PARADISE, Calif. -- The Bobcats will play at Paradise High for the first time since the Camp Fire on Tuesday night. They will host Durham High.
“We’ll see, you never know until you tip the ball off," said head coach Nathan Johnson. "High school kids are still high school kids. I'm sure there will be a lot of emotion and it will be exciting.”
“I'm not nervous. I'm just really excited to show out for everybody and get this [win] for the town of Paradise," said senior captain Ethan Swart.
The Bobcats will also welcome back last season’s team, who never had a chance to play or practice on home court during their season.
“There’s things here in this gym that you can’t recreate," said former Paradise basketball player Nicholas Baker. "So not playing here our senior year affected us emotionally because we wanted to be here, but we knew we weren't able to. So being back here is just a sense of home."
Baker will be one of the 9 seniors from last season’s team to be honored on Tuesday night. Not just for their 21-9 season or their Westside League title, but for being the first team to play for Paradise and the town.
“Last year’s team played with a lot of emotion because we were the first team to have a sporting event since the Camp Fire," said Coach Johnson. Our first game was just two weeks after the fire.”
“It was redemption, not just for us but for our town, we had a community behind us," said Baker. "We had the world watching and we still wanted to play our game.”
This season, the Bobcats returned nine seniors out of fourteen players and are 4-3 overall coming into Tuesday night's game.
“We still all want to win," said Swart. "We’re still all a family so nothing much has changed. We just lost a couple of players that we kind of counted on during the season, but now we have more guys to step up and make plays.“
"These kids are just playing basketball," said Coach Johnson. "It's what they know, what they’re familiar with, its what they love and I think this year they want to prove themselves and so I think we’re going to see a lot of that and a lot of growth throughout the season, emotionally wise, I think when they get on the court they’re ready to play.”
Game starts at 7 p.m.
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