Tahlequah Daily Press

Sports

February 21, 2013

Close-knit Tigers

Tahlequah's Alissa Hadley and Maegan Blevins have similar basketball skills while possessing a special bond on and off the floor.

There is no sibling connection, but there is evidence to support that perhaps Maegan Blevins and Alissa Hadley were separated at birth.

"We're with each other every weekend, every day," Blevins said. "...Her house is my house."

Hadley's rebuttal: "Pretty much. She just comes in when she pleases."

Tahlequah's senior duo is also employed by the same company: Reasors.

"She got (the job) a month or two before me, but we got the jobs around the same time," Blevins said. "They make fun of us because we always work at the same time and on the same days. We think they schedule us like that because they know we don't like to be apart."

The family-like bond extends beyond the two guards. Tahlequah coach Chad Walker considers the two to be close relatives.

"I love them like they're members of my own family," he said. "They have been with me all four years that I have been here, and I have a lot of respect for them."

As best as Hadley can recall, she and Blevins struck up their friendship during the early stages of their high school careers.

"We met sophomore year during the offseason," Hadley said, "and we've been friends every since — because we are so alike."

She's right about that. While they may not be from the same family tree, they are definitely identical twins on the basketball floor.

They both stand 5 feet, 6 inches tall while possessing a deadly, marksman-like shooting prowess. Blevins leads the Lady Tigers at 3-point shooting with a 31-percent clip. And Hadley isn't far behind at 26 percent.

Credit the long-range shooting touches to post-practice shooting sessions that Hadley and Blevins have orchestrated for a while now.

"We have a routine that we do," Blevins said. "We go all the way around (the 3-point arc) and shoot and make three in the corner before we can move on."

The pair also encourages one another to be better on a daily basis.

"We're always on each other in practice, and we're really competitive when it comes to things like that," Blevins said. "When one of us does something, the other one steps up and pushes them a little harder."

Hadley, who tossed in 13 points against Claremore in a 57-50 victory on Friday night, admitted that she'd rather hoist up a 3-pointer than take a shot at point-blank range.

"I'd rather shoot in the corner than shoot a layup," Hadley said. "I'm more comfortable with the 3 than anything."

When it comes to his players chucking up treys, Walker said Blevins and Hadley are his two obvious choices to do the honor.

"When they put up the shot, I don't ever worry about it not going in," Walker said. "I get on them for not shooting the ball, even when they're guarded."

Since Tahlequah returned from the John Nobles Invitational Tournament in Moore, Blevins and Hadley have been getting more and more open looks from distance. That's because the Lady Tigers have altered their offensive approach with Jhonett Cookson (a 6-foot-1 sophomore forward) no longer on the lower block — and no longer on the team.

"We're a lot faster now," Hadley said. "Since JoJo left, we're quicker on the floor. Now, when Whitney (Wright) drives she gets double-teamed a lot, and she just kicks it to us [for open shots]."

Blevins described Tahlequah's new offensive scheme as more of a run-and-gun style.

"We push the ball no matter where we are," Blevins said. "It's a fast break. We don't really want to run an offense; we just want to get up and down the floor."

In addition to providing solid shooting strokes, Blevins and Hadley also provide vocal leadership — well, more so Blevins in that area, Hadley said.

"I think Maegan is more of the vocal person on the floor," Hadley said. "I'm pretty quiet when it comes to that. Maegan does most of that. She's our captain."

Tahlequah closed out the regular season with a 14-9 record to go along with a second-place finish in the Metro Lakes Conference. Now the Lady Tigers turn their focus to the playoffs, where they'll take on Coweta in the first round of regional play at the TMAC tonight at 8.

For the second straight season, Tahlequah will host a regional tournament, with Guthrie and Chickasha playing in the other first-round game. With a win over Coweta, the Lady Tigers would get a shot at avenging last year's regional-final loss to Bishop Kelley at the TMAC.

"Knowing that we have another chance at it this year, it's a completely different mindset," Blevins said. "We know what we have to do. We know we have to win."

A loss to Coweta — who Tahlequah has beaten twice this season — would bring the Lady Tigers' season to a screeching halt. But Hadley is determined not to let that happen.

"I'm just going in knowing that I need to hit my shots, and I need to do what I need to do to help our team, because I don't want Thursday to be our last game," Hadley said. "I want to keep going, I want to go to area. And if we could go to state, that would be awesome."

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