CLEVELAND — Xavier Stallard stepped on the court and Quicken Loans Arena and took it all in.
“Amazing,” said the Fredericktown junior. “It’s incredible.”
Stallard didn’t let the atmosphere at The Q overwhelm him. He landed the game’s only double-double with 12 points and 14 rebounds, yet the Freddies lost to Madison Plains, 44-40.
The game, technically a home game for the Freddies, was hosted by the home of the Cleveland Cavaliers. It was an event several months in the making.
There was all the security you’d expect at an NBA game, as well as ushers. The fans sat in the lower section behind the scorer’s table.
Meanwhile, the players were in the spotlight.
The Freddies arrived early, entering the floor about an hour before game time. They spent much of their extended stay practicing shots under the arena lights. Some of the players couldn’t help but smile.
“They had to take a little time getting acclamated to a different setting,” said Fredericktown head coach Derek Dibling. “Once the settled in, they were fine.”
As the home team, the Freddies were able to sit on the home team’s bench, where many of their favorite Cavs sit during their games.
Quicken Loans Arena hosted an NBA game later that night between the Cavaliers the Brooklyn Nets. The players — and all the fans who paid to see the Freddies play — stuck around for that game, which the Cavs won easily, 119-99.
Fredericktown contacted representatives at Quicken Loans Arena over the summer to inquire about availability. Once the Freddies set their schedule, they were able to pick a date for the game.
The arena is hosting about 25 high school games this season. Each team earned the right to play there by pledging to sell a set number of tickets at $40 apiece. In Fredericktown’s case, that number was 150. It ended up at around 300.
As for their game, Fredericktown and Madison Plains were back-and-forth until a 10-0 run by the Freddies seemed to break the game wide open. During the run, Leighton Cunningham found Zayde Zolman for a wide-open 3-pointer, which Stallard immediately followed up with a steal and a bucket. The run gave Fredericktown a 36-26 lead.
Most of that lead crumbled away in a 20-second sequence.
Hunter McConkey found Spencer Ruzicka in the paint for a score. Cameron Near then stole the ball and hit a 3-pointer. McConkey stole the ensuing inbounds pass and found Ruzicka for another bucket.
Two more scores by Near gave the Eagles a one-point lead, which they never lost.
Zolman scored seven points for Fredericktown. Trace Hatfield chipped in five, and Hunter Hulse had two.
“It was great to be out there,” Stallard said. “The whole thing was amazing.”
After their game, the Freddies traveled to a nearby restaurant before heading back to the Q for the main event.
“It was an amazing experience,” Dibling said of the whole day. “Regardless of the outcome, I think the kids had a good time to have a chance to play on the big boys’ court. It’s something they’ll remember for a long time.”
NOTES: Fredericktown’s next game is Tuesday against Danville. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m. … Fredericktown’s Anthony Caputo and Clem Cunningham each had five rebounds. … Near led all scorers with 21.