When I arrived at McConnellsburg High School at 6:20 on Friday night, I saw this:
There were at least a handful of people standing outside, but I still decided to try the doors. Nope, they were definitely locked.
It was more than hour before the scheduled tip-off, and I had to be ushered in by a security guard. That's how much hype surrounded the Spartans' boys basketball game against Southern Fulton.
"It's awesome; it's great for them to have that excitement here," SF coach Kent Hendershot said. "They've been down a lot of years, and they have a very nice club now. They should be packed watching them play because it's a good group of kids and a good club. We're going to have to see them again, probably twice, so it just adds to it."
McConnellsburg's gym's official capacity is 698 people, according to Spartan athletic director and boys basketball coach Dane Pollock, and there was not an empty seat in the house. It was sold out at least an hour and a half before game time.
The energy was palpable, even during the JV game - which came down to the wire and was won by McConnellsburg on a 3-point buzzer-beater by Nic Culler in overtime. I've never seen people get so excited about a JV game.
While the varsity game was slightly more lopsided - Southern Fulton won, 40-27 - the fans that made it in certainly got their money's worth. And if you didn't make the cut the first time around, the Spartans and the Indians will meet again on Friday, Jan. 29 on SF's home court.
During the next game, McConnellsburg will be looking for its first win versus the Indians in 18 meetings.
"We sit in the locker room, and we know who we are," Spartan guard Jake Boehme said. "We have to work within ourselves. We have to find a way to forget all the hype that's going on around us and focus on what we need to do. We don't want to be their little brother anymore. We beat them in elementary; we beat them in junior high; we beat them in JV. We just need to get this next step and finally get 'em."