Springbrook's Mike Mundy balanced precariously on the sideline, just inches from the out-of-bounds area. He tiptoed the tape as he dribbled around a defender, ready to take the turn upcourt toward what would be the final possession of the contest.
It was a close game that ultimately would be decided by his own hands -- in the same way many of the Blue Devils' games have been this season. But, at the moment, the diminutive Mundy was on the edge. Not just the edge of the basketball court, trying to evade defenders, but at the crossroads of what could turn out to be either a win or loss.
The Blue Devils led by two points, 51-49, as the clock ticked down and Mundy played artist on the court. He created his scenario and worked himself in and out of tight spots, just as he had the entire game.
Minutes earlier, Mundy had coolly quarterbacked the Springbrook four-corner offense, working down the clock and protecting a five-point lead. But not everything had gone as anticipated. Errant passes and sloppy defense had proved disastrous to the Blue Devils, who entered the final minute fighting to maintain a slim lead.
Clearly, center stage belonged to Mundy -- on the edge. On one possession he turned the ball over, trying too hard to be fancy. He redeemed himself seconds later with a steal in the back court. Then, in dramatic fashion, Mundy blocked an opponent's layup attempt from behind.
And although he was called for a foul on the play, the curtain call belonged to Mundy, who finished the game by making one of two free throws and then stealing the ball at the buzzer. Mundy had not just survived the obstacles, but had defeated them, just as he has throughout his high school career.
At 5 feet 10, Mundy's height might militate against him as a major college prospect. His outside jump shot is just respectable enough to keep opponents honest. But despite some mental errors that mar his impressive per-game statistics -- 25 points, seven steals, six assists -- Mundy looks to have the talent to pull it off.
"He has the ability to do a lot of things, but his strength is his quickness," said Springbrook Coach John Barrett. "When you consider his leaping ability and quickness -- he dunked in a game once this season -- he's not that small."
Patterning himself after small point guards who have made it big, Mundy gambles on the court, diving for steals and trying to create the big play -- even when it isn't there.
"Sometimes I'm too fancy. I have to try to play within myself," Mundy admits. "I try to do too much sometime. I learned it off the playgrounds. That's my style of play, I guess."
The ability to be steadily productive makes Mundy an important asset to the Blue Devils. But his daring style of play -- the fancy passes and the razzle-dazzle -- makes Mundy a star.
During the summer, Mundy participated in two high school basketball camps, the Five-Star Camp and the D.C. All-Stars, and was selected to the all-star teams in both. He went there for the experience, and to be seen, and he came away with both.
"Mostly for the exposure," said Mundy, "but I learned how to handle myself against players that can play. I had to compensate against them because they were bigger. They tried to push me around."
Mundy said he once tried lifting weights in order to build onto his slim, 150-pound frame, but damaged ligaments, forcing him to quit. Still, it is quickness, not strength, that makes him successful.
He harasses opposing guards with a gnatlike tendency, denying them easy access to the basket and then forcing the ball to the hoop on the offensive end.
"He's shooting over 50 percent from the floor because he hits a lot of layups (following) steals," said Barrett. "He's the quickest player I've personally coached."
His quickness unquestioned, Mundy's unorthodox outside jumper remains suspect. Shooting inconsistency is just another obstacle for him to overcome, though, on the route to a college career.
"I think I can do it. I've been trying and working on it for a long time," said Mundy, who is considering attending Boston College, Virginia Tech, Towson State and George Mason amd majoring in communications. "As the players get better, it gets harder. But I have big goals. I want to play on a winning team, a team that at least has a chance to do something.
"I want to come on TV playing basketball."
There, Mundy could again be in the spotlight, with all the pressure resting on his shoulders. Games could be his to win, just as now at Springbrook. And Mike Mundy would be in an accustomed location -- on the edge.