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Excerpt from Plank Brothers

Garrison Smith was hitting his stride.

He dribbled the basketball on a fast break in complete control. The point guard keenly saw the full length and width of the basket­ball hardwood. Through his eyes, the Wilder County High School gymnasium was his universe, and he was the center of it.

He raced down the court at warp speed, yet his mind was quiet and still. He wasted no movement as his body worked on autopilot from muscle memory and instincts honed by hours and hours of practice.

As Garrison crossed half court, time stood still. He couldn’t hear the rabid crowd, though he was aware of them urging him on. He saw his head coach, Pat Van Gundy, standing stoically watching the action. He knew he had Coach’s trust to make the right decision. Team­mates Andrew Wilson and Danny Fisher were sprinting down the court to his left and right, respectively. Brooks County Patriot defenders scurried like rats on a sinking ship trying to recover from the errant pass Garrison had deftly intercepted.

Garrison angled a bit to the left, his strong hand. Just like the college and pro point guards he modeled his game after, he kept his head up the entire time surveying the landscape. The Patriot worries mounted as they tried to stop the ball and simultaneously play the passing lanes. Wilson and Fisher waited for slight eye contact to tell them to expect a pinpoint chest pass or a soft bouncer at the last possible second.

Lob Johnson, the six-foot-ten senior center for Brooks County, had sprinted back on defense and anchored him­self under the basket. Garrison yearned to “lob” a pass over Johnson’s towering frame for an assist, pun in­tended, but that effort could wait until another day.

After crossing over a would-be defender, Garrison reached the free throw line, slightly hesitating and looking towards Fisher. Lob didn’t bite. He held his ground as the rim protector for the defense. The lengthy Lob licked his chops for another highlight-reel blocked shot.

Quick as a hiccup, Garrison lowered his head towards the painted area. Instead of dropping off a pass to Fisher, he went right at Lob, who jumped to block the shot or deflect a possible pass. Garrison, high in the air, put his left shoulder right in Johnson’s ster­num, knocking the wind out of the giant.

As Lob recoiled backwards, Garrison maintained control and shot a rainmaking floater over the out­stretched right hand of the Brooks County defender. The ball hung in the air for what seemed like an eternity. Then it dropped through the net just as the whistle blew for a foul on Lob. Garrison’s body hit the floor, but he did not feel any pain. As he hopped to his feet, he smirked. He had just earned a chance for a three-point play the old-fashioned way, as his dad liked to call it.

The Wilder County Pirate fans erupted in joy! Lob scowled as he struggled back up to his feet. He was used to opposing offensive players shrinking in fear of his intimidating presence, but Garrison did just the opposite. He took it right to the big fella.

He sank the free throw and readied himself to play defense. He glanced up at the scoreboard. The three-point play brought them to within five with only seven ticks left in the third quarter.

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