A pair of Reno High girls basketball players give the Huskies an advantage over almost every team they face. But their bond is much more than that.
Sisters Mallory and Morgan McGwire, who combine to give Reno a formidable frontcourt presence, come from a long line of athletes.
The duo, who have a famous uncle in Mark McGwire and also a former NFL quarterback for a dad in Dan McGwire, believe they can establish their own presence in the world of sports.
"Everyone always knows us as Mark McGwire's nieces, so it's hard to live up to the name," Mallory said. "It gets a little old sometimes."
Morgan sees her family's success in sports as a blueprint for overcoming adversity she faces along the way. She said the difficulties she faces are similar to the ones once faced by her father and uncle.
"I look up to them and it helps me get through things, knowing they went to the pros," she said. "They went through everything I went through."
Their father, Dan, preaches the benefits of adversity. He says it's when you perform at your best, and that through failure, you learn to succeed.
"Things aren't always fair. You're going to fail," he said. "Failure is succeeding."
'Sky's the limit'
The two sisters have already found success through basketball. Santa Clara has expressed interest in Morgan, who wants to play at the collegiate level, and Mallory has set a goal to one day play college hoops.
At 6-foot-1, the junior center Morgan is the older of the two and she has taken it upon herself to help her younger sister Mallory, a 6-4 freshmen center, develop.
"She helps me out a lot," Mallory said. "She tells me what to do and how to get better."
Reno coach Shane Foster has witnessed the progression of Mallory and said her sister has had a big hand in it.
"Mallory is striving to be able to work as hard as Morgan," Foster said. "She wants to play with her older sister, and so it's a little bit exciting from that standpoint. The sky's the limit for both of them."
The two sisters have become a force for Reno.
They are the defensive anchors of the team, blocking a combined seven shots a game, consistently forcing opponents into awkward shots and snatching most of those misses.
They've also allowed the Huskies to take two-thirds of their shots from the paint, which gives Reno a post game unrivaled by others in the division.
When the two aren't taking on opponents, they are competing against each other. Mallory watches how hard her sister works and tries to emulate, and Morgan knows her sister is both taller and younger, so hard work is a must.
"They are definitely competitive with each other," Dan said. "But they love each other to death."
What began the season as a sisterly rivalry has developed into camaraderie.
"At first I didn't think I'd like it, but it's been pretty fun," Morgan said. "We play really well together, and we both make each other work hard."
Entering the season, Mallory had the same mixed feelings about playing together, but as it has progressed the two have grown to enjoy their time together.
"Sometimes we have little arguments on the floor," Mallory said. "But she pushes me to do better. I love playing with my sister."
Their father has noticed how Morgan has embraced the position of role model, and how Mallory eagerly follows in her footsteps.
"Mallory really looks up to her big sister in sports, school and life," Dan said. "As a parent and a dad, I'm just really proud of them."