Highlands boys basketball set to play Shaler at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland

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Thursday, December 5, 2019 | 3:57 PM


The Highlands Golden Rams boys basketball team is headed to Cleveland later this season.

On Dec. 18, the Golden Rams will take on Shaler at the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse at 3 p.m., just a few hours before the Cleveland Cavaliers take on the Charlotte Hornets at 7 p.m.

“We’ve never done something like this, at an arena like that,” Highlands coach Tyler Stoczynski said. “So this is the first time we’re trying it and we’re gonna see what we get out of it.”

The Golden Rams basketball coach said they got the idea after noticing that Plum had played at the same arena last year. He added that they were able to build a relationship with the Cavs through a few mutual acquaintances and it led to the opportunity to play there.

While it may be a trip for just one game, Stoczynski is still hoping that his team can take a few things away from it. For one, it’s a great opportunity to build team chemistry and experience something that they might never have the opportunity to do again.

“One of the things we try to do within our program is give our kids different experiences,” Stoczynski said. “I know I’m never gonna be able to say that I’ve coached on an NBA floor again, so I hope that these guys can say they’ve played on an NBA floor.

“We get to go see a game, have some team camaraderie as a group, do some stuff as a team, and hopefully all these team activities pay off as the season goes on.”

Heading into the basketball season, Shaler and Highlands are both ranked in the top five teams of their respective classifications. Highlands is ranked as TribHSSN’s No. 2 in Class 4A and Shaler is No. 4 in Class 5A, so the Golden Rams are looking to test themselves against some of the top teams early.

“If you look at our schedule, we play three out of the top five teams at the beginning of our season,” Stoczynski said. “So we want to have our guys compete. We have a lot of respect for the Shaler coaching staff and what kind of program they have. So we thought it would be a good match to go up there and compete.”

The Golden Rams open their season at 7:30 p.m. Friday against Armstrong as a part of the Highlands Tip-Off tournament at the high school. Gateway plays Imani Christian to kick off the night at 6 p.m. The championship will take place on Saturday.

Highlands will also take on Nazareth Prep (Dec. 11) and Beaver Falls (Dec. 17), who is Trib HSSN’s No. 5 team in Class 3A, before they head to Cleveland.

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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