SIKESTON -- Packed crowd, intense basketball, bragging rights. Just another typical game in the Charleston/Sikeston basketball rivalry.
"It's a very old rivalry, but a pretty friendly rivalry," said Sikeston assistant basketball coach Brian James who has played and coached for the Bulldogs. "I know usually both teams play extremely well against each other. It's a cliche, you throw the records out the window and it's definitely true in this situation."
Friday's game started with a bit of gamesmanship by the Bluejays as several players tried to get into the Sikeston huddle as the Bulldog players gathered at center-court. Just another chapter in the storied rivalry.
"It's the best regular season game to come to in southeast Missouri," said Sikeston standout Michael Porter. "It's always jam-packed, loud and full of competition."
A championship like atmosphere is the only way to describe it when these two teams square off on the same floor. Whether played at Sikeston or 14 miles down the road at Charleston nothing short of a full house is to be expected as many are left in the standing room only sections.
"We've been going at for years and this rivalry really means a lot to both teams," said Bluejays senior, Brian Parham. "Playing in front of that crowd, you can't help but feel the hype of getting into the game."
The Sikeston victory Friday night marked the first time since the 99-00 season that the Bulldogs beat the Bluejays at home and the first time in recent memory that they have taken two in-a-row from Charleston. History shows that this rivalry on the hardwood has always favored the Bluejays so the recent change of pace won't go unnoticed on the Sikeston bench.
"It's been one-sided over the years and they've definitely beaten us a bunch more than we've beaten them," said Sikeston head coach Gregg Holifield. "They have a great program and tradition over there under Coach Farmer. We have a lot of respect for them and it's a situation where that goes both ways. It's always been a good match-up."
A good match-up to say the least, as each contest between these two teams is never told until the final buzzer of the forth quarter. No matter what the talent level, bets are always off when every player rises their game to play on this great regular season stage.
"I think the kids get more motivated for this one more than any other," said Charleston head coach Danny Farmer. "It's a very important game and we always get up for this one. Both teams always come out to play hard and win."
While the game is fun for the fans, it can be grueling for the players and coaches.
"It's just as nerve racking and it's an exhausting night both ways as a player and as a coach," James said. "Your worn out physically and mentally after the game whether your playing or coaching in it. It's fun though. We have a good time preparing and getting ready for it."
And while Sikeston has taken the last two games between the two schools, the rivalry ends there.
"I know speaking for a lot of people, we pull for Charleston every other game of the year," James said. "Our game is big but once they get into district play we want them to advance and go win state titles and bring them back to Southeast Missouri. It's a special rivalry and I don't know if you'd find a better one in the state."