The final pages of a classic

Decades of disdain line the pages of the story between Western Carolina University and Appalachian State.

Sadly, this year may mark the last chapter of the rivalry, with Appalachian State moving to the Sun Belt Conference next season.

The Catamounts collided with the Mountaineers on the hardwood Saturday for the 173rd time.

Such history breeds a lot of emotion. In this case, hate is the strongest.

The feeling that may be overlooked in this series, however, is love… In that these two schools love to hate each other.

Oddly enough, both sides will miss each other.

They will miss the intensity, the competition, and the new heights they pushed each other to.

Senior guard Trey Sumler weaving through the Mountaineer defense during Saturday's win. Photo by Ryan Keys.

The suspense clinging to the air throughout this weekend’s game is just one example of how Cats and Mountaineers alike have latched themselves to this rivalry.

No one seems ready to let go.

Not even Catamount Head Coach Larry Hunter.

“We’re going to try in basketball to keep it going,” Hunter said. “We’re talking with each other presently to continue to play a home-and-home.”

Time will tell if the rivalry will stay, but if Saturday was the last time Appalachian State sets foot in the Ramsey Center, the Cats can sure be happy with the way they kicked them out.

The game was close throughout, as many of the series’ recent contests have been, but the Cats pulled away to an 84-75 overtime victory.

Appalachian State still holds the lead all-time against Western, but recent history has favored the Catamounts.

WCU has won four straight at home against the Mountaineers, with the last loss in Ramsey dating back to February 6, 2010.

The Cats will travel to Boone on February 20th to face their rivals once again, perhaps for the final time.

How they write the closing sentences may decide how high of a seed they are at the Southern Conference Tournament this March.