HUDSON — If the Tate sisters aren't at practice, they're probably at the local recreation center. Not shooting hoops with other girls, though. They play with the boys.
"It's improved my skills because they're stronger with the ball," Fivay sophomore Megan Tate said. "You can't just walk up and down the court. You have to hustle."
Megan and Jamie Tate have played basketball together all their lives and both start for Fivay.
The Falcons, missing top scorer Alicia Artley, struggled in a 51-29 loss to River Ridge on Tuesday. Megan stepped up, leading the team with 12 points. Wednesday in a loss to Pasco she had 22 points and 12 rebounds, her best game yet.
She doesn't do it alone, though. The girls' mother, Theresa Ferris, said they always know where to find one another on the court.
"A lot of times it's like twins on the court," Ferris said. "They just work very well together, on the court, on the team."
The Tates have been on as many as three league teams at once, Ferris said. Their stepfather was very involved, shuttling them to practices and cheering in the stands. He died in July, and the family is still adjusting.
"Without him I'm not sure I could have swung it by myself," Ferris said.
This is Jamie's third year on varsity and Megan's first, upholding a long tradition of Megan following her sister's example.
The girls were in an after-school program at the Salvation Army when they were in elementary school. The man who ran the basketball team spotted Jamie shooting hoops and asked her to join their league.
For one season, Jamie was her family's only basketball player. That didn't last long.
"Megan asked, 'Why can't I play?' " Ferris said. She told the 7-year-old she could, and the two have played together ever since.
The two advise each other but have come to accept that they'll never agree on some techniques.
Megan is a half-inch taller than Jamie so they handle the ball similarly and stick to the wings. Megan likes to change her style by playing low; Jamie consistently plays high.
"Sometimes we get into arguments because when we critique each other, we have different opinions," Megan said. "And sometimes we motivate each other."
They resolve these differences by getting back on the court, Megan said. Jamie said in the end, they usually listen to each other.
"Sometimes she'll try to help me on something I need to fix, and I'll try to help her, and we'll argue about it, but then we go out and fix it," Jamie said.
It would be easy for the girls to grow irritable with one another since they spend so much time together. Ferris described their lives as eating, sleeping and basketball. But that hasn't been a problem for the family.
"For two sisters, they get along better than any two sisters than I've known my entire life," Ferris said.
Both dream big. Megan said they'd like to play at USF or UCF. Or, really, any Division I school.
"If we're lucky, we're hoping for the WNBA," Megan said.
It's a long way off, though, and they're not focused on the future yet. They're setting goals for this academic year, basketball season and team.