It’s safe to say that my basketball career peaked in elementary school. As the floor general of the pee wee Chargers we went undefeated and beat Elizabeth 50-24 in the championship game. In 6th grade we dropped one to Number 3 in a hard fought game, but went on to victory in the championship later with a 9-1 overall record.
To be fair all I had to do was dribble up the court and pass it to Wiyle or Brandon and then run back and play defense and we were on our way to victory. But hey… I was pretty good at that job and we collected the trophies.
But my shot at glory came in JV basketball when I was a 9th grader at what now is called the Ed Peeler gym at Crest. Me and my friend Josh Lowery (a member of that Number 3 team) were the guys at the end of the bench who rarely got in.
In fact we would do our own color commentary of the game on the bench because we didn’t have to worry too much about significant playing time. We only got in for a few seconds to make sure the main players didn’t pick up a cheap foul before halftime.
Now I played in middle school as well. I suppose I had some good games. What I mostly remember is getting all the floor burns. I wasn’t fast and I couldn’t jump very high and shooting—well let’s just say I was streaky. Yeah we’ll go with that. So the hustle was my game. I would sacrifice my body to win the loose ball.
And we had this drill in practice. And I got the ball a lot. And the floor burns. And in that old dim gym where the mighty Dragons played, my floor burns caught me the staff infection. And that didn’t mix well with the 8th grade acne. 8th graders can be mean. And maybe it was mostly in my head. I may have even resorted to using my mom’s makeup some to hide the jacked up, staff infected zits on my chin and forehead. Insecurities were real in 8th grade. Glad I don’t have any of those any more 😉
But like I said. It was JV ball that brought me face to face with glory. Sonny Bristol, one of the best I ever played with, fouled out with 2.3 seconds left and we were down 1 to West Meck. Coach Bird, who to my dismay always called me Danny, looked down the bench and signaled me in.
We had to go the full court. I took the in bounds pass, dribbled a few times, and heaved a half court shot…. annnddd… I missed it.
But… I. Got. Fouled.
Three free throws. Down one point.
Now… I think it should not be legal for all the yelling and banging on the bleachers while I’m trying to make such pressure packed free throws. Regardless, I took a deep breath. Dribbled three times alternating my heels like Angie Black used to do for GWC. Then I spun the basketball looked up and released the ball…
And I missed. Missed em all. All three shots. All I needed was one. I could’ve sent us to overtime or even sealed the win right then.
Come on, Danny! Oh well in a way my oldest boy redeemed our family basketball 9th grade legacy when he drained a half courter to win a prize during a pep rally. Enjoy that clip below. Ima go practice my free throws.