Rivalries usually have three elements: proximity (either geographically or in-conference), competitiveness, and general dislike between teams. There is the rare exception dubbed friendly rivalry. DeKalb High School (DeKalb, Ill.) and Milwaukee Madison High School (Milwaukee, Wis.) have this type of rivalry. The schools had already planned to get together for pizza after their game. As final game preparations were being made, tragedy struck the Milwaukee Madison family. Senior captain Johntel Franklin lost his mother earlier on game day after a five-year battle with cervical cancer. Milwaukee Madison head coach Aaron Womack wanted to cancel the February contest. Franklin encouraged his coach to go on with the game as scheduled. He did not want his teammates to miss playing. Milwaukee Madison and DeKalb took the court and played a spirited first quarter. Early in the second quarter, however, something unexpected happened. Johntel Franklin walked into the gym. He had come straight from the hospital. Womack immediately called a time out and players and fans rushed to hug their senior captain. Franklin was invited to sit on the bench but declined. He wanted to play. This created an issue with the rules. Womack did not expect him to play. So he did not include Franklin on the pre-game roster. A technical foul had to be assessed for him to play. DeKalb coach Dave Rohlman intervened and asked the referees to set the rule aside and let Franklin play, but the referees had to enforcethe technical foul. When Rohlman asked for volunteers to shoot the free throws, Darius McNeal stepped up. As DeKalb’s senior captain, McNeal knew the situation and followed his coach’s unspoken instructions. He intentionally missed both free throws. One of the shots traveled just two feet in front of the line. Sometimes the greatest acts of giving occur in the greatest times of loss. Missing two free throws allowed Darius McNeal and the DeKalb basketball team to hit the true target; the one that scores points for respect, class and sportsmanship.
The DeKalb High School Boys Basketball Team is being recognized by the National Federation of State High School Associations.