AUBURN GRESHAM — Brandon Taylor said he's never been at a higher elevation than the 202-foot Raging Bull roller coaster at Six Flags.
"Absolutely scared of heights," the Perspectives Charter Academy Calumet campus senior said.
Taylor, a guard, and his boys basketball teammates will be far above that when the squad flies to Phoenix for the three-day Holiday Hoops Fest tournament at Boulder Creek High School.
For Taylor and many of the other Warriors, it will be their first time on a plane.
"We're not used to leaving the 'hood, or whatever you want to call it," team manager Angela Turner said.
Athletic director Vinay Mullick said the school, which has five different schools that serve about 2,300 students in grades 6-12, raised nearly $17,000 for the five-day excursion, which begins Wednesday.
The Sterny Way Foundation made a $5,000 donation, while second-year boys basketball head coach Jevon Mamon helped raise a good portion of the remaining amount, Mullick said.
"There's going to be so many firsts with this trip," Mamon, 30, said. "For some kids, it will be their first time traveling without a family member, for others their first time being in the southwest. For some, it might be their first time staying in a hotel.
"I think that this is an opportunity that I hope really is life changing for at least a couple of them," he said.
Boulder Creek boys basketball coach Randy Walker, who organizes the eight-team tourney, said he's pumped to have another Windy City club visit his state.
"The schools from Chicago generate a lot of interest," Walker said. "There are a lot of people from Chicago that live here. They were familiar with Harlan last year and are familiar with Perspectives this year."
Perspectives senior guard Ricky Williams, of Englewood, said the Warriors want to "make a name for ourselves" at the tournament. Junior forward Josh Campbell, of Greater Grand Crossing, said "it will be great playing against different people from different cities."
Turner is thrilled to be leaving the cold of Chicago for the desert heat. But first the 17-year-old has to get there on the four-hour-plus flight, her first time on a plane since she was a baby.
"I'm going to try some breathing exercises to try and calm down," she said.