Two-headed monster powers Bishop Moore
In the air-conditioned confines of the RDV Sportsplex in Orlando, Lindsey Watson starts to needle her best friend, Jennifer George. The 5-foot-7 Watson has just finished bench pressing and the 6-foot-2 George is struggling to put up the same weight.
"You can't lift more than me?" Watson jokes. "You have to be stronger than that."
George ignores the remarks. She lifts the weight, lets out a deep breath and moves on to the next workout station. But not before glaring over at Watson.
On an ocean blue tennis court on a steamy Florida afternoon, George is putting a whipping on Watson. George's forehand is on. She's clipping lines and nailing serves. Watson, meanwhile, is having problems keeping the ball in play.
Silence. No talk. Just a grin from George directed across the net. "I don't talk smack to her because it would just keep going on," says George.
The best friends know each other well.
"I consider her my sister," George says. "My mom calls her the other daughter."
For six years, the Bishop Moore basketball stars have shared everything: trainers, coaches, All-State nods, family, glory, heartache, tears, dinners, weight rooms, gyms, tennis courts, golf carts wait, golf carts?
"We can get pretty competitive on the golf course, too," Watson says with a laugh.
While the two have competed in just about every activity they do, the one thing the Bishop Moore seniors don't compete in is basketball. On the hardwood they are symbiotic. On the court they are one.
"Once we make eye contact we know exactly what we're going to do," says Watson. "We know exactly where we're going to be without saying a word." "At this point I don't even have to look at her," adds George. "We don't ever need to talk. She knows where I'm going to go and I know where she's going to go. It's instinct on the court."
Even their words are similar. That comes from playing together year round since they were 11. And things really haven't changed that much since then.
"When we first played together, we were just running up and down the floor," says George. "We were faster than everyone else. I would get a block or a rebound and she would run down the floor and make the layup."
It's the same formula that allowed Bishop Moore to capture the first Class 4A state championship in school history last year: George blocks a shot or grabs a rebound and throws an outlet pass to Watson, who speeds down the court and puts it in the basket.
"They're such elite athletes," says Bishop Moore first-year coach Kristy Colligan. "Not many coaches have the opportunity to coach athletes at their level. I'm excited because it's going to be fast-paced. They have great chemistry and have played with each other for so long that they know how each other plays."
The two form a great combination, no doubt. But they're extremely talented individually and play vastly different styles.
Watson is a speedy point guard who controls the flow of the game and makes decisions with the ball in the open court. Her knowledge is outstanding and her court awareness results in her teammates getting easy looks. She averaged 14.7 points, 4.8 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game last season, earning Central Florida Player of the Year honors from The Orlando Sentinel.
George, meanwhile, is a strong post player who prides herself on defense and uses her size to grab rebounds and get put-back points. She calls shot blocking her favorite part of the game. George also has quick feet and isn't afraid to jump on the floor for a loose ball.
Both were named first team All-State after sensational junior years, but Watson earned MVP of the Class 4A tournament. Both are big-time college recruits, but George was the first to declare, choosing the University of Florida. Watson is deciding between Hofstra and Florida International.
"We always like to beat each other, but we're different in how we do it," says Watson.
They like to win even more as a team. And that's usually the end result when they're on the court together, even under the most difficult of circumstances.
At the beginning of George and Watson's junior seasons, just a month before games started, the team captains, which included Watson and George, were summoned to a meeting where it was announced that their coach, Sean Brady, was being replaced. Confused, upset and dejected, the two juniors put their emotions behind them and focused on their goal: win a state title.
"We were all pretty devastated," says George. "All the returning players were close to coach Brady. But we knew we had to go on and play the season for him."
They played and won for him as juniors. Now, in their final season playing together, the two are playing for another state championship.
"It think it would be cool to go undefeated and win the state championship," says Watson. "It would be cool to end with back-to-back championships."
"There's a lot of excitement and a little bit of pressure," says George. "They're expecting us to get back. But I feel that no one in 4A can stop Lindsey and I when we're on our game."
The only ones who can stop them are each other. And the only way to stop them is to separate them -- a once-inconceivable notion that's fast becoming a reality.
"Playing without Lindsey doesn't seem like a possibility," says George. "We're best friends on and off the court."
"Even though it's sad this is the last year we're going to play together, I'm excited because I think this could be the best team we've played on," says Watson. "We'll always be friends. I just won't be able to play with her."
Not true. The two can always head to the golf course and renew their rivalry there& or go to the gym and see who's stronger or hit the tennis court and see who wins.
Brian A. Giuffra covers high school sports for ESPN RISE.
ESPN TOP HEADLINES
- Kobe critical of himself after loss to Raptors
- Florida St., Auburn set for BCS title game
- Broncos' Prater sets record with 64-yard FG
- Source: Pats fear Gronkowski has torn ACL