Fierce competitors at home, Pat and Molly Speicher are known for charging hard on the court as guards for Centennial High School

Season for siblings

Basketball

February 14, 2007|By Glenn Graham | Glenn Graham,sun reporter

With victory secured, Molly Speicher reacted naturally enough, savoring the win and making sure everybody in the house knew about it.

That it was a game of table tennis played in the family's rec room a couple of weekends ago didn't matter. When her older brother, Pat, sent his last shot a couple of inches long of the table, Molly was one up on him in a hard-fought, 23-21 overtime win.

"I will never let him forget that one," said a smiling Molly, who acknowledges losing about four of every five games they play. "I was jumping up and down, yelling and screaming. I even fell on the floor I was so happy."

When it comes to basketball - the Speicher family's undisputed No. 1 sport - the brother-sister combination is a big winner at Centennial High.

Pat, a 6-foot senior guard and team captain, has been the primary catalyst in the team's dramatic turnaround. After winning five games last season, the Eagles entered the week at 13-7, aiming for an extended stay in the playoffs. Along with averaging a team-high 14 points a game, Pat has consistently found open teammates as well as the floor when diving for loose balls, playing a gritty brand of basketball that has been contagious with teammates.

"Pat is typically not a real loud and boisterous kid - he leads by example," Centennial coach Jim Hill said. "And what we've noticed more this year is that Pat is all over the court, diving for balls and exerting a lot of energy to help us win. There's days when it's him shooting the ball, days when it's him passing the ball, and he also plays the other team's best guard. So he does an awful lot of things for us."

Molly, a 5-foot-9 sophomore guard, has successfully taken on the role of go-to scorer. Starting with four seniors, she is averaging 17.5 points a game as the Eagles took a 15-5 mark into this week's play. After getting quality minutes - including a few starts - on varsity as a freshman, she has brought poise and smart play beyond her years.

While all the driveway one-on-one sessions with Pat served as a foundation for Molly's game and "really made her tough," her mother, Nora, said, Molly's strong season playing Amateur Athletic Union ball for the Maryland Sure Shots also played a key role in her development.

"In the early practices, we saw what she brought to the table, but people were still wondering if she could handle it. Can she step in with all these seniors? She's responded so well, and she's a kid I trust 100 percent on the floor," Centennial girls coach Rob Slopek said.

With Pat and Molly usually playing their games at the same time but at different locations, Nora and her husband, Jack, take turns watching the two play. The parents have devised a way of sharing how things are going at the games.

"He'll go to one, and I'll go to the other. And if I go see Pat play in the game earlier in the week, we'll switch and I'll go to Molly's game later in the week," Nora said. "We'll call each other each quarter to check in. We don't get to talk because it's always so loud in the gym, so we have a system where we'll say our score first, the other team's score second and then the quarter. Then we'll all talk about the games when we get home."

More times than not this season, two wins are talked about in the post-game reports.

"We talk about how the team played, how many points we scored, what happened, what went right and what went wrong," Pat said. "It's real nice when we both win because everybody is in a great mood and it's always easier to talk about a game you won."

For Pat, who has a 3.3 grade point average and is undecided on a college, the season has been especially rewarding, considering the rebuilding year the boys endured last year after losing 11 varsity players from the year before.

"After last year, when we finished last in the county, we were looking forward to improving as much as we could and have really worked hard," he said. "When it's your senior year, you always want to go out strong, and we're doing that so far."

As for similar on-court traits that Pat and Molly share, the consensus from those who have watched both is their competitiveness and ability to get to the basket.

"The times I've had a chance to see Pat play, I could see how completely fearless he is," Slopek said. "He'll do anything he needs to do to win. And Molly is the same way. The way Pat drives to the basket - it's full steam. And Molly is the same way. So you can see the bloodline hasn't strayed far from each other."

glenn.graham@baltsun.com

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