Book 1 of the Masterson Family Series - There seem to be four inevitable things about Madison, South Dakota: The winters are cold, the summers are hot, the wind never ceases, and the Bulldogs always field a losing basketball team. Lance Masterson, who is known to his peers by the nickname of Bambi, can't do anything about the weather, but he decides he can do something about the basketball program. Though only an eighth grader, he drafts a document dubbed The Bulldog Compact in which the signers pledge to give do everything they can to win the state basketball championship. The mission they chose to accept is to train their bodies, minds, and spirits to make a heroic attempt at conquering the summit of South Dakota basketball. Bambi and his friends come of age as they find it is easier to sign on the dotted line than to pour out the blood, sweat, and tears needed to reach their goal.
The score was tied with only forty-two ticks remaining on the scoreboard clock. The Watertown Arrow guard dribbling the ball up the court waved one finger in the air to tell his teammates to hold the ball for one last shot. The Bulldogs of Madison tried to steal the ball, while at the same time attempting to avoid committing a foul which would send an Arrow to the charity stripe. They also had to be careful not to let an opponent get open for an easy basket. They were displaying the legendary determination of their Bulldog mascot by clinging to their men.
Up in the stands, Lance Masterson, better known to his friends as ‘Bambi’, watched with a pounding, racing heart, and noticeable trembling. Close games sure are fun, but they’re also hard on the body. Bambi was only in the eighth grade, but the varsity basketball games of Madison High School were about the most important thing in his life. He didn’t take the frequent losses lightly. The infrequent wins were cause for great celebration.
Bambi glanced at the scoreboard and back to the action. Only nine seconds remained. Watertown would make a move towards the basket soon. An Arrow forward flashed into the lane, received a pass, pivoted around, and fired up a soft jump shot with four seconds showing. The ball hit the rim before bouncing off the glass and off the rim one more time. Four players went up high for the rebound. One of the purple-clad Arrows batted the ball as if he were playing volleyball. The horn went off, ending regulation playing time while the ball was still in the air. It rolled along the edge of the rim once and then dropped through the cords, initiating a dance of joy among the Arrow players and fans.
Bambi, who had leaped to his feet when the jump shot had gone up along with every other spectator in the gym, kicked the bleacher. That act of frustration didn’t change the score, but it did release a little of the anger that boiled inside of him.
"How lucky can they get?" he asked his best friend, Corky Calhoun.
"That was the pukiest tip-in I ever saw. He couldn’t do that again in a thousand years."
Bambi smacked his hand against his thigh. "We might have had a chance in overtime with their big guy fouled out."
"We’ll never know how it would have ended if that turkey hadn’t been out of his gourd and made that unconscious tip-in."
"You’re right. We’ll be playing the ‘what if’ game the rest of our lives."
"Holy hand grenade, Bambi! Our whole lives? I won’t even be thinking about it next year."
"I’m not gonna forget – ever!"
Several loud curses spilled out from nearby fans as the Bulldog team beat a hasty retreat to the locker room. The rows of disappointed Bulldog rooters began their usual journey to the exits, their long faces portraying their usual frustration at another loss this season, another in a series of los