If you look at a photo of the 2000-01 Granada Hills High School junior varsity boys’ basketball team (and who among us hasn’t), you will see one of the coaches is Sheldon Emmer, one of the players is Adam Emmer and another one of the players is Jared Honig.
Flash ahead 16 years, and all three men will be together again Saturday when the Palm Desert girls’ basketball team hosts Granada Hills Charter for a 5 p.m. game. You see Adam Emmer is the head coach of the Aztecs, while Honig is the head coach of Granada Hills. One of Honig’s assistants is Sheldon Emmer, Adam’s father.
Did you follow that?
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It’s the second year of the friendly game as Palm Desert traveled to Granada Hills last year. When Honig, the Granada Hills coach who has been friends and teammates with Emmer since they were 9- and 10-year-olds, became the head coach a few years ago and with Emmer’s dad as the assistant, it was only a matter of time once Emmer took over the Aztecs team last year.
“I always joked with my dad, ‘Oh we’ll come play you, it would be fun,’ ” Adam Emmer said. “And then we actually did it. Both teams kind of understand the situation that I’m friends with the opposing coach and my dad’s the assistant. We went there last year and got beat pretty bad, but the whole point was to go and do something cool. We saw a really good team in action and then after the game we all went to dinner.”
This year’s game takes place at 5 p.m. Saturday at Palm Desert with a taco dinner in the gym afterward. Last year’s game, a 45-point Granada Hills win — accomplished its goal. The two squads developed a kinship. Several friendships were born and social media has kept them going. Basically, they consider themselves “cousin schools.”
The budding relationship between the two schools paid dividends for Palm Desert senior Seline Schinke last summer. The Granada Hills coaches were taking a team of California players on a trip to Italy to see the sights and play some games against Italian teams. They had an extra spot, and they called Adam and wondered if Schinke, who they were impressed with when they played against the Aztecs, was available. She was, and a few months later, she was seeing the sights and shooting some hoops with a team that included several girls from the Granada Hills team.
“It was amazing, between the basketball and seeing the sights and stuff,” Schinke said. “I mean we saw all these places, including where Julius Caesar got stabbed. … Anyway, I made some good friends and, to be honest, we won every game by a margin of about 40, so it was just a great trip.”
Those friendships developed between the two schools will be put to the test a little bit when they hit the floor against each other Saturday. On the surface the game is mostly for fun, as the two coaches go at it, making fun of each other along the way. But let’s face it, it’s still a competitive sport, so when the ball is tipped, the Aztecs will be trying to pull off what would be a pretty big upset.
Coach Adam Emmer enjoys the camaraderie of the game, but he knows his team will get something out of it as well.
“We’ll come out and compete, but we’re realistic,” Emmer said. “They’re ranked I think 20th in the state right now, and I don’t think anybody’s even calculating where we’re ranked in the state. It’s just a good experience. It’s good for our girls from a basketball standpoint to see a top level program.”
But the order of the day Saturday will be fun. During last year’s game, Emmer’s dad showed all the girls a picture of Emmer and Honig from their childhood days, which drew some laughs. Emmer went down and invaded the Granada Hills huddle pretending to steal their gameplan. Those are the kind of things that one can expect again this Saturday.
“It’s a bond with another program, and I know a lot of friendships have been built because of it,” Emmer said, adding that the Palm Desert team made a road trip to watch a Granada Hills playoff game last year. “And that’s really the whole point of high school basketball. You’re supposed to be out there having some fun, learning some stuff, meeting some new people, going to different places. And that’s what this is.”
“It’s not a rivalry really, it’s just girls getting together and playing basketball, and we all know it means a lot to the coaches,” she said. “It’s like going to the rec center or wherever. It’s just basketball. You’re on that team and I’m on this team and let’s play and have some fun.”
Have some fun and have some tacos, right?
“Oh yeah, tacos!” Schinke said. “I’m going to have more than one, for sure.”