Guest post by Scott Tyson
With 4.7 seconds left in the game, JB stepped to the line with our team trailing 54-53. JB is the best free throw shooter on the team so I felt confident he would make at least one to tie the game and send us into overtime. It’s amazing what can happen in 4.7 seconds of a basketball game.
About 20 minutes earlier, we were trailing by 15 points midway through the third quarter. All of the sudden (as often happens in sports), Daniel knocked down a three point shot and we gained our first hint of momentum. Seconds later, Davis knocked down another three point shot. This being a home game, the crowd started to get excited and loud. We were still down by 10 points at the time but it felt like we were taking control of the game. As the fourth quarter began, the score was 40-33 in their favor. After months of practice and preparation, ups and downs, success and failure, everything began to fall into place. Davis led the charge by hitting two more three point shots and making two tremendous steals which turned into fast break layups. You would have thought we were playing in the NCAA Championship game the way the crowd was reacting. Despite our valiant effort, we were still unable to capture the lead and finish the amazing comeback.
Back to 4.7 seconds. JB calmly stepped to line and effortlessly drained his first shot. We had finally tied the game and the crowd was certainly aware (I also felt a sense of relaxation). 54-54 with one more free throw remaining. The opposing team called a time out to ice JB. Unfortunately for us, it worked. JB returned to the line only to miss his second shot (you could hear a collect gasp from the crowd). But wait! Somehow, Joel came up with the rebound and quickly went back up for the game winner. FOUL – 3.1 seconds left. Neither team had a time out left so Joel immediately stepped to line with two shots – only needing one to give us the victory. The first shot clanked off the back of the rim, no good. The second shot rolled around the rim, no good (another collective gasp from the crowd). Overtime appeared to be inevitable. But wait! Somehow, JB was able to wrestle the rebound away from his opponent and calmly put up a 6 foot jumper off the board. This is when time slows and the noise disappears. As I watched the ball fall into the basket and then heard the horn go off, it was almost as if I could see the entire season flash before my eyes. All the time, effort, and hard work put in this year finally seems to have paid off. Everything came together in that one moment. We still have four weeks to go in the season but last Friday night was a turning point. The players, parents, coaches, and fans were able to see the fruit of our labor. Final score, 56-54.
Being involved in sports ministry often leads me down this same path. I spend hours and hours planning, preparing, training, organizing, and more in hopes to provide an atmosphere and environment where players and families can potentially have a life-changing experience like our win last week. In sports, you never know when you are going to have a game like we did last week. That is why many of us play. In sports ministry, you never know when you are going to truly help someone reach a turning point. The challenge is to press on even when you feel like all of your time and efforts have failed to pay off because no one seems to be getting it and no one seems to be having a “life-changing” experience. I encourage you to stay focused and persevere. Maybe today will be the day your team makes the game-winning shot at the buzzer after trailing by 15 points.