The Lions versus the Skyhawks. Green versus Blue. The Utes and BYU story of two small town high schools. Sweat falls and curse words come out as the Salem Skyhawks pull ahead of the Payson Lions. The second half gives Payson a new hope, a chance to overcome a 10 point deficit. The score rises 28 to 38, 31 to 38. Closer and closer the tension in the air gets thick with every pass. The chanting of the cheerleaders echos in everybody's ears, “FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT!!”
The ball flies from one end of the court to the other as the score increases, 33 to 40. We begin to lose faith as the clock ticks down, but our hope for victory remains. War paint begins to run down the sweaty faces of the crowd as the temperature rises and the trash talk gets heavy.
“You can't do that!”
“We can't hear you!”
Brayden Bahr is fouled and the shouts ring out as he makes both his free throw shots. Nothing but net.
The score becomes 40 to 43.
The crowded bleachers shake as music vibrates through the marrow of each fan.
44 to 43.
The tension builds as each team tires.
45 to 47. Rylan Roundy gets fouled, both his shots are through the hoop. The rival crowds battle against one another, determined that their school will pull through for the win.
48 to 47.
The score surges and so does the anxiety. SWAT!, SMACK, GRAB. The ball flies through the net.
50 to 53.
52 to 56.
The Lion Pride grows strong. The three point line has never seemed so menacing before. Three minutes left, two points behind. The crowd begins to sweat as much as the players. The fear of the other team winning slowly overcomes some students, making them leave or sit with their head in their hands, not bearing to watch as the seconds tick by.
54 to 58.
Please let a miracle happen.
54 to 60.
“Keep that Lion spirit up!”
56 to 60.
Dribble, dribble, swish. Dribble, dribble, swish. But not in the Lion’s basket.
56 to 64.
Faith runs dry as the timer counts down from one minute. The crowd woefully begins to lose hope.
61 to 69.
End of game. Salem wins.
True spirit is not standing behind a team that wins, it's catching the team that falls.