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Over the course of the basketball season, Arnold starts to shine as a shooter. Back on the rez, he wasn't expected to be good—so he wasn't. At Reardan, though, everyone wants him to be good. So he is. "The power of expectations," he says (25.10).
Though he's getting good, Arnold still throws up before every game. Why? Not because he's scared, but because he's nervous. He's a "nervous yucker," not a scared one like back in Wellpinit (25.31).
All of the players get compared to older players of the past, but not Arnold. It's harder to compare an Indian to a white man.
The Wellpinit re-match rolls around and Arnold wants to beat Rowdy. Big time. He wants revenge.
The Wellpinit team has gotten good, though, with a 13-0 record. They're ranked number 1 for a small school in the state. Reardan is ranked number 2, so, needless to say, the match is a big deal.
A local news team interviews Arnold and asks him how he feels. All he can come up with is "weird" (25.55), much to the dismay of the reporter. The reporter asks again, but Junior (feeling "exposed and primitive" and suspicious of the guy's motives) just says "weird" (25.73).
This goes on for a while until Arnold finally pulls it together and talks to him on camera about how this is "the most important night of his life" and how badly he wants to win (25.102).
Coach gives the team a pep talk in the locker room. He says they may not have more talent than the Indian team, but they have "bigger hearts" (25.117). (Isn't that usually the other way around in David v. Goliath matches?) And their team has Arnold Spirit.
Coach tells Arnold that he's guarding Rowdy. Arnold is stunned. And honored. And afraid.
Coach tells him something very powerful: "You can do it" (25.141).
The team runs out onto the court and Arnold sees his father—and waves. His mother and Penelope are there too.
The Wellpinit team comes on the court and the crowd just boos and boos. Rowdy and Arnold exchange hate signals, and all Rowdy can do when Arnold tells him he is guarding him is laugh.
Arnold knows Rowdy wants to make a dunk with the first play to send a message, but he races alongside him and manages to jump higher than him and take the ball out of his hands. He dribbles towards his hoop, shoots a three pointer, lands it, and the crowd goes wild!
After that, the game is basically over. As Arnold says, "One play can change your momentum forever" (25.226). Reardan beats Wellpinit by forty points.
At the end of the game, the team lifts Arnold up on their shoulders. Arnold looks at his father in the stands, and his father is quiet-faced. He is watching the Wellpinit team.
Arnold realizes that he's been playing on the side of Goliath—not David. The Reardan team is all white and middle-class, with cell phones and iPods, while many of the Indian team members probably haven't even eaten breakfast that morning or have fathers in prison.
Arnold then realizes that Rowdy's father is probably going to beat him up for losing the game.
Arnold feels ashamed. He cries not tears of joy, but tears of shame.
Wellpinit doesn't make it to the playoffs, but Reardan does, though they lose to a tiny farm-town school called Almira Coulee-Hartline. The whole team cries in the locker room after the game.