The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

January 24, 2013

Pierce City, Sarcoxie set to clash ... in Memphis

By Anvil Welch
Globe Sports Writer

— Pierce City and Sarcoxie are going to great lengths — actually miles — to find a neutral site for their prep basketball varsity doubleheader on Friday.

How about the NBA Memphis Grizzlies’ 18,119-seat FedExForum?

That “neutral” was thrown in with tongue planted firmly in cheek. But that site could hardly be more neutral.

Sarcoxie is the home team for the Spring River Valley Conference clash. The girls game is scheduled to start at 1 p.m.

Partisans of the respective teams are expected to hang around — tickets have been bought for that purpose — to watch the Grizzlies and Brooklyn Nets scrap.

Philip Lewis, Sarcoxie principal, said that Dr. Kevin Goddard, who’s in his second year as superintendent at Sarcoxie, apparently was the first to discuss the jaunt with Bears’ coach Kyle Johnson.

Goddard had been at Eminence in south central Missouri the previous four years and, during his tenure, the Redwings played Thayer — that’s close to Arkansas — at Memphis.

“It was a big hit,” Goddard said Wednesday. “They (the Redwings) have been doing it since.

“Coach Johnson said the idea sounded great. He quickly got with the Grizzlies,” Goddard said.

Johnson then contacted Pierce City boys coach Matt Street. The Eagles soon climbed aboard.

“This will be a great experience for the players,” Street said. “It’s a chance to both play a game on an NBA court as well as see a game.

“I believe each of the schools were required to buy 85 tickets,” Street said. “We received a discount (to $50 apiece) and we wound up buying 97 tickets.”

The teams, of course, will need to depart early Friday. Lewis said some 40 players, coaches and school officials will leave by bus at 3 a.m. Pierce City plans to leave at 4:30.

“We expect to arrive between 11 and 11:30,” Street said. “We can’t get into the arena before 12-12:15.”

Pierce City players should be more tired considering they entertain Liberal tonight in the SRVC.

But Lewis said he’d heard nothing about the Bears spotting the Eagles points.

Sarcoxie, as the host team, will pay for the cost of officials, Lewis said.

Lewis also said the school is obligated to buy tickets for the prep officials to attend the NBA game.