Stars on the court, teammates for life

Basketball: Jason Campion and his sister, Amy, don't have a sibling rivalry. Both play key roles for Salisbury University's basketball teams.

February 15, 2002|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

SALISBURY - The sibling rivalry was left at the door when Amy Campion followed her older brother, Jason, to play basketball at Salisbury University.

On occasion, they will compare good games, but it's difficult to duplicate feats. Take the men's game last month when Jason hit eight three-pointers (one shy of Salisbury men's single-game record) against York College.

"I was like, `I've got to try for that,' " Amy said. On the other hand, she said, "I don't think Coach would even let me take eight, so I'd have to make them all if I'd be allowed to take them in the first place.

"We ask how the stats are," she said, "but it's never really like a competition as to who scores more, because we play such different positions and have such different roles for our teams."

Amy, 20, a 6-foot junior, is the do-it-all point guard for the women's team, which is 19-4 despite graduating two of its three all-time leading scorers and adding seven freshmen.

Jason, 21, is a 6-foot-5 forward. The senior can stretch a defense with his long-range shooting for the Sea Gulls (7-16) and also guards the opponent's best post player. The two will close their regular seasons when both teams travel to Goucher College tomorrow night, the women's game slated for 6 followed by the men at 8.

For the record, the younger sister has the edge this season, averaging 20 points per game to her brother's 13.6, but Amy won't argue that Jason deserves a big assist.

Before they went on to play at Archbishop Spalding High and then Division III Salisbury, it was Campion vs. Campion, growing up in Bowie. That was true for basketball in the driveway, soccer in the back yard or the board game of choice.

A game of hoops always came with one provision: Jason couldn't block any of Amy's shots. "And I would never let her win, so I think that makes her drive to win even more now," Jason said.

Amy agrees.

"We played everything together because we're the only kids in our family and just 18 months apart, so it was always a big deal for me," she said. "We'd go out and play one-on-one all the time, and Jason taught me I can't ever quit. I've wanted to and did when I was younger, but I learned quickly that ... you have to fight it off."

Jason was a two-year captain at Spalding, leading the team in scoring as a junior and then accepting a new role the following season as the first or second man off the bench. He's made the most of his chance at Salisbury, where he's only 25 points shy of becoming the 25th 1,000-point scorer in the program's history.

One grade behind Jason growing up, Amy was at first reluctant to attend Salisbury. Despite receiving some attention from smaller Division I schools, she became sold on Salisbury after receiving a phone call from coach Bridget Benshelter.

"I've always been competitive, so it comes naturally and Coach B. fuels the fire with the competitive edge she has," Amy said. "One day I was eating dinner, she called and it was like `I'm going to go there.' I'm really glad I picked this school."

Benshelter is happy to have her. Amy is leading the Capital Athletic Conference in five offensive categories that include scoring (19.9), assists (4.2) and steals (3.3).

The Sea Gulls, who have won the past two conference championships, have never been much of a three-point shooting team, but that's the latest layer Amy added to her game last summer.

Those other two categories Amy leads in? Three-point field goals made (34) and percentage (43). She's also averaging a team-high 9.1 rebounds.

"Just as I think she's reaching a peak in one element of her game, she gets better at another, and I think her potential is still untapped. She's getting better and better every time she goes out there," Benshelter said.

Before to the season, Benshelter asked each player to scribble down a list of individual and team goals. All of Amy's covered Benshelter's desk.

"She told me she was going to average 18 points, and I said, `No, you're not,' because we just distribute the ball too much," Benshelter said. "But you know what? The kid proved me wrong. She's still the leading assist person in our conference and distributes the ball, but she's stepped it up a notch."

More of a pass-first point guard at Spalding, Amy has progressed into a primary scorer. After averaging 12 points a game as a third and sometimes fourth offensive option last season, she has significantly increased her scoring this season despite added attention from opposing defenses.

On the men's team, Jason is second in scoring at 13.6 points and leads in rebounding at 6.9 per game.

"This year, he's been our most consistent player from top to bottom," second-year coach Steve Holmes said. "When he's had a couple of nights where his shot has been off, he's gone ahead and done other things to make a contribution."

That hasn't gone unnoticed by parents Tom and Peggy Campion. They have watched all but a few of the 40-plus games their daughter and son have played and this season have seen around 500 combined points.

"[Jason's] made himself into a really good basketball player," Tom Campion said. "He's not the fastest guy on the team and doesn't jump as high as a lot of the guys, but he's real determined and works real hard off the court, and I think that has served him well on the court."

Jason is studying secondary education with a focus on history, set to graduate after student teaching next fall. Amy switched from business to philosophy, and then settled on an elementary education major. Both are nominees for this year's Verizon Academic All-American team with cumulative grade-point averages of 3.2 or higher.

"It's good that I get to watch her play and she can watch me play. We wouldn't be able to do that if we went to different schools," Jason said. "Naturally, the big brother instinct comes into play every once in awhile, but it's not that big a deal. We have our own separate lives, but we're there for each other if needed."

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