Twice a week, Jacqueline Romain faces a choice.
She can watch one of her children star for the Timberline High School basketball team, just not both at the same time.
Romain’s son, Tariq, is a senior captain and defensive stopper for a Blazers team trying to make its way to a fourth consecutive state tournament. Her daughter, Keshara, is coming off a second team All-4A Narrows season and has helped the Blazers’ girls team get out to a 4-1 start as a junior.
“I go to one game, then go home and sit down in front of the TV to watch video of the other one,” Jacqueline Romain said.
Across town, Kent and Georgia Christian have the same issue as Romain.
Junior forward Clay Christian has been a breakout scoring star for North Thurston’s boys this season while his twin sister, Quinlan, helps fuel the Rams’ girls squad.
The situation is doubled Friday as the Lacey rivals meet in 3A South Sound Conference play, with the boys at Timberline and the girls at North Thurston, both at 7 p.m.
CHRISTIAN FAMILY TRADITION
Kent Christian, who was a multi-sport athlete at Capital before going on to Walla Walla Community College, enrolled Clay and Quinlan for basketball before they started elementary schools. They played on the same teams, but neither remembers it.
Still, the basketball bond is strong between them. They support and help each other often on and off the court.
“It’s comforting to know someone else gets it,” Quinlan said. “He understands what I’m going through, whether it’s sports or school.”
Clay, who also plays football for the Rams, acknowledges the importance of his bond with his twin. “We’re pretty close. If we need any advice, we’re there for each other,” he said.
When Quinlan scored a season-high 20 points against Mount Tahoma on Monday night, Clay was able to watch and provide some feedback.
“I had a pretty good game, and he told me how quick my shot was,” she said.
Rams boys coach Tim Brown sees bright futures for both Christians.
Clay opened the season with a 31-point performance against Auburn and backed that up with a 38-point outing at Issaquah. He had a third 30-point game Wednesday at Central Kitsap.
“He’s a slasher, takes kids off the dribble,” Brown said. “He was a good player his first two years, but he’s really grown up this season. He has a lot of maturity and confidence. He put in the work during the offseason.”
At 6-foot-3 to his sister’s 5-7, Clay has a different game, but when Brown sees the girls play, he notices a similarity.
“They’re both scorers,” he said.
Another common trait is their demeanor when watching each other play. Both say they stay calm and analytical in those rare times when their games don’t overlap.
“Because we play opposite so many times, I don’t get the chance to see my brother play very often,” Quinlan said. “I just sit back and enjoy it when I do get the chance.”
ROMAINS ARE PRACTICE PARTNERS
Keshara Romain doesn’t hold back her enthusiasm when she watches brother Tariq’s games. He thinks it’s because she feeds off the energy of sitting with her Blazers girls basketball teammates. She says no. Her loud vocal support comes from happiness.
“I just get really excited watching my brother play,” she explained.
Watching her brothers, plural, play helped draw her into the sport when she was in third grade. In addition to Tariq, older brother Diquan played at Timberline while Tishawn didn’t play school ball but also loves the game.
Tariq played receiver and defensive back for the Timberline football team and runs sprints during track season. Keshara has the third-best triple jump mark in school history (37 feet and three-fourths of an inch), good for fourth in last spring’s 4A state track meet.
Jacqueline Romain, originally from the U.S. Virgin Islands, encouraged her kids to get involved in sports.
“I got them started as a way to keep them out of trouble,” she said.
Now, Tariq and Keshara are self-starters.
“Some weekends, she’ll be tired and still asleep, but I’ll go wake her up and take her to the gym at Church of the Good Shepard to work out,” Tariq said.
Like the Christians, the Romains — both standing 5-9 — fill different roles on the court: Tariq as a lightning quick defender, while Keshara plays an athletic but undersized post at 5-9. That difference is a plus during their one-on-one workouts.
“He’ll work with me on ball-handling, the things he’s best at,” Keshara said.
Tariq, a more vocal player on the court according to Blazers girls coach Tim Borchardt, isn’t shy about giving his sister advice.
“Sometimes I’ll see something she can improve when I watch her games and I’ll let her know later if she’s doing something that won’t work at the next level,” Tariq said.
Both of the Romains’ coaches believe they can play in college. Tariq is being recruited by The Evergreen State College and by two-year schools Cochise College and Tacoma Community College.
“He brings a lot of passion to the game. He’s our defensive specialist,” Timberline boys coach Allen Thomas said. “Offensively, he can get to the rim and we always put him on the other team’s best guard. Tariq will make him work.”
“I see a future for Keshara in basketball,” said Borchardt, who also believes she could be a collegiate track athlete. “She’s extremely athletic, and you can’t coach that. I can see her moving from post to small forward in college.”