PDT Sports Editor
NEW BOSTON — After some double-dribbles to start the school year, New Boston High School students are finally settling into their new home and the school’s basketball program is enjoying the benefits of upgrading from the “Tiger Den” to the “Tiger Lair.”
A number of issues kept the school from opening on time and the gym actually failed a safety inspection because the bleachers had not been completed. However, the bleachers were ready in time for Monday’s girls home opener and Tuesday afternoon the teams could be found in the gym honing their skills.
“The facility is awesome. Having the six baskets really changes things. We’ve only had one practice in here and after about 30 minutes of the six baskets and running the full court, we were gassed,” New Boston athletic director and boys basketball coach Don Stapleton said. “We run quite a bit anyway in practice because we are always small, but it really got to them yesterday and hopefully today will be a little more basketball oriented instead of just running.”
The bleachers split the gym facility into two sections, allowing for an auxiliary court on one side and a full court on the other. On game days, the bleachers extend into the auxiliary court to give the gym a capacity of 7,500.
Stapleton said the bleacher arrangement was to cut down on the square footage of the gym, but the result gives the new gym a unique feel, just as the old Tiger Den possessed.
Girls basketball coach Jon Estep said the facility is one the student-athletes will grow to appreciate.
“This gives them a facility they can be extremely proud about,” Estep said. “This place has its unique characteristics and I think it’s really going to help our program succeed.”
The biggest advantage comes with how the Tigers will be able to practice. In the old facility, floor time was split between several teams and therefore scarce.
“The fact that we are going from two rims to six rims, the fact that we have an equal sized court that the majority of our schedule plays on, those are only going to help us,” Estep said. “We will be able to understand spacing a little better when we go on the road.”
While the new gym will immediately benefit the varsity squads, Stapleton and Estep agreed the real bonus will be seen once junior high players graduate to the high school programs.
“It used to be that junior high teams only got to practice on Wednesdays and Saturdays once the season started,” Stapleton said. “We are going to try to have these two floors utilized so they can flip them during the two-hour segments so those teams can start practicing everyday and that will lead to better skills when they get to high school.”
Adjacent to the auxiliary floor is a weight room that is still being constructed. It’s another perk the Tigers did not have in the old facility.
“We are going to get some free weights in here and maybe catch up on the strength side of our development in a few years,” Stapleton said.
Stapleton said there are still a few kinks to be worked out, such as where and how the scorers table will work, but the gym is now functional and ready for fan patronage.
Bob Strickley can be reached at 353-3101, ext. 298, or firstname.lastname@example.org.