It may not be reflected in the stats, but every game this year the Bonney Lake Girls Basketball team has walked away with a double double.
That’s because this year’s Panthers varsity team contains two sets of twin sisters: seniors Dani and Lindsey Downing and sophomores Kayla and Jessyka Seger.
“It’s fun,” said coach Thomas Ostrander. “It adds an interesting dynamic to the team.”
Though both sets of twins are fraternal and not identical, meaning they can’t necessarily try to confuse opposing defenders trying to cover the team, each of the girls said it has been helpful having someone on the team they have known literally all of their lives.
“I can just tell what she’s going to do,” said Jessyka of her sister, “I can tell by her body language.”
Dani agreed, saying she too knows when her sister is getting ready to take a shot, simply by how she is carrying herself.
“We can read each other pretty well,” Lindsey agreed. “We work together well.”
Ostrander agreed and said the social dynamics of having two sets of sisters on the team is a “huge part” of the team’s success.
“Four of my nine varsity players are siblings,” he said. “They’re great kids and I love having them on my team.”
But along with that comes years and years of experience in knowing exactly what your sister is capable of, leading sometimes to higher expectations.
“I know her level,” Kayla said.
Lindsey also said she likes having her sister on the floor when she plays because if she falls or slips, her sister is always there to simply tell her “get up.”
But the sets of twins both admit, sometimes it’s tougher to take constructive criticism from someone they have spent so much time with. Whereas another player may offer advice on how to fix a shot or a better look down the court, when it comes from someone you are so close to and have spent so much time with, you might not always be open to their suggestions.
“It’s way different if your sister tells you,” Lindsey said.
“Yeah, I can never tell Jessyka what to do on the court,” Kayla agreed.
The Downings began playing ball together in first grade and said the experience of playing, as well as just living together, gives them a sense of trust on the floor, as well as some insight into communicating with each other, even if it just looks like screaming at each other to the non-twins on the team.
In one game, the Downings were actually arguing so much they were taken out and their argument spilled over to the bench where they continued to scream at each other until a coach broke it up.
“It’s the way we communicate,” said Dani with a shrug.
The Segers nodded in agreement, hearing themselves in the discussion from the older twins.
“They understand the relationship and arguments,” Lindsey said, nodding toward the Segers.
The Segers began playing together as children as well, competing in both soccer and basketball, though as the girls got older, Kayla stopped playing soccer to focus on basketball.
And despite the fact that they are not two pairs of identical twins, the girls still have had some fun with their relationships and their teammates.
For example, before a camp last year, the Segers worked out a routine among themselves and told their teammates – including the Downings – that they had “twin telepathy” and proceeded to finish each other’s sentences, something they planned in advance.
The ruse was highly effective, even leading the Downings to wonder why they couldn’t do it.
“I totally thought they had it but it was a trick,” Dani said with a laugh.
For the Downings, who graduate in June, playing together during their senior year has been a special experience for them.
“You always know someone has your back,” Lindsey said.
“I don’t really know any different. I’ve never played without her,” Dani said, adding that the pair has only been apart for a total of four days.
“I can’t wait until we’re seniors and it’s us,” Jessyka said, turning to Kayla.