LEE -- It sounds like a scene that may flabbergast basketball players and coaches across Western Massachusetts.
Kids play a pick-up game in a barn not far from Stephanie Young's house in Lee. Her cousin, Jake LePrevost, coyly lets the fellow Lee senior get past him, only to swat the ball from behind.
"He's out there dunking and he's blocking my shots," Young said. "I'm like, ‘Oh my god, you won!' "
The thought of the ferocious Young conceding anything seems unlikely. Her family members may be the only ones who can match her passion.
Basketball is a big deal for the LePrevosts and the Youngs. Both players have their Lee Wildcats in the Western Mass. Division III semifinals inside the Curry Hicks Cage at UMass this week. But they're more than just the best players on their respective teams. Both have older sisters who won Western Mass. titles for Lee.
And both come home to a family with high school basketball in its blood.
"It's never-ending," Stephanie Young said. "It could be Thanksgiving dinner or even a summer night. My dad's talking about me missing free throws freshman year. ... I feel like when that happens, we're like ‘Our dads need to stop doing this right now.' "
LePrevost will admit the banter gets annoying sometimes. But he doesn't see it as pressure, either.
"We realize how important is to them to see their kids succeed," LePrevost said. "It's something we'll look at a couple years from now, you know that
LePrevost was in the stands Friday after leading his team to a thrilling overtime win at Granby the night before, watching Young help the Wildcats to a quarterfinal victory over New Leadership. He called for a last shot when the first quarter wound down, letting out a "woosh!" when Young nailed a jumper with six seconds left. Her 28 points that night were enough to make sure the two will start the final chapter of their high school careers together, at the Cage.
"I couldn't really ask for anything more," LePrevost said. "Having us both deep into the playoffs for our senior year is something. ... Just getting to the Cage itself is something you have to look at and be thankful for."
The cousins grew up idolizing Lee teams that made it to this point. Their parents took them to games, like many in Lee. The two youngest kids imagined what it would be like to one day take the floor themselves, taking pictures with greats like Kelly McManmon. They were, LePrevost said, like the young kids populating the bleachers on Friday.
With their siblings they were playing basketball at a young age. LePrevost said he started around age 5 and he remembers long pickup games at that nearby barn. They spent summers together at their grandparents' house, where there was a pool.
"They were like brothers and sisters," said Jake's mother, Jane. "They spent a lot of time together. I don't think there was a day that went by that they didn't see each other."
Jane's sister, and Stephanie's mother, Lisa said Jake LePrevost was like the brother her two daughters never had. So together with Alex Young and Nicole LePrevost, there would be plenty of pick-up games. Jake would witness some tense moments between the two Young sisters, and he'd be stoking his own rivalries with the girls.
"There was some pretty good ones between me and Steph," Jake LePrevost said. "Sometimes we'd put restrictions on what we could do. Lots of times we'd start it at the top of the key and say only two dribbles this time, just to work on driving to the hole and stuff."
Those lessons in the barn have paid off. Jake LePrevost said he sees Stephanie Young, who is averaging 19.5 points per game this year, do things other girls can't do. Young points to the leaps and bounds LePrevost's game took this year as he became the Wildcats' leader, chipping in better than 23 points per outing. That included joining Young in the school's 1,000-point club earlier this season.
For their parents, it's been a fun ride. Jane and Lisa were together Friday night, selling raffle tickets before the girls game. They were a few feet apart in the front row of the bleachers to watch Young's Wildcats advance.
"This is exciting because I get to go to Jake's games and I get to relax," Lisa Young said. "I have fun! [Jane] gets to be nervous."
Both will have some nail-biting moments this week in Amherst. If neither cousin lays claim to a Western Mass. title, it will be the end of the high school basketball road for this family. However, there is a young cousin, Tyler Buratto, coming up
"It's really sad it's coming to an end," Stephanie Young said. "Even my grandparents, they go to every game. It's going to be really tough for our family. I think it's time. We've had our time. It's someone else's turn now."
To reach Christopher James:
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On Twitter: @BECJ2K