WATERVILLE — Adjusting to playing on a bigger court when you’re on the road? Not anymore. Static electricity buildup when you try to stop on a dime or pivot quickly? A memory. Rug burns from diving for loose balls? Gone.

Temple Academy now has a basketball court. The oddest home court disadvantage in the state, the carpeted basketball court Temple called home for years, is gone. When the Bereans open the regular season with a girls-boys doubleheader against Seacoast Christian on Saturday afternoon, it will be on a brand new regulation-sized court in the school’s multipurpose room, which also serves as the church sanctuary.

“It’s fabulous,” Temple Head of School Denise LaFountain said. “It’s needed. It’s well-deserved for the kids.”

Basketball players said when they heard the school was replacing the carpeted court, they were excited.

“Once we saw it, it was even better,” senior Kevin Avila said.

Added Salam Heinrich, a junior on the girls team: “When you fall, you’re not going to get rug burns. It’s awesome.”

Temple Academy rejoined the Maine Principals’ Association in 2014, playing in Class D South. Since then, the school has had trouble attracting opponents willing to play on its carpeted court. Schools were willing to come to Waterville to play the Bereans, but only if the game was scheduled at another facility. Temple has used Thomas College and the gym at Kennebec Valley Community College’s Goodwill Hinckley campus, the former home of Averill High School, as a home court in the past. Originally, the plan for this season was to play some home games in Hinckley, with improvement to the Temple Academy court coming for the 2017-18 season. School officials decided they’d rather play the games on campus, said Mike Gorman, Temple’s athletic director and girls basketball coach.

“We started this right after school got out (in June) and had to delay the start of school five days,” Gorman said, standing near the foul line of the new court.

The new playing surface is plank tile, which looks and acts like wood. To lengthen the court, stairs were removed from the front of the stage, which sits behind the baseline at one end. That allowed Temple to expand the court by six and a half feet to regulation 84 feet in length, Gorman said. The court was also widened, so it’s now 50 feet from side to side. Gorman said the Berean emblem is scheduled to be painted at center court on Friday. The improvements to the gym also include new lighting, making the room brighter.

“We think it’s a big improvement,” Gorman said.

Gordon said a rubberized floor was considered, but the construction crew deemed it unfeasible, saying they could not get the floor as level as needed for installation.

There’s still a lack of bleachers in the Temple gym, but fans will still cram the U-shaped balcony that surrounds the court. The girls are scheduled to host nine games on their new court this season, while the boys have 10 games scheduled. Each team will still have one home game on a neutral court, the second day of Vinalhaven’s two-day visit on Dec. 23. Those games are scheduled for morning starts so Vinalhaven can get home. With Temple Academy in session that day, and with classroom entrances directly from the gym, those games will be played just down West River Road at Thomas College.

The new floor is the next step for Temple basketball programs that have shown steady improvement since rejoining the MPA. The girls team won 13 games and reached the Class D South semifinals last season. The boys team just missed the playoffs last season, but with a handful of players returning it expects to contend for a tournament spot. The Bereans have enjoyed practicing on the new court. Now, they’re eager to play games.

“It’s a real honor to have it,” senior Brad Smith said. “We’re all excited to have a real court.”

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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