With a once in a lifetime opportunity for most, the Nation Ford Falcons girls’ and boys’ basketball team took part of their time Saturday soaking up playing on an NBA court at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte.
Nation Ford took on Cardinal Newman Saturday afternoon playing on the Charlotte Hornets’ home court at the Spectrum Center after being invited as part of a special promotion the Hornets do allowing high schools and middle schools to play on their court. The Falcons games, both the girls’ and boys’, were held before the Hornets took on the Milwaukee Bucks Saturday evening.
Falcons’ senior Sami Tuipulotu said there were no pre-game butterflies in playing an arena that can hold up to 20,000.
“I am excited to play here with my team,” she said. “I’m not really nervous. It’s the same people we play in front of its just a different place.”
Head girls’ coach Kate Edwards was more concerned with her team stopping their two game losing streak than the actual location of where the game is at. However, she did agree it was a unique opportunity for her team, but said the distractions were already there despite playing in a bigger arena.
“Playing over Christmas break is a distraction in itself,” Edwards said. “But they are excited and focused.”
The girls’ team came into the game 7-2 against a Cardinal Newman team, who was 4-2 coming into the game out of Columbia. Nation Ford lost the game 53-44 with Tuipulotu leading the Lady Falcons in the losing effort with 17 points.
The boys’ team was just as excited regarding playing on the Hornets court.
“It’s a good opportunity,” said Nation Ford boys’ head coach Jared Adamson. “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to play on an NBA court. The guys are excited. They are fired up.”
While the crowd wasn’t as big as a Hornets game, it didn’t mean it wasn’t intimidating to play in an arena the size of the Spectrum Center for a high school player.
Senior Ben Tuipulotu admitted feeling some nerves before the game.
“It is a really cool experience,” he said. “It is cool to be around the arena and stilling near the court.”
Whether it was the experience itself or the unknown of playing in unfamiliar surroundings, the Nation Ford boys’ struggled from the opening tip and ended up falling 68-55 to Cardinal Newman. The Falcons were led by Shaman Alston, who scored 22 points in the game.