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Adam Dennis Threw Up Some Prayers, and an Astonished Auto Dealership Answered Them

February 05, 1987

It was a cruel task that stood between Adam Dennis, a backup catcher on The Master's baseball team, and a new $19,000 four-wheel-drive truck. All he had to do was hit five consecutive shots--a layup, a free throw, a three-pointer from the top of the key, a three-pointer from the baseline and, if he got that far, a half-court shot--in a shooting contest after a Master's basketball game Saturday night.

Someone in the Master's business department had calculated that the odds of anyone winning the contest, which had been going on all season at Master's home games, were one in 234,000. So, go ahead Dennis, give it your best shots.

First and foremost, Dennis, who was selected to participate through a lottery system, didn't want to embarrass himself in front of the student body. But after he had made the layup, free throw, and the first three-pointer, everyone was cheering him on. The crowd went into a frenzy when Dennis drilled the second three-pointer, never mind that the Mustangs had been buried by Southern California College, 99-80, minutes earlier in the preliminary event.

Dennis moved to midcourt, zeroed in on his target and launched a bomb from his hip that had Ford Bronco written all over it. As the ball swished through the net, Dennis was mauled by friends and baseball teammates who didn't want to miss a chance to go four-wheeling.

"I've never won anything in my life," a flabbergasted Dennis said. "I think my Lord helped me. There was no way those shots weren't going in. They were all swishes. I'd had an old truck that kept breaking down. It was on its last leg and I needed some help. I'd been praying about a new car for a long time."

Meanwhile, an anything-but-prayerful John Zeller, Master's baseball coach and sports information director who had arranged for the promotional contest with Galpin Ford in Sepulveda, sneaked off to his office to call Shea Shafer, the dealership's general manager. After discovering that Shafer was not at home, Zeller left this message on Shafer's telephone answering machine: "Shea, uh, we've got a problem."

As it turned out, the dealership had no insurance on the truck and must absorb the loss. Nonetheless, Shafer, who presented the truck to Dennis during an assembly at the college Wednesday, said he is happy for the 19-year-old sophomore. "He needed the truck," Shafer said. "We're glad he won it."

Said a more realistic Zeller: "Shea was in a state of shock. Nobody thought anybody would win that truck. Everyone is in a state of shock."

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