WELLESLEY — Patrick Benzan wasn’t about to let his kid sister, Katie, beat him, and she wasn’t about to back down.
Playing one-on-one in the family driveway, Patrick was merciless, physically imposing his will when he wanted, blocking Katie’s shots at every opportunity. Still, she kept shooting.
Their mother, Kim, had been watching and decided to step in on behalf of her daughter, who is 2½ years younger.
“You’ve got to throw her a bone,” Kim told Patrick. “Otherwise she’s not going to want to play with you.”
But Patrick responded: “Then she’s not going to get better.”
Years later, their one-on-one matchups have continued, and the siblings, who consider themselves best friends, have helped each other become two of the best high school players in the state.
Patrick is a 5-foot-11 point guard who has committed to Holy Cross. He recently finished his senior season at Roxbury Latin as the school’s all-time leading scorer (1,886 points) and assist man (501 assists).
As an eighth-grader, he was on the varsity team that won just three games. Last season, the team won 18 games and made the NEPSAC Class B tournament. An honors student, he was named a McDonald’s All-American nominee and captained coach Tony Teixeira’s young roster to a 10-12 record this winter.
“He has almost singlehandedly turned the program around,” said Teixeira. “He has been the model of what hard work and dedication will do. . . . He’s the ultimate gym rat.”
Katie, a 5-5 sophomore at Nobles, has played on the varsity since the eighth grade as well. In her three years, she has established herself as one of the key cogs on the top preparatory girls’ program in New England. Coach Alex Gallagher’s squad has won three consecutive NEPSAC Class A titles and has gone 80-1 with Katie on the roster, something Gallagher says is “no coincidence.”
Averaging 19.1 points per game this season, the sharpshooter (168 treys this season, shooting nearly 50 percent behind the arc) notched her 1,000th point in the Class A semifinals. The next day she won the tournament MVP award. Also an honors student, she already has a drawer full of college letters and multiple Division 1 scholarship offers.
“She is a brilliant player,” Gallagher said. “She’s definitely our coach on the floor. She’s one of the best passers I’ve ever coached, and there is no doubt that in my 17 years as a coach, she is by far the best shooter I’ve ever coached in my life.”
Basketball has long been a family affair in the Benzan household. Kim, a member of the Brockton High Hall of Fame, met her husband, John, while shooting around at Holy Cross when she was a freshman point guard and he was a manager of the men’s team.
Patrick and Katie picked up the sport early in life and their happy memories piled up as quickly as their point totals.
When they were toddlers and in elementary school, there were pickup games with family at Regis College and at the Newton YMCA.
There were the nights when Katie would tag along with her mom to practices when Kim served as head coach at Dover-Sherborn High (2006-08) and then at Needham (2008-12).
There was the game last year when the Nobles crowd at a Nobles-Roxbury Latin boys’ game chanted at Patrick, “KA-TIE’S BET-TER!” leading Patrick to later tell his freshman sister excitedly, “Katie, you’re a beast!”
There were the pound cake sundaes at Cabot’s in Newton to celebrate each milestone as a family.
And of course there were the driveway battles. Always first to 11. Katie still cherishes her one, and only, win.
After years of playing together, they’ve adapted certain parts of each others’ skill sets. From Patrick, Katie learned to become a better ball-handler. From Katie, Patrick learned to have more confidence in his jump shot.
From their mom, they both learned to hate to lose. They are the epitome of coaches’ kids: competitive with high basketball IQs.
Kim continues to coach Katie as part of the New England Crusaders AAU program, and John coached Patrick in summers past. Both parents are also assistants for their kids’ high school teams — John at RL and Kim at Nobles — giving them a front-row seat for Patrick and Katie’s accomplishments.
Of those there were many. Katie proudly posted an Instagram photo after Patrick broke the school record for points, calling him “my one-on-one partner and my best friend.”
Patrick made sure he was in attendance for all of Katie’s biggest games, watching closely as she made good use of the moves he helped to teach her during long workouts at the Boston Sports Club in Wellesley.
When she scored her 1,000th point last week and shed a tear, he was there, as proud as anyone in the gym.
Patrick will be headed to prep school in the fall before starting at Holy Cross in 2015. Even after he moves on, there will be time for the occasional one-on-one battle in the family driveway between the relentless brother and his determined sister.
A-C coach, player
When Arlington Catholic girls coach Dave Brady watched his team get ready for the Division 2 state championship game in of 2011, his standout freshman Maura Buckley was visibly nervous. To help her relax, the coach told her, “I’ll help you win a state championship if you help me get to 300 wins.” That afternoon, when they walked off the court with the state title won, Buckley asked Brady, “How many more?”
Nearly three years and 50 wins later, Buckley — now a senior captain and 1,000-point scorer — helped Brady hit No. 300.
Brady reached the mark on Feb. 14 in a 63-33 win over Cambridge Rindge and Latin.
Millis girls again
make sectional final
For the second consecutive season, the Millis girls advanced to the sectional final after entering the postseason as the lowest seed in their bracket. Last year sophomore Amy Assad helped lead her team — a No. 14 seed — to three postseason wins and the Division 4 South final. This season Assad and her teammates cruised to the Division 4 Central final as a No. 15 seed, winning their three tournament games by an average of 18 points.