This weekend, Jasper plays Big Eight Conference rival Boonville on Friday and County rival Southridge on Saturday. Boonville game is an important game but in Jasper, you had better win the Southridge game. Although we only play once now, since we are in different classes in the tournament, the game still means a lot to the players, coaches, fans and communities.
The game will be played in historic Cabby O'Neill Gymnasium in Jasper. That venue has hosted some great matchups between the Wildcats and Raiders through the years. With the new gym slated to be finished this spring, this could be the last Jasper/Southridge game at The Cabby.
Of all Jasper rival gyms, Huntingburg Memorial Gym feels more like home than any other opponents gym I have been to as a fan. It disappoints me that every other year, Jasper doesn't get to play in the gym. Maybe a Christmas Holiday Tournament should be resurrected - maybe the Coach K and Joe Holiday Shoot Out!
My most vivid memory about when these two teams play are the great players that have taken the court for each team. I remember, as a grade school kid, thinking the Southridge Raider players had to be evil. They just had to. I mean they played for Southridge. As years go by, my view on it changed. As a matter of fact, one of those players I thought was evil ended up being a very good friend of mine.
When Jeff Williams played any sport, he played it 110%. Sometimes that might have been viewed as cockiness as well. When you get to know Jeff, you know that there isn't a cocky bone in his body. He is by far one of the special "Evil" Raiders that I now call my friend.
By marriage, I have also become relatives to some of these "Evil" Raiders. My father in law, Fred O'Brien played for the Happy Hunters and my mother in law, Glo was a cheerleader. My Uncle Dan O'Brien was a stud for the Raiders and he still has his name up on the wall as a record holder. My cousin Greg O'Brien played for the Raiders as well and had a nice career for them.
The names of these "Evil" Raiders goes on - Rick and Ron Patberg, Scott Thompson, Reid Sakel, Tully Sakel, Joe Mundy, Todd Jochum - and the list goes on. All are great people and can only be called Raider Greats now.
I remember the Jasper Greats that I use to watch play the Raiders as well. Slick Webber, Kevin Manley, Mike Luegers, Jim Wenzel, Brad Vogerl, Terry Tucker, Rick Begle, Stan Giesler and the list goes on as well with Wildcats. These are the players that I use to be in my drive way as I shot hoops as a young child shooting the last second game winning shot.
As a entered high school and beyond, I have had the priveledge of watching Mark Block, Mike Ballenger, Ken, Don and John Schultheis, Scott Yarbrough, Jason Ahlbrand, John "Botts Magic" Bottorf, Scott Rolen, Scot Mills, Michael Lewis and Caleb Begle play in this great rivalry.
What is the common theme of all of these players, coaches, gyms and communities? Win this game and you have bragging rights for 365 days. Win , loss or draw - you better be ready for fireworks when these two teams step on the hardwood and I would expect nothing different Saturday night.