Mustangs Set Date at United Center

The+MHS+Boys+varsity+baseketball+team+and+cheerleading+team+take+a+picture+on+the+United+Center+court.+

Sophie Fiore

The MHS Boy’s varsity baseketball team and cheerleading team take a picture on the United Center court.

Ben Szalinski , Sports Editor

  On Jan. 21, the boys varsity basketball team lost 70-56 to Schurz High School from Chicago at the United Center prior to the Bulls taking on the Sacramento Kings. Mundelein played at 3 p.m with the Bulls following at 8 p.m, with Dwyane Wade scoring a go ahead basket in the final seconds to win 102-99.

  This was an exciting and unique opportunity that most high school athletes are never apart of. Many teams will play at colleges during state tournaments, but it’s not often that schools get to play at professional venues.

  “Most of [our players] have grown up watching the Bulls play there, and as aspiring basketball players and athletes, what is better than being able to play in a venue where you watched guys like Michael Jordan, Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, etc., play,” Varsity Coach Corey Knigge said.

  Knigge said Schurz’s coach approached him about the opportunity last season, and through a friend of Knigge’s who works for the Bulls, the opportunity fell into place from there.

  The boys varsity team has had a rough year with  what many would call a “less-than-ideal” record, but that did not diminish their desire to perform well on a big stage. As of Jan. 30, the team’s record was 4-14.

  Senior Justin Lawrence said the team could “turn a big corner at this point in the season if we win a big game.”

  It was also an opportunity for the players to learn from the Bulls.

  While the Bulls are fighting just to get into the playoffs  this season, there are many bright spots to learn from, including star Jimmy Butler who recently broke Michael Jordan’s record for most points in a half with 42.

  Knigge said last time MHS played there, former Bull Ben Gordon came out three hours before a game to shoot five hundred baskets in preparation for the game.

  “That level of dedication is what it takes to play at [the NBA] level… it takes thousands of hours to compete at a level like that or to be successful in in any venture,” said Knigge.

  The players also saw an opportunity to learn from current NBA players.

“The best thing that I can learn from watching the NBA is how some of the great guards like [Russell] Westbrook (Thunder) and Rajon Rondo (Bulls) are able to get all of their teammates involved and be a real team player,” said Junior guard Ronnie Ryba.

  Regardless of the outcome, the game was a memorable experience for the team.

  Knigge said when MHS had the opportunity to play there about eight years ago, it was one of the highlights of their high school careers for many of the guys.

  “To be able to play at the United Center is a once in a lifetime experience,” said Ryba.  “I’m incredibly excited and honored to be able to play there.”