BRAINTREE — Aoibhe and Orlagh Gormley are two of the most dynamic high school guards in Massachusetts. Friday evening, for the first time in their organized basketball lives, the sister stars went head-to-head.
Orlagh and Dexter Southfield traveled to Thayer Academy and earned a convincing 48-26 win. But the matchup was more than a game. It was a family affair that drew dozens of Gormley spectators both in-person and abroad.
“I was definitely nervous, just because of all the people here,” Aoibhe said. “I wanted to play well.”
Aoibhe, a senior at Thayer, is an All-Scholastic guard headed to Boston University, while Orlagh, a junior, holds 10 scholarship offers from schools including BU, Iona, UMass, Holy Cross, and more. Orlagh transferred to Dexter Southfield this season after making the Globe Super Team as a sophomore at North Quincy.
When the sisters first saw their matchup on the calendar, they did the math — Orlagh would likely score her 1,000th career point against her sister. They talked trash in their Quincy home throughout the week leading up to the contest. Orlagh refused to divulge her team’s plan for defending Aoibhe.
“We ended up knowing we were going to play against each other, but we were very excited,” Orlagh said.
When the game tipped off, Aoibhe immediately guarded Orlagh, and the duel was on. The point guards traded blows with Aoibhe blocking a few of Orlagh’s high-octane drives. Orlagh initially guarded off the ball, but took on the Aoibhe matchup in the second quarter. Aoibhe finished with a game-high 15 points; Orlagh tied Blake O’Grady for her team’s lead with 10.
The two rarely acknowledged each other, but snuck a few moments in. They grumbled together about the officiating during a free throw. Aoibhe smirked and slow-clapped once when Orlagh fouled her. She also warned teammates about Orlagh’s straight-line lefty attacks.
“I wanted to guard her, definitely,” Aoibhe said. “I feel like I’ve watched her long enough to know most of her moves. She beat me a couple times, but I got a few blocks on her, so, pretty proud of that.”
Orlagh did reach 1,000 points — on a layup over Aoibhe. The crowd of family, as well as former North Quincy teammates and supporters, erupted with banners and balloons.
“It was great — thank you to everyone that came — it was a great game,” Orlagh said. “I’m just glad I could score my 1,000th point against my sister.”
Deirdre Gormley, mother of the two college-bound stars, perched in the stands with her husband Dermot and son Eoin. Deirdre typically is loud and passionate at her children’s games; she was unusually quiet for this one.
“I was a nervous wreck,” she said. “I like to cheer for them both, and then today was just hard because I was obviously neutral.”
But Deirdre also felt immense pride. She immigrated to the United States from Ireland, met Dermot in the United States, and raised a family here. Approximately 20 Gormley family members living in the US showed up to the game with several more watching the live stream from Ireland.
Deirdre has now watched her daughters make their basketball dreams a reality. Aoibhe and Orlagh’s competitiveness against each other, while relentless, is still overshadowed by their unflinching love and support.
“They both have a lot of respect for each other. They’re both their biggest advocates, to be honest,” Deirdre said. “If Orlagh’s not playing, she’s at Aoibhe’s games [and vice versa] . . . They know each other inside-out.”
Ethan Fuller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.