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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Worth the trip

You read from time to time about Hamden Hall and Hopkins in our sports section and you may wonder: can they compare to the teams in the SCC? The SWC? The NVL?
I would say the competition is not as good as the day to day rigors of the SCC, but they still have produced some Division I players in basketball (Danny Oglesby, Scott Draughn and Maddie Gobrecht come to mind) in baseball (Josh Zeid and Ken Jacobi) and in other sports.
But just going to see stars is not the reason to attend a Hopkins-Hamden Hall boys' basketball game. Although I would not dare compare it with the history of a Hillhouse-Wilbur Cross game, or the players themselves, it's still worth a trip tomorrow night to Hamden Hall Country Day to watch, just for the atmosphere alone.
Hamden Hall's gym is so tiny, if you don't get there early enough, you will be standing. You may be standing on the baseline, or the stage, or behind people, stretching your neck out to catch a glimpse. But it's free of charge - no $5 to see this high school basketball game.
You won't see a more energetic student body than either of these two prep schools. It kind of reminds me of how the Fairfield Prep student body is at hockey games, minus the cold ice rink.
In fact, the temperature rises at Hamden Hall because they fit the people in like sardines. The basketball rivalry is pretty good as well - then you can judge for yourselves how the talent pool is at Hamden Hall and Hopkins.
Granted, put Hillhouse-Cross or Branford-East Haven or another intense rivalry in such a small place and you may get a similar atmosphere. But East Haven High and the New Haven Athletic Center, as fine a facility as both are, lack the atmosphere because the fans sit far away from the court (on the baselines at East Haven, everywhere at the athletic center).
Tip time is 6:15 p.m. Friday. It's worth the effort at least once to try and attend.