In most cases, winning a rivalry game means more, and that'll be the case tonight for the victor when the Watson Chapel Wildcats (10-8, 3-1) host the Pine Bluff Zebras (8-6, 0-1).
The Wildcats already have a taste of a crosstown rivalry win from walking out of White Hall with a six-point victory last Friday. Pine Bluff enters the game coming off a tough loss after allowing a comeback by Little Rock Mills.
But that will be put to the side when both teams take the court tonight. Both head coaches, Pine Bluff's Billy Dixon and Watson Chapel's Marcelle Goins, took over their respective programs last season.
Last season Dixon got the better of Goins twice. The Wildcats will try not to worry about it, though it'll be fresh on their minds.
"Of course I don't want to lose to whoever, and I want our kids to feel the same way," Goins said. "They got two on us last year, so in the back of our mind it's a payback type of deal. At the same time, I don't want my guys to worry about it and just play our game. If we can do that, get better, and get the win, that'll be great."
Goins noted that one of the keys to their game will be home court advantage.
"One of our goals as a team is to protect home court," Goins said. "It's really not too much to say about it, but you have to get up for it. It's a crosstown rivalry. I played in it, I respect it for what it is, and hopefully the kids will do the same."
Pine Bluff senior guard Kendrick Thorn played a big role in those two wins last year. However, this will be new territority for other key contributors like Kaleb Higgins and Jyrimee Thompson, as they're playing bigger parts in this year’s puzzle.
Without a doubt, the Zebras got right back in the gym to work on their miscues after the 72-65 loss to Mills in their last outing, and now they'll have to translate and execute.
As for the Wildcats, Goins believes that they're coming around right on time.
"I've seen us get better in our last two games, and I feel like we're turning a corner at the right time," Goins said. "The White Hall win at their place was real good for us, and to turn around and host the other rival, it's just something you have to get up for. We've been loose in practice, and what's understood doesn't have to be explained."
Watson Chapel and Pine Bluff are set for a 7 p.m. tipoff.