Book 2 of the Masterson Family Series - The saga of Bambi continues as the young basketball player steps up to the college level. Later, the end of his scholastic days brings new changes and challenges as he enters the playing court of adult life. He discovers his enthusiasm, energy, and talent aren't always enough to win this game. A new friend introduces him to the Evolution debate, and Bambi begins a new chapter in his life as he becomes a truth seeker. Many novels have been written about boys sports, but girls track and cross country have been mostly ignored. These sports are featured in this book through the exploits of a delightful new character named Maria, whom readers watch growing up in this story.
A whistle blew, but the noise was swallowed up in the bedlam emanating from the bleachers. The man Bambi was guarding had driven to the basket along the baseline. Bambi, in his opinion, had timed his leap perfectly and blocked the shot cleanly. As he stood there eyeballing the referee, a vision of the high school state championship game clouded his mind.
His hands went up and grasped the crown of his head. No ref, don’t call a foul on me. I didn’t touch the guy! Please, don’t let me be the cause of my team losing another championship game! He looked up into the bleachers, where it seemed almost every person was standing.
The referees went into a huddle. When they finished their discussion, the lead official announced that the player with the ball had stepped out of bounds before Bambi fouled him. The ball belonged to the Dakota State Trojans with three ticks on the clock and the score tied in the championship game of the regional NAIA tournament. The winner of the game would advance to the national tournament in Kansas City; the loser would go home and put their basketball uniforms in mothballs for another season. A Trojan loss would bring Bambi’s collegiate basketball career to an end.
DSU, the team from Madison, South Dakota, had no time-outs left. As team captain, Bambi received a signal from the bench and relayed it to the rest of the team. The play called for him to line up near the free throw line. His job was to run toward the ball and set a screen for his teammate near the baseline. After setting that screen, he would pivot and run back toward their basket, and the out-of-bounds passer would hit him on the fly. He would have to shoot it almost immediately after catching the ball to beat the buzzer. That wouldn’t give him time to even reach mid-court.
The thrower slapped the ball, and Bambi broke to set the screen. After executing the improvised pick-and-roll maneuver, he had body position on the man screened out as he sprinted down court. According to plan, the man who had been guarding Bambi switched to the man receiving the screen. Bambi was open for a fly pattern. The pass barely cleared the fingers of the defender, who was right on his heels. By the time he touched the ball, he was almost to the half-court line. Three dribbles later he reached the mid-court stripe. He’d made an occasional shot from half-court when playing around. Never had he attempted one from this far away in a game, but he had no choice. Without breaking stride he pushed the ball up from his hip and fired it toward the hoop with all the mustard he could put on it. He watched the trajectory and saw that the shot was online. Does it have the distance? Almost mentally willing the ball to fly even further, Lance witnessed the ball hit the bang board; he’d actually shot it too far. It caromed off the glass and forcefully split the net on its downward ricochet. He collapsed in a heap on the gym floor but jumped up immediately when he thought of his claustrophobia and the possibility of being on the bottom of a monkey pile.
A quick glance at the bench showed the whole team headed his way to celebrate. Another glance at the cheerleaders and fans behind them told him he was going to get sandwiched. He didn’t wait for the celebrators to reach him; instead he turned and ran toward the cheerleaders. He swooped in and lifted Lisa Nielsen off the ground, spinning her around as he did so. Before she’d made a 360-degree circle, Lance shouted, “Will you marry me?” And then he was engulfed by the rest of the team and fans.
He’d never been a part of such bedlam. In the scramble he and Lisa both went to the floor. It was a fight to get back to their feet. Finally the eye of the storm moved to another part of the gymnasium where the team started cutting down the net. Bambi stayed at center court with Lisa.