This is the fifth chapter of the BENchwarmer serial, published exclusively on wholesome-stories.com. If you haven’t seen them yet, make sure to read Chapters 1 and 2, Chapter 3, and Chapter 4 before reading this chapter.
Since I had fouled Number 22 while he was trying to shoot, he would have the chance to take two free throws.
Number 22 stood at the free throw line, and the most of the players from both teams stood around the edges of the painted area on the court beneath it so that they would be ready to get a rebound if Number 22 missed his second shot.
William and I, the guards, stood behind the shooter on each side of the three point line. We weren’t particularly good rebounders, and were staying back in order to get a head start on a possible fast break in case our team got the rebound.
While everyone was getting set up in their positions, one of the Sharks’ guards walked up to me and started talking to me.
“Hey, isn’t your name Ben?” he asked.
“Yeah,” I said.
“Weren’t you the starting point guard for your team last year? You were pretty good, from what I remember.” He continued.
Wow, way to rub it in, I thought.
“I was. But now we have a new kid to play point guard, and Coach chose him to start over me,” I told my opponent.
“I see,” said the Sharks guard. “I have to admit, he seems like a special player. Really strong and quick, and he’s got skills, too. Seems like he’s going to be in the lineup to stay. Good for your team, but tough break for you, man. Sorry.”
Wow, way to rub it in even more.
I just nodded and looked away. If this guy was trying to make me feel better, he was doing a terrible job at it.
Looking back to the free throw line, I saw Number 22 swish his first free throw through the hoop for one point. His teammates and coach clapped for him.
Suddenly, I heard the referee’s whistle to signal a substitution, and I heard Gerald call out from behind me, “Ben, I’m in for you!”
I couldn’t believe it! I had just gotten in the game a few minutes ago, and now I was being taken out again?!
I turned toward Gerald and asked him quietly, “You sure? I just got in!”
Gerald nodded his head and said, “Sorry, man. Coach’s orders.”
I sat down on the bench alongside William and Josh Martin, who had also just come out of the game, and looked at the game clock, which now showed 1:57, one minute and fifty-seven seconds left in the first half. Each half was sixteen minutes long, and I had entered the game when there were a little more than five minutes left in the half. Doing a quick calculation in my head, I realized I had been in the game for just over three minutes! I hung my head down and just stared at the floor. This was so different from last year.
In the meantime, Number 22 had made his second foul shot, and Gerald started taking the ball up for our team to start our offense.
Coach came over to me on the bench during the action and put his hand gently on my shoulder for a second before removing it.
“Sorry, Ben. You just picked up two quick fouls out there, and we don’t want you to foul out, in case we need you later in the game,” Coach Jones said.
I understood my coach’s explanation, but it didn’t make me feel any better. I just kept staring at the floor, trying not to cry.