WARNER ROBINS -- The Northside-Warner Robins rivalry is best known for what has happened on the football field through the years.
But it has been pretty good on the basketball court, too, and that version of the rivalry returns Friday afternoon.
The two girls teams face off at 4:30 p.m. at Warner Robins, and the boys teams will follow to complete the doubleheader. The games are also the teams’ GHSA Region 1-AAAA openers.
“They’re pretty excited, but they’re ... trying to be calm,” Northside girls head coach Casaundra Wilson said with a laugh about her players.
All four teams have had reason to be excited early this season.
The Northside girls are 10-3, although Wilson said her team’s defense has been the key while the offense finds its way. Jasmine Wilson, Chelsie Waters and Cierra Gordon lead the way for the Northside attack.
“Defensively, we’ve improved pretty well, but on the offensive end, we haven’t been as tuned in with that area as I’d like,” Casaundra Wilson said.
The Warner Robins girls are 9-3, but they have gone 2-3 since a 7-0 start after being hit by some injuries. Warner Robins head coach Tom Mobley said Aaliyah Jones, an important defender, a captain and the team’s third-leading scorer, and Cece Carroll are both questionable for Friday’s game.
Kenyona Armstrong, who signed to play at Lander, leads the Demonettes with 21.8 points per game while Diamond Hudson averages 17.1.
“Everyone’s always excited for this game,” Mobley said. “There’s always a little extra tension and excitement when we play Northside, and there is even more because it’s our first region game.”
Friday’s boys game won’t be the first meeting between the two teams this season. Warner Robins beat Northside in the Jones County holiday tournament last week.
Jamaal Garmon’s Demons carry a 7-5 record into Friday’s action. Jalen Rountree averages close to 18 points per game to lead the Demons, while Juvuan Shine averages almost 15.
“This is a very big game, and the stakes are even higher with region play opening up,” Garmon said. “We’re actually ahead of schedule a little bit. We would have liked to have won more games, for sure, but our record will take care of itself through the season if we continue to improve and work hard.”
Northside is 8-4, led by Denard Williams’ 12 points per game, while Jarius Smith and Devon Tanner are both averaging 10. Center Christian Kennedy is averaging 12 rebounds.
“This game is sold out when we play at Warner Robins, and it’s sold when we play at home with people lining up outside waiting to get in,” Northside head coach Ken Price said. “These games just get so intense for the players because they mean so much to their parents and everyone around them.
“It’s a great rivalry, but it’s a clean rivalry, and it’s a game that means so much to all the teams.”