By Mikaela Cowles ’08
Jasmine (left) and Jontelle (right).
Jontelle and Jasmine Smith are competing in Gael blue and red this year, making them the fourth sister pair in Saint Mary’s women’s basketball history — a history that includes a legacy of success. Jerkisha and Jermisha Dotsy, who both graduated in 2002, led the Gaels to their 1999 and 2001 NCAA Tournament appearances, and Tracy (Morris) Johnston ’00 and her sisters, Julie Muliken ’03 and Kelly Morris ’98. Tracy still holds the Gael record for most points scored in a career.
Senior Jontelle holds the record for three-pointers in a career. That combined with junior Jasmine’s natural ability to slash into the middle and score give the Gaels a recipe for sister success. After a below-.500 season in 2008–09, the Gaels look forward to their presence on the court.
"I expect us to do better, be better,” says head coach Paul Thomas. "We ended last season very poorly. We did not perform the way we were capable, and that leaves a bad taste in your mouth.”
The Smith sisters, both guards, red-shirted last season due to medical reasons. Jontelle says she thinks this year’s combination of returning players and freshmen will "do really well.”
Holding down the middle this year will be the 2009 WCC Defensive Player of the Year, Louella Tomlinson, who finished the ’08–’09 season second in the nation in blocks with 161. Tomlinson was named WCC Player of the Month in November.
"We have the talent,” Thomas says. The key this year is "going to be the competitive chemistry.” For Jontelle and Jasmine, he believes "it’s going to be less about them being sisters and more about them being teammates.”
The bond they share is unmistakable as teammates and sisters.
"We can just look at each other and we both know what we are thinking,” Jasmine says.
Jontelle equates it to a twin-type relationship, saying they’ve been close since Jontelle broke Jasmine’s crib trying to get in with her. Their united front rubs off on their teammates, helping "get everyone on the same page,” Jontelle says.