Growing up, many a youngster has closed his eyes, heard the imaginary roar of the crowd, and pretended to make the game-winning basket in an NBA championship game.
For the Millsap Bulldogs and Brock Eagles, at least a portion of that dream came true Saturday as they played basketball games on the court of the American Airlines Center, home of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks.
The event is called the Mavs' Court of Dreams. It allows high school teams throughout North Texas to experience the thrill of playing on the same court where NBA stars from Dirk Nowitzki to LeBron James have excited fans.
"I want my kids to leave the program saying `Coach took us places we've never been before,'" said Millsap coach Josh Jones, whose team played in the event for a third straight year.
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Brock coach Zach Boxell echoed similar sentiments.
"It is a neat experience for our kids to get to play in an NBA arena. It will be an experience they they will always remember," Boxell said.
Last season, Boxell led Brock to the Class 3A state championship. When Jones started at Millsap three seasons ago, he led the Bulldogs to the playoffs for the first time in four decades, advancing three rounds.
"We want to get to where we're playing postseason games in arenas on a regular basis, and this kind of has that feeling," said Jones. "It's not a playoff, but it's exciting."
The Bulldogs dropped Saturday's game to Jacksboro, 44-43, on a basket with .01 left on the clock. In its match-up, Brock (No. 18 in state in Class 3A) edged Bowie (No. 15), 50-44.
Teams qualify to play in the event, which is held various times throughout basketball season, by agreeing to have players sell tickets to a Mavericks game the night of their games in the AAC. Teams are selected on a first-come, first-served basis.
"You have to call and get put on the list and hope you get one of the playing dates available," Boxell said.
The event has been kind to Parker County. Along with the Millsap boys' three straight appearances and Brock's boys playing there this season, in the past the Millsap Lady Bulldogs, Brock Lady Eagles, Poolville Monarchs and Poolville Lady Monarchs have participated.
Also, because these teams are from smaller communities, folks throughout the entire town enjoys the occasion. They get to come see their favorite high school team and get to stay and see their favorite NBA team.
"The team and the community are excited about the opportunity to play in the AAC," said Boxell, noting that his team sold about 225 tickets.
Jones said he was still getting calls about tickets even as the Thanksgiving holiday began.
"I'm getting calls all day. I'm telling them to go buy one off of Stub Hub," said Jones via phone as he was running Thanksgiving errands. "It's great they want to go, and we definitely want them there."
Following their games, teams were invited to stay and watch the NBA game for free. This also created some memorable moments, not just for players, but coaches as well, said Jones.
"Last year when the Mavericks played the Knicks - Walt Frazier was there," Jones said. "I was like, `Wow.' The kids were like, `Who?' Of course I told them he was only one of the greatest ever to play the game."
Boxell said he was glad his players got a glimpse of professional prepping for their contest.
"It was pretty cool seeing what all NBA players do to get ready," Boxell said.
Along with the excitement of playing and coaching on an NBA court, Jones added there was one other bonus to the experience that came in handy since the Bulldogs and Eagles both compete in District 11-3A.
"It costs me a home game, but in the grand scheme of things it's worth it for the memories all of these kids get," Jones said. "Plus, it gives me a chance to scout Brock without going all over North Texas."