WALDOBORO — The basics of basketball involve shooting, dribbling, passing, rebounding and playing defense.
But the key to collective success often is more subtle, with the bonding of individual players into a cohesive unit seen as crucial to victory.
So perhaps it’s no wonder the Medomak Valley boys basketball team is 8-3 and riding a seven-game winning streak despite graduating eight seniors after last winter’s run to the Eastern Maine Class B basketball tournament.
Take a look to one side of 6-foot-6 sophomore center John Murray, and there are the Durkee twins, Isaac and Kyle.
Take a look to Murray’s other side and there are the Greenrose twins, Isaac and Alex.
“It wasn’t anything that was planned,” said Medomak Valley coach Nick DePatsy of a starting lineup featuring two sets of fraternal twins. “They’ve all played before, but Isaac Durkee and Isaac Greenrose were really the only two kids back who had a lot of experience on varsity last year. But Kyle had a great summer and really stepped into the point guard role, and Alex got hurt last year and missed half of the season, but he’s come back strong, so that’s just how it worked out.
“I knew there was a possibility it could happen depending on whether we went with a smaller lineup or a bigger lineup. Right now we just don’t have much size.”
The Greenroses are the more identical looking of the pairings, two 6-foot-1 juniors capable of playing either guard or forward.
“Both are very offensive minded, and both have improved on their defensive skills,” said DePatsy. “They’re very athletic, they can get to the rim, but they also can shoot the 3. They’re pretty versatile as far as their roles.”
And not only their games but their physical similarities have led opposing defenses to fits of frustration.
“Sometimes I hear guys on the other team saying, ‘I don’t know which one I have,'” said Isaac Greenrose, the younger of these twins by 10 minutes. “We’ll hear kids arguing, one guy says ‘I have 23,’ and another guy says, ‘No, you have 21,’ and one of us will be open.”
The Durkees, meanwhile, are two of just three seniors on the roster. Isaac Durkee, a second-year captain for the Panthers, is a 6-foot senior wing who is considered the team’s top defender. Kyle Durkee, the younger of his twin set by nine minutes, is a 5-8 point guard.
“I’ve been playing with Isaac since third grade,” said Kyle. “We were the top two kids on our team back then, and Dad made me the point guard and Isaac was the scorer. We developed great chemistry since then because we knew what each other was going to do.”
Some of that chemistry stemmed from each set of twins simply being teammates throughout their basketball development, the Durkees in Waldoboro and the Greenroses in nearby Union.
“There’s no down side,” said Isaac Durkee. “Those two (the Greenroses) have been playing together their whole lives, and we’ve been playing together our whole lives. I know for a fact that I know what Kyle’s doing and he knows what I’m doing, and I know those two are the same way.”
“Sometimes I feel what Isaac’s doing, whether he’s passing off or whether he’s going to shoot and I should go for a rebound,” added Alex Greenrose. “With backdoor passes and things like that, I know when he’s going to do them.”
DePatsy, a longtime high school coach in the state, has seen such bonding before among brothers or best friends on the same team, but that doesn’t make these twin twins in the Medomak Valley starting lineup any less unique.
“You see it with kids who grow up together, they know what each other’s strengths and weaknesses are,” said DePatsy. “Here you can see it especially in the transition game. They just know where the other brother is going to be. I’ve seen some of that, but a lot of it comes from just years of playing together in the back yard and playing all kinds of different sports together.”
Occasionally, there may be moments of discord between siblings, just as there are among members of any team, but overall the results have been overwhelmingly positive — just look at the record.
“The chemistry is fine,” said DePatsy. “I know I had a younger brother and we fought all the time, but with these guys, if one of them gets on the other, they pretty much handle it themselves. They don’t get upset with each other. At times there’s a little bickering, but that’s normal with brothers and overall it’s been pretty good. I think they respect each other for what they do and what they bring to the team, and they respect each other’s roles.”
That mutual respect has helped the Panthers survive a 1-3 start this winter that included an 84-82 overtime loss to Midcoast rival Camden Hills of Rockport, a game in which the Durkees and Greenroses combined to score 63 points.
“We struggled early,” said DePatsy. “We had a tough, tough loss here in overtime to Camden and then we had a little letdown, but we had a big win over Winslow (in Medomak Valley’s most recent game on Jan. 14) that helped get us over the hump to give us confidence for the remaining seven games on our schedule.
“I knew the skills were there with this group, but I’m happy with how the mental aspect of the game has really come around. Now if they make a mistake, they don’t let it get to them, or if they miss a shot, they don’t get down on themselves. I think that’s really come full speed, and it’s got to continue if we’re going to be successful.”
The Panthers, currently seventh in the Eastern B Heal points, face their next test Saturday night at Leavitt of Turner Center, ranked third in Western B with a 10-1 record. But the remainder of the schedule is slightly more forgiving, for while there is a rematch at undefeated Camden Hills, Medomak Valley will play five of its final six games at home.
“Starting off the season, because we lost some key players people didn’t think we were going to amount to much,” said Isaac Durkee. “But really with the young guys we have, they’ve been playing together for a long time and me and Kyle have been playing together for a long time, so we thought that this should be a pretty good year. The Greenroses as juniors have stepped up big, John John (Murray) has played the center spot to full expectation, and Kyle in his first year as point guard has been unbelievable.
“To jell together as we have and play as a team as we have is more than I could ask for as a senior.”