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Pete Ferreday, a popular sports columnist, scouts basketball talent for his college alma mater and looks up sure-shot Johnny Long, a local high school player he has covered. When Pete offers him a scholarship, good-hearted Johnny declines, saying he must stay in his hometown to take care of his ill father and his kid brother Mickey. Convinced of Johnny's talent, Pete persuades State College coach, cantankerous Nat Becker, to offer Johnny a scholarship for the State team located in town. Johnny accepts the offer and soon after leaves to work the summer at the exclusive Cresthaven country club, where he meets suave Mike Taft, his mistress Lily Courtney, and the beautiful and sweet Pat Judd, with whom Johnny quickly becomes smitten. Pete pays Johnny a visit during the summer and in a discussion with Taft, Pete reveals that he is running a campaign to get the college players a better break financially. Taft claims to be investing in sports, but Pete accuses him of bookmaking. Pete leaves Cresthaven warning Johnny to watch out for the money-hungry Taft. As their stay at Cresthaven comes to a close, Johnny and Pat's affection blossoms and the two profess their love for each other. Fall arrives and Johnny wins game after game for State. At mid-season Taft approaches Johnny after a game, offering him $100 for "helping" Taft profit from the games but Johnny refuses the money. However, at Christmas time, Johnny is frustrated that he cannot buy Mickey or Pat presents and asks Taft for a job. Instead Taft offers Johnny $500 to fix a game by missing a couple of baskets, explaining that bettors do not bet on which team wins but on the point spread. Johnny once again refuses but his honest earnings cannot pay for the expensive engagement ring Pat has picked out. One evening Johnny borrows his teammate Jed Black's car to take Pat out, but the evening is ruined when Johnny becomes agitated because he cannot afford the club bill, much less a marriage. Pat warns him not to take short cuts but Johnny's impatience only grows and Pat leaves upset. Later that evening when Johnny returns the car to Jed's, he is surprised to see Taft there. Jed admits to Johnny that he has been fixing the games. Taft then craftily uses Johnny's shame about money to manipulate him into agreeing to fix the games. Johnny, though reluctant at first, does begin to miss points during the next few games. He then spends his fixing profits on Pat's engagement ring at the local jeweler; however, the salesmen are suspicious when the young man pays for the purchase with $1,000 in cash and call the police. Later Johnny invites Pat out for the evening and as he gives her the ring and pays for the dinner bill, an investigator watches from another table, taking notes on Johnny's expenses. Having bought the ring, Johnny wants to pull out of the racket and, in an effort to make up for past games, he makes more baskets than ever and takes the team to the state championship. On the day before the championship, Taft threatens to use violence if Johnny does not fix the game but Johnny is undeterred and State wins the championship. However, after the game Taft threatens to hurt Pat if Johnny does not fix the next game, the national championship. Taft offers Johnny $2,000 but Johnny refuses the money and promises to do it as long as Pat is not hurt. The day before the nationals Pete writes a column in an effort to shame Johnny into playing straight. Johnny reads the article and then has to face Mickey, whose enthusiasm for his game convinces him to play straight. At the game Johnny plays well but during a time-out, he notices that Pat's seat next to Pete is empty. Johnny is tortured, thinking that Taft's thugs are holding Pat. State leads during the first half but in the third quarter, the score conspicuously narrows as Johnny begins to fix the game. At the close of the fourth quarter, Lt. Garrett of the vice squad pulls Johnny and Jed from the game on suspicion of throwing the game. As the police walk Johnny, handcuffed, out the back of the gym, Pat explains to him that the police picked her up for questioning before the game. Pete watches as they take Johnny away and, remembering the police report from the jeweler, sadly states, "It looks like it is going to cost him more than he figured."