I’m not gonna sugarcoat it for you, boys. Your ol’ coach Futterman couldn’t do that to you. It’s not looking good. Championship on the line, trailing by fifteen, star forward fouled out of the game. But that’s our circumstances. We can’t control our circumstances.

But we can control how we play. And the team I see out there right now, it’s not us. I don’t see the team I guided through this season. So I got three things to tell you, and don’t you dare forget them.

One: we made it here because we belong here. Two: it ain’t over ‘til it’s over. And three: I, coach Futterman, am the serial killer known as the Strip Mall Strangler.

Now you’re gonna have questions for me. You might be thinking, “Coach, how can our defense stand a chance against these guys? What if we’re just not fast enough? Did you really murder twenty-seven people including two of Oakley High’s cheerleaders?”

I want you to put all those questions out of your heads. Forget everything except what’s next. The next point, the next pass, the next step. If we look back to the mistakes, the failures, the death mask grimaces of the asphyxiated faces we’ve left behind, then we’ll never move on.

We’re here now, at the division final! No one believed we’d make it. Who would have predicted we could outscore Springfield two-to-one in the fourth quarter? Or that buzzer-beater against St. Pius? Or that after eight months the sheriff’s department would have no solid leads on the killer wreaking havoc in their town? And we showed ‘em.

They thought they could stop us, but brother, we’re just getting started.

We may be down, but we’re not out. We’ve been in tough spots before, and what do we do? We fight our way out! That’s not just who we are as basketball players—that’s who we are at our core. On or off the court. Billy still made it to practice when his family’s house burned down. Dale kept his parents’ store in business for over a year while his pop was battling cancer.

Why last month, you know where I was? Trapped inside an industrial dumpster while the cops searched the warehouse where I’d just squeezed the life out of a mouthy postal worker. I was more scared than you are now, and I had a large iced tea in my bladder that was ready to come out. But I held out, stayed quiet, soiled myself, and that’s why I’m here with you today. I don’t ever give up—and neither will you.

They might tell us, “You’re not good enough,” “You don’t have the guts,” or “You’ll never get away with this you crazy bastard!” But we don’t listen to them!

Ok. I’m pretty good at reading a room, and I’m sensing from your faces that you’re a little hung up on the killing thing. If you’re feeling a little queasy about being huddled together in an underground room with a prolific murderer, let me put your mind at ease. I’d never dream of hurting any of you—you’re like my family. With the exception of my cousin Horace, whose corpse is stinking up his unfinished basement right now. I don’t believe they’ve found that one yet. But then he threatened to call the cops when I showed him the sugar bowl I made from human teeth. You wouldn’t do that, right?

You wouldn’t be a Horace, would you boys?

This is our time! Our season! That’s our game out there and we’re gonna take it! Now get back out there and take it to those kids from Smithfield! You grab them, hold on tight, and don’t let go until you see the light of their souls flicker out behind their eyes!

You’re winners, and they’ll never take you alive!