“We call them Twin No. 1 (Shanna was born first) and Twin No. 2,” cousin Leah Strain, the Bobcats’ star junior point guard, said.
It was real easy to tell the twins apart during Woodland’s 71-54 rout of Providence Christian in Tuesday’s AHSAA girls’ Class 2A semifinals. Shalyn was the one hitting 3-pointers in the first half, and Shanna found the mark in the second.
Shanna finished with 18 points (15 in the second half), and Shalyn scored all 12 of her points in the first to complement Leah’s 34-point outburst.
Still, for all of the easy clues, it seems hard for outsiders to keep their Strains straight. Whoever kept the point totals on the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Complex scoreboard on Tuesday credited some of Shalyn’s 3-pointers to Shanna and vice versa.
Referees had their issues, too.
“I got a foul called on me, and I wasn’t even near her,” Shalyn said.
OK, Woodland still has a game to play in this tournament. The top-ranked Bobcats will play second-ranked Prattville Christian (34-0) for the state title Friday at 9 a.m., so it might be a good time to review the strain of Strains that runs through Woodland.
Larry Strain is the coach.
Leah Strain is his daughter and younger sister to Courtney Strain, the state’s all-time leading scorer and now a redshirt sophomore at Auburn.
Amy Strain, a senior on this year’s team, is the daughter of Larry’s brother Dave and cousin to Leah, Courtney, Shanna and Shalyn.
Shanna and Shalyn are daughters to Larry’s and Dave’s brother Shane and cousins to Leah, Courtney and Amy.
Larry’s son Trae — older brother to Leah and Courtney, nephew to Dave and Shane and cousin to Amy, Shalyn and Shanna — deserves mention. He was a key player in Woodland’s state runner-up finishes in football in 2004 and 2006, but let’s not confuse the uninitiated more.
Let’s keep it to the present and what’s needed to keep the Strains currently wearing Woodland uniforms straight.
With Leah, it’s easy. She’s No. 2 and the one with the ball in her hands most, dribbling through presses and defenses of all kinds then either powering the ball up to the basket or passing out to her cousins.
Amy, wearing No. 21, is the talker/floor leader who makes a lot of hustle plays.
With Shanna and Shalyn? OK, so they play similar roles. They’re usually on opposite sides of the 3-point arc, ready to catch Leah’s passes and fire.
What the twins do on the court is similar enough that it can be confusing, and their names are similar.
Then again, clue number one should he that Shalyn, consistent with any roster, wears No. 22. Shanna wears No. 23.
Oh, and Shalyn has brown hair and Shanna blond. That’s not on any roster but helpful.
Apparently, help is needed.
“It happened more than just the scoreboard,” Larry Strain said. “The officials were calling fouls over there that looked like it was blatantly --- I mean, it was obvious that it was on the different young lady.
“It’s not that they were blatantly doing anything wrong. They just get the numbers confused, and it happens quite often.”
If the twins keep knocking down 3-pointers on the state’s biggest stage, maybe the confusion won’t happen quite so often.
Their development as 3-point shooters has helped to make this Woodland team hard to defend. Opponents know they have to stop Leah’s dribble penetration, which is hard enough, but they also know they have to get hands in Shanna’s and Shalyn’s faces.
Having Shanna and Shalyn spread out on opposite sides of the floor only enhances Leah’s chances to penetrate.
“As long as they’re knocking down their shots and Leah, they (Woodland’s opponents) have got to pick their poison,” Larry said.
There was plenty to go around Tuesday. Strains accounted for all but six of Woodland’s points. Amy had one, the free throw that gave Woodland its biggest lead, 71-52.
Then factor in chemistry that comes from the bulk of this Woodland team having played together in AAU and school-sponsored since grade school.
It’s no wonder that Woodland’s girls, who lost in the 2A finals two years ago, look to have their best chance to bring home the blue champion’s trophy. Though there’s some claim to a mythical-era state football title in 1963, they can bring home the school’s first AHSAA-recognized state title.
And then, just maybe, it won’t be such a strain for officials, scoreboard keepers et al to keep the Strains straight.
Sports Columnist Joe Medley: 256-235-3576. On Twitter @jmedley_star.