There was a time if there wasn’t already a ticket in hand there was no going.

The rivalry between Mountain Pointe and Desert Vista in boys basketball was heated, to say the least.

“When it first started it was so hot in the gyms from all the people you’d start sweating just sitting there,” Desert Vista statistician Jim Snow said. “You had to get your tickets early. It wasn’t a game, it was an event.”

It is renewed for the first time this season on Friday as Mountain Pointe travels the 4.2 miles to Desert Vista, while the Thunder girls will be at Mountain Pointe.

While the girls game has its intrigue, the boys game is the focus among the community.

Or at least it used to be.

“It’s not what it was, and even the football game lost something until the last couple of years,” Snow said. “When the elementary schools started having (designated high schools) it changed. It used to be kids went to the same elementary but could choose either Mountain Pointe or us.

“It created an extra element. These kids grew up together, but now they are on opposite sides from the start.”

It still happens from time to time when someone decides to use open enrollment or transfers. And it is far from being just another game on the schedule. It’s just the gyms are not as packed.

“Those were some great games and one of the things I remember most about my time there,” said former Pride coach Sam Ballard, who is the head coach at Mesa Community College, “we had the upper hand early on and we won our fair share, but overall it was a great high school rivalry.”

Ballard had a 13-11 record in the series of late, however, it has been mostly a Desert Vista run as the Thunder has won 12 of the last 15 meetings (the girls are even more dominant winning 10 straight dating back to 2006-07 season).

He started out matching wits with Al Merino and then Doug Harris until Brian Fleming took over for Ballard before the 2007-08 season. Harris was replaced by Dave Williams two seasons ago and now Mountain Pointe’s Aaron Windler will get his first taste of the rivalry.

Williams, who is 3-0 against the Pride, said he was surprised by the intensity on the floor when he got done coaching his first one.

“I heard of the Ahwatukee Bowl in football, but really hadn’t heard much of the basketball game,” Williams said. “It might not bring in as many people, but the game is just as hot and you have to stay focused because the kids can’t get caught up in it.”

Former Pride forward Tylor Wimbish said the game had extra feel to it.

“The schools are so close you knew it was always going to have a big-game feel,” said the sophomore at Mesa Community College. “The crowd was packed and made it more fun. I played with some of (the Thunder) players growing up so it always gave you bragging rights if you won.”

So as this year’s first meeting, which is believed to be the 34th meeting (DV holds a 18-15 lead), approaches not much has changed on the floor.

While tickets might be more readily available these days the intensity on the floor is as good as ever.

“We have a tough schedule in January,” Pride senior Khari Holloway said. “Each game is going to be tough, especially the DV games. It’s always a game that takes a lot out of you.”

Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN

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