Many people believe life is predetermined, that you are put on a path and that’s the route you must follow.

It’s the basic principle that some people — the privileged — are entitled to things, while others are left to scrounge around and feast off the droppings from the main table.

It’s the sentiment that if you have money, you’re better off and will have far more success in life. The rich get richer; the poor get poorer.

Well, that’s what a lot of people believe anyway.

So when a basketball team of fifth-graders is playing against a top-level hoops academy that probably costs parents bricks of bucks to send their boys to, those teams aren’t supposed to lose. They are the cream of the crop. The pick of the litter. The best of the best. The crème de la crème

They are the teams that don’t lose, and, if by chance they accidentally did lose, well, the Earth must have been out of alignment that day.

Perhaps it was just luck that little team made up of no-names that’s usually relegated to the kids’ table was actually victorious.

Or, in a certain case Saturday in Wichita, it proved to be that team of top-notch ballers ran into a team of heart — something that far outweighs skill and talent any day of the week.

There are lessons to be learned in the game of life — and the game of basketball.

You don’t quit until the end, until that final horn sounds.

And sometimes, by the grace of God, things happen in your favor despite all the obstacles you might face.

You see, the fifth-grade Hays Tribe boys’ traveling basketball team wasn’t the favorite against Next Level Hoops Academy. At any age range, those NLHA squads are solid teams, usually running the table at most tourneys.

In Saturday’s championship game, though, there was no quit in the Tribe. Neither team could take control, eventually forcing overtime.

Even then, you figure the academy that can charge $40 per hour for one-on-one training would find a way to pull out a “W” with all that talent. The cream always rises, right?

Well, it did.

When Drew Cure’s shot went up and through the hoop at the end of overtime, the Tribe had knocked off mighty NLHA.

It was a victory for the ages. As the final buzzer sounded, Tribe fans jumped to their feet in celebration. The other end of the bleachers? Stunned silence.

That’s what playing with heart can do, and Cure — the hero — well, let’s just say his winning bucket was special.

Cure’s father, Michael, had died unexpectedly a little more than a week early at the young age of 37. The day after his father’s death, Drew decided to play in a tournament in Salina.

Only eight days after his father passed — and four days after the funeral — Cure was playing with a heavy heart in the Wichita tourney. The strength that kid showed was undeniably strong. The heart he showed was even stronger.

He, and his teammates, would not be denied — somehow, someway.

There are true underdog stories, and perhaps this is one of them. Perhaps nine times out of 10, the other team would be victorious.

Not this time. Not this game.

This time, the deserving team won. That’s what playing — and living life — with heart can do.

We can all learn something from what Cure and his teammates showcased Saturday.

And you know what, that’s a lesson money just can’t buy.

nschwien@dailynews.net

Nick Schwien is managing editor

at The Hays Daily News.