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East, West prepare for fourth encounter on court

By bY CLAY WHITTINGTON - CWHITTINGTON@VICAD.COM
Jan. 19, 2012 at 11:03 p.m.
Updated Jan. 19, 2012 at 7:20 p.m.


While coaching at Memorial, John Grammer spent hours discussing strategy with his assistants.

As all head coaches do, he shared secrets, formulated plans, reviewed film, evaluated talent and disected philosophies with his staff.

In hindsight, though, Grammer might have been a little too forthcoming.

Upon Memorial's closing and subsequent division of students, Grammer became head coach at Victoria East, while his longtime assistant Pat Erskine was named head coach across town at Victoria West.

Since the split, Erskine's Warriors are 3-0 against the Titans, including a 54-36 nondistrict victory at the Victoria Classic last month in the East gymnasium.

"I'm wondering if maybe he was the reason we won all those games (at Memorial)," Grammer said. "It makes you wonder."

Friday evening, the coaches and their respective teams will clash once again with bragging rights and District 30-4A positioning on the line.

Defending district champion East (15-10 overall) enters the contest with an umblimished 2-0 record in district and is tied with Calhoun atop the standings, while West (13-11) is 1-1.

"I think it will be a totally different game than the one we played earlier this year," Erskine said. "We look forward to the challenge.

"They are playing good right now, and it is good to have that crosstown rival."

Some would argue, however, a rivalry cannot be truly ignited until each team has defeated the other.

Grammer hopes to light the fuse Friday.

"We're not sure exactly why (we haven't beaten them)," the coach said. "We feel like we are just as good as they are, so we are trying to figure out mentally and psychologically what we need to do.

"We just haven't played well (against West). I just don't think we have played up to our capability."

A lot of variables come into factor when these teams face off. Perhaps the most glaring would be the familiarity between the players on each roster.

With the schools each being in just the second year of existence, many of the players not only grew up together, but they played together on the same team, some even did so under the Grammer and Erskine regime at Memorial.

While the Warriors seem to thrive on the encounters, according to Erskine, the Titans have not displayed a similar intensity.

But Grammer hopes to see the passion emerge this time around.

"Our biggest goal is to win district, but we want to be at West too," Grammer said. "And they want to beat us.

"It's like an A&M-Texas game, there are a lot of emotions involved."

Regardless of the outcome, the coaches will continue to share a mutual respect.

"I wouldn't be here today if I hadn't had a chance to coach with him," Erskine said. "And I'm thankful for that."

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