Lyle-Pacelli girls are winning as a familyPublished 12:26pm Thursday, November 28, 2013
A lot of basketball teams like to call themselves a family or talk about playing like a family. When the Lyle-Pacelli girls basketball team claims they are a family, they mean it literally.
LP has three different pairs of sisters on its roster and the family environment has helped the Athletics evolve into a program that has high expectations this season, which will begin Tuesday when LP hosts Glenville-Emmons Tuesday at 7:15 p.m. in Lyle.
The LP sister duos include — senior Annie Holtz and sophomore Sarah Holtz; junior Madison Truckenmiller and eighth grader Kendal Truckenmiller; and sophomore Courtney Walter and eighth grader Brooke Walter.
While sibling rivalries can often occur when they are close to the same age, all three sister duos on LP have embraced playing with their sibling and they often spend time working on basketball when they’re at home. They don’t let arguments from home get in their way of competing and they don’t let basketball arguments interfere with their home life.
“It was kind of weird (playing with my younger sister) at first, but now we’re used to how each other plays and we use it to our advantage,” Madison said. “If we ever get mad, we shake it off or use that anger to play better.”
Kendal said that Madison helped bring her along last season when she was a seventh grader playing on the varsity team.
“I was nervous last year, but she helped me out and I got over my fear,” Kendal said.
The Athletics have been a solid team for the last three seasons as they went 23-5 last season and 17-8 in the two seasons before that, but Annie remembers things weren’t always like that as the team went 2-22 her freshman season.
She said the chemistry this year’s group of players has is one of its biggest advantages.
“It’s really cool. We’re always at each other’s houses during the season and the offseason,” Annie said. “I was there when we were at our low and having family members playing with each other really helps.”
By the time Annie’s sister Sarah made the varsity squad, the team was starting to improve and Annie was glad to help her younger sister get used to life on the varsity team. Sarah was very thankful for that help.
“She helped me get used to the atmosphere and she helped me feel like part of the team. I didn’t feel left out,” Sarah, who averaged 16 points and 8 rebounds per game last year, said. “Having a good bond with each other really helps. We know what to say to each other.”
When Brooke was brought up to the varsity team as a seventh grader last season she leaned heavily on Courtney for advice. It can be a tough place for a middle schooler when they’re competing with and against athletes that are six years older than them. Brooke had an advantage that some don’t with an older mentor on the squad.
“I love playing with Courtney,” Brooke said. “I look up to her and she’s a role model to me.”
Courtney said the number of sisters on the team gives LP an advantage and it helps the Athletics play together. She also said that her and Brooke don’t argue over who should take a certain shot.
When the Walters aren’t playing for LP, they can be found shooting around together on the weekend or after practice.
“We really don’t have problems. We’re close on and off the court,” Courtney said. “Brooke’s athletic and she knows what she’s doing, so I don’t have to do too much for her.”
LP head coach Justin Morris said the younger sisters came into his program with a huge advantage. Before they were on the team they were able to watch their older sisters play and learn from them and once they got on the team, they had an older sister there to help them out.
Morris pointed out that it’s a once in a lifetime chance to play a sport with your sibling and it’s helped make LP’s girls basketball program a strong one.
“The families are what have built this program from the parents all of the way down to the kids,” Morris said. “Those families have been committed to making us a championship program and with these three families, you could write them with a magic marker for every single practice in the summer, every single tournament in the summer and every single game in the summer.”