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Special connection: Poudre's McDaniel twins are used to challenging one another



Poudre's McKenzie McDaniel averages 11.4 points per game for the 14-1 Impalas. / Rich Abrahamson, The Coloradoan

Finding that perfect workout partner can be difficult. But for two stars of the Poudre (Fort Collins, Colo.) High School girls basketball team, that person has been there since day one.

When Ashley McDaniel goes for a run, there is McKenzie McDaniel right there with her. Then McKenzie goes to the gym and Ashley turns it into a shooting contest. That's one of the benefits of being an identical twin.

"When we go for runs, we try to push each other and race each other and when we go to the gym and shoot we make games and competitions out of our shooting to get as much out of it as we can," McKenzie said.

The twins say that their competitive nature runs deep, bringing the best out of each other in every workout and, sometimes, leading to extremely competitive practices.

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The two have taken that intensity and channeled it into great success. The juniors have been starters since freshman at Poudre and are currently helping power the seventh-ranked Impalas (14-1) to 14 consecutive wins and first place in the Front Range League.

The McDaniel's have some similar traits on the court, but the 5-foot-11 Ashley is more of an inside post presence while McKenzie, 5-10, is often found on the outside. Still, remarkably the two are averaging the same number of points per game, 11.4. That number is good for second on the team behind Myanne Hamm's 14.1.

So, what makes these two so effective?

"I know this isn't a word, but I think they have some twinergy going on, sort of an unspoken court sense," Poudre coach Curtis Glesmann said. "They're able to find each other on the court pretty effectively. McKenzie often assists Ashley's baskets and vice versa. I think they're on a different wavelength a little bit, I think there's something to that."

Glesmann said McKenzie has developed into a dominant player in the paint, which is complemented by Ashley, who has added the 3-point game to her resume this year along with an ability to drive with both hands. And as Glesmann suggested, the two often are able to find each other without even thinking about it.

"Sometimes we just give each other looks and somehow we know where we want the other one to go or what we want them to do," McKenzie said.

The twins also use each other to break down games and strategy to best utilize their skills.

"I always tell her she should go inside more and she tells me I should go outside more," Ashley said. "Every day we talk about (strategy), especially before games and then after games we basically have play-by-play recaps."

As far as being on some sort of a special twin wavelength, they're not sure if their chemistry is from that or from playing together on every team since the fourth grade. What they do know is this has been a special season, that they want to go a long, long way.

"It's super exciting," Ashley said. "We're having a blast this year."

 

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