The York High boys' basketball team will soon know what it's like to play in an NBA arena.
Next year, in conjunction with the Philadelphia 76ers, the Bearcats will play one regular season basketball game at the Wells Fargo Center against a Philly-area high school.
The future event was confirmed by York High athletic director Ronald Coursey.
Prior to coming to York High earlier this year, Coursey worked at a school in Pittsburgh. While there, he spearheaded an annual event called "Court of Dreams" where his high school and a high school from Cleveland (about two hours away from Pittsburgh) would play a regular season game at Quicken Loans Arena, home of the Cleveland Cavaliers. That event took place for three years before Coursey was hired by York High back in January.
Once Coursey arrived in York, he reached out to the 76ers about the possibility of organizing a similar event for the Bearcats next year and when the Sixers did their research on the recent success of York High basketball, they jumped at the idea.
Coursey and new head boys' basketball coach, Clovis Gallon, were in Philadelphia on Friday talking to members of the Sixers' group sales and marketing staff to discuss the idea and details of the event.
"We met with them for about an hour and a half, toured the arena and they did a pitch to us on why they want to invite us out to play the game," Coursey said. "The first thing he said to us was, 'I did some research on you guys and you guys are a pretty big deal.'"
A big deal is somewhat inadequate when describing the Bearcats' boys' basketball program over the last 7-10 years.
Under the guidance of former head coach Troy Sowers, York High became not only the premier program in the York-Adams League, but one of the top programs in District 3-AAAA and the state. The Bearcats won six Y-A League Division I titles under Sowers in 10 years, along with three league championships, three District 3-AAAA gold medals and were state runners-up in 2009. Over the course of the last eight seasons, York High has also accumulated the most wins in the state of Pennsylvania.
In the three years that Coursey helped organize the "Court of Dreams" event between Pittsburgh and Cleveland, it was the game that always stood out on the schedule to the athletes.
"The experience was amazing," he said. "Having the kids play on an NBA floor in an NBA arena, an NBA jumbotron, you have the PA announcer saying your name after you score, it was just a great, great experience and something that I wanted to bring to York High and with our pedigree and track record, I knew it wouldn't be a hard sell."
The plan is for the Bearcats to get matched up with one of the Philadelphia-area schools and play a doubleheader event next season, prior to a 76ers regular season game.
And should the game be a success next year, Coursey said the 76ers staff believes it could evolve into an annual event for York High.
"Depending on how this goes this year, if we're happy with the experience and they're happy with us, this is something that could evolve into an every-year occasion," Coursey said.
A date for the event will be released sometime in August when the Bearcats' schedule gets released, as well as the 76ers' schedule. At that time, the two schools and 76ers will set a date to play the game on the same night as the 76ers game. The high school game will be played at 3 p.m.
Once the date is determined, tickets will go on sale and will give fans access to both the high school game and the 76ers game.
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at firstname.lastname@example.org