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BasketballPower Season Preview: Best Venues

Posted by adam_sp on Dec 10, 2008 11:30:54 AM

Western Region


By Brett Manney

SportsPower Correspondent


Ralph Tasker Arena (Hobbs, N.M.): The mecca of high school basketball resides in Hobbs, New Mexico. Ralph Tasker Arena is named after the hall of fame coach and seats 3,800. Tasker, who accumulated 1,222 wins and 11 state championships and coached at Hobbs for 49 years, was virtually unbeatable at home.  The court features team benches on opposing baselines similar to Vanderbilt University, so Tasker always had a better view for pressing.  Season tickets go fast for a team that wins nearly 90 percent of its home games.


Crenshaw High School (Los Angeles, CA): Legendary Crenshaw High has the history in its rafters to prove its place among the greatest gyms. With numerous Los Angeles city and state championships, Crenshaw can be an intimidating place for any opposing team. Under coach Willie West, Crenshaw has been a powerhouse in California since 1970.


The Corn Palace (Mitchell, S.D.): The Mitchell High School gym might have the most unique name on the list. This rural town takes great pride in its agriculture industry. The small town is also home to the state's best place to watch a basketball game. The Palace features murals made of corn and can seat 3,200 people. Perhaps the most notable player to make his mark at the Corn Palace is current NBA player Mike Miller.


Palo Verdes Peninsula (Rolling Hills Estates, CA): This public high school in California may have some of the craziest fans in the nation. Palo Verdes students have a long history of renting out animal costumes and other crazy outfits for games. The opposing team often wonders if they are involved in a circus rather than a basketball game.


Archbishop Mitty (San Jose, CA): The San Jose area basketball team has been successful on the hardwood for years and it may not just be because of talented players. Mitty fans -- who act like a sixth man -- have had the pleasure of watching Drew Gordon and other standout players over the years. Mitty’s successful athletic program has celebrated the raising of many championship banners in its prestigious gym.




North Region


By Adam C. Warner

SportsPower Editor


Barre Auditorium (Barre, VT): This Vermont shrine has been around since the 1930s and is the site for the boys and girls state semifinals and championships. With a capacity of just 1,850, it remains a top goal for youngster to always “get to Barre.” The court is so enclosed that red, white and blue mats are provided to soften the blow should any players run into the walls on the baseline. On one side of the court you can find the benches in front of the auditorium with a giant red curtain. One the other side, you have nearly 2,000 screaming fans presiding over a particular contest. The Barre Auditorium is truly one of a kind.


Dan Buckley Gym, LaSalle Academy (New York, NY): This New York City basketball mecca may only seat a few hundred people, but it's one of the more difficult venues to play in due to its tight corners. Thinking about a baseline three-pointer? Think again. There is barely enough room for a player to even fit his feet between the arc and sideline.


Memorial Fieldhouse, Canton McKinley (Canton, OH): With lower and upper level seating, Memorial Fieldhouse is one of the finest basketball venues in the country. The court is checkered tan and brown like the old Boston Garden. Meanwhile, the two-tier seating at this 5,000-seat masterpiece makes it seem that the crowd is right on top of the court.


Moeller (Cincinnati, OH): In '02, Moeller opened up its 1,350-seat, $5.5 million facility. While the old gym was well-liked by the community and considered a terrific basketball venue (despite just a 900-seat capacity), the Crusaders made a major upgrade. Now, Moeller’s latest digs includes two Jumbotron video scoreboards and practice and training areas for other sports, including volleyball and wrestling. It is now the envy of every other team in the Buckeye State.


Wilkinsburg (Wilkinsburg, PA): One would be hard-pressed to find a high school gym on the third floor of a building, but that’s the case for the Tigers of Wilkinsburg. The court dates back to the 1920s and is short and narrow, and often suffocates opposing teams playing there for the first time. Meanwhile, there is mezzanine seating on both sides for fans. Says Pittsburgh Post Gazette writer Rich Emert, the balcony seating gives the gym a “Roman Coliseum feel.”




Southern Region


By Ryan Rohde

SportsPower Correspondent


Reed Conder Gym, Marshall County HS (Benton, Kentucky): Marshall County is the host of the nationally heralded HoopFest where many of the country’s best high school teams come to compete each December. The 6,000-seat gym is nicknamed “Little Rupp Arena” after the Kentucky Wildcats' home digs. There is a waiting list for 964 armchair floor seats that have been sold out every game since 1980.


Central Gym, Central HS (Shelbyville, TN): It’s nicknamed "Rick’s Grill" after girls head coach Rick Insell, whose teams have only lost 20 games since 1977. All 2,600 seats are unreserved and fans aren’t allowed in until an hour before tip off, but many local senior citizens arrive early to place their seat cushions in the bleachers. Practice for the team is always open to the public, which invites everyone in town to see their team’s product.


Covington Catholic (Park Hills, KY): Covington Catholic could be home to the best student section in high school basketball. Each game is accompanied by a theme, whether it be toga, village people, etc. The students are the reason why this place is so hard to play in. The organization, spirit and chanting gives Covington Catholic home games an experience second to none.


The Hornets Nest, Roswell High (Roswell, GA):

The rotunda-shaped gym nicknamed the "Hornets Nest” has the feel of a small college arena. The gym features high ceilings and a hanging four-sided scoreboard above center court. There is also plenty of standing room above the bleachers where an indoor track encompasses the court. The most impressive part might be what you can’t see. The locker room is carpeted with individual wooden lockers and is also equipped with three leather coaches and a big screen TV.


Norcross High (Norcross, GA): There is nothing special about this gymnasium, except that it's home to the three-time defending state champs. The gym is small and home games are always sold out. The Norcross crazies are all dressed in white and sit so close that they define the meaning of sixth man.

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