron passed the ball to him. Due to the screen, Russ was guarding Macbeth. Macbeth went up for a shot, and Russ jumped in the air. However, the shot was a perfect fake, and Macbeth waited until Russ was high in the air before jumping into him and getting the foul call. Two fouls total on Russ.

“That was a perfect fake. Even I thought he was shooting,” Lionel commented.

“Macbeth’s acting isn’t just for flopping. He’s amazing at fakes. He even does subtle movements to make people believe he’s doing certain things. The biggest trick to him is figuring out whether he’s faking or not.” Kory added.

Macbeth took two free-throw shots, making them both. Daryll then brought the ball up for the Mustangs, immediately passing the ball to Khris, who took a three-pointer right in front of Macbeth. Macbeth didn’t try to stop the shot, knowing it was going in regardless of whatever defence he applied. The shot went in, and the Mustangs finally got their first basket.

Ron brought up the ball, making eye contact with only Robin, then immediately shooting the ball from almost half-court. Robin immediately forced his way in front of Lory, boxing him out of the paint. Some Mustang players went towards the paint for the rebound, except for Khris. None of the Sabres went for the rebound except Robin, as the team stayed around the three-point line.

The ball went nowhere near the basket, going towards Robin instead. Robin jumped as high as he could, catching the ball in one hand and looking around quickly while he was in the air. On his way down, Robin threw the ball with the same single hand he caught it with, passing the ball to Jeff Anders. Jeff was wide open and took the shot. The shot bounced around the rim before going in the basket.

“What was that?” Lionel exclaimed from the bench. Kory sighed.

“Robin’s most dangerous talent; his passes. When he rebounds or gets high passes, he usually finds an open teammate to get an easy pass to. If not, he’ll dribble the ball out to the point guard to reset the possession. His passing IQ is wonderful.” Kory responded.

“So he’s similar to you in play style?” Kazu asked.

“No, he doesn’t usually control the offence. He’s like a second chance, whereas I run the floor.” Kory answered, watching intently.

Daryll brought up the ball, trying to figure out what to do on offence. He noticed that Ron was favouring the right side of Daryll, leaving a slight opening on the left side. Daryll took the opportunity to run past Ron on the left side, which led to Macbeth reaching out and stealing the ball from Daryll, as Macbeth was ready for Ron to leave Daryll open.

Macbeth ran down the court, but Russ was right next to him. Macbeth intentionally bumped into Russ and acted as if Russ had fouled him. Yet again, the refs called the foul. Three fouls on Russ. Macbeth took his two free-throw shots and then Coach Riley called a timeout. The Mustang players surrounded Coach.

“Russ, you’re out. Three fouls within the first few minutes of the game are too much. Lionel, be careful around Macbeth. He’s really convincing,” Coach exclaimed. “Khris, take up the ball. Lory set screens for Lionel. Get ready for that quick shot of yours. Michael, make the defence collapse towards the paint. We can do this, the victor isn’t the one that has a good beginning.”

Daryll flinched slightly when he heard Coach turn the ball handling to Khris. Kory noticed this immediately, finally seeing some competitiveness in Daryll. Lionel and Lory gave each other a look, telling each other ‘We Got This’ without having to say any words. Khris immediately looked at Michael, who felt the stare and looked back, both players showing determination.

Meanwhile, on the Sabres bench, their coach was giving a short speech.

“I know I don’t have to tell you guys much. Ron, keep running the floor. You plan should be ready by the second quarter. Han, focus on that number thirty-three, out scout picked him so he’s the target. Robin, just keep being you. Jeff and Wayne, keep scoring. Jamaal, you’ll be in the second quarter for Han.” The Sabres coach announced to his team.

“You know, taking our their best defender and their star scorer isn’t going to work all year. Eventually, the refs are going to get used to Han’s acting. Not to mention when we finally get refs that we had before,” Jamaal complain, not enjoying the lack of competition his team faces.

“I’m more than an irritant. I’m still useful on offence. I’ll slow down, though. ” Macbeth responded.

“Not to mention one of the smartest players we have,” Jeff added.

Robin, Jamaal, and Ron all flinched at that statement, all believing themselves to be the smartest basketball-wise. The main talent of this team was yet to be revealed in this game.

The buzzer soon went off to signal the end of the timeout.

Khris brought up the ball for the Mustangs, scanning the offence and seeing what could be a good option. Lory ran and set a screen for Lionel, and Robin followed Lory. Seeing an open paint, Michael ran towards the basket, too fast for Wayne to keep up. Khris threw the ball towards Michael, but by the time Michael got the ball, Robin was waiting for him. Michael immediately passed the ball to Lionel, but Jeff had caught up to Lionel by that time.

Lionel didn’t have enough room to shoot, so he knew he had to pass. Daryll was the most open, so Lionel passed the ball to him. Ron, however, predicted the pass and intercepted the ball, running down the court and getting an easy layup. Daryll glared at Ron, who looked at him with a confident smirk.

Khris got annoyed, taking up the ball and shooting it as soon as he passed half-court, scoring the three-pointer and walking back, staring at Michael.

“Let me take the quarter. Macbeth can’t stop me,” Khris announced loud enough for everyone to hear. Macbeth was unfazed by this.

The final game of the tournament has begun and the Sabres are in complete control, but Khris is ready to take over the game. Will Khris be able to save the team? How long before the refs get used to Macbeth’s flopping? What is the true strength of the Sabres? Will Kory decide to play? Come back and find out!

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A note from TheMagnificentOne

Next Chapter: Get Over It!


About the author

TheMagnificentOne

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!

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