Marshall Rises to the Occasion, Stuns Crowd

Michael Pankowski, Contributing Editor

Michael Jordan did not make his school’s varsity basketball team as a sophomore. Senior Nate Marshall did not make Rockville’s as a sophomore, or even as a junior.
Michael Jordan used this slight as the rocket fuel that would take him to the top of most everyone’s “Greatest NBA Player of All Time” list, winning five league MVP awards in the process. In the same way, Marshall used his rejection as the fire to ignite his legendary performance against Magruder HS Dec. 9, leading to “M-V-P” chants raining down from the heavens, declaring Marshall the distraught team’s savior.
With less than four minutes to play and RHS down by over 40 points, the game had already been decided. The vaunted Inferno had been extinguished. Some fans had already left, while the loyal others decided to stay and cheer on the decimated ballers until the much-needed final whistle could halt the massacre. For these fans to avoid shedding a few (thousand) tears, a Michael Jordan-in-Space Jam type performance was needed.
Neill Seminario, a sophomore Inferno member, witnessed the onslaught.
“The crowd was pretty dead and everybody wanted to leave,” Seminario said. “Then Nate came in, though, and everybody knew they should stay and see what would happen.”
Early after stepping onto the court, Marshall positioned himself close to the corner of the floor in front of what was left of the Inferno. He caught the ball,, rose up with perfect jumper form, and released a cannonball heading for the hoop. The silence of the room was cut by the sound of the referee’s whistle, signaling a foul. The ball floated towards the rim as Marshall held the follow-through.
Marshall raised his index fingers on each hand high into the air, signaling that he was Number 1 as the Inferno ignited into a blaze of glory. The screams of the parent section created a second fire as the entire high school sprung a few feet into the air. Marshall went to the foul line as the raucous cheers turned to chants of “M-V-P.” As fate would have it, Nate drained the foul shot too, simultaneously stealing the hearts and voices of his adoring fans.
“I’ve never seen a reaction like that in any basketball game I’ve ever been to,” Gerald Buchanan, a senior student at Magruder who was in attendance for the performance, said. “It was surreal.”
Of hearing the “M-V-P” chants, Marshall said, “It was the best feeling ever and it’s great that the people at Rockville are very supportive.”
By the end of only four minutes of playing time, Marshall had tallied a jaw-dropping 11 points, by far the most of any player on the team and just under one-third of the team’s total points. Averaged across a whole 32-minute high school game, Marshall would have had a whopping 88 points, easily destroying Magruder singlehandedly. This 88 point per 32-minute average is almost triple that of Michael Jordan’s highest career points per 36-minute average of 33.4 in his 1986-87 season.
Marshall attributes his success to all the work he put in before the season got started.
“I worked my butt off in the offseason; For example, I went to the gym before school every week,” Marshall said.
Marshall’s dedication to perfecting his skill at the game he loves has not gone unnoticed.
“Nate is one of the hardest working players on our team,” varsity basketball head coach Todd Dembroski said. “He gives his best effort every day in practice and is always ready to play when his name gets called in the games.”
Nate’s performance was not only important for the game, but for the school community as well.
“The next day, everybody was talking about Nate. I think it really helped students to bond with kids they might have not talked to before,” junior Vivian Mammen said.