There's something about high school hoops

Feb. 10, 2013 @ 08:14 AM

I've attended my fair share of college and professional basketball games. I've sat on press row and chanted in student sections. I've heard alumni degrading referees and rushed courts after televised upsets. But in the end, there's no place I'd rather see a game then a crowded high school gym.

Granted, I've never seen a game at the Dean Dome, Cameron Indoor, Assembly Hall or even attended a legit NBA game (the Bobcats don't count), but there's just something about hundreds of loyal fans crammed onto plastic bleachers with knees touching cheering on their hometown kids.

There's something about the first row of fans sitting less than three feet from the court as others walk the tightrope along the edges of the floor to get to their seat.

I love seeing the crowds of students congregate to their respective sections the way I did back in my slightly younger days. The way the students treat it as a date night and awkwardly flirt and hold hands. Yeah, I used to be one of those, we all were.

I love seeing families of players sit as a group and harass opposing players who have the audacity to tightly defend their son, daughter, niece, nephew, grandson or granddaughter. I love hearing the jeers should when a referee has the nerve to call a foul on their team. High school fans are by far the most subjective fans, which makes for a good time for people like myself.

I love the flamboyant coaches who run up and down the sideline, snap clipboards, argue with referees all while sweating bullets as if every game could be their last.

I love the reaction that any and every slam dunk attempt brings. A successful throw-down ignites the crowd into a frenzy, but if the rim has other ideas, every coach scowls in disgust knowing that an easy layup could have been had if their player didn't feel the need to be a show-stopper.

I love the inevitable battle between cheerleaders as to who can be louder.

And everyone knows I have to have a snack time between games. I love the hand-written price sheets at the concession stand and the unique options various schools have. Who doesn't love the chicken tenders at R-S Central?

Friday night lights is a special experience, but there's just something about high school hoops that gives me chills. It's a social experience masqueraded as a high-intensity night of basketball.

If you don't understand what I'm describing, make sure to be in Shelby Tuesday night as East Rutherford invades Lloyd Little Gymnasium for what will be an absolute electric atmosphere. This one is worth the 30-minute drive.

So if you prefer college floors or NBA arenas, you can have them. I'll choose a cramped gym with low rafters and locals every day.