Sweat popped out on Barron's forehead as he stared at the basket. He could feel all eyes on him as he stood at the foul line. With his feet firmly planted, he shifted his weight for better balance. His left knee throbbed, causing him to grit his teeth.
The ball was hard and cool. Barron's fingertips gripped it so tightly that the nubby texture was making an impression on his fingers. He exhaled and began to dribble. The sound of the pounding ball echoed through the gym as it bounced back and forth from the floor and his right hand.
Suddenly he caught it. With both hands Barron lifted the ball in front of his face, visually lining it up with the backboard. He bent his knees, aimed, and released it. He sent the ball in a high arch toward the basket. It hit the rim and rolled around. Barron held his breath, not daring to move, willing the ball to fall through the net. It fell to the outside instead.