Growing up, sisters Brenni and Emmalee Rose shared a bedroom for most of their lives. During this high school basketball season, they have shared spots in the starting lineup for Shawnee Mission Northwest.
Brenni, a senior forward, and Emmalee, a junior guard, are two of the reasons the Cougars are 19-2 and a No. 1 seed in this week’s Kansas Class 6A Shawnee Mission South substate tournament.
“They’re important to our success,” SM Northwest coach Tyler Stewart said. “Obviously they do different things, but when they play well, we play well. They’re definitely big pieces of what we’re trying to do.”
Brenni and Emmalee are daughters of SM Northwest boys basketball coach Mike Rose. They are taking advantage of their lone season of high school basketball as teammates, and share some sibling benefits on the court.
“I like it a lot, because we click,” Emmalee said. “We’ve been around each other so long that when we play together on some plays, I just give her a look and we’re on the same page. It just all works out.”
Brenni added: “It’s really special. I hold Emmalee to a higher standard than most people, but she deals with it well. It’s fun.”
It might not be readily evident at first glance that Brenni and Emmalee are sisters, but Stewart said their similarities show up on the court.
“You can tell they’re definitely family, that they’ve been raised in the same household,” Stewart said. “It’s always good to have a coach’s kid, because you know they’ve been around the sport for a long time. They eat, breathe, sleep basketball, and it’s nice to have that high basketball IQ that both of them have.”
So do the two sisters always see eye to eye?
“I always kind of find it entertaining when you see the two of them jawing at each other on the floor,” Mike Rose said. “Some people in the stands might wonder what’s going on, but you realize they’re sisters and they’re both really competitive.”
But there is one fan in the bleachers who isn’t the biggest fan of some of the sisters’ on-court interaction.
“Mom — she doesn’t like the way we talk to each other on the floor,” Brenni said. “It’s easier to yell at a sibling than a different teammate, and mom will get right on me right after the game.”
The sisters, though, do have a definite appreciation for each other’s contributions to the squad.
“I like the decisions Emmalee makes as a guard,” said Brenni, the all-time leading scorer in the SM Northwest girls basketball program with 1,093 points. “I would say 95 percent of the time she makes the right decision. She does a really good job of passing into the post, and that’s where (Jordan) Nachbarr and I get a lot of our points because she has nice little dishes.”
Emmalee says Brenni makes running the Cougars’ offense easy.
“She’s one of the players that I know when I throw her the ball, I can literally start running back on defense,” Emmalee said. “She’s going to finish it. When she doesn’t finish it, she’ll get the rebound. She’s very dependable.”
Brenni is the lone returning starter from last year’s Cougars team that went 20-5, finished fourth at state and sent four players to play college basketball. This season, SM Northwest has displayed a suffocating defense, allowing fewer than 35 points a game.
“Towards the beginning it helped that no one else was expecting us to win many games,” Brenni said. “All of our players have bought into what we’re doing. We’re disciplined, prepared for everything and that’s helped us out a lot. I think the success is what’s kind of made it so special.”
Brenni will head to Drake University to play college basketball. For now, the sisters are enjoying the season’s stretch run. The Cougars face Olathe Northwest at 7 p.m. Friday in the substate championship game.
“I’m not ready for the season to end, because when it ends, Brenni’s gone and that will be so strange,” Emmalee said. “I want it to end on a good note, with it being her senior year.”