Perhaps Shailen Johnson’s words best describe the rivalry between Harrison and McCutcheon.
“We don’t like them. You want to beat them at everything,” the Harrison junior forward said.
Friday night’s girls and boys basketball doubleheader at McCutcheon’s Resler Gymnasium serves as a fitting cap to finals week for the two Tippecanoe School Corp. rivals.
For Harrison, it’s an opportunity to pick up much-needed victories. For the Mavericks, it’s a chance to build off their recent winning ways.
McCutcheon’s boys have a chance to start 5-0 for the first time since their last sectional championship season in 2005-06 and the Maverick girls have overcome a series of low-scoring games to average 59 points in wins over Central Catholic and Avon.
“Over the years, it’s been a real competitive atmosphere in every sport,” said Rick Peckinpaugh, in his 29th season coaching the McCutcheon boys.
Harrison’s girls are trying to find their footing after losing junior guard Courtney Jacobsen to a torn ACL, an injury that occurred at practice Dec. 3. Since then, the Raiders have dropped five in a row and their current losing streak stands at seven games.
The Raider boys try to carry momentum from a strong second half in a loss to Avon last Friday and seek the opportunity to challenge the area’s best team and hope an upset can spring them forward.
“It’s a big game for us and can really give us a change in our season,” Harrison junior Cade Renicker said. “it’s a pretty big deal to play McCutcheon, especially with how good they are this year. It’s pretty hard to simulate them in practice.
“A lot of us are 5-10 and not freak athletes, so it’ll be tough containing those guys.”
Last season, Harrison’s girls ended an 11-game losing streak in the series. Friday night’s opener provides an atmosphere unlike any other game on the schedule, perhaps a little due to the boys playing afterward, but also because there’s a united front to will their classmates to victory over the bitter rival.
“We’re going to have a huge student section,” McCutcheon junior guard Kerstyn Lowery said. “It’s at our place. We want to show them we’re not that bad this year.”