Nine seconds left; down by one; as the quietest kid on the team, who barely scored all week, made go-ahead free throws to help his team advance to the next round.
There’s five conferences that are split up between age groups and talent at the 76ers overnight basketball camp. Seven to nine year olds were in ACC, 10-12 in Metro, 13-14 in Big 10, and 15-17 were in division one or NBA. There were eight teams in Big 10, with about nine players on each team. My team, Illinois, finished the week at 4-2 as the two seed.
Masa Kirsch, 12, was my second round pick in the development draft. I picked up Kirsch after seeing the consistency in his shooting, and how beneficial he could be on defense.
In the first few games of the regular season, Kirsch was not as explosive as I envisioned him to be. He made great passes, but shied away from shooting the ball.
Understandably, some of the campers that attend the camp, want to improve on their skills more than playing in the league games. I️ wanted to find a way to turn Kirsch into the leader of the team.
Throughout the rest of the games, Kirsch played with a lot of passion, but often times would quit when he missed his shots.
During the final moments of the playoff game, we were inbounding with one shot to win it all. Since we were down by one, i told my guard, Julian, to rush down the court and either draw the foul or pass it to the center in the paint.
As time ticked down, Julian was immediately trapped at the top of the arc. He lobbed the ball in the air and it was tipped by several players. Kirsch somehow scooped the ball, and was fouled going for the layup with two seconds left.
The other team’s bench had their hands over their mouths, while my team were covering their eyes halfway.
The ref passed Kirsch the ball – he took two dribbles and made his first attempt. Our team cheered but held it just a bit because the next free throw determinedbthe game or overtime.
He took five dribbles this time, stared at the rim for three seconds, took a deep breath and shot it. The ball bounced around the rim, but rolled in to put Illinois up by one. A roar of cheers filled the gym as time expired, and we moved on to the next round of the playoffs.
We lost in the second round of the playoffs, but Kirsch coming through the clutch when his team needed him, was the highlight of our regular season.
Masa Kirsch went front being the quiet kid that didn’t want to play, to being the hero- in a game that he will remember throughout his basketball future.