Venice Beach is known as one of Southern California's more colorful areas, complete with artists and performers of all kinds, scantily-clad bodybuilders and, of course, a thriving streetball scene immortalized in the movie White Man Can't Jump
Saturday it will be home to another oddity when Oakwood (North Hollywood)
takes on Pacifica Christian (Santa Monica)
in a sanctioned Liberty League boys basketball contest played outdoors on the world famous courts.
Oakwood athletic director Eric Walter is responsible for the unique matchup. Search engine research turned up little to nothing in the way of sanctioned high school games being played outdoors in the past.
"We are a small school and always looking for things to heighten the experience for kids and make them feel special," Walter said. "I just thought, 'What's the most iconic place ever to play basketball?' Millions of people visit Venice Beach, it has all the jesters, jugglers and guys that walk on glass. It should be a fun thing."
While this is new to the high school game, a series of college basketball games have been played on aircraft carriers the past two seasons. Contests involving Florida and Georgetown on the USS Bataan and Ohio State and Marquette on the USS Yorktown were aborted in November due to condensation on the courts.
Condensation won't be an issue on the blacktop at Venice Beach. Weather.com predicts a high of 71 degrees Saturday in the area with no chance of rain. Tip is scheduled for 1 p.m.
"So far the weather looks like it will be good. It might be a little windy," Barkouras said. "The biggest thing the players are worried about is messing up their shoes."
The game is a big one for Oakwood, which has won 10 games in a row and is in the hunt for the Liberty League title.
Despite the novelty factor and distractions Venice Beach offers, Barkouras hopes his team takes a focused approach.
"We'll try and go down there and practice," Barkouras said. "We may not be able to get on the actual court but we will try and go outside and shoot outdoors."
If Walter has his way, this won't be the last unusual showcase basketball game for Oakwood. He has dreams of the Gorillas playing someday at Hinkle Fieldhouse, home of the Butler Bulldogs and made famous in the movie Hoosiers
.Note: The Under Armour Elite 24 all-star game has been played at Venice Beach each of the past two summers. See the video below for a taste of what the Oakwood-Pacifica Christian game will look like.