GRANGER TOWNSHIP — T.J. Henderson can envision it.
He can smell it and practically taste it.
And then, in the cruelest and most inexplicable way, it often seems to come crumbling down like the walls of Jericho.
"It stinks because you know you’re good enough to be there and win it and you’re just not," Henderson said.
On Friday, the Greenmen certainly proved they were "good enough to be there and win it." In the end, much like a few of its other head-spinning encounters, Aurora was, once again, "just not."
As for the third-year Greenmen head boys basketball coach, this trend of near misses is … well, "just not" the way to go.
Aurora suffered its sixth defeat in its last seven games after losing 66-63 to host Highland in overtime. The Suburban League American Conference showdown took place in Granger Township.
The Greenmen, who dropped to 2-6 overall and 0-4 in the conference, saw another elaborate wedding crashed by their fickle bride’s charming but conniving ex-boyfriend.
These uninvited guests have spoiled Aurora’s nuptials far too frequently this winter. The Greenmen have dropped four games by five points or less.
So how does one recover when a couple of his engagements are broken off right when he’s ready to kiss the bride?
Don’t ask a certain group of young men who prefer green tuxedos. Being left at the altar is one thing. Losing the love of your life on your honeymoon is downright savage.
When it comes to the Aurora players, tying the knot is "just not" in the cards for West Pioneer Trail’s most eligible bachelors.
"It was definitely a gut punch," Henderson said.
It sure was.
Just ask Ethan Hays. The Greenmen’s "best man" had the wind knocked out of him by this vicious strike to the abdomen. As a result, he was harshly excommunicated by a not so holy church.
Despite 38 points and five 3-pointers, the silky smooth senior guard was banned from his own reception.
Hays picked up his fifth foul in the middle of the overtime period and was forced to leave the dance floor for good.
As for Henderson, he may have resembled Andrew Hennings in the 2002 romantic comedy Sweet Home Alabama.
In this case, though, he probably felt more like Andrew’s mother. That’s because Henderson took another punch. This close-fisted blow proved to be just as painful.
It caught him right in the face.
"It definitely hurt because everyone looks at Ethan to sort of be our engine," Henderson said. "I still had faith in all the guys that were out there. We talked in the huddle. It was just believing in each other."
Aurora, which trailed most of the way, actually led 63-61 despite not having the services of its most distinguished soldier.
However, the Hornets, who also have seen their share of hardships thus far, scored the last five points to close the door.
Some thievery was involved in this particular lockdown.
After the ball was poked out of the Greenmen’s hands, senior Alex Jaworski finished with an uncontested layup to score the game’s final basket with less than 10 seconds left.
"It was key plays here and there," Henderson said. "The strip at the end of the game really hurt us.
"It’s one play. That’s how close we are to really turning this ship around."
It happened once already.
Aurora had losing streaks of five and four games, respectively, before getting its act together when it mattered most last winter.
Thus, the Greenmen wound up advancing to district play after a long hiatus.
Since his visualizations are becoming more and more intelligible, Henderson insists a stirring encore is lurking in the shadows.
"They’ve been coming in and working their tails off in practice," he said. "We’ve been doing a lot of situational things. It’s one rebound; it’s one turnover. Doing the little things, getting that loose ball. We’re really trying to nitpick those little plays."
Will the Aurora players eventually get their high school "sweethearts" to say "I do?" Or will their season be "annulled" because of yet another deceitful fiancée?
Perhaps the Greenmen may want to take notes from "Wedding Singer" Robbie Hart. Or maybe they could consult Steve Perry.
One way or another, Henderson strongly believes he can turn his awe-inspiring vision into a reality. If that happens, his team may be able to take a long "Journey" that "goes on and on and on and on."
"We’ll never stop believing," Henderson said. "We’ll get back to the lab and get working and go from there."
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, firstname.lastname@example.org or @FrankAceto_RPC.