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Athletes reflect on their first Hoophall experience and what it means to them

Luke Whitehouse

Some teams have continuously been represented at The Spalding Hoophall Classic, and those players who participated have reaped the benefit of competing on this stage multiple times. For others, however, 2023 was their first time playing in the prestigious showcase at Springfield College. With the historic nature of the city of Springfield along with the electric atmosphere inside Blake Arena, it is much different than any other venue.

Several players sat down with The Student to discuss what it meant to play in the city where basketball was invented and how their first Hoophall Classic experience was.

Lauren Thompson, Sophomore, Sacred Heart

“It’s a very special experience, a positive experience despite the loss. Overall, I love it…it was great for the team [because] we got to have fun and experience this together as a team.”

Riley Hamburger, Sophomore, Paul VI

“It’s a pretty cool experience because not many people get the opportunity to play [at the birthplace of basketball], and especially at this level against these teams…like it’s truly great. We got to tour the Hall of Fame so that was really cool as well. I’m definitely playing with an added energy on the court especially with so many people [here].”

Olivia Vukoska, Freshman, Christ The King

“It definitely feels like a great, great experience. It’s definitely different playing with a lot more people [in the crowd] especially going from eighth grade to high school. The environment has been great. It’s crazy learning its history and knowing where the sport I love comes from.”

Ray Allen III, Senior, Gulliver Prep

“It’s been crazy as it sounds [playing at the birthplace of basketball]. I know a lot of guys have come here [and played]. It’s been thrilling [to play in front of this crowd]. It wasn’t the outcome we wanted but it was so enjoyable.”

Jurian Dixon, Senior, St. Augustine

“It was a fun experience to be able to travel all the way from the west coast, San Diego specifically, and come out here and compete with a top team like East Catholic.”

Devin Williams, Senior, Centennial

“The atmosphere was insane. I absolutely loved it. I loved the trash talk, the hostile environment…All of it was great. I’m just glad we got the win. I want to get to the NBA and it was invented here so I’m really taking that all in for sure.”

Jared McCain, Senior, Centennial

“This is a crazy walk in the gym and I had my headphones on and I had the noise cancellation…I don’t like to hear anything but just seeing the crowd like the lights it was everything and more I’ve seen on TV. I mean Lonzo [Ball] played here, just everyone played here and to see everybody on the wall it was perfect and everything I wanted.”

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