SHERIDAN — This season was the only opportunity for freshman Shelby Fennema to share the court with her older sister Ashlynn Fennema, a senior on the Arvada-Clearmont High School girls basketball team.
Ashlynn said she did not know how she would react sharing the court with her younger sister again. They were on the same team in junior high when Ashlynn was an eighth-grader and Shelby a fifth-grader.
With the season nearing its end, both players enjoyed the time they have spent together.
Basketball has always been an activity the sisters have shared. Ashlynn joined a traveling basketball team in fifth grade. Shelby, not having a team of her own, practiced with the older players.
Ashlynn said the experience with older players helped Shelby develop into a better player. Ashlynn and Shelby have spent the past years constantly training.
“We are always in the gym it seems like… We both know if you put the work in, you will get what you put in out of it,” Ashlynn said.
The duo stays late after practice, games and even finds time on Sundays to put shots up. Shelby said they attend basketball camps in the summer together.
When it is just the sisters training, they challenge different aspects of each others game. Shelby, a point guard, will challenge her older and taller sister’s ball-handling skills. Ashlynn, who is an efficient post player, gives Shelby a strong shot contest.
“I am guarding her so she can shoot over something taller than the air,” Ashlynn said.
believe they do not let their relationship affect their play on the court. There are times, though, when their sister bond shows up and interactions are not as positive.
Shelby saw the line blur between teammates and sisters when they were playing on the road at Upton High School. Shelby and Ashlynn were laughing with each other as the returned to the court, despite being in an argument just a few moments before.
With the Lady Panthers on the doorstep of the regional tournament, both players know what is at stake — a berth to the state tournament.
“I would love to play at the state level again, especially with my sister,” Ashlynn said.
Shelby knows a state tournament bid is never guaranteed. She wants to have the experience of competing at the state level.
The Lady Panthers need to win two games to have one more week of basketball.
The first opponent for Arvada-Clearmont, the third seed out of the north, is Lingle-Ft. Laramie High School, the second seed from the south.
Walker said the 1A East teams from the north and the south in stay in their respective areas during the season, only meeting in the postseason tournaments.
The team has yet to play a school from the southern half of their conference and there are not many common opponents between the two schools. There is nothing to base scouting on expect for film and statistics. It can be hard to judge in film if a team is having a good game or an average game.
“It is kind of a crapshoot. You do not know what you are walking into,” Walker said.
The regional tournament comes down to what team knows how to get the job done, no matter the situation. The Lady Panthers will hang their hat on fundamentals and playing strong defense. Walker said the team will build confidence on the defensive side and let that carry over to their offense. Douglas hosts the 1A East regional tournament. ACHS plays at 9 a.m.