Cocke County and Cosby got together on the hardwood last night.
And, perhaps to the surprise of many, we all lived to tell the tale of what happened inside the confines of Cosby High School’s gymnasium.
Decades in the making, both high schools in our community put on a display of athletics in our community that will be remembered for a long time to come.
There were 1,100 tickets sold to Monday’s game, but in the aftermath of the instant classic the two boys’ teams put on, in ten years 11,000 might have claimed to have been there.
The pageantry, the enthusiasm and the action on the court turned what many feared into a night that should be celebrated.
Unfortunately, not every team can come out on the winning side in outcomes, but all four teams in Monday night’s games deserve a nod of the hat for their hard play, hustle, and sportsmanship throughout the evening.
Having witnessed hundreds of games and contests over the past 13 years here in this community, Monday night’s showcase of county basketball will be something that will never be topped.
Sure, Cocke County and Cosby will meet again next week at a neutral site and later again in February in Newport, but there’s something about Monday night’s games that will be special.
From the fans in the parking lot at 4 p.m., to the line at the gate stretching all the way to Virgil Ball Stadium, and the showcase of school spirit inside the Cosby High gymnasium, Monday night will be a night that no one ever forgets.
As Cocke County High School Lady Red senior Shayna Harden tweeted late Monday night: “Regardless of the outcome of either games, that was awesome.”
That’s about the best way to explain what was witnessed Monday night. Two schools. Ten miles apart. They finally played on the court and the result was nothing but a bowl full of awesomeness.
Just 72 hours earlier, as Cosby knocked off Northview Academy in a wild district contest in front of a raucous crowd, questions arose if that atmosphere could be topped.
It did. Both schools’ fans and student sections showed out well and supported their teams and led to an atmosphere unlike any of us will likely see again. You can’t bottle a rivalry up for 39 years and expect people to take the first game back lightly. Its also — although while it would still serve as a showcase for local sports — likely to be taken for granted if this series is renewed for years to come.
Monday’s games also lived up to the billing as well.
The girls game was close throughout until the final minutes, the boys teams put on an instant classic that will go in the annals of so many other victories in Cosby basketball history.
For years, people had asked what-if these schools plays and who would win. Monday night we found out about it and aside from a few minor incidents at the game, the average trash talk that surrounds athletics at any level, most of the showcase went off without a hitch.
Now, while many have played the what-if game for so many years, as some people across our county waited years between the last games these schools played, they can now turn their attention to the remainder of the season: Which yes does include two more fun games between these two schools.
And here’s the good news, we all lived to tell about it, so hopefully Monday night and the remaining games this season won’t be a one-year off-shoot.
Games and atmospheres like Monday night are too important for our county’s athletics to not put on annually. Sure, much of Monday’s happenings may have been about nostalgia and an event, as much as it was about a game.
These games were a celebration and showcase of our county’s athletics and we owe it to these athletes to give them the opportunity to continue to play in something such as what we witnessed last night.
When athletes can surely know the day before that the next day will be something they will remember forever, its simply something thats too big for one person or one group to say its not a good thing.
Seth Butler is the sports editor of The Newport Plain Talk. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @NPTSethButler.