2021 FBA Season/21.03.08/[email protected]/Capsule

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The Baltimore Spirits and Arizona Whips stand on opposite sides of the spectrum, both geographically and in the League. The Spirits were enjoying a stretch of six wins over the last eight games and situated firmly on top of the Central Division with three current-season All-Star players and a player that recently won the MVP for the Rookie All-Star Game. Meanwhile the Arizona Whips were on a thirteen-game losing streak, experienced a complete overhaul of the coaching staff, and at the very bottom of the entire FBA. Many sports journalists believe this will be just another throw-away game for the Spirits, and the Whips were expected to drag further and further down the abyss. With the Spirits leading 84-76 by the start of the fourth quarter, even some of the most loyal of Whips fans start to filter out of the Ascendant Arena.

Then within the first two minutes of the quarter, a referee called a technical foul on new Head Coach Charles Fallen, and somehow that produced a spark within the downtrodden Whips team. It began with a controversial foul on Wesley Lachs as he was attempting a rebound and got into a tussle with Spirits' Rex Kearsarge. Despite Lachs receiving the heavy brunt of the impact that knocked him onto the floor, referee Vernon Hill called the foul on him, which enraged Coach Charles Fallen. The white-haired aging wolf, likely stressed from handling his first ever FBA coaching job, started to scream at the referee and walked several steps onto the court away from the bench. The referee immediately called a technical on him, which provoked a resounding set of boos from the remaining crowd of fans that stayed. The game continued on, but the Whips refused to give up and they hustled for every point, rebound and turnover they could get, and they chipped away at the Spirits' lead.

The energized scoring efforts from Kyler Inari (ended with 21 points), Jaylen Rose (ended with 24 points), and Morgan McCarthy (ended with 22 points) spearheaded their comeback, and with ten seconds to go, they were only two points behind. When the ball came into possession by Rookie All-Star MVP Saphira Kelley, the Whips' Mary Kathyrn O'Hara quickly fouled her as was customary for such a strategy late in the game. Saphira Kelley went up to the free-throw line and made her first attempt.

CLANG. It bounced off the rim. No matter, as they were still up by two points. She inhaled and exhaled deeply to focus and then went for her second shot attempt.

CLANG. The ball hit the rim again and went right onto the ready paws of Whips' Morgan McCarthy. With the clock ticking down, McCarthy immediately passed the ball as he was swarmed by two Spirit players, and Evan Cross grabbed it halfway across the court. With Lisa Belle DuPont and Gary Elsinore standing guard in between him and the basket, Evan Cross sped quickly toward the basket, navigating his way across the two Spirit defenders, and put up a desperate lay-up just as time ran out. The shot went through the net, scoring the necessary two points for the Whips and sending the game into overtime. The crowd erupted in cheers as the entire Whips team celebrated.

The drama was not over yet however. With four minutes to go at overtime, Evan Cross received his sixth foul and was ejected from the game. Coach Charles Fallen once again stepped onto the court enraged, and once again, referee Vernon Hill called for the technical foul. After being coach for just a few games, Charles Fallen received his first FBA coach ejection. As the crowd booed, Coach Fallen continued to scream at the referees, enraged even as he was escorted to the locker rooms. His assistant coach, former FBA player Akako Tsubasa, took over the coaching duties. The Spirits tried to fight back as best as they could to score the victory, but the Whips, long suffering in the FBA, wanted the victory more and by the time the buzzer rang to end the game, they ended up on top, 128-123. The Whips celebrated again this time for good, and their star rookie Kyler Inari was award POTG with 21 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals. As the Baltimore Spirits team retreat to their locker room shellshocked after what had just transpired in the game, the Whips remained on the court, celebrating with the fans that stuck with them all the way to the end.

-- Vince Sedaren, Flagstaff Tribute

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