MILWAUKEE – Nick Bellich and his McHenry boys basketball teammates got a taste of NBA life Saturday afternoon.
The Warriors and Grant played their nonconference game at the BMO Harris Bradley Center, the home of the Milwaukee Bucks.
And it was a memorable day for McHenry, even though it lost its fifth straight game 58-51.
"It was definitely a great experience," said McHenry senior Kyle Postal after scoring a team-high 15 points on 6-for-12 shooting.
"It was awesome," Bellich said after scoring 14 points and hitting 4 3-pointers. "Riding the bus to the game and playing like they do. Well, not as good as they do."
Bellich and Postal said the huge arena didn't affect their shooting as much as the lighting. McHenry (10-14) shot 9-for-33 behind the arc and 19-for-58 overall.
A pair of 3s by Cody Freund and Mike Lawrence got the Warriors within 55-50 with 28 seconds left but Grant (15-13) held on for its third straight win.
"It's never been a question of playing hard," said McHenry coach Tim Paddock. "They really are a fun group to coach and you want to see them have success."
That's why Paddock was thrilled to see his team get the opportunity to play on a big-league stage.
"It was a great experience overall and what a neat thing for all the guys," Paddock said. "To go through the Bucks locker room and play on this floor was a neat thing for them."
Especially since it came less than 24 hours after the Warriors suffered a heartbreaking 1-point loss at the buzzer to Dundee-Crown. And they will get another shot at Grant, which got 23 points off the bench from Mike Burns, in a little more than a week in a regional opener at McHenry.
"We were so frustrated after last night's loss that it fueled me and Nick for this game," Postal said. "We wanted to come out and put on a show.
"We definitely felt we should have won this game. A few plays here and there and it's our ballgame."