Point guard Trevin Parks hits Johnson C. Smiths first field goal. He goes to the basket and the ball goes off the glass.
Parks, who is listed at 5-foot-11, which makes him a compact 5-11, led the CIAA in scoring this season. He averaged 25.2 points. He was an All-American last season and ought to be again. Hes from Hickory and as a freshman played for the Charlotte 49ers. The 49ers often seem to play defense when they have the ball and could desperately use Parks now.
The first of the CIAA tournament games Thursday matches the Golden Bulls and Elizabeth City State. When Parks hits his basket not long after the 1 p.m. tip-off the seats at Time Warner Cable Arena are almost all empty.
Many fans are in the concourse, where they can buy TOO HARD TO GUARD T-shirts, lottery tickets, an array of jewelry and an array of long-sleeved Barack Obama T-shirts.
They can sit at a table and be fawned over and have makeup applied.
At Sexy Soul Oldies, they can watch a screen on which a young James Brown dances. A man who is in his 60s, at least, channels Browns impossible to replicate steps. Hes good.
You dont see that at the ACC tournament.
No, no, no, no, says Malcolm Graham, the Democratic state senator from Charlotte.
Graham graduated from Smith in 1985. His wife, Kim, attended Smith and they have a daughter at Winston-Salem State and a daughter at Fayetteville State.
Its a family reunion weve having, Graham says, talking not about his family but about the broader family, the CIAA. We beat each other up all season and then we get together here.
The reunion is better when your team wins, especially when you have daughters who will remind you it did not.
Charlottes Golden Bulls are not. After hitting his first shot, Parks misses his next six.
Then he drives for a layup, draws a foul and hits a free throw. Then he hits a 3. Then he hits a 3. Then he hits a 3. Then he hits a 3. You think James Brown had rhythm?
If youre lucky, you get one or two players like Trevin in your career, says Smith coach Stephen Joyner.
This is Joyners 26th season with the Golden Bulls.
The score is tied in the final minute and fans are much louder than theyve been all afternoon.
Parks goes to the basket with 22 seconds remaining. Theres contact beneath the hoop and fans of the Golden Bulls, and Joyner, expect free throws for Parks. Parks is called for an offensive foul.
His final shot as a college basketball player comes with 11.3 seconds left. Parks goes to the basket, hangs in the air and, to beat defenders, lofts a shot with his left hand (hes right-handed) and the ball doesnt come close to going in.
Final score: Vikings 65, Golden Bulls 63.
Joyner stands in the back of the news conference as Elizabeth City is introduced, hears the word victorious and walks out.
When its his turn, he returns with his players, Parks and fellow senior Shawn Stanislaus.
Parks doesnt look up. No star envisions his career ending on a Thursday. The 16-11 Golden Bulls will not play another game.
Elimination tournament basketball is exhilarating and draining and emotional. Win and all things are possible. Lose your final game in your town, where the games go on without you, and you dont want to look up, you dont want to stay in the room.
But those final two shots do not define a career. If you didnt see Parks play, the loss is yours. Hes quick and fearless and when he walks in the gym hes in range.
I dont regret a day I had, Parks says about his time at Smith. I wouldnt trade it for the world.