A few years ago, Brooke Pahukoa decided to switch her main sport from soccer to basketball.
She wanted to be more involved in the action. As a soccer player, she could only control the ball a small percentage of the time. On the basketball court, she could be shooting, setting a screen or rebounding on every single play.
“I just like the feeling you get. It’s really competitive,” Pahukoa says of basketball. “The adrenaline kicks in. Every play is so crucial and so important. I played soccer and the ball could be on the other side of the field and I’m just waiting for something to happen, whereas with basketball, you’re always involved in the play.”
Pahukoa was heavily involved for the Lake Stevens girls basketball team this season. She averaged 15.6 points, five rebounds and three steals per game in leading the Vikings to a 22-2 record. For her efforts, she has been named The Herald 2012 All-Area Girls Basketball Player of the Year.
“I thought the season was absolutely amazing,” Pahukoa said. “Probably one of the best teams we’ve had. I thought we had a chance to go far.”
Unfortunately for the Vikings, their season came to an abrupt end with a 72-56 loss to eventual 4A state champion Skyview in the regionals. A week-and-a-half later, Pahukoa said the loss was still with her.
“I think that we had a phenomenal season, even though it definitely still hurts,” she said.
That pain might pay dividends next season, Lake Stevens head coach Randall Edens said.
“I think it’s just going to be a huge motivation for (Pahukoa) and our returning players next year,” he said.
Among those returning next season is Pahukoa’s twin, Brittney. The two have been playing sports together since their YMCA basketball days. Brooke Pahukoa said she’s much better when her sister is on the floor with her.
“We have this connection. I know where she’s at. It’s kind of a calming presence when she’s on the floor with me,” Pahukoa said. “… When she’s out, I get kind of frantic.”
Brooke says she and her sister are best friends and “do everything together.” That was tested the fall of their freshman year. Brittney wanted to play volleyball. Brooke wanted to play soccer. The girls sat down, discussed it and came to a conclusion.
“We ended up doing soccer,” Brooke said. “We’re never not together.”
The twins once even had a “Parent Trap” moment, when they switched places for a day in kindergarten. Their best friends, who were also twins, couldn’t tell them apart.
“We figured the teachers would notice right away,” Pahukoa said. “It took them half the day before my teacher told Brittney to sit on her caboose, and Brittney didn’t know what it meant. Then they started to figure it out. I think it was on April Fool’s Day.”
Might there be room for similar trickery on the basketball court?
“I might bring that up to coach Edens,” Pahukoa said.
Unfortunately for Pahukoa, it came up in the interview for this article, and the outlook isn’t good.
“I don’t think we could get away with that,” Edens said.
The twins look different enough now that it would be hard to switch places, he said. They also play different positions, giving them distinctive roles on the team.
Brittney moved from the wing to point guard this season, giving her the added responsibility of bringing the ball up the court.
There’s very little sibling rivalry between the two, Brooke Pahukoa said. They just want to help Lake Stevens win.
“We’re not competitive (with each other) really. We have different roles,” Brooke Pahukoa said. “She’s the point guard. She handles the ball really well. She has to take on pressure pretty much the whole game. I can play the part of playing the wing and looking to score.”
“It’s been great,” Edens said of coaching the twins. “They complement each other very, very well. They’re very much team-oriented. I think as coaches … you couldn’t really ask for anything better than that.”
The two Pahukoas are spending the offseason competing on the Lake Stevens track and field team and playing for the Northwest Blazers, one of the area’s premier select basketball teams. It also features another talented set of twins, the McPhee sisters from Mount Rainier, including Brittany McPhee, the Most Valuable Player of the South Puget Sound League.
“I think it’ll really help me improve my game, playing with really competitive girls,” Brooke Pahukoa said.
Edens likes that his talented players are working hard to improve their game. He thinks that if Brooke Pahukoa works on a few key areas, like ball-handling, breaking people down off the dribble and her perimeter shooting, she could be an even bigger force in her senior year.
“It would be easy for somebody that’s coming back to get complacent,” Edens said. “She understands that she’s got some things to work on. … For her to kind of get to that next level. It could make her unstoppable.”
Brooke hopes to play basketball beyond high school — ideally “somewhere sunny” — but hasn’t gotten in the full swing of recruiting yet since it’s only her junior year. Edens said the Blazers team does a good job of raising awareness, and should bring both the Pahukoas, who would love to play together after high school, lots of attention.
“The sky’s the limit,” Edens said. “I think we’ll have a lot of interest and phone calls.”
However before college begins, the Pahukoas still have one more season to show Wesco what all they can do. Edens is looking forward to improving on the just-completed season, and perhaps getting back to the state tournament in Tacoma during the Pahukoas’ senior year.
The Vikings also went to state during Pahukoa’s freshman and sophomore seasons.
“I’d like to try to enjoy one more year with those two,” Edens said. “I don’t think anybody in our league is going to be disappointed that they’re moving on.
“Their competitive spirit out on the floor, that will to win. They’re going to do anything they possibly can to put them in the best position to win a game or win a championship.”
Pahukoa’s two goals for her senior year, strongly reflect the will that her coach talks about.
“Individually, for my senior year I kind of just want to prove that I deserve all the awards and that I can play like that and play at a high level,” Pahukoa said. “Then as a team, we always just try to win one game at a time. And I hope we can get to the last day of the year.”