October 18, 2018

A tale of basketball glory, shattered

Marc Anderson ’03 recounts his infamous senior year basketball game vs. Milton Academy.
by Marc Anderson ’03

I remember my senior year, Andover was playing Milton Academy and we were up 98-50. There was a palpable feeling of excitement from the crowd that gathered to watch the game—I could even feel it from the bench. There were just under two minutes left in the game and it looked like we were all going to get to see the scoreboard break the 100-point mark.

Around this time, Coach Mo beckoned me in the direction of the court with a head nod and his signature gruff baritone saying: “Stretch”—his nickname for me.

I tucked my shirt into my shorts, checked my laces, and stepped up to the referee’s table to buzz in. I got the ball, and in full appreciation of the importance and gravity of our three-digit scoring milestone, beelined it to the basket for a layup. Milton, attempting to avoid further embarrassment, proceeded to foul me—hard. However, it wasn’t until after three layup attempts amidst what seemed like barnyard defense that the referee finally called a foul. Whew.

Once I settled in at the foul line, the referee passed me the ball. I squared up, bent my knees, raised my hands, extended, and released the ball—like I had done hundreds of times before— in my backyard, at the gym, etc. But this time, the release felt ... terrible. 

At the last possible second I felt the mechanics of my shot were way off. I felt the ball slip from between my right index and middle finger and with it the hopes of hitting that 100-point milestone in front of the crowd. 

2003 PA Boys Basketball Team. Marc Anderson, top row center

I knew immediately, as soon as the ball left my hand that it wasn’t going to be pretty and I was left with no recourse within the profound expectant silence of the crowd other than to shout “Noooooo!”

Allow me to describe the shot: The ball’s arch appeared on target, you know, heading towards the basket, but as it descended, it lurched right with some serious English on it and culminated in a light kiss off the bottom right of the backboard.

Oof.

The expectant silence of the crowd in the gym was suddenly shattered by cascading explosions of laughter and disbelief. I looked to my left, at the bleachers, to see my friends falling off the bleachers in a mixture of laughter and amazement.

My teammates on the sideline wore stoic expressions in a valiant attempt to hold back laughter—akin to the way one would hold in a sneeze at a piano concert.

The referee blew his whistle a few times to quiet the crowd. Destiny awaited. 

I still had another shot to take.

I focused myself. Squared up and addressed the basket. I extended and released…

The crisp, familiar “cooff” echoed through the venue as the perfect backspin settled nicely into the net without obstruction, like a sleepy dog by a fireplace.

The game was over. We won 99-50.


After Andover, Marc Anderson ’03 attended Wesleyan University and then NYU, where he earned a master’s degree in music and music technology. He currently lives in Brooklyn, NY, where his basketball skills are limited to the occasional pick-up game with friends. 

Categories: Alumni, Magazine, Magazine Online

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