Only On 6: Inside A Rivalry

"It's always a fast-paced game. The crowd's always in it," Marcus Foster said. "Something good's always happening."

"It's always fun, great atmosphere," Mario Garcia said. "Everyone's cheering for their team."

Hirschi junior Marcus Foster and Burkburnett senior Mario Garcia are describing the atmosphere of a Hirschi-Burkburnett boys' basketball game, the matchup that most say is the premiere basketball rivalry in Texoma.

At Burkburnett, basketball's woven into the culture of the town. Head coach Danny Nix has been leading the Bulldogs for over 30 years, creating a tradition that's passed from generation to generation. Former players are a fixture in the gym, teaching, guiding and passing along stories.

"It's an atmosphere where if you're a younger kid and you come in here, an older kid will help you get better," Nix said. "It's invaluable."

Years ago, senior Bryce Hollingsworth was one of those younger kids, simply looking to get better.

"They were my heroes," he said. "Seeing them go up and dunk it, it was so cool."

Garcia, one of Texoma's top scorers, says older players were vital in developing his basketball game, helping out with parts of the game that he struggled with.

"It means a lot. He (an older player) looks at me like at I can trust him, like a big brother, a big part of the family," he said. "It means that they care about the tradition."

Like most successful programs, strong tradition creates success. Burkburnett's a perennial basketball power, advancing to the 3-A state championship game in 2008 and 2011.

At Hirschi, head coach Donald Hedge has nothing but praise for Burkburnett's tradition, especially when it comes to the man leading the way.

"When you try and put together a program and look around the state or the nation for what you'd want your program to be, I don't have to look far but down the road, Burkburnett," he said.

And when the team shares the district with a perennial powerhouse, you either get better or go home.

"They were so good, and we had to compete with them, that we had to get better," Hedge said.

The Huskies' program has been on the rise, challenging Burkburnett for district titles and making deep playoff runs of its own.

Kids, like junior Mack Sillemon, have grown up watching, waiting for their turn.

"I've been wanting to be a Hirschi Husky since third grade, been ready to be up here," he said.

The generation-to-generation cycle that's common in Burkburnett is now starting to grow at Hirschi. Hedge fondly remembers many of his current players sitting behind the bench when they were in middle school.

"Now in the junior highs around here, everyone's emulating Marcus Foster," he said. "It's fun to see these guys go from one side of it to the other."

With two dominant basketball programs in Texoma, it's only fitting that when the two teams play, everyone pays attention.

"It's the best basketball atmosphere I've ever been around," Hedge said.

Ask current and former players to describe the games, the same adjectives get thrown around: crazy, loud, packed, like a college game.

"You can feel the ground shaking," Hirschi senior Shadee Muhammad said.

Nix says you can throw the records out the window when the pair of teams plays.

But records will matter Friday night in Burkburnett. A Hirschi win gives the Huskies the outright District 6-3A title, while a Burk win creates a tie for the title.

The Huskies won the first matchup of the season at home 80-72 on Jan. 24, snapping a four-game Burkburnett winning streak in the rivalry and giving every Husky their first win against the Bulldogs.

The Huskies are looking for more, while the Bulldogs want payback…either way, basketball fans are in for another great show in another great chapter of the best basketball rivalry in Texoma.

Click on the video for an inside look at the rivalry, as told by players, coaches and the game itself.

Extended coverage/interviews are also available by clicking on the link.

Stay with Newschannel 6 for coverage of the rematch that tips off Friday night!