The similarities between the Eastern and Bishop Luers girls basketball teams are too numerous to ignore.
Both programs play solid defense, have good outside shooters and a solid post presence.
But what makes the parallels really eerie is the twins connection. Both squads sport a pair of twins in the backcourt, one of whom is left-handed and the other right-handed.
The play of Eastern's Bethany and Brittany Neeley and Bishop Luers' Allison and Erin Butler could be the deciding factor in the showdown at the Class 2A Warsaw Semistate on Saturday, scheduled for a 4 p.m. tip.
“They are a good-looking ball club and they have the twins like we have,” Bishop Luers coach Denny Renier said. “There are a lot of similarities, but we may be a little deeper than them.”
The Neeley twins, both 5-foot-6 and committed to Indiana University for cross-country, combine to average 31.5 points per game for the Comets (21-3), who are appearing in their first semistate game since 1999. Meanwhile, the Knights (14-11) are in their fifth consecutive regional, which could give the experience nod to Bishop Luers despite the youthful roster.
The Butlers give up some height to the Neeleys, with Allison 5-4 and Erin 5-3, but make up for it in tenacity, particularly defensively. The sixth-ranked Comets will no doubt attempt to get out in transition, something they like to do.
“I think for us, the ability to get back on defense and stop their fast break will be key,” Renier said. “They get a lot of points and free throws from the fast break.”
It very may well come down to defense on Saturday. The Knights have not allowed a team to score more than 48 points in five postseason games.
“We have taken on South Side, who likes to push the tempo, and players from Snider and Norwell,” Renier said. “We feel like we have seen enough to be comfortable with it.”
Renier is referring to this season, but when it comes to the vast postseason experience this Bishop Luers team has, it could very well stand for the last several seasons.