In their four years at Lake Stevens High School, Brooke Pahukoa and Brittney Pahukoa made significant contributions to the school’s basketball program.
Over the last four years, the identical twin sisters have done the same at Boise State University.
As college players, the Pahukoas have helped the Broncos to a combined 77-43 record (and counting) with two postseason appearances. Brooke has been one of the team’s scoring leaders in three of her four seasons and a year ago was named to the All-Mountain West Conference first team, an honor she might well repeat this season. Brittney has played in a reserve role and is praised by BSU coach Gordy Presnell for her energy and leadership.
“They’re both just absolutely terrific people, and they’ve really helped change the culture here,” Presnell said.
It was pretty much the same thing at Lake Stevens, where the Pahukoas were key players on Vikings teams that won three Wesco 4A championships, four District 1 titles and made four consecutive trips to the state tournament, concluding in their senior season of 2012-13.
Yet now the final horn in their basketball careers is approaching. Boise State has four remaining regular-season games, followed by the Mountain West tournament and then a possible postseason berth. After that, the real world awaits.
“It’s going to be so weird (not playing basketball),” Brooke said. “I need sports in my life. It’s part of me. It’s part of who I am. … I’m already like, ‘What am I going to do to fill up all my time?’ I’m going to miss the team and miss being a part of something. You go to practice (every day) and all your best friends are on the team.”
For Brittney, at least, basketball will not go away completely. She has been asked by Presnell to stay on with the team as a graduate assistant. It is a two-year commitment and will allow her to pursue a master’s degree in athletic leadership, which will follow her undergraduate degree in health sciences.
And Brooke, who is earning a degree in psychology, will be close by. Though unsure about her upcoming plans, she expects to stay in Boise “for a year for sure, and we’ll see where I can get job-wise.” Down the road, she envisions a career as a sports psychologist, which would also require a master’s degree.
Though the twins have branched out at Boise State, discovering their own friends and interests, they remain remarkably close. “It was so nice to have her here,” Brittney said. “We know each other inside and out.” Through four years of college, “there were a lot of moments where I don’t know what I would’ve done if (Brooke) wasn’t here,” she said.
Yet for all that closeness, it was no sure thing that Brooke and Brittney would end up at the same college. During the recruiting process, both considered other schools and both agreed they would make their own decisions.
But in the summer before their senior years at Lake Stevens, the family traveled to see the girls’ grandparents in Caldwell, Idaho, near Boise. Since they were in the vicinity, mom Debby Pahukoa suggested they visit Boise State. That outing resulted in a conversation with Presnell and two scholarship offers, and ultimately both decided to play for the Broncos.
“We didn’t talk about it with each other, so we had no idea (what the other was thinking),” Brittney said. “I was really pro Boise, but Brooke had a couple of other options. … But it’s been great having her here.”
Their relationship at college has had “ups and downs,” Brooke said, which would be typical for any pair of siblings. “But it’s also something I wouldn’t have traded for anything in the world. I would choose this over and over again.
“Being able to see Brit grow as a player and as a person has brought us so close. I feel so connected to her. We’re not joined at the hip as much as we were in high school, but it’s still been so much fun. We have so many memories together.”
The Pahukoas shared a dorm room as freshmen, then lived in houses with other friends the next two years. This year for the first time they are living apart, though “we text every hour,” Brooke said.
The college years have passed quickly, the Pahukoas agree, which makes the thought that it will soon end seem almost surreal.
“It’s crazy to think that the end of our career is here,” Brooke said. “But (the time at college) does go by fast. It goes by in the blink of an eye. The season is long, of course, and there are times when you’re traveling three days a week and you think it’s going to go on forever. But at the end of the season you’re thinking, ‘Already?’ ”
“I know it’s getting close,” Brittney said, “but I really haven’t processed that yet. I’m trying hard not to think about it. I just really want to go out with a bang and do better as a team than we ever have here.”