ROCKINGHAM — Mary, Rachel and Anna Smith are fully aware of, and appreciate, the opportunity they have to play basketball together at Temple Christian School.
Not many siblings get the chance to be at the forefront of a program’s emergence — leading the team in almost every major statistical category this season — while building an even stronger bond at the same time.
“It’s awesome to watch them play because they play so well together,” Temple head coach Broderick Hair said. “I do very little coaching from the bench most of the time. I just let them go.”
Mary, a senior, has averaged a team-best 19.5 points and 7.8 rebounds throughout nine games this season. Rachel, a junior, scores 15.7 points per game and leads the Lady Tigers in both assists per game (3.9) and steals per game (3.9). Anna, a freshman, averages 11 points per game and is right behind Rachel with 3.6 steals per game.
Due to the trio’s consistent production, Temple has gotten off to one of its best starts in recent years. It was undefeated (9-0 overall, 5-0 conference) heading into Friday night’s matchup with conference opponent Grace Christian School (S.C.).
“We just want to always help the team win,” Rachel said.
Although the Smith sisters account for almost 90 percent of the points scored on a nightly basis, they’ve been able to find the balance between taking advantage of their chemistry and also keeping their teammates involved in the game plan.
Senior forward Lydia Bond, who has played alongside the siblings since they arrived at Temple, and junior center Laura Richmond put their stamps on the game by collecting rebounds and getting in the passing lanes.
Both Bond and Richmond average more than five rebounds and one steal a game.
Also contributing on the boards are senior Jesslyn Bridges (4.8 rpg), sophomore Raven Spencer (4.0 rpg) and freshman Abbey Webb (3.9 rpg). Anna Richmond, a freshman guard, is fourth on the team with 3.8 point-per-game average.
“The whole team just works really well together and we all want the same thing. We care about each other and we like to win, so it all works out,” Mary said.
It’ll be Rachel’s turn to take over as the senior sister once Mary graduates in June, and she says her main focus will be “bringing the team together” — similar to how Mary has done — and getting others to be confident in their scoring abilities.
As the youngest of the crew, Anna Smith just enjoys playing with her two older sisters. Being able to depend on Mary and Rachel, who “take it easy most of the time,” as she develops on the court is something she doesn’t take for granted.
“I told the girls that this is probably the last year that they are going to play organized basketball together. And they’ve got a chance for it to be really special,” Hair added. “We just have a special group of girls.”
Temple has 10 more games left in the regular season and is looking forward to finishing the year unbeaten and winning the conference’s regular-season and tournament championships for the second conseuctive season.
The team is also hoping to find a reschedule date for the matchup with reigning 1A NCCSA state champion Tabernacle Christian that was cancelled in early December due to inclement weather.
That way, if the Lady Tigers were to grab a win over Tabernacle, Mary can end her high school career with four straight victories over the previous year’s state champion — with her sisters by her side.
“It’s really special. Not many people get this opportunity…and I get to do it with my best friends,” Mary said.
Reach sports editor Leon Hargrove Jr. by phone at 910-817-2673 or by email at [email protected] For stories, scores and updates, follow the Daily Journal’s sports section on Twitter @RCDailySports.