Lenape High School basketball players Andrew and Maddie Sims have a lot in common.
The siblings have played basketball since they were in kindergarten.
Both play forward, towering over most of their opposition at more than six feet tall.
Both have been key players on their respective Lenape varsity basketball teams since they were freshmen.
Both have the same goal of delivering championships to Lenape High School.
Andrew, a sophomore on the boys’ team, and Maddie, a senior on the girls’ team, are integral to the success of Lenape basketball, especially offensively. Maddie leads the girls’ team in scoring, averaging 14.3 points per game. Andrew is tied for second in scoring on the boys’ team, averaging 9.4 points per game.
Andrew and Maddie followed similar paths into basketball. Both began playing the sport in kindergarten and progressed through rec and travel leagues. Both joined AAU basketball in middle school and continue to play on AAU teams today.
Despite playing basketball for a long time, both admit it wasn’t necessarily their favorite sport when they were younger.
“I actually played every sport possible,” Maddie said. “I really liked soccer up until seventh grade. But basketball just kind of stuck with me.”
“I played three different sports and basketball just came along,” Andrew said. “I gave up the other sports and stuck to just basketball.”
Andrew and Maddie were talented enough to make Lenape’s varsity teams as freshmen. There was a bit of an adjustment making the jump right from AAU and travel to varsity.
“The speed for boys was really different,” Andrew said. “It was more different getting into the flow of things, especially going from travel and AAU to Lenape basketball. It’s just so much different.”
Maddie credited former teammate Alexis Sears, now a sophomore playing at the University of Delaware, with helping her adjust to the varsity game.
“I always went against her in practice,” Maddie said. “That made it a lot easier to adjust to. She helped me a little bit in eighth grade, so it was a little bit of an easier transition.”
Maddie and Andrew have a tight relationship on and off the court. The two prefer to help each other improve their game rather than play against each other one-on-one. Andrew said it’s been awhile since he played against his sister.
“I beat her one time,” he said.
“We haven’t played since,” Maddie replied.
“We kind of just focus on helping each other out in different areas now,” Maddie added. “He helps me shoot because he’s a better shooter than I am, and then I help him with defense.”
The siblings rarely get to see each other play. Most of Lenape’s league games are scheduled with the boys’ and girls’ teams playing the same opponent, but at opposite sites. Despite this, Maddie and Andrew make an effort to see each other in action.
“Once in awhile we’ll see each other play,” Andrew said.
“I consider us pretty close,” Maddie said. “If we can go to a Lenape game, we do.”
On the court, both Lenape’s boys’ and girls’ teams played on Jan. 21 with winning records. The girls’ team has turned lots of heads in the season’s first half. After losing in the South Jersey Group IV championship game the past two seasons, the Indians started the 2015–16 season undefeated with a perfect 10–0 record.
Maddie has been dominant at times this season. She netted her 1,000th career point during Lenape’s season-opening win over Bishop Eustace on Dec. 18. Three days later, Maddie had a career game against Paul VI, scoring 26 points in another Lenape win. Maddie has scored at least 10 points in all but one game for the Indians this season.
“We kind of just focus on what we want to do,” Maddie said. “We used our losses last year in the championship as the motivator to get back there and push us to the next step.”
The Lenape boys’ team entered its game last Thursday with a 6–5 record, including wins in three of its last four games. On Jan. 12, the Indians defeated the defending South Jersey Group IV champion Cherry Hill East Cougars on the road, 49–46. Andrew led the team with 17 points in the victory. The following week, Lenape beat a strong, 8–4 Pleasantville team, 58–46, with Andrew scoring another nine points.
“We’re doing OK. We could do better, though,” Andrew said. “There’s things we can fix.”
Next year, Andrew will continue his high school basketball career while Maddie begins her journey in college. Maddie committed to Siena College last year and will play for the Saints women’s team beginning in the fall.
“The coaches were really my big thing,” Maddie said about her college selection. “The atmosphere up there is great. It’s a basketball town. They’re on the rise right now. They’re 7–1 in their conference and they’re trying to get to the NCAA Tournament. It’s great up there.”
Andrew said he’s going to miss Maddie when she heads to Albany, N.Y., saying she’s a big part of the person he is today.
“She’s a role model to me and I look up to her,” Andrew said. “She teaches me everything. She teaches me what to do and what not to do in high school, in basketball situations and in life.”
Maddie plans to continue following Lenape’s basketball teams and especially her brother’s progress even after she graduates.
“We have a lot of fun,” Maddie said. “He’s honestly grown up so much, so I’ll miss watching him play.”