Friday night, Charlotte Christian boys basketball team manager Nathan Allen got to live his dream.
After spending his high school career as the Knights' manager, Allen finally got a chance to play. His teammates on the basketball team call Allen "Shooter" because during free time or breaks in practice, he always practices his shot.
Wearing a black No. 11 jersey, Allen went into Friday's sold-out home game against Charlotte Country Day.
The place went nuts.
Shooter just wanted to score.
Charlotte Christian coach Shonn Brown thought about playing Allen last year. He wanted to do something to honor Allen, the first manager he has ever had stick around for four years.
It's a tough job. You have to run the clock during practice. You pick up the sweaty uniforms and get them ready to be washed. You make sure the players have basketballs during pregame. You get to run all the little errands - for gum, for Gatorade, for granola bars. And you get little reward other than the occasional pat on the back and a chance to be the guy in the corner of the team picture.
But it is a job that Allen has loved forever.
"His sophomore year, we didn't have a lot of numbers on JV and he was guaranteed a jersey and a spot on the team," Brown said. "But he said, 'Coach, I want to help the varsity.' It says a lot about him wanting to serve. He gave up the opportunity to play a full JV season to be our manager. Those are things kids remember the rest of their lives."
Brown didn't want to miss another chance to honor Allen's service. So after Thursday's 66-45 win at Hickory Grove, he gathered his captains outside the visiting locker room and asked them how would they feel if Shooter suited up for the Knights' last home conference game against rival Charlotte Country Day about 24 hours later.
The players all said, "Absolutely," almost in unison.
So Brown went back to the whole team and gathered everyone in a huddle, all the players' arms locked together in prayer. This is something Brown's team always does. When it was over, Brown surprised the Knights with something he'd never said.
"OK guys," Brown said. "It's back to business (Friday), and, by the way, Nate will be dressing out."
The players started chanting Shooter's name. "Yea, Nate! Yea, Nate!"
The word got out around school Friday morning that Allen was going to play, and when it became apparent during the game that night that Charlotte Christian was going to take the outright Charlotte Independent Schools Athletic Association championship, eventually winning 84-65, the crowd began to chant "We want Nathan! We want Nathan!"
Shooter got in with 90 seconds to go. Brown called a play named "Curl". It meant Allen would run down towards the baseline, come off a screen, and catch the ball.
Shooter got the pass and, of course, he shot.
The 3-point attempt missed, but he was fouled. When he made a free throw, for his first and only career point, Brown said it was so loud he could not hear himself think.
"I thought giving him a chance would be a cool thing to do," Brown said.
Just a guess, but it's something Shooter will never forget.