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Natchez High basketball travels to New Orleans

NATCHEZ — Natchez High School boys basketball players will have a once in a lifetime opportunity to play on a professional basketball team’s court today.

Through the Court of Dreams: The NBA Experience, Natchez High will play at 1:30 p.m. today against Forrest County Agricultural High School Aggies at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans.

Kedarius Stampley, Natchez basketball player, said he’s excited to have the opportunity to play on an NBA court.

“It’s about to feel good playing in an NBA stadium where the New Orleans Pelicans play,” Stampley said. “You get to play in front of their coaches, players and NBA scouts. It’s a blessing to play and I want to thank God. This is a good opportunity.”

After today’s game, the Bulldogs will have played three games this week. The first game was on Tuesday against a non Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A-Region 6 foe in Pearl High School Pirates. Natchez won 62-58 over Pearl High School. James Singleton and Stampley both scored 17 points in the game. Travon Jackson and Jakel Barnes scored 11 and four points, respectively.

Natchez traveled to face Region 6 foe of Jim Hill High School on Thursday. The final game is today against the Aggies. The Aggies come into today’s game on a six-game winning streak with their latest 58-52 win over Stone High School on Tuesday.

David Haywood, head coach of Natchez boys basketball, said he couldn’t let this chance to play where the New Orleans Pelicans play pass by.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for the kids,” Haywood said. “It’s slim chances that kids make it to actually play in the NBA. Basketball is one of the toughest sports to make it to a professional level. To have an opportunity for those guys to play on the court in that arena with NBA personnel floating around, I think it’s a great opportunity.

“I applaud all of the administrators and the school district, who saw this opportunity. They made sure we could make this happen.”

To prepare for the game today, the Bulldogs focused on their free throws in Thursday’s practice. Stampley said he feels like there’s not going to be any pressure in making free throws.

“We’re going to be in a good environment, like it’s going to feel good to play in the arena,” Stampley said. “Hopefully the team feels good too.”

Natchez High and Forrest County will play against each other at 1:30 p.m. today in New Orleans before the New Orleans Pelicans host the Denver Nuggets at 7 p.m.