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Sacramento State Reaching New Heights On the Court

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Fan support is a big part of the experience in the Hornets Nest

These are heady days for Sacramento State’s long-suffering men’s basketball program.

With Saturday’s thrilling 64-60 home victory against Big Sky Conference rival Portland State, the Hornets, at 16-6, won their seventh straight game and clinched their first winning season since joining Division 1 in 1991.

And not only that, but with 10-1 conference record, Sacramento State holds sole possession of first place in the Big Sky, which means if that lead holds, Sacramento would host the conference tournament March 12-14, and can dream about making its first NCAA Tournament appearance.

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The problem, however, is the team’s cozy but tiny home court, affectionately called the Hornets Nest. With a capacity of just 1,000, it’s easy to sell out and provides a fantastic home court advantage, but is smaller than many high school gyms and unable to hold the needed television cameras that would arrive for the Big Sky tourney. If Sacramento State wins the conference, there’s talk of moving the tournament to Reno, or Stockton, or to a converted warehouse, since the obvious choice, Sleep Train Arena, is already booked for that weekend.

But that’s all in the future, and it won’t matter if the Hornets can’t continue their winning ways.

Right now, led by fiery coach Brian Katz, in his seventh season, Sacramento State is enjoying its best season playing with the big boys. Up next on Thursday is second-place Eastern Washington in a crucial road test for the Hornets that will go a long way in determining if the magic will continue.

McKinney scores in second half action.
McKinney scores in second half action.
The pageantry is back at Sacramento State games
The pageantry is back at Sacramento State games
Guard McKinney ended with a game-high 17 points.
Guard McKinney ended with a game-high 17 points.
Senior guard Dylan Garrity finished with 16 points.
Senior guard Dylan Garrity finished with 16 points.
The Hornets Nest is seeing nothing but sellout crowds during the team's recent streak.
The Hornets Nest is seeing nothing but sellout crowds during the team’s recent streak.
Coach Brian Katz looms large in another tight game.
Coach Brian Katz looms large in another tight game.
Guards Dylan Garrity and Mikh McKinney and Justin Strings greet fans after the win
Guards Dylan Garrity and Mikh McKinney and Justin Strings greet fans after the win

Photos by Steve Martarano

 

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About the author

Steve Martarano

Steve Martarano

A resident of Sacramento since graduating with a journalism degree from the University of Nevada, Reno, Steve spent the 1980s at The Sacramento Union, working as a sports writer, music reviewer and crime reporter, among other assignments. He's spent the last 25+ years working in government public affairs for both state and federal agencies and currently is with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Bay-Delta office in Sacramento. He has shot just about every local sports team for the Sacramento Press, including local colleges, the Sacramento River Cats and Sacramento Republic FC. He resides in Curtis Park with his wife Sharon.

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