EVERETT — Two are better than one.
The Everett High School girls basketball program has made steady improvement the past couple of years. There have been several factors in the Seagulls’ resurgence, including conference realignment.
But two big reasons are a pair of guards with the last name Rielly.
Darian and Sidney Rielly lead a team that returns all but four players from last year, and their presence is a source of considerable comfort for Everett head coach John Low.
“Number one, it makes my life easier just because they’re two great kids,” he said. “I know every day we walk in the gym they’re ready to go, ready to work hard with smiles on their face. Then obviously the skill set that they bring.”
The Riellys are returning starters for an Everett team that went 12-8 in the regular season last year. That’s quite a difference from the back-to-back 3-17 records the Seagulls posted in 2008 and 2009.
Back then Everett was in the Wesco North, playing 4A teams. Since realignment put the Seagulls in the Wesco 3A two years ago, Everett has gone 13-7 (in Sidney’s first season with the team) and 12-8 last year.
“And even though we had one less win last year, we still showed growth,” Low said.
Sidney led the Seagulls in scoring as a sophomore last season at 16.4 points per game. Darian, who is a year younger, averaged six points and two steals in her first season of high school basketball.
Well, her first official year of high school basketball.
“When (Sidney was at practice during her freshman year), her sister was hanging around the gym,” Low said. “She could’ve played for us in eighth grade.”
Once she was eligible for the varsity, it took Darian five games to earn a spot in the starting lineup — at point guard — alongside her older sister.
The two have been playing together since Sidney was in sixth grade and Darian was in fifth. Being together for so long gives the two a definite familiarity.
“Just playing together for a longer period of time …” Sidney began.
“… will help you develop that familiarity,” Darian finished.
In all that time, the two have rarely gotten angry at each other. At least on the court.
“I think we’ve only yelled at each other once,” Darian said. “I threw a bad pass. But it was fine. We’ve never had a serious issue.”
“There’s definitely personality differences, but I’ve never seen any issues between them,” Low said. “They seem like two sisters that get along. … I’ve talked to coaches before that have sisters on the team where one sister doesn’t like the other, but that’s definitely not the case here.”
The Rielly sisters have different roles for Everett, Low said. Darian is “more defensive minded” and responsible for getting the ball to open teammates. Sidney’s primary responsibility is to score.
“Sidney just brings a general basketball savvy,” Low said. “She’s a hard worker. She’s just out there and kind of does her job.”
Low said that when Sidney first started as a freshman she surprised him with her point totals. She would get a basket here and there, a couple 3-pointers mixed in and net a couple free throws.
“All of a sudden she’s at 20 points,” Low said. “But she’s also capable of just catching fire. … I think she’s potentially capable of going huge any night.”
However, just because Sidney can score doesn’t mean she’s constantly throwing up shots. Low praises both Rielly sisters for their willingness to do the little things, like diving to the court for loose basketballs. Above all, he says, the girls are incredibly unselfish.
Sometimes, too much so.
“If anything, I’ve had to talk to Sidney sometimes about some of the shots she’s passing up,” Low said. “It’s definitely a nice problem to have.”
Now a junior, Sidney has become more vocal, Low said. As a freshman, she was pretty quiet, letting the upperclassmen do the talking. Still, she was voted a captain last season as a sophomore.
“Her freshman year, she was easily our best overall player on our team,” Low said. “I think the whole freshman playing with seniors thing — she wasn’t afraid to shoulder the load — but she was just more quiet. This year, Sidney has definitely taken on a more vocal role with the team.”
Darian, meanwhile, has no problem speaking and keeping things loose on the court.
“Darian’s a more fiery spark,” Low said. “A little more feisty. Darian’s loose and funny.”
Together with senior guard Kiki Harper they form a formidable perimeter defensive group. Defense, it turns out, is Darian’s favorite part of the game.
“”My dad taught me to play defense really competitively,” she said. “I like seeing the ball and knowing I can take it.”
With the Seagulls on the upswing, the Rielly sisters have very specific goals for the 2012-2013 campaign. Darian would like to score 12-15 points per game. Sidney wants to average a double-double, with at least 10 points and 10 rebounds.
But, most importantly, the two want to win some playoff games.
“Our goal for this year,” Sidney said, “is to make it to state for the first time in a very long time.”