CAIRO — The wait is over at Cairo High School.

The Syrupmakers’ new 1,680 seat gymnasium will finally house a basketball game Saturday when rival Thomasville comes to the Syrup City.

“You’re always happy when you get a facility like this to play in,” Cairo boys basketball coach Isiah Chance said.

Cairo Principal Tim Helms said Thursday that the school has received a temporary certificate of occupancy for its new gym.

“We have a few things to take care of before getting the final certificate of occupancy, but these will not affect the safety of our students and fans,” he said.

Chance’s squad will host the No. 1 team in Class AA in the gym’s debut. Thomasville is off to a 23-0 start heading into tonight’s game against Berrien. The possibility of ending the Bulldogs’ perfect season only adds to Saturday night’s drama.

“I guess if you had to open up with one of your chief rivals, it could be good and bad,” Cairo athletic director Carlton Gainous said. “We’re looking forward to it, that it is Thomasville and they’ll probably be coming in here, more than likely without a loss.”

“I think it was going to be packed if we were playing in the old place,” Chance said. “I think we could be playing in the backyard and everyone would be having a seat for that one.

“They’ve got a great ballclub.”

The non-region tilt will cap the regular season for both teams. Cairo’s boys are 14-8 and are tied for third in Region 1-AAA with Dougherty. A win tonight against Westover and a loss by Dougherty to Monroe would move the Syrupmakers into the No. 3 seed and a home playoff game Tuesday.

“Everybody can win our league,” Chance added.

Thomasville is 15-0 in Region 1-AA and have already captured the No. 1 seed in the region tournament which will start Monday at Thomasville.

“We’re just trying to get ready for the region tournament,” said Thomasville coach Tyrone Kellogg, whose team will not play in the region tournament until Thursday. “We enjoy playing Cairo, and we like the rivalry.”

Thomasville escaped its first meeting with Cairo, 81-74, on Dec. 16.

The Syrupmaids defeated the Bulldogs 67-37 in the girls’ matchup. Cairo’s girls are currently in fifth place in the region heading into tonight’s game against the Patriots.

“We’re capable of playing,” Cairo coach Lucy Baker said, insisting her team won’t be satisfied playing Cindarella in the postseason. “It’s just a matter of us putting it together at the right time on the right night. We would love to be tournament spoilers.

“I don’t believe in pumpkins and fairies.”

Reporter Teresa Williams contributed to this story.

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