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Lansing’s Crosstown Classic—Memorial vs. Heritage

Middle school rivalry is alive and well

By Josh Bootsma

LANSING, Ill. (December 20, 2018) – The gym at Memorial Junior High School was rocking on Monday afternoon as the Memorial Mustangs faced off against the Heritage Middle School Nationals in their annual crosstown basketball match-up.

The Background

Despite being the only two middle schools in Lansing and having a strong rivalry, Memorial and Heritage are in different districts and athletic conferences. Lansing police officer Wilson Pierce noticed animosity between students from the two middle schools while he served as a juvenile detective at TF South High School years ago.

“The rivalry got negative because Memorial kids never saw Heritage kids and Heritage kids never saw Memorial kids…and then you’re putting those same kids into one high school. They don’t really care for each other but they don’t know why,” explained Pierce, who started the HOME (Helping Our Minors Excel) foundation in 2008.

Pierce reached out to both middle schools in an effort to set up a healthy way for students to participate in the crosstown rivalry. For the last seven years, the Memorial vs. Heritage basketball games have done just that.

For the first two years, the game included only the boys teams, but for the last five, the event has featured both the boys and girls eighth grade teams. The Memorial girls have won all of their contests with Heritage while the Heritage boys have claimed two of their seven matchups with the Mustangs.

On Monday, both Memorial teams took home crosstown trophies. The girls won handily 47-19 while the boys secured a 49-33 victory.

Relive the action:

Memorial student Kiera Jones launches a free throw in the third quarter of Monday’s contest. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)
Heritage student Janiah Hawkins spreads the floor as her teammate sets up the play. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)
The Mustangs talk things over during a timeout on their home court. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)
The Memorial girls team proudly displays their crosstown trophy after a dominant performance. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)
The crosstown classic was just as much a battle of cheerleaders as a battle of basketball teams.
(Photos: Josh Bootsma)


Heritage cheerleader Jaylin Williams take to the air to pump up the crowd. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)
Not to be outdone, the Memorial cheer squad uses aerial components during halftime of the boys game (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

The rivalry between cheer squads took athletic forms:

Alex Lesure of Heritage lines up a free throw in the second game of the day. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)
Caleb Newman intends to get the ball in-bounds for the Mustangs while Romello Ali of the Nationals is intent on the opposite. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)
Memorial coach Jeremiah Faughn takes a moment to talk strategy with Jayden Watson. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)
The quarter break is a time for both teams to regroup. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)
The Memorial boys team hoists the crosstown trophy after a hard-fought battle. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)
The memorial cheerleaders took a moment after the game to pose for a photo. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

Memorial Junior High School is located at 2721 Ridge Road.

Heritage Middle School is located at 19250 Burnham Ave.

To learn more about Officer Pierce and his foundation HOME, visit


Helping Our Minors Excel (February 2018 article)

Josh Bootsma
Josh Bootsma
Josh is Managing Editor at The Lansing Journal and believes in the power and purpose of community news. He covers any local topics—from village government to theatre, from business openings to migratory birds.