Displaced by the construction of a new school, the Tucker High School boys and girls basketball programs had not played a home game since the 2007-08 school year. That changed Jan. 20 as the days of playing varsity games at Tucker Middle are over.
Hundreds of supporters came out last week to check out the first game in the new gymnasium, christened and dedicated to the late Tucker wrestling coach Bill Venable. The grand opening was postponed a week by the recent snowstorm.
The two-story modern structure has a nostalgic flair that greets visitors as they walk into the lobby of the gym. On the wall between the two doors leading to the basketball court is a large section of the old court. In front of the wall are two rows of the original bleachers.
The new gym is a spacious, well-lit arena with a balcony encircling the entire court. The wall opposite the entrance is made almost entirely of glass, which allows visitors a look at the adjoining courtyard. On one wall behind one section of bleachers is a mural that features a large Tiger–Tucker’s mascot–clutching a basketball, wrestling headgear, a volleyball and a cheerleader with pom pons and a megaphone.
Tucker’s opponent on opening night, Southwest DeKalb, made it a bittersweet evening for the home crowd. The Panthers won both the boys and girls games.
The new gym was part of a larger construction project that saw the entire school torn down in sections and rebuilt on the same site. The school’s student capacity has increased from 1,400 to 1,600, and there are 10 additional classrooms, new locker rooms and an auditorium, along with the new gym.