Lifelong friends seek state tournament run for Snohomish basketball

One could be forgiven for confusing Madison Pollock and Madeline Smith.

The pair, who have been friends since they were babies, are both 6-foot-1, both called “Maddy” and both have high hopes for the Snohomish girls basketball team this season.

“It’s a team goal to get to state,” Pollock said. “I think we’re going to do very well this year and I’m very confident in our team.”

Smith and Pollock have been friends their entire lives. Smith was born three months before Pollock and was at the hospital when she was born. The two families are very close and spend lots of time together, traveling for basketball tournaments, holidays and family vacations.

“We’ve done summer camping trips and basketball tournaments and everything else,” said Scott Pollock, Madison’s father. “We do vacations, we do holidays and we do basketball.”

The elder Smiths and Pollocks met when they all attended Central in the early 1990s. They became great friends and continued to spend time together after the births of Madison and Madeline. The families remain close, as do the daughters who have developed a sisterly bond.

The two promise there are differences — besides hair color.

“We have very different personalities,” Smith said. “Basically, we have the same kind of life — we both have brothers in the same grade and parents with similar personalities and ages. But other than basketball we are completely opposite. She’s blonde, I’m brunette. Our music tastes are completely different. But it works. It’s kind of like that opposites attract kind of thing. We could not be more polar opposite.

“Sometimes we do get on each other’s nerves. We spent last summer almost completely together because of basketball and at the end we were like, ‘We just need a little bit of a break and then we’ll be fine.’”

It’s not uncommon for Smith to be confused for Pollock, and vice versa.

“I get that a lot,” Pollock said. “A lot of people at school call me Madeline instead of Madison. I’m like, ‘Um, I’m Madison. Madeline is the other tall girl. Everyone calls Madeline ‘Maddy’ and I’m ‘Madison.’ I guess that’s the way to distinguish each other. But everybody still gets mixed up with names.”

One person who is happy to see both Madeline and Madison every day come November is Snohomish head coach Ken Roberts. He said both players bring their unique talents to the Panthers. Smith, who is talking to several colleges about playing at the next level, averaged 12 points and eight rebounds a game and the University of San Diego-bound Pollock averaged about 10 points per game as a point guard during their sophomore seasons.

“We’re going to be a really good team and they’re both going to have really good careers, not just here but at the next level,” Roberts said. “Maddy Smith is a great leader. She’s one of those kids that she’s really driven to succeed to do well. She does a great job in school. She does a great job on the volleyball team. She’s just competitive and likes to succeed.

“Madison has all the potential in the world,” the Snohomish coach continued. “She’s super athletic. Last year we had to play her out of position at the point guard. It really was tough on those kids. She’s got as much, or more potential, than about anyone in the league.”

Smith and Pollock aren’t the only familiar faces for Snohomish. The Panthers return a strong core of junior players — including Shaylee Harwood and Ellie Flitsch — that have played together with Smith and Pollock since seventh grade.

“The whole team has this really strong chemistry,” Pollock said. “We really mesh well together. The whole team has been playing together since seventh grade.”

A major addition to the Snohomish team this year is point guard Darian Rielly, who transferred to Snohomish from Everett. The senior, a first team all-league selection last season, provides the Panthers with a high-caliber player at a position where they had to rotate players into last season.

“I think the biggest thing with her is some experience at the point guard position, somebody who wants the ball in her hands,” Roberts said. “We had people who played point last year that didn’t really want that position. … Her defense is good. She’s quick and athletic. It makes us a quicker team. It makes us a better team.”

Roberts and the Panthers “have our hands full coming out of the gates” with three postseason teams from a year ago. Snohomish’s non-conference schedule includes Lynnwood, which placed third in 4A but is now in the 3A classification, Glacier Peak and Arlington — all tough opponents for the Panthers.

Still, the Snohomish head coach believes his team could be one of the two teams from Wesco 4A that makes it to the state tournament.

“They’re fun to coach. It’s going to be a good season,” Roberts said. “As a coach, I know the players make the program. I know the players this year and the way they respond to coaching. I just think the program is in great shape right now.”

“We have a great team, we have a great program and everyone is on the same page,” Smith said. “We all want to get there more than anything. Oh, I am so ready. I’m so excited for the season.”

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