Slades proving to be double trouble for Old Mill basketball opponents

February 21, 1994|By Roch Eric Kubatk | Roch Eric Kubatk,Sun Staff Writer

It took less than four minutes on Friday for Old Mill's girls basketball team to erase a 10-point halftime deficit at Severna Park.

Even more sudden was the way Old Mill's twin guards, Tinnell and Tiffany Slade -- nonfactors through the first half -- put their personal stamp on the game.

Tiffany whips a pass to Jackie Bardelli along the baseline, and the ensuing jump shot cuts the Falcons' lead to eight. The lead is six when Tinnell finds Bardelli almost in the same spot, and suddenly it's down to four. Tinnell makes two free throws -- her first points of the game -- and hits twice from the outside, and Old Mill moves in front 27-25.

Still in the third quarter, Tinnell dishes out another assist and makes a steal, and Lanita Talley scores inside off a pass from Tiffany.

The fourth quarter begins with Tinnell banking in a running, off-balance shot with her left hand, and Tiffany swiping the ball from a Falcon.

Get the idea?

Kerri Eland wound up as the game's leading scorer with 25 points, but Old Mill doesn't win this one without the Slades, 5-3 juniors who can make a resounding impact in so many ways.

"They have very quick hands and feet," said Severna Park coach Kevin McGrath. "You've got to watch what you're doing with the ball when you're around them."

In the past, you've also had to watch carefully to make sure you weren't getting them confused. Until this season, the only noticeable difference between the two was their uniform numbers; Tiffany wears 12, Tinnell 14. But with their hairstyles no longer the same, and with Tiffany now donning prescription sports glasses during games, the challenge has lessened.

"This year, I've just started to be able to tell them apart," said coach Pat Chance. "After two years you begin seeing some differences."

Once you become more familiar with them, you discover that Tinnell is the more talkative of the sisters, who became starters this season after six of Old Mill's top seven players had graduated. She'salso the better dribbler, but Tiffany -- "the more serious one," Tinnell calls her -- usually comes up with more rebounds.

"We're individuals, we're both different, academically and in basketball," said Tinnell. "We're two different people."

And yet, they don't mind when a local newspaper's box score mistakenly credits Tiffany, rather than Tinnell, with scoring 18 points against Southern last week.

Moments like this only draw them closer.

Maybe that comes from having played together on the same basketball teams since the fourth grade. Or perhaps its genetic. Whatever, when one sister begins a sentence, there's a good chance that the other will help her finish it. And when one sister is in the game, the other will be her loudest supporter on the bench.

"They're typical twins, they're very close," Chance said.

They often are referred to as "The Slade twins" first, rather than individually, and Tiffany says, "I like it that way, us being together. It's nice. You've grown up with her and you know she's there with you."

Their increased playing time this season -- the number of minutes climbed even higher when senior guard and co-captain Michelle Salmon left the team two weeks ago -- has beefed up their scoring totals. Tinnell is averaging just under eight points and has reached double figures seven times, and Tiffany is netting around five a game.

"I've always been a good shooter," said Tinnell. "Now, I'm just trying to shoot more."

"Years before," said Tiffany, "we'd get in games sometimes and it wasn't certain when that would be. But it was fun being there and watching the seniors and learning from them."

There were some basketball skills the Slades didn't need to be taught from the bench as Old Mill was winning consecutive 4A state championships. They just came naturally, or from the many hours spent playing with their older brother Milton, 21, and his friends in Millersville.

Their immediate futures include another season together at Old Mill, then some major decisions about where to continue their education.

And whether they will be apart for the first time.

"We're both looking for scholarships in basketball," said Tinnell, "and if we go to separate schools, we don't mind."

"We'll still be in the same state," said Tiffany. "It's going to be pretty close."

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