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King of the Court [Chapter 21]

by InuYosha


A/n: Yes, I know. This is the second chapter I posted today. OKAY BUT LET ME EXPLAIN. SEE, I WAS TOO EXCITED ABOUT THE PLOT SO I WENT AHEAD AND WROTE THE NEXT CHAPTER AND DECIDED TO POST IT IMMEDIATELY BUT HEY NOW I'M AT A SEVERE SHORTAGE OF POINTS YAY

hope you enjoy!

(Oh and also I finally got some artwork! Observe: Connor is palming the ball while Chris gives him a confused look because Chris has no idea what palming the ball is.)

Spencer launches himself into the air, imagining the wind in his face. As a child, Spencer had always idolized astronauts. Astronauts were those who could break past the atmosphere, bravely venturing into the unknown, where a single mistake could leave you tumbling through endless oblivion.

He's even able to reach the rim now if he jumps high enough. Even though Spencer is shorter than Chris, his jump rivals that of the strongest hoppers

He had come a long way. Spencer thinks it's unbelievable that he was still learning basketball when he first joined. Now he's nearly on the same level as his teammates. Dwayne, who can get any rebound. Colin, who may seem nervous, but can keep the ball away from any defender. Chris, who can shoot from any angle. Alex, who can brush past entire teams with ease, using his unbelievable speed and his desire for victory.

Even Spencer himself has improved. I learned basketball. That's all I did. But deep in his heart, Spencer knows that he needs to do more than just 'learn basketball'. He may be decent as the game, but he lacks the uniqueness in his style that his teammates have.

Spencer throws another ball up at the hoop, purposely missing the shot. The ball bounces off the rim, and Spencer shoots up, snatching the ball from the air.

If it's one thing I can do, is get rebounds.

But no matter how hard he tries to imitate Dwayne's ability to get rebounds, Spencer can't seem to wrench the ball away from Dwayne during practice. He knows that in a team, only one rebounder is not enough. If Spencer can get rebounds, too, then the teams' offensive strength will be boosted.

"Rebound practice?" asks a familiar voice. Spencer turns and sees Jacob standing there.

"What do you need?" asks Spencer.

"I can coach you," offers Jacob, putting down his bag, "We just finished dinner, and my pig of a little brother decided to go to bed immediately. I needed to check up on things in the gym, but I can coach you for a while if you want."

"Coach me for a while?" Spencer blinks.

"You don't need to sound so surprised!" sniffs Jacob, "I am your coach, after all!"

"Well you're never here, so I assumed you gave up on it," Spencer shrugs.

"I have a life, too, man!"

"If you're going to coach me on rebounds, then get to it," Spencer frowns.

"Sure. Do you know what rebounding is?" Jacob asks.

Spencer groans. He didn't sign up for a lesson on how to rebound.

"Of course I do. Rebounding means getting the ball after a missed shot," Spencer replies impatiently.

"Wrong," Jacob stares at Spencer.

"I'm sorry, what?" Spencer raises an eyebrow, "Then what is rebounding?"

Instead of answering, Jacob says, "I assume you're looking to be as good at rebounding as Dwayne."

Spencer nods.

"Well, I hope you're not stupid, but what else do rebounders do other than getting the ball?" asks Jacob.

"Um . . . what?"

Jacob sighs, "Did you think that all Dwayne does is jump really high to get the ball?"

"Y . . . yeah?" Spencer shrugs, "Isn't that what rebounding is about?"

"You have the wrong idea about rebounding," Jacob replies, "Don't you get it? Rebounding isn't about getting the ball after a missed shot! It's about preventing others from getting the ball after a missed shot! No matter how short Dwayne is, he can still do that. That's how he competes with giants. He can make sure they don't get the ball, allowing himself to get the ball in the process!"

Spencer's mouth literally hangs open.

"Now go eat dinner! Practice was over an hour ago! Your parents must be worried!" harrumphs Jacob.

~ ~ ~

The moon is still out, and darkness encircles the town. Dark gray clouds ominously float on the horizon, and the streets are silent.

It's 2 in the morning, but Alex can't sleep. He can hear his pig of a little sister snoring in the room next to him, and can hear the crickets chirping their loudest.

"Tomorrow is the day," Alex whispers to himself. He had heard terrible things about Jackson Wills Middle School. Their basketball team is huge and strong. Anyone who comes up against them is steamrolled. The thing that Alex is most scared of, however, is something else that Bella had told him while she was talking about the Jackson Wills teams.

"Their teams don't have any prodigies like you or Thea," Bella said, "But they're strong because not a single one of them lack in strength or fundamental ability."

Saint Helena was different. The team itself had only two focal points: Jeremy Copeland, who was literally a monster on the court. The other was Ethan Copeland, who pushed Jeremy from behind, offering support and extra strength.

So when Alex finally falls asleep, even his dreams are troubled by the dark gray clouds ominously floating at the horizon.

~ ~ ~

As the warmth of the sun finally reaches the sky, Colin is walking out of his home, with a backpack holding the few things that he will need for a basketball game. His water, to stay hydrated; his phone, in case of emergency; his basketball uniform, to wear for the game; a sweat towel, to sweat on; and a light nutritious snack to eat after his game to replenish energy.

As he's walking towards school to board the bus, Colin notices a familiar face walking on the sidewalk. It's Copeland.

Colin notices him first and takes the moment to marvel at the difference between real-life-Copeland and on-the-court-Copeland. real-life-Copeland seems more quiet and dark, while on-the-court-Copeland takes 'dark' in a whole different direction with sarcasm and vitriol. Alex had described this to Colin and Colin realizes that it's probably true.

"Hey, you're one of the Marble Creek guys," says Copeland, noticing Colin.

"Yeah," Colin replies, "You're Copeland, right?"

"Everyone calls me that, yes," he replies, "So where are you going?"

"I'll be getting picked up by the bus to go to the basketball complex. We're playing against Jackson Wills," Colin says.

Copeland nods, "So you're playing them. If you don't mind, could you relay a message to Alex for me? I played against them in a practice match."

"Alright."

"Tell him," Copeland says, "To forget everything you thought you knew about basketball, because these guys will know more."

Colin feels a shiver down his spine. Just how scary is this Jackson Wills Middle School that it can make a player like Copeland say that?

"I'll tell him that," Colin says, "Thanks for the . . . advice?"

"You're welcome," Copeland smiles, "Win for us, alright?"

"Of course!" Colin grins, "Anyone who can beat you guys can beat anything!"

~ ~ ~

The Ryder Moore Basketball complex is actually less complex than Dwayne had previously thought. In fact, it's pretty simple to navigate.

The actual courts are in the middle of the complex, while around and above the courts are all of the other things that the complex provides, such as the gym and the track.

"This brings back memories," Hunter says solemnly.

"The fresh memories of youth," replies Brady.

"It is all in the past, now," Josh shakes his head ruefully.

Chris raises an eyebrow, "Why are you idiots talking like you're a crazy trio of old men?"

Leading the way to the courts, Dwayne calls to his teammates, "Come on, slowpokes!"

When Dwayne enters the huge stadium-sized place, his heart races. Every time he sees the audience in the stands and the lights glaring down from above, Dwayne can't help but feel like the world is revolving around him.

"We're going to win," Dwayne says, "No doubt about it."

And he knows with all his heart that Marble Creek will win. How could they lose after playing against a team like Saint Helena? There is no possible way that they won't win.

~ ~ ~

To some unknown, varying degree, Chris wants to say that he woke up with a gasp that morning. Of course, all the coolest characters in stories wake up with gasps or sweating faces. Sadly, Chris did not have that same luck.

When the team had finally gotten to the Ryder Moore Basketball Complex, there was no lack of giddiness. First, the team had won against the second-strongest team in the league, and Jackson Wills doesn't happen to be the first-strongest team. Second, there were three more players, and annoying as they are, Chris has to admit, the least they can do is give the other players a substitute.

The courts are as the same as last time, with the same squeaky clean floors and the same way-too-bright lights.

But Chris knows he can get through this game, because he has his teammates with him.

However, when Jackson Wills' captain goes to chat with the referee and Alex and do whatever it is that team captains do, Chris notices that very familiar mop of brown hair.

When they're finished, Connor turns to Chris with disinterested eyes and a light frown on his face.

Chris glares back, but Connor continues to stare with an immense lack of intensity that Chris is off guard. He's doing it again. His bored stare.

Connor turns away, and Chris finds himself scared of this person more than he was scared of Copeland, or Bella, or Weird-Hair.

Speaking of Weird-Hair, didn't this team beat Pennel Creek?

No, we're fine. We beat Saint Helena. This should be easy!

But when he thinks about drowning in Connor's terrifying eyes again, Chris almost wishes he were playing Saint Helena.


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Sat Sep 11, 2021 7:34 pm
RandomTalks wrote a review...



Hey!

RandomTalks here with a short review!

I haven't read the previous chapters yet, but I remember that I reviewed one or two some time ago to get them out of the Green Room. Still, I might misinterpret something about the plot because I don't really know it, so bear with me?

I think I had mentioned this in that previous review of mine. Your story is incredibly easy to follow. Even though I do not know anything about the plots or the characters and their lives, you still write in a way that makes it so much easier to follow and connect with your characters even though we really do not know them. You have a very fresh and flexible voice and I really like that thing about your stories.

Now, from what I gathered the story follows this group of basket ball players who are getting ready for a really difficult match against a really difficult team. I liked the tension you created throughout the chapter. You could feel the nervousness of these players and their apprehension as they all prepare in their own way for the match. Something else I really liked was how you kept shifting the voice of narration between the different team members. It gives the readers a glimpse into everyone's head and helps us understand what they are going through better. Each voice was uniquely different from the other so it doesn't get boring either. I think you have managed this very well.

Some details I noticed:

He may be decent as the game,

I think you meant 'at' here instead of 'as'.

If it's one thing I can do, is get rebounds.

I think this sentence reads better if you rewrite it as : "If there's one thing I can do, it is to get rebounds."

"I have a life, too, man!"

You don't need the first comma there.

Dark gray clouds ominously float on the horizon, and the streets are silent.

So when Alex finally falls asleep, even his dreams are troubled by the dark gray clouds ominously floating at the horizon.

You enter into this scene with Alex with the phrase "dark gray clouds ominously floating at the horizon" and you end this scene with the same phrase. As a result it sounds a bit repetitive and ruins the imagery it created the first time. Maybe try rephrasing it some other way?

He can hear his pig of a little sister snoring in the room next to him,

I find it a little curios how most of them refer to their siblings as a pig. Not that siblings aren't annoying, but I would try varying my animals a little if I were you.

The Ryder Moore Basketball complex is actually less complex than Dwayne had previously thought. In fact, it's pretty simple to navigate.

I liked the bit of humor you included here. It was a nice change from the nerves running all around this chapter!

Overall, I thought this was a great read. Easy to follow and understand and with characters you can relate with. I really look forward to reading this from the start one day!

Keep writing and have a great day!

(P.S. - Did I mention how cool that drawing at the beginning is?)




InuYosha says...


Thanks for the review!

(and also thanks-- i worked hard on that drawing)



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Wed Aug 04, 2021 7:42 pm
MailicedeNamedy wrote a review...



Hi Yosh,

Mailice here with a short review! :D

I'm glad we get a glimpse of Spencer and I have to say that it's a good decision to focus on him (or a character other than Dwayne). I also have to honestly admit that I partially confused Spencer with the Crazy Trio. :D I really like your first paragraph. It has something new and yet familiar about it.

What can I say about this part? I really liked how you created a kind of reflection that showed what Spencer thinks about the other team members and what he knows about basketball.

I think you also created a good transition from his thoughts to the conversation with Jacob. That interjection from him, didn't really throw Spencer off his game. (He just turns around.) I think here you could have added a short sentence about what he's thinking. Is he upset because someone is watching him or is he confused?

I also liked Jacob's "coaching" and his learning method of getting the student to think with questions. This also helps to get Spencer's wrong thinking in the right direction. It was just a bit short and seemed like a five-minute training session. If that was the intention, then it's fine, but I thought it was more of a theory-practice training session.

Alex's brief moment in the middle part of the story was good on the one hand to get the name of the opposing team (I don't think it came up in the last chapter) and also to get some valuable information. But you could expand a bit more on what exactly Alex thinks about it, rather than just showing this snippet.

Colin's short part contrasts with Alex's. Alex's was more of a mind game in his head, while Colin's showed the outside world and how everything slowly turns into a shambles. Hopefully not, but I think with both parts combined, you manage to build up a good tension.

I think you've created a good arc with this chapter that points to the next game. I had actually assumed with each new change of perspective that the game was finally going to start, but I liked that you took this build-up to let the reader build up a little more nervousness and tension/anticipation.

I liked how the chapter revolved around several characters and you got glimpses into their thoughts before the game. I haven't seen that before. I think if you expand it a bit more at some points, you can give more of a sense that the group is really feeling something before the game. Alex in the night was for me the question of what exactly he was thinking, with Colin likewise, etc.... Sometimes your characters don't lack the overall personality, but more the temporal mood. And that's a difference; you can be a choleric person but still have a chipper, relaxed mood, etc.... (Only when the mood itself becomes more regular and habitual can it be considered a change in personality).

Some other points I found while reading:

As a child, Spencer had always idolized astronauts.

I get Space Jam vibes. :D

"I have a life, too, man!”

I don't know if the "one" here refers to Spencer or is to be understood as a kind of "damn". Otherwise I would maybe write "dude" there.

harrumphs Jacob.

Yay, I learned a new word today. :D

He can hear his pig of a little sister snoring

You are again using a term here that Jacob used a few paragraphs ago. (pig of a sibling) I would try to rewrite that. Maybe there are animals that snore and you can make a metaphor out of that?

"Their teams don't have any prodigies like you or Thea," Bella said, "But they're strong because not a single one of them lack in strength or fundamental ability.”

Since this sentence is explicitly presented as a reminder, I would put it in italic so that you can see it right away.

"Tell him," Copeland says, "To forget everything you thought you knew about basketball, because these guys will know more.”

Insert "Forget-everything-you've-already-learned" sentence. :D That creates tension.

"Come on, slowpokes!”

I don't remember how long it took me to realise that this term is not just a Pokémon, but an expression in North America. xD

The courts are as the same as last time, with the same squeaky clean floors and the same way-too-bright lights.

I like your description here.

I like your drawing. I like Connor's look. I'm just surprised Chris doesn't know the rules of basketball or palming at all. :D In summary, it was already a very great chapter. I liked reading it.

Viel Spaß beim Schreiben! (Now you have to respond in this language :D)

Mailice





When people are free to do as they please, they usually imitate each other.
— Eric Hoffer