In the biggest basketball game of her career, before a capacity crowd of 7,500, Caroline Coyer was upstaged by a teammate. This was unfamiliar territory for Coyer, a dynamic, decorated and in-demand point guard at Oakton High School.
But when Princess Anne shaded its defense toward her in the Group AAA state final, Coyer was more than happy to defer, especially since the teammate who then commanded center stage was her fraternal and, by three minutes, younger twin.
Katherine Coyer scored 24 points, more than double her average, as Oakton routed the defending champions 58-39 to conclude a 31-0 season. She made 7-of-12 shots from the field, and 10-of-11 free throws on that March Friday at VCU's Siegel Center.
Caroline scored nine. This one day after collecting Gatorade's
"It was way more satisfying for me," Caroline said. "Throughout my four years, I've known, our family has known, Coach (Fred) Priester has known that (Katherine) was capable of that. I've been with her when she was really upset and people were saying she wasn't that good. It was the perfect ending for her."
The sisters punctuate their prep careers Monday, when they headline the West squad in the Virginia High School Coaches Association all-star game at Christopher Newport's Freeman Center.
Such contests rarely extract supreme effort from the competitors, but Priester expects overdrive from the Coyers. And after coaching them in more than 400 games between Oakton and summer ball, Priester has quite the database.
"I've never seen them not show up," he said. "There were games when they didn't shoot well, but the hustle, effort, determination were always there. Their consistency, I think, is their most remarkable trait."
Oakton was 110-5 with the twins in uniform, and the Cougars' state-tournament run included a 46-43 semifinal conquest of Eastern Region champion Woodside. Caroline (15) and Katherine (13) combined for 28 points in the victory, and their defense harassed Wolverines star Adrienne Motley into 5-of-16 shooting in the final three quarters.
But the signature victim was Princess Anne. The Cavaliers defeated the Cougars in the 2009 state title game and 2010 quarterfinals.
"Going into (the season), I never thought in a million years we'd come out of it undefeated state champions," Caroline said. "It really didn't hit me until a few months afterward."
"They are very clearly winners," Priester said. "From a coach's perspective, it's a pretty good feeling to go on the court with those two."
First, Caroline and Katherine, accomplished soccer players both, had to pick a sport. Caroline's choice was easy — she's long preferred basketball. Katherine's was more difficult, but prior to her junior year, she decided to join her sister/best friend.
Then the twins had to determine whether they were a package deal. Again, an easy call.
"Going to school separately really wasn't an option for us," Katherine said.
But this complicated matters. Several schools interested in Caroline weren't sold on Katherine. Thanks, but no thanks, the twins told those coaches.
Katherine understood the recruiters drawn more to her sister.
"We're different players," said Katherine, who stands an inch taller at 5-foot-11. "She definitely stands out more. She takes charge more. She's the point guard. … I'm more about doing the little things. I love defense. Defense is absolutely my favorite part of the game. That's why Caroline and I complement each other so well."
Their finalists were Villanova, Saint Joseph's, James Madison,
The transition to
Yes, the twins are separating. Caroline is rooming with another basketball freshman, Katherine with a freshman soccer player.
"That's a big step and a very necessary one," Caroline said. "We really need to branch out more."
But not too much. The sisters will be only a few doors apart on the same floor of the same dorm.
Said Katherine: "I feel like I'm really so much better with her."