Even for home games, the Douglass boys’ basketball team must travel.
The players leave school and make their way to various courts around Columbia, wherever they can schedule time to play.
“It doesn’t matter what the floor is, all that matters is what you put into it,” senior Simon Shavers-Hall said.
The Bulldogs know this all too well. As a team without a true gym to call home, they must grow accustomed to a few different courts.
“We don’t have a home crowd, per se,” assistant Scotty Williams said. “You’d like to have your own gym and your own locker room where you can dress and be comfortable at. But we’ve managed through the years.”
So much for home-court advantage. It’s hard enough learning the intricacies of one gym — the odd bounces of the floor and the good shooting spots — but three? That’s how many places Douglass plays their “home” games this year.
The Bulldogs go wherever a time slot is open for a particular place. This season they have had games at Smithton Middle School and the Arena at Southwell Complex at Columbia College.
They will play Sturgeon at Rock Bridge High School Feb. 12 and Chamois at Smithton Middle School Feb. 14 before finishing their year.
Douglass has been nomadic since its program resumed play in 1997. In the past, they have played at Hickman High School and Lange Middle School. They even played at Hearnes Center once.
“Our kids are pretty used to it,” coach Lynn Allen said. “We’re kind of considering Smithton to be our home base.”
That is because the team has played the majority of its games there since Douglass basketball was reincarnated.
“I prefer playing at Smithton,” junior Aaron Camp said. “Smithton feels kind of like ours.”
The Bulldogs do have a school gym, though it is only used for practice. They never have to scramble to schedule practices like they do games.
Because Douglass offers no other sports besides boys’ basketball, they rule the roost.
“Since we’re the only show in the school we can get it any time we want to,” Allen said.
Problem is, the gym has many faults. It can suffice for practice but is much too outdated to host any games.
The lines are too close to the walls, providing little room on the baselines or sidelines. The beaten up insulated piping sticks out and the old shower and dressing facilities have been shut down.
Despite these shortcomings, Douglass has found the gym to be perfectly flawed for its main purpose.
“It’s a good practice place,” Williams said. “I would like to have it a little bigger, but it’s always plenty of access for us. We can practice as long as we want on any day.”
On top of being the team’s practice home, the gym is where Allen teaches physical education during seventh and eighth periods. It is also open for student recreation during lunch hour.
Still, it is no substitute for the real thing.
“We’re pretty fortunate to have the middle schools, but it would be nice to have our own gym,” Allen said.
The Bulldogs are the last to tell you the lack of a home court bothers them.
“They’re all the same to me,” Shavers-Hall said.
Camp is just as humble.
“I really don’t mind,” he said. “I’m just happy to be playing.”
While Williams believes the issue is not an outward problem, he said the players dwell on it to some extent.
“In the back of their mind it does matter,” he said. “But they’re so accustomed of going elsewhere and playing that they just put it aside.”