Rivalry based on respect, not hatred
There’s no question that when the Nevada Union and Yuba City basketball teams take the same playing floor, the Miners and Honkers do so in a long-standing, heated rivalry.
But those close to both programs say it’s not one born of hatred, rather it’s a rivalry grown from respect.
And even after Tuesday’s fierce Metro Conference clash between the teams, the high regard shared between the athletes and coaches competing was evident in the post-game handshakes and “good game” goodbyes.
The scene wasn’t same off campus, however, as a fight broke out between students from both schools at a fast-food restaurant in Brunswick Basin. A Yuba City student was reportedly transported to Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital.
It reportedly wasn’t the first time that has happened when the Honkers have headed across Highway 20 to Grass Valley.
“The more important the game, the more the kids get riled up about it,” said Yuba City head coach and athletic director Brad McIntyre. “The rivalry doesn’t bother me, but there’s a fine line between a healthy rivalry, in which we encourage school spirit, and it going beyond that.
“What I have a problem with is there’s a pattern developing after the (NU-Yuba City) games. It’s getting progressively more physical and kids are now getting hurt. They’re bringing things, like brass knuckles, to hurt people. What’s next? That’s got to stop or someone is going to get killed.”
Steve Pilcher, Nevada Union’s athletic director, said while the school can take proactive steps to keep things under control on campus, it’s not so easy to address off-campus confrontations.
After a small scuffle following a scramble for a loose ball during the varsity game – in which a Yuba City student in the stands was ejected from the gymnasium – NU officials elected to have fans from the two schools leave the building at opposite exits.
“There was an incident in which a fan was kicked out after he jumped on a couple of players,” Pilcher said. “Anytime any incident happens, I’d rather error on the side of good judgment.
“Our job is to protect the kids at Nevada Union and at Nevada Union events. And we do that job to best of our ability. But once they get off campus, that’s a tough one.”
With the two teams scheduled for a rematch on Feb. 18 at Yuba City, steps may be taken to help prevent a scene similar to Tuesday’s post-game fight. But, NU head coach Jeff Dellis said, the situation wasn’t anything like the now infamous Pacers-Pistons brawl that broke out in the stands of an NBA game.
In this case, no athletes were reportedly involved.
“Our kids have played against their kids not just for four years of high school, but also in AAU and coming up through seventh and eighth grade,” Dellis said. “There is a tremendous amount of respect. I have nothing but respect for Brad, his program and his players.”
NU senior Brennan McFadden said he has developed a friendship with Yuba City senior Kevin Cordano, the Honkers’ leading scorer. Rivalry or not, he said the only emotion shown after the game is a mutual respect.
“He was on the varsity (at Yuba City) as a sophomore and I was too,” McFadden said. “We started to talk and he’s really a nice guy and a great basketball player.
“I just enjoy going against him. It’s great competition.”
McIntyre shared similar sentiments for NU’s program and said Yuba City officials will be prepared to address any potential problems with fans in the next matchup.
“At our place, if necessary, we’ll move the kids up a couple of rows so they’re not necessarily on the floor,” said McIntyre, adding that the Yuba City student ejected from Ali Gym Tuesday has been suspended from school. “If we get wind of something, we will beef up the administration and security, which obviously for the next game will be very apparent just because of what happened (Tuesday) night.”
For more about last year’s meeting between these teams and the fans’ behavior then, read https://www.theunion.com/article/2004101240125
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