Rivalry in sport, if authentic, often transcends such trite values as one team disliking another or even the elation of winning or shame of losing on the battle ground.

Strip it off its emotions and naked rivalry simply becomes a driving force in attaining a sense of worthiness and maintaining it as a yardstick for everyone else to aspire to.

When it's closer to home, as in a derby, those lines of engagement become more confined to establishing a sense of identity - a sort of badge of propriety.

It isn't something that can be talked up, written up or dressed up in a contrived manner to make the encounters look sexy - it's simply there in its raw form.


On that sort of foundation, Hastings Boys' High School and Napier Boys' High School have traditionally emerged as arch rivals over years.

Rugby, cricket and basketball have had the rub of the green more so than perhaps athletics, soccer or swimming as the schools go through the cyclical course of domination and rebuilding.

The pendulum swings in favour of HBHS now when it comes to rugby but what about basketball?

"If you ask Curtis he might say it's an upset but we're definitely good enough to beat them," says NBHS senior coach Damion Davies after they pipped the Curtis Wooten-coached HBHS counterparts 86-84 in the final of the Hawke's Bay premiership at Pettigrew-Green Arena in Napier last Friday night.

HBHS led 19-16 in the first quarter and 42-39 (23-23) into halftime before NBHS clawed their way back 61-62 (23-19) in the third spell and 84-86 (24-23) in the final quarter.

"We definitely get up for that big game against Hastings because they've been the top team around here for probably a very long time so it's good for us to build on last year's Super 8 win over them," says Davies, a former Taylor Corporation Hawks player.

Three weeks ago NBHS lost their Super 8 crown to Palmerston North Boys' High School who are perceived to be No 1 seeds in the country and boast the services of seven-footer Callum McRae and are favourites at the nationals.

NBHS and HBHS hope to finish in the top six at the provincial regional qualifying tourney, zone 3 Schick Premiership, to be staged in Palmerston North from September 7-9.

Like HBHS, NBHS are in tough a pool with St Pat's Town (Wellington) and Rongotai College (Wellington) who are coached by newly-appointed Hawks boss Zico Coronel. Only the top two from each pool will book a nationals berth.

"St Pat's are better than Rongotai but we haven't played against Rongotai this year yet," says the Flaxmere police officer who wasn't reading too much into NBHS' three-point loss to St Pat's in a pre-season match this year.

However, Davies remains upbeat after they went to a tourney in Hamilton last month and came away with four wins out of five games, their only loss to Rosmini College, a Roman Catholic boys' school in Northshore, Auckland, who are ranked No 4 in the country.

"We were with them all the way until about three minutes to go, down by four, but, unfortunately, we lost to them by 12 points."

Davies says the win over HBHS, ranked NZ No 8, reinforces his young charges' belief despite losing three senior players due to injury or employment opportunities.

Tyrese Davies scored a double-double 46 points and 14 rebounds in the Bay final to earn the match MVP award.

Yu Qing Jiang scored 19 points and made nine assists while Isaiah Davies contributed seven points and collected 12 rebounds.

Tyrese and Isaiah are Davies' sons.

"There were around 400-odd people and the Hastings Boys' rugby team was there and our rugby team as well. It was really loud and intense with a lot of chanting because it was really close the whole game in a great atmosphere," says Davies who is immensely proud of his teenagers.

It pleases the coach that some younger players have stepped in NBHS' campaign to fill the void.

"We've got five year 11s and a year 10 so those guys have done a very good job."

The heartening thing is NBHS will retain 80 per cent of their squad next year.

The NBHS junior team, who twin brother and Hawk Dwayne Davies coaches, are arguably the top seeds in the country after beating powerhouse Auckland schools.

"They have dropped only one game and go to their premiership this weekend," he says of the tourney to be staged in New Plymouth.

The senior teams from zone 3 comprise Bay, Wairarapa, Taranaki, Manawatu and Wellington schools.

The number of teams playing in the junior and senior Schick Premiership has increased by 38 teams from last year.

Last year 314 sides competed across all premierships and junior tournaments.

This year that mushroomed to 352, comprising 224 senior premiership teams and 128 junior ones. Basketball is the country's No 1 sport in numbers.