By the time Skyler Marshall checks into games for Class 4A Pine View, it's always too late. The St. George basketball team is 6-10 this season, and when Skyler is summoned from the bench by coach Darrell Larsen, it's an admission that the game is so far out of reach that inserting Deron Williams couldn't save it.
But Skyler Marshall isn't your typical bench-warmer he's a heart-warmer, too.
"He'll make a shot and you'll forget that you're losing," said Mitch Godfrey, the Panthers' junior center. "You're just so happy."
The 16-year-old has long, skinny flamingo legs that grow out of size 12 Nikes. His father, Ryan, says Skyler has developmental delays, although doctors have never determined exactly what they are.
But he's the kind of kid who makes people want to do nice things for him.
In a 63-45 loss at Snow Canyon on Jan. 5, Skyler missed consecutive shots as time was set to expire. Each time, the Warriors' players passed it back to him and told him to try again. The home scoreboard operator fudged on the clock, pausing it a few extra seconds to ensure Skyler made a shot.
"If we can do something to make a kid's life just a little bit better, I think that's what we're all about," Snow Canyon coach James Brown said.
In a JV game against Cedar City this year, a player who didn't realize who had the ball blocked Skyler's shot. Horrified, he grabbed the ball and gave it back to Skyler.
Here's the most amazing part of it all: There was no grand plan for any of this to happen. Larsen doesn't tell coaches of other teams about Skyler. He's learned he usually doesn't need to.
"They don't know Skyler," Larsen said, "that's just how people act."
Skyler has always loved basketball, especially the Utah Jazz.
Now, he lifts weights with his own team, and works on his shotÂ while teammates run sprints. But this season, Larsen decided Skyler needed to try out for the team, like everyone else.
So he told Skyler he needed to learn to tie his shoes.
And wouldn't you know it, Skyler runs down the court in those boat-sized sneakers, the laces pulled into two tight bunny ears.
He's probably just about the most popular kid at Pine View High School. Thursday, he was voted king of the junior prom, and Saturday night he took a girl a cheerleader, no less as his date to the dance.
Last Friday, after a physical and bitter game against Canyon View a rare win for the Panthers Skyler's teammates lifted him on their shoulders as they celebrated with the student section.
"Skyler does more for us than he'll ever know," Larsen said. "For our fans, for our team."
Earlier in the game, as Pine View's lead had increased, fans began to chant, "We want Skyler, we want Skyler."
He went in, and he scored a layup.
And it's not just the Pine View fans who recognize how special it is when he's on the court. Last year, at Dixie, he scored his only basket of the season right as time expired. A game that had been tense and spiteful among players, among fans was saved by the beauty of one boy's finest moment.
"It's a big rivalry, Pine View and Dixie, and the whole crowd just stood up and cheered," Ryan said. "There was no animosity, it was all joy."
And isn't that really the whole point? For as wonderful as it has been that other teams and coaches have helped Skyler to allow extra shots, to pause the clock he's actually the one making the rest of us better.