East St. Louis vs. Cahokia.
For diehard fans of high school basketball played with emotion and at its highest level, it doesn't get any better.
Longtime rivals and ranked among the top five Class 3A teams in the state for much of the season, the Flyers (22-7) and Comanches (30-3) will collide for a berth in the Elite Eight on Friday, when they play in the championship game of the Mascoutah Class 3A Sectional.
"This is the type of game March Madness is all about,'' East St. Louis coach Tony Young said after the Flyers 64-46 semifinal win over Centralia on Wednesday. "This is the one everybody has wanted to see. This is the fun part of it.
"You had a gym full of people tonight (Wednesday) that wanted to see Centralia and East St. Louis. You have a city full of people that want to see East St. Louis and Cahokia. It's going to be a fun game.''
Game time is set for 7:30 p.m. with a capacity crowd expected. The winner will advance to the Springfield Super-Sectional on Tuesday at the Prairie Capital Convention Center.
The Flyers-Comanches showdown will be their first since East St. Louis defeated Cahokia 61-60 in the championship game of the Class 3A Althoff Regional a year ago.
Both teams come into the showdown playing well after winning tough semifinals. Cahokia, which has won 30 games for the first time in school history, advanced with an 85-65 win over Carbondale on Tuesday.
The Comanches got 27 points from senior all-state candidate Keenan Minor and double-figure scoring from three other players as they eventually wore down their South Seven Conference rivals for the third straight time this season.
But the Comanches' defense in the second half was the difference.
"I always tell the kids that defense wins championships. That's the big key for us,'' Cahokia coach Darian Nash said following the win. "I think we can score with anyone. We've just have to stop teams from scoring against us.
"I wouldn't let the kids break their promise of not looking ahead. It's been one game at a time. Now we'll look at game film and come up with a game plan.''
Like Cahokia, East St. Louis also got a standout effort from its senior all-state candidate -- DeShawn Munson.
The 6-foot, 4-inch Munson recorded his 12th triple-double of the season with 22 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists, while 6-5, 240-pound Johnny McCray added 13 points.
"It's going to be a really good game. Like us, Cahokia's got some shooters and they've got some big guys,'' Young said. "It's a rivalry game. All these guys on both teams know each other. They play with and against each other all summer.
"This is the kind of game you play for and the kind of game you coach for. Like, I said, it's going to be fun.''