Four years since they last played each other, the Bulldogs and Quakers will renew their storied boys basketball rivalry when they meet Monday in the King Holiday Hoopfest.
When former Garfield coach JoJo Rodriguez looked into his players’ eyes in the locker room before a basketball game at Franklin, he could see the difference.
In other locker rooms, against other teams, his players were a little more loose, a little more active. But in the moments before they faced the Quakers in front of another packed house at Franklin, there was none of that.
“The locker room was always just … quiet,” Rodriguez said. “When you played Franklin, you didn’t have to do anything. You could just feel it. It’s quiet. It’s focused. It’s like a state-championship game.”
He draws out each word for emphasis.
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“You just don’t want to lose that game.”
Now, four years after they last played, Garfield-Franklin is back. The Bulldogs (13-1, ranked No. 2 in 4A) and Quakers (12-3, No. 9 in 3A) will play in Monday’s King Holiday Hoopfest at 8 p.m. at Seattle Pacific University.
The rivalry dates back 90 years. It has seen Franklin change its nickname from the Quakers to the Earthquake and back. It has seen basketball games moved off campus after two girls were hospitalized when students rushed the floor in a 1993 celebration. And it has endured an on-court fight between two female fans in the middle of a game.
For years, the Garfield-Franklin games decided league championships and bragging rights for schools separated by less than three miles.
But the schools haven’t played since 2009, when a Franklin team featuring Peyton Siva and Anrio Adams beat Garfield and Tony Wroten by 15.
The schools haven’t been in the same conference since 2008, when Franklin rejoined the 3A Metro League while Garfield remained in KingCo 4A. Franklin and Garfield can schedule only five nonleague games each season.
“You just have scheduling issues when you’re not in the same league,” said Franklin coach Jason Kerr. “I think there are people who hope our enrollment goes up, just for that game.”
Al Hairston is as responsible as anyone for Garfield’s basketball tradition. During the ’80s and early ’90s, Hairston won five state championships and eight Metro titles in 12 years as Bulldogs coach.
He eventually became the Seattle Public Schools’ athletic director, the position he held when the rivalry ended before the 2010 season. Hairston thought so much of the game’s importance, he lobbied to get the schools’ administrators to demand the game be played every year.
“It’s bragging rights, if you want to break it down to what it really is,” said Hairston, now the coach at O’Dea. “People still come up to me today, ex-players, to talk about when we beat Franklin or Franklin beat us. It’s a tradition that’s still alive right now, even though they took a hiatus.”
Franklin senior Arell Hennings expressed his excitement on Twitter last week about finally getting a taste of the rivalry. “my first Franklin-Garfield game on Monday it’s gonna be special just to be apart of. Just hit me #206″
Kerr attended Quakers-Bulldogs games long before he got the Franklin job and said he vividly remembers his first game as a coach in the series — a loss.
Garfield coach Ed Haskins used to drive from his home in Tacoma when he was a high-school student just to catch the rivalry.
“The reason this was a dream job for me was because of the history and tradition at Garfield,” Haskins said, “and a lot of that is because of the Garfield-Franklin rivalry.”
The teams have played unofficially through the years in the offseason, including a fall-league game before this season. It meant nothing, but Haskins said it was easily the biggest crowd his team played in front of during the fall.
Now they return to the court Monday with something on the line. The game won’t help decide a league championship, as so many others have, but could rekindle the city’s hottest rivalry.
“It’s going to be like a big reunion this time,” Rodriguez said. “Everyone is just going to be glad this game is being played again.”
Jayson Jenks: 206-464-8277 or firstname.lastname@example.org