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For the Petree sisters, it’s ‘just like old times’

Sisters Lasha (shooting) and Mahri (defender) Petree will play together on the women’s basketball team. Photo by Kayla Johnson

Plenty of basketball teams feature dynamic duos: the Warriors Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, the Lakers’ Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and the Bulls Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen.

Few, however, feature tandems quite like the one Bradley women’s basketball team does.

When the 2019-20 season tips off Nov. 8, sisters Lasha and Mahri Petree will take to the court together for the Braves. In the process, they will become the first siblings to play on the same Bradley women’s basketball team since 1978.

Next year, the Braves will feature two sets of sisters, when current sophomore point guard Tatum Koenig welcomes her younger sister Sasha to Peoria as well.

Both Petree sisters graduated from Arbor Preparatory High School in Ypsilanti, Michigan.

The pair figures to make an immediate impact on the Hilltop. Lasha was the Missouri Valley Conference Freshman of the Year last season, while Mahri was an honorable mention to the Detroit Free Press’ all-state team in March. The notion of them in the same uniform poses, perhaps, a scary thought for opponents given the way their careers have intertwined.

“I remember always being in the gym together,” Mahri said. “When we play one-on-one, it’s really competitive. When we were little, like playing outside with the kids in the neighborhood, it was really fun. I miss middle school ball and when we played for Coach Ballard … that was a really good experience.”

Mahri said that middle school helped generate on-court chemistry with Lasha and their older sister Jala.

“I think that brought us together a lot more too,” Mahri said. “Because we weren’t really close like that, me and my sisters, but when we played together in middle school our chemistry built a lot going into high school.”

Lasha is looking forward to running the court with her sister in a game again.

“Hopefully it’s going to be just like old times,” Lasha said. “We play really well together, we play off of each other and we know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. We have a lot of chemistry on the court.”

The sisters’ Bradley roots date back to when Bradley head coach Andrea Gorski coached alongside their father, Jamie, while at Concordia University in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The first offer that Gorski extended as Bradley’s head coach was to Lasha, while Mahri was the first offeree in the recruiting class of 2019.

“You get so much with both of them because they’re totally different types of players,” Gorski said. “They’re really competitive. We try to not let them guard each other a lot at practice, because they just get after it too much.”

Though Gorski laughed as she spoke of having to separate the two at practice, her tone was more serious when she described the positives the sisters bring to the equation.

“I think that’s what makes it great, that they look alike, they’re the same type of build, but they’re just two totally different types of players,” Gorski said. “I really like the dynamic that each of them brings.”

As anybody with a sibling may well imagine, there were some initial growing pains this offseason as the two readjusted to life around one another. Mahri credited Lasha for helping her acclimate to new surroundings although they butted heads a few times.

Mahri says the sister dynamic between the two helps push them to get better.

“Over the course of the summer, we’ve really transitioned from being sisters to making sure we’re teammates first,” Mahri said. “Now, that criticism comes as ‘I’m your teammate so I want you to get better, but I’m also your sister, so I’m going to tell you what nobody else will.’”

Having endured the same transition to the college game in Peoria as a freshman last year, Lasha said her advice carries some added weight into the season.

“This year, I’ve been trying to just give her advice on the side,” Lasha said. “If I see something wrong I’ll try not to say it in practice, but I’ll pull her to the side and say something after practice when we’re talking.”

The Petree sisters will play in their first competitive game together since 2018 when the Braves begin their season against Illinois-Springfield for an exhibition game on Nov. 3 at Renaissance Coliseum.

They’ll return to their home state to open the regular season, when the Braves face Oakland and Michigan on Nov. 8 and Nov. 10, respectively.

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