Basketball rivalry heats up between Helix and Grossmont

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Bleachers shake from stomping feet. Gleeful shouts of painted fans overpower the squeaking of shoes on the glossy court. Shrill whistles and screaming buzzers join the symphony of enthusiasm in a delightfully packed gym. This is another Helix-Grossmont rivalry game. 

The Foothillers hosted the Highlanders on February 2, 2018 for their second face-off this basketball season. Helix (5-1) won, 60-52, making them 2-0 against Grossmont (3-3) this year. 

Bleachers shake from stomping feet. Gleeful shouts of painted fans overpower the squeaking of shoes on the glossy court. Shrill whistles and screaming buzzers join the symphony of enthusiasm in a delightfully packed gym. This is another Helix-Grossmont rivalry game. 

The Foothillers hosted the Highlanders on February 2, 2018 for their second face-off this basketball season. Helix (5-1) won, 60-52, making them 2-0 against Grossmont (3-3) this year. 

A rivalry almost as old as high school sports are in San Diego, Helix and Grossmont embody the spirit of community and competition, with both sides of the gym filled to the brim with families and friends, who showed up resplendent with painted faces, team colors and school pride.

Helix head coach Brennan Cassady said rivalry games are a highlight of the season.

“It’s always hot, the crowd is always good,” he said. “This is why we play, this is why we’re here.”

The game was one worth watching. A close match-up, Grossmont had something to prove after dropping to Helix 60-48 on January 8. This time, the made sure the gap was smaller.

“They play their butts off every time,” said Cassady of the Foothillers. “You can never take anything for granted. Anytime we took a breather or let up, we knew they were just going to keep attacking us.”

Helix senior point guard Amari Green, who shot three three-pointers for the Highlanders to solidify their lead at the end of the first half, said beating a team like Grossmont takes effort, energy and “team ball.” 

“Knowing that it’s a rivalry game, that it’s going to be hard and there are a lot of people in the stands,” he said, “I’m just glad we came out with the win.”

Given the high stakes and the energy of the environment, the game heated up immensely on the court, with the last 90 seconds dragging out for nearly ten minutes from timeouts and free throws. 

The contentiousness on the court was palpable, but Green said the competition only lasts until the buzzer.

“Once we get on the court it’s all business,” he said. “After the game we’re friends again. It was just a game.”

Grossmont’s Austin Odom said their rivalry game against Helix is always highly anticipated.

“They’re good, it was a tough game,” he said. “They really pick it up and run the ball.” 

Odom said he would not mind seeing them in playoffs for a rematch.

“We didn’t do bad defensively tonight, but we want to get the win,” he said. “That’s all that matters.”

With just a few games left in conference season, playoffs are looming large on the horizon. Cassady said the real test of the season will be their second match against Steele Canyon, who they lost to in the first round. 

“In this league, nothing is a guarantee,” said Cassady. “Especially with high school kids, you never know how they’re going to show up.”

Though there is work left to be done in the season, Green said he is grateful for their games against Grossmont.

“If it wasn’t for the crowd and the high energy, I don’t know what it would be like,” he said. “I love rivalry games.” 

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