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 Blazer 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 Blazer girls team 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.
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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 offense.
The situation is doubled as the Lacey rivals meet Friday in 3A South Sound Conference play, the boys at Timberline, the girls at North Thurston, both at 7 p.m.
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.”
Said Clay: “We’re pretty close. If we need any advice, we’re there for each other,” he 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.”
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.
At Timberline, Keshara Romain doesn’t hold back her enthusiasm when she watches brother Tariq’s games.
“I just get really excited watching my brother play,” she explained.
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, ¾ 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.
Tariq — at 5-9 is a lightning quick defender and distributor — and Keshara — an athletic but undersized post at 5-9 — fill different roles on the court.
Both of the Romains’ coaches believe they can play in college.
“He’s our defensive specialist,” says Timberline boys coach Allen Thomas. “We always put him on the other team’s best guard. Tariq will make him work.”
“(Keshara is) extremely athletic and you can’t coach that,” girls coach Tim Borchardt said. “I can see her moving from post to small forward in college.”
LINCOLN-WILSON AT UPS
The rivalry continues.
Unbeaten Wilson (4-0) plays unbeaten Lincoln (5-0) at 8 p.m. on Friday in the first meeting of the Tacoma-school rivals of the 2016-17 season. Except this one will be played at the University of Puget Sound’s Fieldhouse as Wilson’s gymnasium continues to undergo renovations.
Lincoln coach Aubrey Shelton played for UPS after he graduated from Lincoln. Lincoln JV coach Ryan Rogers also played there and assisant varsity coach Andy Nelson was a former assistant coach at the school.
But a Wilson-Lincoln game that’s normally standing-room only can now fit even more people. Wilson coach Dave Alwert said he’s expecting an even larger crowd than the one that was so packed at Wilson last year that people had to be turned away.
Lincoln has taken this rivalry over the past four years. The Abes have won at least a share of a league title each of the past four years, tying with Wilson (5-0) for the 3A Narrows title in the 2013-14 season. Now both are members of the 3A Pierce County League.
Lincoln has won six of the past 10 meetings against Wilson.
The Lincoln-Wilson girls game is at 7 p.m. at Lincoln High School.
TAHOMA THE TRI-STATE FAVORITE?
Some believe the Tri-State wrestling tournament in Idaho might be even more prestigious than Mat Classic — the state wrestling championships.
For Tahoma coach Chris Feist, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
“We want to get our hands raised and be the No. 1 team and it would be great — we would celebrate for about two hours at a restaurant on the way home and then go to work on Monday,” Feist said. “But that’s not what we came to do this season. We came to win state and we can only do that in February.”
But in its 45th year as an annual Christmas break tradition, the tournament takes place Friday and Saturday at North Idaho College in Coeur d’Alene. Orting’s Alex Cruz (113) and Bethel’s Dante Springsteen (152) are two of the six total returning champions in a tournament made up of some of the top wrestling programs from Washington, Oregon and Idaho.
Post Falls of Idaho has won the past two team titles, but coach Pete Reardon told the Spokesman Review that he considers Tahoma to be the favorite this year — even though Tahoma last won the team title before Feist took over 13 years ago.
“As long as we come into February ready to win league and regionals and state, we’ll be OK,” Feist said. “I think we have a good shot to do really well here, but I never come out and say we are guaranteed anything.”
Of the 10 Washington wrestlers to win Tri-State titles last year, seven went on to also win Mat Classic titles.
Wrestling begins at 10 a.m. on Friday and ends with the finals at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Bonney Lake, the No. 1-ranked school in 3A by Washington Wrestling Report, flew Thursday to Nevada for the 22nd Reno Tournament of Champions at the Reno Events Center. That tournament will broadcast live at FloWrestling.com.
Staff writer TJ Cotterill contributed to this report