GALESBURG — United Township girls' basketball twins Jamie and Jen VanWatermeulen have never been so nearly identical as they were Thursday night at Galesburg's John Thiel Gymnasium.|
No, by appearance you could tell them apart — the twin seniors say that has always been the case.
But the statistical lines of the two — Jamie, who coach Justin Shiltz calls his cerebral quarterback, and Jen, so instinctive around the basket — were worth a double take in UT's surprisingly easy 71-37 Western Big 6 Conference rout of the Silver Streaks.
Of UT's 21 steals, Jamie had seven, Jen had six. Of the Panthers' 30 rebounds, Jamie had five, Jen had four. Shooting — Jen was 3-of-6, Jamie 2-of-6. From the free-throw line — Jen 5-of-6, Jamie 3-of-4.
The only separation came in scoring and the passes that led to the points, and even then you could make a strong case of similarity. Jen had 12 points to Jamie's 7, and Jamie finished with a sizable margin in assists, seven to three. Thus, Jamie accounted for 21 UT points, and Jen 18.
"They are great girls to have on the team. They are an extension of our coaching staff on the floor," Shiltz said. "Jamie never stops talking and is such a great communicator. Jen plays the gaps and made a good offensive team become indecisive and hesitant."
Though the game held little Big 6 importance — UT clinched second place at 7-2, while Galesburg will be third at 5-4, with both teams holding 17-11 overall records — the twins' thoughts mirrored each other when it came to the Panthers' motivation on this night.
"It was important for us, it being on their home floor and they are excellent on their home floor," Jamie said of facing the Streaks at Thiel. "That meant we had to get more focused, more pumped."
Added, Jen, "Our mindset going in had to be different. But we did everything right."
It would be difficult to find any Panther flaws.
Only Jamie among the starters didn't score in double figures. Katie Daggett led the way with 22 points, and Sadie Roberts and Tayler Dobrinske each scored 10. All of the starters had between four and six rebounds, with Daggett, the conference's board leader, being the one with six.
Throw in a pair of 2-for-2s by reserves Jada Harris and ShaTavia Lowery and the Panthers were 24-of-27 from the line, with the starters accounting for all of the other free throws.
Plus, the Panthers jumped on the Streaks early, holding a 20-6 first-quarter lead. The Streaks committed 11 of their 34 turnovers in that frame. Galesburg was hurt by the loss of No. 2 scorer Sharron Diggins, who reinjured her ankle with 3:48 left in the first, but it was 15-3 at that point.
As for the VanWatermeulens, who both will take their basketball talents to Augustana College next fall, winding up with such similar numbers by game's end, Jen didn't bat an eye.
"It just happens," she said. "We just play our game."
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