There is only one person on the court who was going to stop Tana Kemmer on her historic night.
That’s because her younger sister, Mara, has a tendency to get under her skin.
“She doesn’t like it when I foul her,” Mara said. “She was feeling it. When she has it going you have to get physical with her.”
Of course, they both play for Valley Christian so Tana was essentially unstoppable.
She possibly had the best night for an individual in Valley Christian girls basketball history on Dec. 6 when she broke the 1,000-point plateau (the seventh in school history) in her career by scoring 42 points on the strength of 10 3-pointers to set the school record for points and 3-pointers in a single game.
“Her first points of the game gave her 1,000 so we called timeout,” Valley Chritian coach Scott Timmer said. “We told her she could just relax and have fun after getting that basket. She made 16 of 22 shots and the ball never hit the rim. She was absolutely in the zone.”
Mara was impressed as well, but hinted at the fact it never would have happened if she was on the defensive end.
Ah, younger siblings.
They know just how to push those buttons and it is no different when the Ahwatukee sisters play one-on-one at the Ahwatukee Foothills Family YMCA. They compete like their next meal depends on it and that alone time is what has driven them to be the core players for Valley Christian this season.
Tana is the senior leader that everyone counts on when the game is on the line.
“Tana is really our only player with experience,” Timmer said. “She is a big part of our offense. (South Dakota move-in) Abby Labahn is giving us an inside presence and they (opposition) can’t extend out on us like they did early in the season.”
Kemmer, who averaged 13.8 points, 3.1 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 3.0 steals a game in the first eight games, said the big night was special, but more importantly she found her stroke.
“It was pretty exciting,” she said. “I had gone on a cold streak and it kind of all came back. Once I got (1,000), now I can just add to it.”
She said being counted on as a leader, although she is the quiet one and Mara likes to “make a lot of noise,” comes with the territory.
“I like it because that’s what I wanted when I was younger,” she said. “It used to be me looking up to the older kids and now I am getting the chance to do that.”
And a lot of those players are from Ahwatukee as the Trojans have five players in the area on the varsity. In addition to the Kemmer sisters, Ahwatukee Foothills residents are senior Grace Berry, junior Olivia Nowtash and Labahn.
“(Labahn) lives right next to us and all of us are proud to be from there,” Mara Kemmer said.
The special part of it is the Kemmer sisters getting a chance to play with each other simply because they are not facing off in a one-on-one situation.
“Her and I work really well together,” Tana said. “It can get a little heated. It’s a good matchup. She likes to play me physical.”
Actually, Mara, who averaged 9.5 points, 3.9 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 3.3 steals, likes to play everyone physical. She is the top defender in the team’s press that has led to a 6-2 start to the season and has already taken a leadership role despite being a freshman.
“I like to guard people up and down the court,” she said. “I don’t care what people think of me, I’ll say whatever I need to.”
It is something that has forced Timmer to put more responsibility on the younger Kemmer earlier than expected.
“I’ve known her for a long time I thought she’d be a good six man off the bench,” he said, “but she has come in and done everything so well. She is already showing some leadership and she is playing like an upperclassman.”
The competitive nature of the sisters is what is driving the Trojans to success despite a pretty young roster. It is hard to see Valley Christian getting back to hoisting the state title trophy as it did in 2010 and 2011, but with the Kemmer sisters at the helm it just might be possible.
“Honestly, we have the potential to do that,” Tana said. “We are young but all of them work hard and everyone wants it.”
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