As much I’ve always enjoyed covering a good high school football rivalry game, I was reminded recently that no sport was better built for rivalries than basketball.
The smaller enclosed venue provides an intimate setting where the noise level can make your ears ring and the bleachers you’re sitting on can literally shake following the game’s biggest plays.
And when the teams are good, and the games are good, the constant back and forth of emotion as leads and fortunes change can be truly captivating.
Northern California has no shortage of strong rivalries, and those rivalries have delivered some epic games in recents weeks. I witnessed a phenomenal overtime battle between Danville rivals, Monte Vista and San Ramon Valley on Jan. 28. The host Wolves won the game on a 3-pointer with four seconds left. It marked the first loss of the season for the Mustangs.
Not to be outdone, just four days later, longtime rivals Miramonte-Orinda and Campolindo-Moraga clashed. That game would be decided by one point, 69-68, on a shot from Miramonte’s Drew Anderson with just two seconds left.
And while Folsom and Jesuit-Carmichael technically aren’t rivals, there is certainly no love lost between the two schools after their overtime battle on Jan. 31. It was Folsom who survived with a 58-55 victory.
Each of these teams is set to meet again over the next two weeks. And if you live anywhere nearby, enjoy basketball and the raw emotion of sport, you should definitely go. But go EARLY. These games almost always reach capacity before the scheduled tipoff.
Campolindo and Jesuit host their games on Feb. 18. San Ramon Valley travels to Monte Vista on Feb. 21.
And while we’re at it, here’s four more basketball games you may want to think about going to when you’re trying to kill those three hours before the live curling coverage begins from Sochi. (Oh yeah, we’re curling fans. SWEEP! SWEEP!)
>>> FEB. 8 — BOYS HOOPS: St. Ignatius-S.F. at Archbishop Mitty-San Jose, 6:30 p.m. — As of Feb. 3, St. Ignatius had handed the Monarchs their only loss of West Catholic Athletic League action with a 48-40 win on Jan. 18. The WCAL has been a blood bath all season, but these two teams along with Serra-San Mateo, have seemed to establish themselves on the top tier.
>>> FEB. 8 — GIRLS HOOPS: Salesian-Richmond vs. St. Mary’s-Berkeley at Albany High, noon — This rivalry game will feature three McDonald’s All-Americans and is likely just the second of four times they’ll square off this season. The first one saw Salesian win 64-63.
>>> FEB. 11 — BOYS HOOPS: Cosumnes Oaks-Elk Grove at Analy-Sebastapol, 7 p.m. — This nonleague game became a lot more fascinating last week when Cosumnes Oaks was forced to forfeit 16 wins from earlier this year. Now the Wolfpack is literally playing for its playoff lives every night. Analy was 15-6 through the end of February and had won nine straight.
>>> FEB. 13 —GIRLS HOOPS: St. Mary’s-Stockton at McNair-Stockton, 7 p.m. — St. Mary’s isn’t used to somebody pushing them for an SJS title, let alone the Tri-City Athletic League crown. McNair knows it’s good enough to beat the Rams now, especially after losing by just five (71-66) at St. Mary’s on Jan. 28.
Between those seven games and the Winter Olympics, you should have plenty of sporting drama to get you through to the better days of March.
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