Hillmen Basketball gets a “golden” experience at Golden 1 Center

Photo credit: Daniel Corkery
Coach Mark Lee and the Placer varsity team stand for the National Anthem prior to the tip off and the Golden 1 Center.

Story by Daniel Corkery, Sports editor

It is not everyday that high school players get the opportunity to play on an NBA court, but that is exactly what the varsity boys and girls team was able to do earlier this month.

According to a 2016 study by The Ohio State University, 0.023% of the 1,083,308 high school student athletes competing in athletics reach the professional level. While those odds are daunting, the Golden 1 Center gives these high school athletes the opportunity to share the same court and experience as some of the world’s best basketball players. 

The stellar arena gives an experience that not many are able to have. The Golden 1 Center, opened in 2016, is one of the NBA’s newest and most innovative venues in North America which seats roughly 17,500. This is a massive difference from the fieldhouse that typically hosts the Hillmen. 

“It’s a unique opportunity… It’s something they watch on TV and now they got to go on the court and can say been there done that,”  said Placer High Athletic Director and head men’s basketball coach Mark Lee.  “My favorite part is the kid’s excitement, it’s pretty cool for them.”

While the opportunity is an amazing experience, it does produce its challenges. One challenge is the price, due to the fact that it is not a fundraising event, which produces the roadblock of finding an opponent,  “Once you get through those obstacles the rest is pretty fun,” said Lee.

The Hillmen and Hillgals took on the Wheatland Pirates under the bright lights, and did not flinch. The Hillgals kicked the event off, thumping the Pirates 44-13 in a one sided bout that got everybody involved. Addison Horn led all scorers with 10 points, while Amara Jackson finished with 8.

Following, the Hillmen took down Wheatland in a 69-26 beating that the Pirates never contested. “The kids had a hard time adjusting to the backboard… we didn’t shoot it well in the first half but shot it better in the second half,” said Lee. In professional arenas, the backboard has no backdrop other than seats typically filled with fans.

Placer basketball looks to continue the positive aura into a tough league schedule, which it looks to rise atop.