An all-Indian basketball team shoots for a regional summer league championship, but “anti-Indian feelings” and opposing teams threaten to steal it away.
Choctaw narrator Bobby, his “best friend, Cherokee Johnny,” and Coach Robison join old faces and meet new ones in the fourth installment of Tingle’s (Choctaw) No Name series. The Monday following a season-ending loss in the high school basketball district title game, Coach Robison announces he will lead a summer team comprised of Native Nations’ players. Though the Panthers’ non-Native players feel disappointed at first, Coach offers them the opportunity to scrimmage during tryouts, and everyone posts up. Once the all-Indian team is set, the boys must trust each other and share the spotlight to succeed. As long as they “play clean, play hard, and nobody gets hurt,” Bobby and team Achukma will learn that lessons acquired on court also apply to life. Readers who enjoy a varied pace will notice both the intentional unhurriedness of a full court press and the thrilling speed of a fast break. And while basketball action and lingo abound, readers unfamiliar with the sport won’t be left sitting on the bench. Though dramatic threads of family alcoholism, domestic violence, and bullying introduced in previous stories are mentioned, they take second team to the overarching stand-alone theme of “always trying to do what’s right.”
The boys of team Achukma score with veteran readers and recruits alike. (Fiction. 12-16)