This story is a sequel to my stories , Fast Break and Footsteps (Ghost Towning) . You may want to read the preceding stories before reading this one. Fast Break and Footsteps (Ghost Towning) can be found on my on my website – mickeyminner.com
“Stop!” Pat yelled then waited for the players on the court to comply.
Holding the ball, Dimchek stood in the middle of the key surrounded by eight other players also in or close to being in the key.
Halfway between the right side of the key and the sideline stood a very distressed Hudson; her pass having just been intercepted by Dimchek.
“Hudson, who were you passing to?” Pat asked deceptively calmly.
“Pam,” Hudson responded nervously.
Pat's eyes left Hudson to scan the positions of the other players. Wilson, the intended target of the pass, was on the opposite site of the key. “How many people are between you and Wilson?” she asked turning back to the rookie guard.
“Uh,” Hudson stammered as she counted the players on the court. “Six, Coach.”
“So, just exactly what were you thinking?”
“Um… the play… uh, Coach, the play is for me to pass to her.”
“True. But…” Pat walked to stand facing the distraught rookie. “Tell me what you see when you look at Wilson.”
“WHAT DO YOU SEE?” Pat bellowed. “Can you even see Wilson?” she screamed.
“Uh, not really,” Hudson said tensely.
“That's right! You've got six bodies between you and her; all bottled up in the key.
Pat turned to face the other players. “When you're on the court, you've got to be thinking all the time,” she instructed in a more controlled voice. “You can't throw a pass through the key if it's jammed up with players. Yes, that's the way the play is drawn up. But the pass won't work… Dimchek just proved that when she intercepted it.”
The coach glared at a smirking Jackson who seemed to be relishing in Hudson's discomfort.
“Think beyond the play. Have options,” Pat said after refocusing her attention at Hudson. “Where is Jade?” she asked the chastised rookie.
Hudson again peered past her coach to see her teammate standing five feet behind the free throw line. The forward was unguarded.
“Do you see her?”
“Don't you think she would have been a better target?” Pat asked.
“Yes, Coach, but—”
“But you thought it was better to force the ball through the key to Wilson because that's the way the play was drawn up? Don't be an idiot. I don't ever want to see you make such a stupid pass again. Got it?”
“Got it, Coach.”
“One bad pass is enough to lose a game,” Pat said as she started back to the sideline. “Let's run the play again,” she directed the players after walking off the court. While Hudson caught the ball after Dimchek tossed it back to her and dribbled toward half court to restart the play, she added, “ Jackson , if I ever see Jade that open again, your ass will be on the bench.”
The smirk immediately dropped off the rookie's face. “Shit,” she muttered trotting back to take a position closer to the grinning veteran player.
“Hudson, you're out. Pete you're in. Let's go.”
After relinquishing the ball to Pete, Hudson trotted off the court.
To gain a better view of the action, Sherry was sitting several rows up in the stands and motioned for the dejected rookie to join her. “You have to think of a basketball court like a battlefield,” she said when Hudson claimed the seat beside her. “Point guards are the generals trying to outmaneuver their enemy. Your job is to outmaneuver our enemies and to get the ball into the hands of the player with the best chance to score.”
“But I thought Coach wanted us to follow the play.”
“She does... to a point. But if the play gets busted, you have to come up with another way to get the ball to the basket.” Sherry glanced at the scowling rookie who was staring at the back of the seat in front of her. “I've learned two things playing for the Cougars… first, rarely will a play work the same way twice in a game; and, second, if we put points on the board, Coach isn't going to care how the play was diagrammed. That's why, just like a general on the battlefield, you have to be prepared to change your offense. The objective is always the same, get the ball in the basket. How we get it there is going to be different on each and every play.” Sherry glanced at the rookie. “Understand?”
Hudson nodded. “I think so, Coach.”
“Good. Now go get back into the play.”
Grinning, Hudson leapt to her feet and hurried down the steps. As soon as play stopped, she ran onto the court to tell Pete she was reclaiming the point position.
“Whatever the heck you told Hudson today sure made an impression,” Pat told Sherry after practice ended and the coaches retreated to her office.
“I just told her to use her head and go for the play that gave the best shot at the basket,” Sherry said nonchalantly. “Same thing Pete had to tell me last year,” she added smiling at the memory of the veteran guard telling her that, unlike her college coach, Pat gave her players the freedom to make choices on the court.
Pat, who had been leaning back in her chair, stood up stiffly. “Ah,” she sighed bending over to stretch her arms down to the floor. Straightening back up after a few minutes, she asked, “Is it me or are these days getting longer?”
“Just a sign of your… hmmm, how can I put this gently…” Kelley paused as if in genuine thought. “Let's see… it's a sign of your maturing age.”
Pat glared at her assistant. “You've got a good ten years on me,” she snapped.
Kelley grinned. “So true. But I'm smart enough not to spend my days running up and down the court like a twenty-two year old.”
Pat flexed her legs, groaning when her knee protested the action. “Damn, I'm not even thirty yet. But, you may have a point,” she conceded.
Concerned with the grimace on her lover's face, Sherry interjected, “I think that's my signal to say it's time to head home. I know I'll be happy to spend some time in the hot tub tonight.”
Pat yawned. “Sounds great but you'll have to start without me, Mac wants a meet before I leave tonight.”
“Can't it wait until tomorrow?” Sherry asked. “You've been on the court all day and you're exhausted.”
“She's the boss,” Pat responded.
“What can she have to talk about?” Sherry asked. “We haven't even started pre-season games yet.”
“Same thing she wants to talk about every year,” Pat explained. “How the team is looking.”
Sherry slumped back in her chair. “All right, I'll hang around until you're finished.”
“Go on home,” Pat told her lover. “You know Mac, when she gets to talking about her expectations for the season—”
“She never stops,” Kelley finished the thought having experienced the team owner's enthusiasm many times over her years with the Cougars.
“Yep,” Pat said opening her desk drawer. “Go on home, Sherry,” she repeated tossing a ring of keys to her. “I'll walk home when Mac is done with me.”
“Like hell you will,” Sherry protested snatching the keys out of the air. “You've been limping for the past hour. I'll walk and leave you the truck,” she declared tossing the keys back onto Pat's desk.
“Two choices, Pat; I'll walk home or you can call me when you're ready and I'll come back to pick you up.”
“Sherry, I can walk home.”
Decisively, Sherry crossed her arms over her chest. “I'll just sit here and wait.”
Pat picked up the keys and held them out to her determined partner. “You win… I'll call.”
Sherry eyed Pat skeptically. “Promise?”
Unfolding her arms, Sherry held her hand out to let Pat drop the ring of keys into her palm. “Okay. I think I'll grab a quick shower then go to the market.”
Kelley smiled, relieved that the sudden tension between the two women had dissipated as quickly as it had appeared. “Cupboards bare again?” she asked knowing Pat's dislike of shopping.
Pat grinned. “Not my fault. I don't mind eating out.”
“I do,” Sherry grumbled standing up, “especially when you want to do it every meal. We really need to get in the habit of going to the store more often.”
“Ugh. That is one habit I have no plans to develop. But we do need a way to keep food in the house.” Pat paused a moment then peered at Kelley, a smile spreading across her face.
Kelley's arms shot out in front of her, palms facing the scheming coach. “Oh, no, you don't,” she protested. “ That is definitely not in my job description.”
“I could have Mac put it in,” Pat teased.
“You do and you'll be looking for a new assistant coach,” Kelley threatened.
“If you two are done,” Sherry interrupted with a laugh. “Why don't you go home, Kelley; and you get your butt up to Mac's office,” she told Pat. “If we're lucky, you'll be ready for a ride home when I finish with the shopping.”
“Yes, ma'am,” Pat mock saluted Sherry then pulled her lover into her arms to give her a quick kiss. “I'm on my way,” she said releasing her hold.
“Tell Mac I'm not happy with last minute meetings called after practice,” Sherry called to Pat walking out of the office.
“Will do,” Pat shouted back over her shoulder.
“You don't really think Mac will change her ways, do you?” Kelley asked.
Sherry grinned. “No. But that won't stop me from telling her she needs to.”
After her shower, Sherry had put on the pair of shorts and polo shirt she carried in her bag. She was sitting at her desk reviewing the notes she had written on the day's practice, paying special attention to areas she wanted to focus on with the rookie guards the next day.
“Care to grab some dinner?”
Startled by the unexpected question, Sherry's head jerked up. “What?” she asked when she saw Jackson casually leaning against the frame of the door between the offices and locker room.
Jackson pushed off the door frame and ambled across the room. “I asked if you'd like to go get something to eat,” she said perching on the edge of Sherry's desk.
“Get off my desk, Jackson,” Sherry ordered then she gathered up her papers and placed them in her desk drawer. “What makes you think you can come in here and ask that?” she asked annoyed that the rookie remained seated.
Jackson shrugged. “I'm hungry and…” she looked across the room to the closed door of the head coach's office. “And big, bad Coach seems to have left you all alone.”
“What!” Sherry stared at the impudent player. “I know you haven't been her long, Jackson, but you're way out of line.”
“Come on, Sherry. You don't have to pretend with me. Pat told me it's because of you that I was offered a contract and I'm thinking that there must be a reason you insisted I stay.”
“Just reading between the lines.”
Sherry locked her desk then shoved her chair back. “You're reading the wrong book,” she snapped standing up. Bracing her arms on her desk, she leaned toward the rookie. “Let me get a few things straight with you, Jackson—”
Sherry's eyes narrowed. “First, even if I wasn't in a relationship, I'm not interested. Second, don't ever call me Sherry again. Third, you have exactly ten seconds to get your ass off my desk and out of this office.”
Jackson remained seated. “Now, now, now, that's not very friendly. You're alone, I'm alone. What's wrong with a nice dinner between friends?”
“I'm not your friend,” Sherry bit off the words, her voice rising. “Five seconds.”
Jackson slowly eased off the desk. “No need to get nasty,” she said genially.
Jackson smiled then moved past the fuming coach toward the locker room. “I'll take that as a no,” she said. “But I'll leave the offer open.”
Sherry pushed up from her desk then stormed after the player. Reaching the door, she slammed it shut with enough force to shake the office walls. Twisting the lock, she spun about to collapsed back against the metal door. “What the hell?”#
To Be Continued...
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