Leader Blues

Friday, January 30, 2009

SPORTS>>Family affair

By Jason King
Leader sportswriter

There are several new faces on Abundant Life’s girls’ basketball team this season, but few new names.

That’s because Lady Owl seniors Brittany Sharp, Andrea Venus and Hannah Pastor have been joined by their sophomore sisters.

And they’re not just teammates, they’re courtmates as well. While the seniors make up an experienced core of returning starters at the Sherwood school, Carmyn Sharp and Sydney Venus have earned starting spots, while Sarah Pastor has seen significant time off the bench.

“It is extremely unique,” said Lady Owls coach Justin Moseley. “In my time here, I’ve not had a set of sisters other than these three. When they were seventh and ninth graders it was different then because they were in there practicing with us. But the seventh-grade girls weren’t real contributors on the junior high team.”

The Lady Owls are currently in the thick of the 5-2A North Conference chase, and have amassed a 20-9 record so far this season, the best in the program’s history.

Despite the two-year difference in their ages, it can be hard to tell which ones are the big sisters. The younger of each of the sets of sisters is taller than the elder. The Venuses provided the most striking example. Andrea is just 5-3, while little sister Sydney towers over her at 5-8.

“She’s bigger than me, but that’s okay,” Andrea said. “Size doesn’t matter. God gave us this amazing group of girls. We have this awesome group of big sisters, and also, we have a big group of little sisters, because they’re bigger than all of the older sisters.

“They’ve come up and played their role as sophomores. Two of them are starters now, so they’ve played an amazing role.”

Sydney said that while she and Andrea have the inevitable sibling spats on occasion, it’s been fun.

“We fight sometimes — almost all the time — but I enjoy it,” said Sydney. “It’s been a good experience.”

Brittany Sharp has been a three-year starting guard for the Lady Owls, and now has a familiar face on the low block in younger sister and starting post player Carmyn.

“I think it’s pretty cool — not a lot of teams have what we have,” Brittany said. “We’ve played together forever and we’re going to graduate together, and they will all graduate together, so it’s kind of cool.”

Like Sydney, Carmyn said the experience of playing with her big sister has been well worth the occasional problems.

“Brittany and I yell at each other on the court a lot,” said Carmyn, “but I have been blessed to have my older sister play with me. They’re leaving this year, which makes me sad, but we will still be a good team when we come back.”

All three sophomores will have big shoes to fill, but none more so than Sarah Pastor. Hannah has been a two-sport star at Abundant Life, landing state titles in the 200-meters and the triple jump in track and leading the Lady Owls in scoring last season.

“Andrea, Brittany and I have had to step up and be more mature, even though it’s really fun to goof off with our younger sisters,” said Hannah. “We’re the only seniors, and the rest are sophomores. I feel like we are all really close. This is one of the closest teams we’ve had, because we are sisters, and it just brings everybody else closer together. We’re a bonded team.”

The Pastors get along well until things on the court get chaotic, according to Sarah.
“It’s interesting,” Sarah said. “If the moment is intense, we kind of bite at each other’s heads. So most of the time, we’re pretty close.

“The rest of the team is like the family. In my head, when I think of the girls, there are the sisters and the family. We have a family bond, and it’s also a bond through Christ.”

Post player Savannah Lancaster is one of that family. Lancaster said that while she and the rest of the team may not have a blood kinship, it still feels that way.
“We may as well be,” said Lancaster. “If we’re not with them here, we’re usually with them some other place. We live at each other’s houses, so we’re pretty much sisters anyway.”

The same goes for teammate Jennifer Thomas.

“They have their sister bond, and we all have our team bond,” said Thomas. “I know I could go to any of these girls and tell them anything, and they would give me great advice.”

The novelty of having three sets of sisters playing for him aside, Moseley is just thrilled to have such a strong group of players.

“They’re close, and they have times when they get on each other’s nerves,” Moseley said. “But they’ve done real well with it, and we’ve got four other girls that are close with them as well, so it’s almost like they may as well be sisters to them too.
“They all contribute, and they’re all different. It’s weird how they are all different from each other, but they fill in all the roles that we need.”