Night Hoopsby Carl Deuker
Nick Abbott and Trent Dawson have nothing in common but basketball. Or so it seems. But as the basketball season progresses, their lives become unexpectedly intertwined. In this story of an unlikely bond, award-winning author Carl Deuker explores that dark and confusing place between loneliness and friendship, between faithfulness and betrayal. Filled with gripping… See more details below
Nick Abbott and Trent Dawson have nothing in common but basketball. Or so it seems. But as the basketball season progresses, their lives become unexpectedly intertwined. In this story of an unlikely bond, award-winning author Carl Deuker explores that dark and confusing place between loneliness and friendship, between faithfulness and betrayal. Filled with gripping game play, the novel will leave readers wondering how much they themselves would reach out to a kid like Trent.
"Once again Deuker strikes a happy balance between issues and action, examining topics such as parental pressure and the edgy realtionship between play makers and their less gifted teammates while transporting his readers right into the bleachers with vivid play-by-plays." —Bulletin
* "The author perfectly captures the swirl of ideas in the adolescent mind. . . . Deuker delivers a story that features rounded characters dealing with real problems, set against the backdrop of a varsity basketball season. . . .This is an excellent novel."—SLJ, starred review
"Deuker adds further luster to his reputation for top-flight sportswriting matched to uncommonly perceptive coming-of-age stories." —Kirkus Reviews
- HarperCollins Publishers
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- Sales rank:
- Product dimensions:
- 4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.64(d)
- Age Range:
- 13 - 12 Years
Read an Excerpt
Against the fast break, you have to stop the ball. That's rule number one, even if it's Trent Dawson, eyes wild, who's barreling down the lane at you, and even if it's just a summer pick-up game. You've still got to suck it up and do it. So I challenged him, holding my position, feet set.
With the advantage in numbers he had, a simple bounce pass would have given one of his teammates the easy two points. Trent knew that, because he was a player. Or he could have been a player, if he ever played right. But Trent Dawson never did anything right.
Instead of passing off, he crashed right into me, planting his knee into my chest. I toppled backwards, and he came down hard on top of me. My head smacked the asphalt just as the ball rolled in. "That was a charge," I yelled, still pinned under him. "The basket doesn't count."
His hand came right back to my face, his fingers squeezing my cheeks and almost gouging my eyes. "No way, Abbott. No way."
Every guy on the court knew he was cheating, but nobody backed me. I can't blame them, because the one thing worse than having Trent Dawson squeeze your face would be to have him pound it to a bloody pulp. And he'd do it, too. He'd do it and he'd enjoy it.
"Take the points," I sputtered, pushing his hand away, "but you fouled me and you know it."
He grinned as he climbed off me. It was his way of letting me know that he did know it.
The game ended in a typical Dawson way. We were playing to twenty. My team had the ball with the score tied at eighteen when Trent's older brother Zack showed up. Trent is bad news, but Zack is worse, both meaner and crazier. Word is that he hasa gun that he stole from one of his mother's many, many boyfriends.
"Hey, Trent. Let's go," he shouted from across the court.
Immediately, without so much as a "Good game" or a "See you later," Trent was gone, leaving the rest of us with sweat dripping down our faces and backs, our mouths hanging open. "What a total jerk," one of the guys said, but not until Trent was out of earshot.
The joke is that last year, when Trent first moved into the rental house across the street from us, I was keyed up about it. A guy my age, who looked pretty athletic it was perfect. Dad knew, though. He never liked the Dawsons. "Freeloaders" is what he called them, because they were on welfare. "There'll be trouble. Mark my words."
Mom, who is a nurse at the county hospital and sees a lot of poor people, defended them. "Not having money doesn't make you a criminal."
Dad grinned. "Just wait. In six months you'll be singing a different tune."
Normally Mom isn't all that outgoing, but she made a point of welcoming Ericka Dawson to the neighborhood, calling out "hello" to her in the morning and encouraging me to do stuff with Trent.
But Dad turned out to be right. On our block everybody mows the lawn, plants flowers, and picks up stray bits of trash. People wave to their neighbors, keep their music down, and drive slowly, at least until they hit the main streets.
It didn't take long to see that Ericka Dawson was different. She let the lawn and flower beds go. Her front porch became a garbage heap, and if anything broke, it stayed broken. She had people over all the time, and they partied late and loud. Strange cars and motorcycles were always roaring up and down our block.
When the Dawsons moved in, the inside of the house had been clean and neat. Within three months the place was a total dump, and I mean total. I still remember the first time I was inside that house. Trent had me over to play pool on what turned out to be an undersized table, really just a toy, that one of his mother's boyfriends had given him.
The pool table was upstairs in his room. To reach it, we had to walk through the house. Newspapers, empty pizza boxes, and beer bottles were strewn around the living room floor and on the sofa. Cigarette butts spilled out of cups and off plates onto the tables and carpet. Plates crusty with dried food sat on top of the television set, which was on, the volume full blast. "What are you looking at?" Trent said when he caught me staring.
I was glad to make it to his room, but five minutes later his mother came upstairs. "Go home," she ordered, just like that, no explanation at all. I stood for a second, stunned. "You want me to draw you a picture?" she snapped. "Go home."
As I left I spotted a policeman standing in the kitchen, and the next day Dad found out that Zack had been caught stealing beer at Albertson's.
That was when Mom gave me the word: "Nick, stay out of that house. If Trent invites you over, you make some excuse. You understand?" Dad didn't have to say anything. His smile said it all.
Night Hoops. Copyright © by Carl Deuker. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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