Encouraged by his Dad, Junior tries out for the basketball team at Reardan. Of the forty boys who are trying out, sixteen will be cut, and Junior figures that he doesn't have a chance. He is surprised to discover that, after the first drill, a marathon run, four boys drop out. He begins to think he might have a chance after all.
The second drill is a full-court one-on-one. Junior is paired with Roger, who is one of the best players on the varsity. Junior is at first pathetically over-matched, but he refuses to quit. With pure tenacity and smart strategy, he manages to hold his own against the much bigger Roger, and earns the respect of Roger, the coach, and a place on the varsity.
Ironically, Reardan's first game is against Wellpinit High School, Junior's old school on the reservation. When Reardan arrives at Wellpinit, the team is greeted by children who pelt the bus with snowballs filled with rocks, and when they enter the gym, the whole crowd is chanting, "Ar-nold sucks!'. When the Indians see Junior they become silent and turn their backs as one to show their contempt.
Before Junior even gets in the game, he is hit by a flying projectile, and must be removed because he is bleeding. He has Eugene stitch him up, and when he finally gets to play in the third quarter, Rowdy smashes him with an elbow and knocks him unconscious. Junior is taken to the hospital, where he learns that Reardan lost the game, largely due to technical fouls called by the referees, who were willing to do almost anything to pacify the unruly Indian crowd (Chapter 20).