"We challenge each other, to make each other better, push each other"Ainsley Holmes
It has been a year of ups and downs for Keeley and Ainsley Holmes.
The 13 and 15-year-old sisters are some of the best young basketball talent Orange has to offer, garnering selection to multiple rep tournaments this year, including a would-be trip to New Zealand.
But constant event cancellations caused by Covid has meant they haven't been able showcase that talent outside of town - up until now.
Basketball NSW has put together a showcase event that will combine the state's best basketball players from metro and country areas alike. Lo and behold, the Holmes girls made the cut for the U15 and U17 squads.
"It just feels like life is a bit back to normal with everything and we finally get to play what we love to do," Ainsley said.
"Just to be able to meet new people and play with new people, especially metro.
"You get to see how far they've come and how to compare yourself to people and what you need to work on."
The girls first started playing the sport when they were six and eight years old. This was hardly a surprise given their older brothers and sisters have all taken to the court at some point or another.
Despite the two year age gap, they still manage to line up on the court together when they play A grade ladies on Monday nights.
Asked what it is like playing with their sister, Keeley said: "I think it's good because we know each other real well."
Ainsley added: "We challenge each other, to make each other better and push each other."
Like most siblings, competing against one another can bring out the best in them.
This is something their mum Sharon knows all about.
"They get very competitive," she said.
"I like them playing together not against each other. Same with their older sisters, it gets very competitive.
"They work hard, they train hard, they are both getting what they deserve because of the effort they put in.
"Just after the disappointment of this year, it's nice to see them being able to play."
But when asked who they thought was the better 1 on 1 player, Keeley humbly answered: "I reckon Ainsley is better at offense and I'm better at defence." Not surprising from the 13-year-old whose aggressive play on defence is one of her best attributes.
The three-day event will be held in Castle Hill from January 16-18.
It will include training sessions, mixed team matches and other things to help the participants progress in their basketball careers.
With that in mind, the sisters are already dreaming big.
Ainsley said: "I've always wanted to play college basketball in America, that's something I've always wanted to do.
Keeley added that she would "like to go to the Olympics and play for Australia."
So now we wait and see if the Orange girls can in fact make those dreams come true.
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