SGA boys hoops get taste of big-time playing at Philips Arena on Wednesday

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

ATLANTA -- The final score hardly mattered.

Wednesday was all about the experience of a lifetime for the SGA boys basketball team.

The Warriors, who entered Wednesday's game against defending GISA Class AA champs Robert Toombs at 7-1, came away with a 46-31 loss in a contest that was played on the Atlanta Hawks' home floor at Philips Arena as part of the NBA franchise's "Court of Dreams" program. The program allows high school teams from all over the state to bring their squad to the floor before a Hawks home game, play an opponent and then stay to watch the pros hoop it up at night.

"It was my second time doing it but it was the first for these kids," said SGA coach David Byrne, who arranged the game against Robert Toombs because he's close friends and former college teammates at Brewton-Parker with its coach, Jarvis Smith. "But it was still quite the experience for everyone. It took some getting used to -- the backdrop, the court and the atmosphere -- and it took like four minutes for either team to hit a shot .But once we got going, it was a lot of fun."

SGA raced out to an 8-0 lead and held Robert Toombs scoreless in the first quarter, but quickly fell behind by halftime and could never recover. McKinley Chambless led SGA with nine points, followed by 8 from Parker Adams and Billy Grimsley.

"You should've seen the kids' eyes as they walked out of the tunnel -- they were huge," Byrne said. "Then we got to see the Hawks and Cavaliers warm up before and just see how the pros do it. It was just a great experience for everyone."

Atlanta beat Cleveland, 98-84, as the SGA team -- and many fans from Southwest Georgia -- took in the game as a group from midcourt. The Warriors, to take part in the "Court of Dreams" program, had to sell 100 tickets at a discounted rate (tickets that were normally $35 sold for around $15).

"We didn't have a problem selling them," Byrne said. "We had a good amount of fans go up with us (to experience it) right along with the team."