ALBANY -- Gwendolyn Proctor will show up at the Monroe gym tonight wearing her favorite shirt.
It's the one that reads, "A House Divided: Monroe Tornadoes/Colquitt County Packers."
She had it made just for nights like this one, nights when Proctor beams a little more, shines a little brighter and smiles a little longer.
It's always that way with mothers and their sons.
And Proctor has a pair of winners, so when her oldest son Kirven Davis' Colquitt County team faces her youngest son Marquis Davis' Monroe Tornadoes, mom will be right where she belongs: in the middle of it all.
"She will just sit there and not cheer,'' Kirven said. "She doesn't cheer at all. She just waits until it's over and congratulates us both.''
Kirven thinks she might be pulling for his team tonight. He has never beaten Marquis at the high school level. Marquis and Monroe have won all six meetings, dating back to 2007 when Marquis took the job at Monroe. The first thing he did was call his big brother and ask him about playing.
"He said, 'Do you want to play?' And I said, 'Let's do it,' " Kirven recalled. "It was a natural. It's turned into a rivalry, but it's one of those rivalries that the public and the community and the family have created. For us, it's a fun rivalry. We have always been competitive.''
That goes back to the days in the backyard, playing one-on-one late into the evening.
"I used to get him back then,'' Kirven said. "I was older and knew a few more tricks.''
They shared the same court in high school at Dougherty, where Marquis was a guard and Kirven played inside. Marquis was a star who could wheel and deal on anyone, and Kirven was the man inside. It was the Davis-to-Davis Connection.
"You always want to pass the ball to your brother,'' said Marquis, remembering those Dougherty days. "It was great playing on the same team with him, so we played when I was a freshman and sophomore and he was a junior and senior.''
Both earned scholarships. Kirven went to Albany State, and Marquis went to Alabama State. Both came back home to Albany and have been coaching ever since.
They faced each other as middle school coaches -- Kirven at Merry Acres and Marquis at Radium Springs -- and they were assistants at rival high schools -- Kirven at Westover and Marquis at Dougherty.
Kirven got the job at Colquitt County in 2005, and Marquis became the head coach at Monroe in 2007. They have played twice a year since.
"We don't give each other a hard time, but we have a friend, Fred Pickett, and he is always getting it going. He's the heckler,'' Kirven said. "He texted me this week and it said: 'You know the Tornadoes are going to whip you.' We don't say too much. We might say something slick before the game. We will hook up (on Friday night before the game).''
Kirven will say something to his players.
"I have told my players that they better be ready. I told them, 'You are coming into Albany. You are coming into basketball country,' " he said. "If you want to be respected across the state, you have to come to Albany and get a win.''
It's always special for the Davis brothers, who talk every day and
attend each other's games when their team isn't playing.
"It's always good to compete against your brother. I'm sure there are other brothers who wish they could compete against their brother,'' Marquis said. "It's just fun. It's fun for us and our family.
Marquis then added: "We talk all the time. He tells me things about my team and things I need to do. I tell him things about his team. Every time we play a game, I call him right after the game. It's always been just the two of us.''
They are both tough, brilliant coaches who learned about life from their mother, a woman who gets all the credit for their success.
"She's the backbone,'' Kirven said. "She is the reason for the quality we have.''
Kirven thinks mom might just be secretly pulling for Colquitt tonight.
"I think she is getting frustrated,'' he said. "She is torn between the two of us, but I haven't had a win and it bothers her.''
It's tough to prepare on both brothers.
"It's hard to prepare against someone who knows me as well as he knows me,'' Kirven said. "We both preach defense. We both preach being aggressive, and we both teach our kids to be competitive. It's just how the ball falls."
Kirven then added: "We'll compete, but he's still my little brother. Words can't explain it. He'll still be my little brother when I'm 60 and he's 58.
The most flattering thing he has ever done for me is something he doesn't even realize. When he was in college, I read his team's program and on his bio it had questions like, what's your favorite food and stuff like that. It had a question, 'Who is the toughest player you have ever played against?' And he said, 'My brother.'
"To me that was the ultimate compliment.''
They couldn't be closer.
"It's special,'' Marquis said. "It's my big brother. We compete for those two hours and then the game goes on, and everything is back to normal. We always try to do something. We normally go to dinner.''
Maybe this year, the loser can pick up the check.
"That's a good idea,'' Marquis said.
Added Kirven: "I like that. Maybe we will have to do that this year.''
And right there will be mom, sitting smack dab in the middle.