I'll always remember the final timeout of the season.
We were sitting on a one-point lead after turning the ball over against the Saint Francis press. In the huddle, we focused on everyone’s responsibilities if the ball went in the post. As we broke the huddle, I grabbed Josh Mawhorr's arm and said, "If you get this rebound, we win the game!"
I'll never forget the certainty in Josh’s voice as he stopped dead in his tracks and looked me in the eye.
“I got you, Coach. It's my ball!"
I knew Josh wasn't going to let us lose because of the intensity of his response. Even as the play unfolded and Saint Francis got a good look, I was confident that if they missed that shot, Josh was coming up with the ball.
As the ball came off the rim, it got batted around by several players (for what seemed like a few minutes) before it found Josh. When he finally got his hands on it, I wasn't sure if he would be able to hang on to the ball because it was on top of his head where another player easily could have grabbed it. Josh scratched and clawed with four Saint Francis defenders as they reached in for the ball like football players knocking the ball loose in a scrum at the bottom of the pile! Somehow, he managed to hang on until a foul was called.
As Josh showed his excitement and passion walking down the court preparing to shoot free throws with 7.9 seconds left, I remember thinking it was so fitting that the guy who had battled for his teammates all season long, both spiritually and physically, earned the opportunity to solidify our National Championship victory with the toughest rebound of his career.