Midway through the fourth quarter is when it happened. The bench erupted, huge grins appeared on flushed faces and hands flew up into the air.
When the basketball found the bottom of the net, it wasn't a buzzer-beater. The shot made wasn't part of a comeback giving us the lead.
It was a moment that had nothing to do with winning or losing, but everything to do with teamwork. It was a small moment in time that a group of 10-year-old boys will talk about long after they hang up their basketball sneakers and are gray with middle age.
As coaches, we realized at half time that an opportunity for everyone to score was emerging. Chris, Trevor, Michael, Ryan and Ben had already contributed to the scoreboard and we needed the remaining six to find their place on the stat sheet.
In the third period, a play opened Teddy up on the baseline for a jumper. "Swish."
Five to go.
Everyone held their breath as Dexter drove in for a left-handed layup. Nope. But on the next drive, a missed shot landed in Dexter's hands. He went up with the offensive rebound and banked it off the glass. "Swish."
Four to go.
Caden broke free with a defensive rebound, ran the length of the court and beat out the defender as he gracefully flew through the air for an easy layup. "Swish."
Three to go.
It was now the fourth quarter; eight minutes were all that was left. Coach Hill gave the word that no one was to shoot. All efforts were to get the ball to those who hadn't scored.
Patrick got open on the left side of the court near the three point-line. He received a pass and chucked it up. The ball rocketed toward the basket, smacked off the backboard and sank through the net. "Swish."
Two to go.
Cameron popped open near the top of the key, received the ball and threw it up. The ball arched through the air... "Swish." Parents and fans were all smiles and clapping. It had clicked as to what we were trying to accomplish.
One to go.
Our team called a time out.
I subbed in our tallest players to grab rebounds. We had to get our last player to score!
"Pressure is on," coach Hill told him.
Watching our team playing together to get their final teammate the ball... listening to the players buzz with electricity on the bench; it was goose bump-worthy. It felt like we were in the high school state finals, not a Metro-West fourth grade basketball game.
Every screen set was to open him up. Every pass landed in his hands. As he took a shot and the ball rose through the air, we started to our feet. It fell short.
Everyone sat back down.
Another pass. Another missed shot. The clock was ticking and the energy in the gym was building.
Then it happened.
As Owen cut to the basket, he got the ball on the right side of the key. He set, lifted his arms and released. The ball sailed through the air and wobbled as it connected with rim. Round and round the ball rolled about the circular orange metal rim. Finally, the ball paused... then fell through the net.
We jumped up, arms pumping and those on the court fist pumped Owen and whacked him on the back.
His face said it all.
As a coach, it was one of those moments that you hope resonates.
Some of these boys will give up basketball and move onto other sports, some will continue on to play in middle school, high school, maybe even college. They will have different teammates, different coaches and play on different teams.
But on this day, they worked together, a group of 11 became one in an effort to accomplish something together.
Hopefully it is a lesson they will take with them throughout their lives, that unselfish play can result in some of the greatest rewards, and sometimes those moments have nothing to do with the final result posted on the scoreboard.
These boys will always be connected. When they reminisce at their 20th high school reunion, in between talking about their jobs and families, I hope they reflect on this game. The game when they were 10-years-old and discovered the true meaning of team.