Nicky Fuchs / Special to the Home News
Friday, Jan. 16, 2009 | 2 a.m.
Silverado senior Ali Sabra and Liberty seniors Kenneth and Cameron Peters are friends 363 days of the year.
The other two days — this year on Jan. 22 and Feb. 10 — they are key figures in a rivalry that has developed between their respective basketball teams.
After years of dominance by Silverado, Liberty leveled the playing field last season by splitting the season series to collect their first win over Silverado in the school's six-year history. The Patriots would go on to win the Southeast Division to ignite a rivalry that was already bubbling with the schools' close proximity.
With only four miles separating the schools, several students have come up through the same elementary and middle schools — in this case, Barbara and Hank Greenspun Junior High, where the three led the Dolphins to the 2005 middle school championship.
"We all played together at Greenspun and that made us pretty close," Sabra said. "Just being there from the beginning we bonded really quick. Our families know each other and we hang out pretty much every day. When our schools play each other it's a big deal for us."
The Patriots (2-1 in the Southeast Division) won the first match up between the two teams last year 75-67 while the Skyhawks (3-0) took the second game 69-67.
"The players already cared about this game because Silverado is a league (opponent), but last year the game got huge," Kenneth Peters said. "For us it already was big. Cameron and I mark that game on our calendar as soon as the schedule comes out."
Cameron Peters said the game has an added drama because of the longtime friendship. The brothers even began their high school careers at Silverado but moved into the Liberty zone after their freshman year.
"The friendship between those three is important to me, too," Silverado coach Ron Childress said. "Cameron and Kenneth are great kids and I would do anything for them. They're great kids and great athletes, and we know they're going to make any game competitive."
Kenneth Peters is averaging 16.6 points per game this year while Cameron Peters is averaging 10.9. Though Sabra is averaging 15.5 points per game, Cameron Peters said he has played Sabra enough over the years to contain him.
"Ali is basically like another brother to us," Cameron Peters said. "We play one-on-one all the time and during the game we guard each other. I know him like I know myself. He's not easy to guard, but I can predict his moves sometimes."
Liberty coach Pat Welby has been impressed with the brothers' ability to put their friendship to the side when they take the court.
"They do a good job of separating their friendship from the game," Welby said. "When the whistle blows, they get serious — Ali, too. It's mutual respect, but beyond that they want the win even more than any other game."
Sabra agreed that as heated as the rivalry is between the schools, it can be even more heated among their group of friends.
"We all hate to lose so we want that game more than any other," Sabra said. "After they won last year they talked a little trash and ganged up on me when we hung out. It's bragging rights for us. This year, Silverado's going to get them twice."
Jared Harmon can be reached at 990-8922 or [email protected].