BUTTE — This year's Butte High and Butte Central crosstown basketball games were moved to Dec. 23. In recent years the games had been played in mid-February.
“There’s positives and negatives to it. The positive is that it's a great time of year to be playing it. There will be a lot of people in town," said Butte Central girls head coach Meg Murphy. "The other thing is you don’t really get time to prepare for it, so you kind of just show up and hopefully your kids are ready to play.”
“The fact it’s on a Monday and we can’t get a practice in is kind of stressful, but I like the game, it’s fun," said Butte High senior Haley Herron.
Reactions have been mixed from both Butte High and Butte Central’s basketball teams for the decision to bump up this year’s crosstown game to just two days before Christmas. Preparation is by far the biggest drawback since teams couldn’t practice Sunday. But having more alumni and families back home for the holiday season to come watch the game is the biggest reason for the change.
“There was an era where this game was traditionally played just before Christmas. The (athletic directors) were talking about it for a number of years to get it back to this time frame," said Butte Central boys head coach Brodie Kelly. "And I’m thankful they found a way to get it done.”
There's no love lost in this rivalry game. Both sides know exactly what’s at stake when they step on the court.
“We always look at it like we want to be city champions, and that’s always a pretty cool thing to say that you get to do," said Butte Central's Emma Keeley.
“I think that’s the one night of the year I can actually say I hate Butte High," said Butte Central's Aaron Richards. "Because it’s a rivalry, but it’s only one night of the year.”
At the end of the day this game is about the community -- friends and families reconnecting over a few great games of basketball pitting friends against friends for city championship glory.
“I have a lot of friends at Butte High that we’ll be playing against. ... Just the crowd cheering my siblings' names kind of just gets me going," said Sofee Thatcher.
“I just think it’s a fun game. I don't know how much weight it has, but it’s definitely a fun game," said Butte High girls head coach Maury Cook. "It's one of those games where nothing on paper matters.”