There are only a number of high school students in the country who will ever make it to the NBA and get the chance to play in the huge arenas.

The Lady Steamers get to, though. This season, in fact. They'll tip off in the United Center in Chicago in a few months.

"I was very excited," junior Kylee Sweenie said. "I love the Chicago Bulls and to play on an NBA court is like a once in a lifetime opportunity. It's going to be really fun."

Through a partnership with the Chicago Bulls, the Fulton varsity basketball team will play their regular season contest against East Dubuque at the United Center of Sunday, Jan. 6.

"This is a great opportunity for us to have because we haven't had this in the past," senior Rylee Leitzen said. "It's great that they chose us to go out on the NBA court as a high school program, and represent our school."

Leitzen is one of the few seniors on the squad this season, and this is a special way to cap off her prep career.

"It's an awesome way to go out of senior year," Leitzen said.

The entire team can't stop talking about the game even though it's three months out. They particularly like holding it over the varsity boys team, enjoying that the girls' program has something this unique to tout.

For head coach Mike Menchaca, it was an easy call. East Dubuque called them about the opportunity and they worked to figure out the date that would work.

"There are some technical things we have to do," Menchaca said. "The school has done a great job with allowing it to happen, they were behind us right away. It's a huge deal for our school."

The players will get to host their game on the court, then meet a number of the Chicago Bulls players. Then, everyone who purchased a ticket will get to enjoy the Bulls' game that afternoon.

"It will be a motivator, something that they'll remember the rest of their career and the rest of their life," Menchaca and his assistant coach agreed.

"I was fortunate enough to play in the state tournaments and see that type of atmosphere," Menchaca said. "What better way to find that atmosphere. You play in it, then you understand what to expect there.

"For these players, with what they've done and how far they've come as a group, it's nice to give them something like this to remember from Fulton. "

There is a catch: they have to sell a certain number of tickets in order to participate. The team must cell 395 tickets to fans by Dec. 7, 2018 in order to play.

That's important for the players, too. They want to share this with everyone.

"We're not just making memories with our teammates, but we're including the whole community," said Macy Puckett.

The varsity team isn't the only one benefiting either. The cheerleaders and the band will make the trip, plus Fulton junior Ally Curley will perform the national anthem before the game.

Fulton is doing their best to accommodate. With help from sponsors, which they're always looking for, they're taking charter busses to the UC that day. The price of the ticket includes the transportation and helps the fans bypass parking.

"We've definitely grown over the past few years, Steamer Nation definitely has," junior Kearston Norman said. "If a lot of people show up it will definitely help represent how our fans are and how our program has changed. "

And Kylee Sweenie: "What I'm looking forward to the most is looking out into the crowd and seeing Steamer Nation cheer us on."

Still, 395 is a large number and the Steamers are still pushing to sell tickets.Interested fans can go to the coach Mike Menchaca's Country Financial offices in both Clinton and Fulton to get information or purchase tickets. That's at 1320 11th St. NW, Suite G in Clinton and then 1001 4th St. in Fulton.