Hoopsters play on Sonics' floor
A group of boys and girls from Ballard experienced a once in a rare opportunity to play basketball on the same court as the Seattle Sonics on Feb. 8.
The game matched the Chili Peppers, an all-girls squad with a Ballard Community Center boys team prior to the start of the Sonics-Hornets game.
The Chili Peppers have been together for two years and are an AAU Select team. They play in the Northwest Select Basketball Association.
Al Pirnat, the Chili Peppers coach said his girls are very advanced and skilled. "They're all on the path to high school. These girls play a lot of ball games," he said.
Both boys and girls players faces lit up in awe when they looked at the Key Arena court, fans in their seats and bright lights as they waited their turn to show off their basketball skills.
"It's exciting to be here. For some of these kids, it may be the only time playing on an NBA court," said Jim Kost, coach of the boys team.
Stepping out onto the Sonics court with the boys under one basket and the girls under the other, the teams were introduced and the still-growing crowded politely applauded.
The teams were allowed eight minutes of playing time, with the coaches substituting equally among their roster halfway through, to get everyone into the game.
Point guard Gada Jilo Abdula controlled the ball for the boys. "It was fun. I thought I was going to be nervous, but I wasn't," he said.
Most of the kids attend Whitman Middle School or McClure Middle School.
"It was a blast. We weren't keeping track, but the boys hit some good shots. It was a fun game," said Pirnat.
With their eight minutes of fame over, the teams marched up to section 228 with their uniforms and basketballs to watch the Sonics beat the Hornets, 108-91.
The Chili Peppers will scrimmage during halftime of the Ballard High School varsity girls home basketball game against Roosevelt on Feb. 16 at 7:30 p.m..