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Official Review by Chris Green, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Coral Reef Senior High is very much the Stanford of high school athletics in the Miami area. Known more for its academic successes, Coral Reef’s magnet and IB programs attract the brightest students from around the Miami area. However, the school is quietly one of the juggernauts of high school athletics in South Florida, as well. The program’s boys basketball program won the FHSAA Class 6A State Championship in 2009, and has been continuously successful for many years. This, partnered with passionate fans, makes for a high-quality high school basketball experience.
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Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
There isn't much to get excited about here. Thankfully, games aren't long, and if you go to a game hungry, you won't have to wait long to fix that problem when it is over. Typically, there is only one concession stand open. Sodas, water, cookies, candy, and hot dogs are the usual menu items, costing no more than a few bucks each. If something there isn't tripping your fancy, there are a few vending machines nearby, as well.
Coral Reef's gymnasium is known as "The Tank" (as in fish tank, an ode to their mascot, the Barracuda). The fans are always plentiful. The cheering never stops. The students show up in great force. The parents and family watching the game come decked out in the school colors. There are even some who meet up before games and tailgate in the parking lot before matches. To make things better, the acoustics of the arena make it a very loud venue, so even a half-capacity crowd will sound like a roaring sold-out house for the home team.
The school's cheerleaders perform stunts and cheers on the floor during timeouts, flying high and performing backflips across the court. And with the growing number of championship banners hanging in the rafters, it is hard to forget the athletic history that the school has helped to grow over the past few decades.
The area around Coral Reef is best described as lower-middle class housing, though in no way is that to say it is in the doldrums of Miami. Just a stone's throw east on SW 152nd Street is a regional hospital and a golf course at the road's intersection of US1. Take US1 about two minutes north and you will find yourself at The Falls shopping center, full of great dining and shopping options, as well as a movie theater. Ten more minutes north and you reach Dadeland, where you can find hotels and Dadeland Mall, one of the biggest malls in Florida.
The fans at Coral Reef are unlike any others in high school sports in the Miami area. Boasting one of the strongest student sections in all of high school sport, Coral Reef basketball always has a home-court advantage. Showing their passion is what they do best. From decking out in school colors and knowing every chant at the game to giving the refs a hard time when the calls don't go their way, Coral Reef's fans are second to none. What is even better? They are all knowledgeable about the kids on the court, and are more than willing to share a story or two about each one and what makes them special. They really make you feel like part of the family when you are there.
Getting to Coral Reef is a pretty simple task, provided there is no traffic. However, the only time there isn't traffic seems to be at 3am. Exit 16 on the Florida Turnpike is where you want to go, and from there head east. The school is hard to miss, rising up from the houses on the north side of SW 152nd Street.
Parking isn't as easy, as spots are limited in the main entrance. However, there is plenty of space in other lots that are a big farther away. Once inside the school, the gym is on the far side of the courtyard.
Considering tickets to a Coral Reef basketball game are relatively inexpensive, the return on investment is incredibly high. Games in high school are usually less than two hours, and the experience on game day is one of the best there is in Miami. If you are a high school basketball fan, Coral Reef is a must-stop on your list of teams to see.
The school's mascot, a big Barracuda, makes frequent appearances at the games.
In addition, the school's various championship banners adorn the inside of the arena, giving you a sense of the history of the program's athletic accomplishments.
There isn't anywhere in Miami quite like The Tank. It is loud, impressively full of fans, and always ready to put on a good show. The staff at Coral Reef keep the arena clean and tidy, and the fans are generally well-behaved. It is hard to find a bad aspect of Coral Reef basketball's arena.
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