Two sets of sisters stand at midcourt of the Northside High gym on Thursday during the Lady Patriots’ basketball practice. The rest of the team is in a dark room upstairs watching film, but these four girls are getting ready for their close-up.
Sophomore Jasmine Herndon fixes her hair. Her twin sister, Jessica, shifts to the side, jokingly complaining about the need for more space. At the other end, the Jakes sisters, senior Taylor and sophomore Caitlyn, are laughing and making faces. Taylor brushes up against her sister, who recoils and says not to touch her.
“She doesn’t like to be touched, so I like to be all over her,” Taylor says deviously.
That’s just a five-minute snapshot of what it’s like for Northside (9-4), which gets key contributions from all four and will continue to need them as region play gets started Friday night against Thomas County Central (6 p.m. at Northside).
For coach Candace Turner, it’s a daily routine, one which keeps the team loose, successful and interesting, for lack of a better word.
“They’re crazy,” she said, eyes closed and smiling. “It definitely keeps things interesting.”
They’re different, Turner said. Both sets of sisters have opposing personalities on and off the court. One might be a physical player, the other finesse. But something about their connection is paying dividends for the Lady Patriots this season.
The four occupy the top spots in scoring for the team. Taylor leads the way at 12.4 points per game. Jasmine and Jessica are close behind at 9.8 and 8.8 points per game, respectively. Caitlyn is next up at 7.2.
“They respond differently and they get motivated in different ways,” Turner said. “But I keep telling them, once we get it on the same night, we’ll be an awesome team.”
Jasmine and Jessica have played together for nearly their entire life. Jasmine said it’s been since they were 6 years old. Jessica said it may have started a year sooner.
The benefits of such a familiarity are many.
“We talk about games sometimes,” Jasmine said. “If I do something wrong or if I have a bad game, she’ll pick me up, or if we lose we’ll talk about what went wrong.”
“We’re used to being on the floor together,” Jessica said. “We know where each other is and where we like to be. It helps a lot.”
There are difficulties, of course, like high expectations for each other.
“It can be tough because you expect more out of them than anybody else,” Taylor acknowledged.
At the end of the day, though, both sets appreciate the luxury of getting to compete with a sibling, and, for some, that’s why they’re on the court to begin with.
Taylor, as a senior, is facing her last chance to reach her goals in high school. That, more than anything else, is why Caitlyn is playing this season. Caitlyn, whose first sport is volleyball, didn’t plan on playing. Being that it was her sister’s last year, though, she decided to suit up.
“I didn’t want her to struggle this year, so I wanted to make sure I was here for her senior year,” Caitlyn said.
“I think she understands how important it is to Taylor,” Turner said, before adding with a smile: “See, deep down they do like each other.”