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November 13, 2013

Panthers hope to thrive in new digs

AMBER —

With trophy cabinets galore and banners strewn across the gymnasium walls, it's easy to see how much pride there is for Amber-Poccaset basketball.

The lack of those symbols of greatness is perhaps the only thing missing from the brand new gym that will be officially opened on Saturday in a ceremony that starts at 6 p.m. Such achievements can only come in time. For now, the smiles and expressions of astonishment from the boys' basketball players who practiced on the new gym floor for the first time on Wednesday will have to do.

"There's been a lot of good basketball in here," said Superintendent Chad Hance about the old gym. "We're going to try and capture the spirit of the old gym and move that into the new one. Our school is rich in tradition. It means a lot to the people of this community, and it's important that we honor that."

After just over a year of construction, the 1,000-seater gym with modern amenities such as climate control, fold-out seats with backs and an up-to-date sound system is essentially complete. First-year boys' basketball head coach Drew Miller took his team through practice drills there on Wednesday, providing for a first look inside the new locker rooms and the first shots at the brand new baskets.

"It gives them more incentive to play and gets them more excited about playing," Miller said about the initial effects of the new facilities. "I don't know if it'll make us win more games, but it's going to make it a little more comfortable and a little more nice."

For seniors like James Pruner, the new digs show how much the town cares about its basketball and its children.

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