PBL girls basketball seeing double with Lemley sisters

HOOPESTON — Growing up, Erin and Andi Lemley spent numerous Saturday afternoons playing park district basketball, with dad doing the coaching and mom providing some of the loudest encouragement.

Erin and Andi had one last Saturday afternoon game as varsity girls basketball players last weekend at Hoopeston Area. The two post players for Paxton-Buckley-Loda combining for 25 points and 16 rebounds in a 73-29 non-conference victory.

Erin made all five of her field goal tries in an 11-point effort and Andi hit 6-of-10 shots while scoring 14-points.

The Lemleys weren’t the only standouts on Saturday. In fact, four players scored in double digits (the fifth time the Panthers have done that this season) and the team made 31-of-49 field-goal attempts (63 percent) offensively while producing 15 steals on the defensive end as they halted a three-game losing streak.

Among the other stars were:
— Amanda Ypya, who had 20 points and assisted on 10 other buckets.

— Kellyn Maynard, who tied a season high with 12 points and had four steals.

— Kandace Hofer, who had seven of her 10 assists to help her team take a 47-16 halftime lead and added six points and four rebounds.

Nonetheless, the Lemley duo put their stamp on Saturday’s game early as Andi made all four field-goal attempts she took in an eight-point first period and Erin hit both of her shots while grabbing three boards and blocking a pair of shots. By the end of the opening period, PBL had made 11-of-14 field goals in taking a 25-8 lead with the help of five assists by Hofer and three by Ypya.  

The rest of the contest was window dressing, with head coach Clarissa Gross’ team leading 47-16 at the half (behind 14 points from Ypya) and outscoring Hoopeston Area 16-5 in the third quarter behind six points by Kellyn Maynard.

Before the Lemleys sat out the game’s final five minutes, Andi had grabbed eight second-half rebounds en route to a game-high 10 and Erin added six for the game while producing three steals.

Heading into this week’s action, Erin Lemley was averaging 7.3 points and 10.3 rebounds  this season while Andi Lemley was averaging 6.7 points and 7.3 rebounds.

At times, the two have been a bit on-and-off as scoring options, the twins saying they seldom have good scoring games at the same time and this year has been a case in point.

Erin began the season with a pair of 13-point performances and in 10 of her first 16 games she hit double digits — making All-Tourney at Momence as her team finished first — before struggling a bit lately. Andi has had seven games with 10 or more points, having hit 12 points three times prior to Saturday’s season high total.

However, the two have only had double-digit scoring totals on the same day thrice, with Saturday’s combined 25-point effort the high water mark. And two days earlier, in a 52-29 defeat at Watseka, the two had just two points as Amanda Ypya’s 13 points wasn’t nearly enough to prevent the second loss in nine days to the Warriors.

Amazingly, throughout two and a half years of varsity play, Erin and Andi had identical point totals (428 each) through Saturday. Erin holds the rebound edge (549 to 316) and Andi has the lead in steals (64 to 48). Erin has a slight edge as a shooter, although their field goal percentages are nearly equal (40 percent).

Andi’s big improvement has been from the foul line, a 61 percent mark that’s well above her career mark and 10 percentage points better than her younger sister.

While they were born minutes apart and their height is pretty similar, you can figure out who’s who both on the court and off it.

“Andi is the big sister and she’s been laid back since the day she was born” said Tammy Lemley, Andi and Erin’s mom. “Erin came out wired up, and she’s still wired up. And as players, they both have their strengths, but they’re very different players.”

Part of the difference in their game occurred early in their development. Both twins credit their father, Brian, for a lot of the early help and appreciate the family investment into their hoops interest.

“It really helped when we played different positions when we were younger,” said Erin about her park district hoops upbringing. “I’d play guard and Andi would play in the middle and we worked well together. It (basketball) was a big part of our family ritual when we were young.”

“Back then, you didn’t have many practices, so you really didn’t know your teammates,” added Andi. “Me and Erin we’d make up our own plays at home and maybe they didn’t work but we thought they were really good.”

Since then, both players have had their share of ups and downs. Erin had more success at the junior high level while Andi was a bit more of a late bloomer. They came up to varsity midway through their sophomore year before the Momence Christmas Tourney and were fixtures in the starting lineup for the most part, although Saturday’s game began with Andi on the bench.

For Erin, a nagging rib injury has made life difficult in January on the court, although she doesn’t plan a doctor’s visit anytime soon. Having her sister giving her the majority of her bumps and bruises during practice as they practice their craft hasn’t always brought warm fuzzies either, although the two still manage to work together as waitresses when they’re not playing hoops.

“It’s been a big transition because we’ve been pushing the ball up the court more than last year, but I think it’s made us more successful,” said Erin of their senior year. “And we’ve worked really well together; there has been good team chemistry."

“It wasn’t what I expected, but it’s been a good outcome,” said Andi.

After a lifetime together, it’s likely the two will move in different directions during college. While plans are for both Lemleys to attend Parkland College, Erin has an interest in agriculture and Andi wants to be a teacher and it’s possible the two will finish up their undergraduate education at different schools.

So, for now, the sisters will try to enjoy the final weeks of the season, winding down productive careers with many positive memories.

“From seventh grade through freshman year, we weren’t hanging out in the same friend groups, so we got away from each other and it was nice when we got back together,” said Andi. “I’ve always been the quiet one, but I always know she’ll stick up for me and have an opinion and I like that about her.”

“I like that Andi’s good with people,” said Erin. “Even when she’s mad at you she won’t stay mad for long. She’s been my built-in best friend since Day 1.”

JV roundup
Despite 10 points by Aleeka Gentzler, the PBL junior varsity girls basketball team fell to 10-5 overall with a 21-19 loss at Hoopeston Area Saturday afternoon.

Audrey Bloomquist added six points, Abby Glazik had two and Hannah Meents scored the other point for the Panthers in the contest. Gentzler led her team with eight rebounds while Haley Elson grabbed four; Bloomquist had six steals for team honors.

On Thursday, PBL edged Watseka 31-27 as the Panthers scored 12 of the final 18 points in the contest. Bloomquist led the way with nine points, Gentzler had eight, Abby Sellek and Caitlynn Riblet tallied six each and Glazik added two more for the visitors, who finish their season with a 6 p.m. home game against St. Joseph-Ogden.

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