Fifteen-year-old Kyle Evans has been a jock for years—a triple threat basketball player who can dribble, pass or shoot with considerable skill. But once he decides to try out for the school musical production at Sainsbury High, Kyle finds there is much more to life than hightops and hookshots. Conflicting priorities cause problems between Kyle and his coaches, teachers, teammates and friends. And when his buddy Lukas becomes the target of homophobic hatred, Kyle is left with some difficult choices to make.
Fresh from a thrilling basketball season playing for the varsity team, Matt is looking forward to a new challenge: baseball. The South Side team seems to be strong this year—if only Matt can control his fear of being hit by an errant pitch. But when Matt's friend, Jake, the team's star, falls in with the wrong crowd, the entire season—not to mention their long-standing friendship—seems to be on the line.
For as long as he can remember, Matt has wanted to play basketball. Now, as he tries out for the team at his new middle school, he realizes that the easy days of elementary ball are over and that this is a much more serious game. Dealing with a hard-driving coach, competitive teammates and his own insecurities in a new school, Matt needs to call on all his skills, both on and off the court, to make the team and keep his head above water. When he is involved, albeit unwittingly, in tagging a store with racist graffiti, Matt finds himself in more trouble than he bargained for. And when he fights back against an aggressive teammate and is threatened with suspension from the team, he learns that it is not only game-time decisions that count, but also the choices made after the crowd has gone home and the gym is silent.
Trying to land a spot on the South Side Middle School football team isn't the biggest challenge Matt Hill faces in the third installment of this popular series. Besides catching passes and dodging defenders, Matt also has to deal with the return of his estranged father following a ten-year absence. But while Matt comes to grips with forgiving his father and gets used to having him around, he must also help a teammate deal with the damage inflicted by his own overbearing and sometimes violent dad.
Linebacker Reggie Scott is forced to deal with the repercussions of an incident that shakes his belief in the game he loves. When he is persecuted by angry fans for being a "dirty" player, Reggie is forced to confront his own guilt and decide whether he can continue to play his senior season and beyond.
Basketball-crazy Jake Burnett is thrilled to be leaving home to attend prestigious Centerville Prep. It's an opportunity to pursue his hoop dreams at the highest level. But things aren't quite as advertised at his new school, and Jake soon finds himself struggling both on and off the court. At first, Jake is determined to play harder and ignore the warning signs. Until he discovers that his new head coach is a scam artist, putting kids at risk for his own gain. Now Jake has a difficult choice to make—advance his basketball career or do the right thing.