After a lull in the fall sports season, the Lompoc-Cabrillo rivalry finally hit its stride last week.
The Braves and Conquistadores squared off in a handful of matches and games throughout the week.
It started with the Jan. 7 soccer games, with the Lompoc boys earning a 3-2 win over the Conqs and the girls from Cabrillo and Lompoc playing to a 1-1 draw.
Then came the Cabrillo High dominance.
The Conquistadores won the girls and boys wrestling matches on Wednesday, Jan. 8.
Then the Conqs put things away. Last Friday night, Cabrillo swept Lompoc in boys and girls basketball.
But the results aren't what's most important.
The rivalry is. And the rivalry is alive and well.
Attending the girls-boys doubleheader at Cabrillo High Friday night, the atmosphere was positively electric inside the Conqs' gym.
About 2,500 Lompocans traveled to Anaheim Stadium for a June 1, 1970 baseball game.
But it wasn't a major league game or even a collegiate contest the large crowd was excited for.
No, the Lompoc supporters were there to see the Lompoc High baseball team play for a CIF championship.
There wasn't an empty seat in the house. A picture-perfect example of standing-room only.
"If you can't get up for this game, you don't deserve to be playing basketball," Cabrillo girls coach Travis Jenkins said after getting his first win over the Braves in his first attempt as head coach. "Cabrillo and Lompoc basketball games are huge. The community comes out to support it and the atmosphere is absolutely electric. Talking to seniors before the game, I told them, 'This is your last game against Lompoc at home. Let's ring that bell.'
"I was so proud of the way they finished the game and they got to ring that bell."
Cabrillo players typically ring a large bell inside the gym after each victory.
Cabrillo's girls beat Lompoc 41-27. The Cabrillo boys rallied to beat Lompoc 52-43 in a riveting game.
The state of the rivalry is a positive sign for Lompoc Valley athletics. The players, coaches and fans were incredibly passionate Friday, but there was no animosity in the air.
In the fall, the highlight of the Lompoc-Cabrillo rivalry is the Big Game, the annual football contest held at Huyck Stadium.
But with Cabrillo going winless its last two seasons, that game has lost some of its luster and appeal.
The Lompoc-Cabrillo volleyball matches, though, are always fun, with the teams usually meeting up to raise funds for cancer research.
But the basketball doubleheaders are something else.
Of course, it's a great night for the Conqs when they get to ring the bell twice with a pair of wins over the rival Braves.
What's more, the two athletic directors shared several moments together during the boys game, as Claudia Terrones, who coaches the LHS girls and also serves as the school's AD, sat with Gary West, Cabrillo's AD, for much of the boys game Friday night.
But make no mistake about it, the rivalry is always the highlight of the year for the student-athletes.
"I love it, I've been dreaming of this since I was a little kid," Cabrillo boys basketball player Hayden Jory said after leading the Conqs over the Braves. "I've been coming to Cabrillo basketball games since I was this tall, really short. The environment is just amazing. A lot of high schools don't get this, but this cross-town rivalry is really big. It's just amazing."
Lompoc is scheduled to host Cabrillo on Jan. 24 in their next set of rivalry basketball games. The Braves, surely, will be looking for some revenge. The soccer games are scheduled for Jan. 23.
Hicks big basket
Joe Bailey is the sports editor at Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Contact him with tips and story ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org or (805) 739-2239. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/jbaileysmsports