Saturday, March 4, 2017

Two

Two seconds.

Specifically, 1.9 seconds. But I'm rounding up because it's my blog and my story. So two.

Two seconds separated the Okay Mustangs from a loss in the semi-final round, packing up and driving home.

If you were there, you know what happened. If you weren't, you probably still know what happened. It was, in my opinion, the single greatest two seconds of basketball I've ever watched, and I watched Christian Laettner hit "the shot" in 1992.

I have hugged, I believe, everyone at the Big House this evening. I have done irreparable damage to my heart. I got real close to saying a bad word on Facebook.

And I sent this text before it happened.

I know I should be ashamed. But I'm a pragmatist.

It's now 7 a.m. on Saturday morning. Everything above this was typed when I got home last night, on an adrenaline-laced jag that made for great Facebook posts, but not so much in the inspiration department. 

So now I'm sitting here, staring at the computer, and hoping that somehow, words will appear on the screen the way the ball appeared in Caleb's hand last night. I guess I could set a timer on my phone for 1.9 seconds and add a little pressure. 

If you follow me on Facebook and Twitter, you know I do a lot of talking about pure moments of happiness. Hopefully, everyone reading this knows what I'm talking about; hopefully all of you have experienced one. A moment in your life which causes so much joy, it temporarily blocks out every other thing in your life. You are lost in that moment. 

I believe these moments can't be directly obtained, they have to be gifted to you. I've been fortunate enough to have a few given to me. Last night I got another one. 

It had gone terribly, the end of that game. We built a lead, then lost it, and then to top it all off made a couple of bad decisions late that took some wind out of the Mustang sails. 

I watched fans head for the exits. I don't blame them, I was mentally preparing for the drive home, thinking about whether or not I wanted to spend another night in the city. I sent Alicia the above text. I checked out. 

I vaguely remember Ben Smith looking over and saying, "Anything can happen." 

The stage was set for Pond Creek-Hunter. They had overcome the number two team in the state, and they were headed for the championship game. I've seen a news article that said Chad had told the team not to contest the pass, then changed his mind. I can't tell you how valuable it is to have a coach who won't give up. I played for one. 

I'm not sure when the moment happened for Caleb Riggs. I'm not sure if it was the walk out to the floor to finish a game he probably didn't still want to be in, or if it was something in the PCH guy's eyes that triggered it. Maybe he never doubted, I don't know. I can definitively say he was not preparing himself to be on every highlight video the OSSAA makes for state tournaments from now until the end of time. 

The referee blew the whistle, handed the ball to the kid from PCH, and what happened next was something the town of Okay will talk about until we're all old and gray and wear the bottoms of our trousers rolled. 


Time stopped. The collective intake of breath from both sides of the stadium could have vacuum sealed an entire year's worth of saltine cracker packages. And then...

Anything happened.

If you'd like to see it from more angles than a dodecahedron, you can click here.

As an educator, an English teacher, and a "Literary Man," I feel it very important to maintain a firm grasp of the English language at all times, both to keep up appearances and because of some sort of inner piousness, I don't know, don't judge me. 

But after that shot, I lost the ability to make words with my fingers. 

All caps because, well, the situation warranted all caps. 

On March 4, 2016, I typed these words: "Book the hotel rooms, Mustang fans. We'll be back next year. And I hope Fort Cobb-Broxton is there in the final, Goliath vs. Goliath, four or five moments away from another shot at a gold ball."

Well, Fort Cobb is in the final, just like us. Waiting. Gunning for their third title in a row, and with the chops to do it. 

But we have guys who don't give up. Gritty players and coaches who stare loss in the face and defy it, challenge it, who beat the odds and overcome. 

Our little town of Okay was once known as Rex. Rex is Latin for "King." Author F. Scott Fitzgerald said there are no second acts in American lives, and I beg to differ. The Kings vs. Goliath, Act II happens tonight at 7 p.m.

Last year I closed by saying how proud we all are of you, Mustangs, and that pride is still there. We are grateful for the moments you've given us, and we're standing behind you tonight. 

Now finish the job. 

"You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise."

- Maya Angelou