It wasn't the kind of easy bus ride that the Cincinnati (Ohio) Aiken High boys basketball team was expecting.
After leaving Ohio for a trip to Memphis to play in the Lynx Holiday Classic, the team's bus endured one of the more horrific incidents one could imagine. First, it got a flat tire. Before the driver could steer the bus safely off the highway, sparks from the exposed tire rim bounced off the concrete started a fire on the bus itself, sending the entire squad into a concerned panic.
According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, the entire Aiken team -- including star point guard William Moore, who is pictured at right -- and all staff members on board the bus were able to exit the vehicle safely, but there was collateral damage; Aiken boys basketball coach Leon Ellison said some of the team's warm-ups and shoes were destroyed in the fire, as were some personal items of coaches and players.
Amazingly, the on-road incident didn't even keep the team from making its game. After switching to a new bus, the team still made it to Memphis for the game, heading directly to the Memphis gym.
Aiken eventually fell to Memphis (Tenn.) Lausanne Collegiate School, 75-70, after the game's tip off was delayed from 7:30 to 8 p.m.
In the mind of Ellison, that direct approach of heading straight to the game despite the scary setback served to teach his players about overcoming adversity.
"This just teaches guys a life lesson about getting through adversity," Ellison told the Enquirer.
Of course, it also teaches them something about road safety, and the flammable nature of polyester fabrics, lessons they probably never anticipated learning in the middle of the holiday hoops season.
Most importantly, the entire Aiken basketball community learned that there are always things that are more important than basketball games and personal possessions, which we can all serve well to be reminded of in the middle of the holiday season.