Riley County seniors Madison and Makayla Vargo have been playing basketball together as long as they can remember.
Now, after officially signing to play on Wednesday morning to play basketball at Washburn, the twins are set to spend another four years together on the hardwood.
While both sisters are happy to be continuing their playing careers at the collegiate level, the signing is especially sweet for Makayla.
“I’m so grateful for the opportunity to continue to play,” she said. “I have always wanted to keep playing after high school. I love the game so much. It’s amazing especially with all the troubles that I’ve had.”
Those troubles, namely two season-ending knee injuries in three years with the Falcons, haven’t dampened Makayla’s spirits.
“Especially my senior season,” she said. “It was really devastating, but knowing that I get to go on has made it easier. I’m looking forward to it.”
Madison said the decision to choose Washburn head coach Ron McHenry’s program, despite the many visits to various other schools, wasn’t all that difficult.
“I just felt drawn to Washburn,” she said. “I liked their campus. I liked the team, the way they play, the coaches and everything. I just didn’t feel the connection was there at the other schools like it was at Washburn.”
While spot starters as underclassmen for a powerful Riley County program under head coach Harold Oliver, the Vargos began to blossom as upperclassmen.
Makayla returned injury free as a junior to average 10 points per game in addition to her all-around game and defensive presence. She was averaging in double figures again as a senior before her season was cut short.
“She’s got an overall feel and sense for the game,” Oliver said. “She has excellent court sense. She does several different facets of the game so well.”
It was that injury, though, that might have allowed Madison to blossom to the extent that she did this year.
Helping to fill the void lost with her sister, Madison led the Falcons at 18 points per game — including a 34-point outburst in a win over Council Grove. She shot 45 percent from 3-point range, while alternating between shooting guard and running the point at various situations throughout the game.
Madison finished second all-time in career 3-pointers made (145), and as the Riley County’s seventh-leading scorer with 741 career points.
“Madison’s speed and quickness is a tremendous asset,” Oliver said. “And this season, her shooting ability was there as well.”
Both sisters were named first team All-Mid East League in each of their last two seasons with the Falcons as they helped the school advance to three state tournaments, including a 22-2 record this season.
“I think their similarities come in their dedication to the game,” Oliver said. “They’re very committed. They spent a lot of extra time working on their skills.”
It’s that work ethic, Oliver said, that will allow both sisters to continue to develop at the next level.
Though it was always a possibility, the Vargos said that for the longest time playing together in college wasn’t really something they thought too much about.
“We didn’t really care or mind about that,” Madison said. “But I think it was a shock to both of us that she did get hurt. So though we never really thought about that, it is exiting. Everybody asks us that, but we didn’t plan it.”
Planned or not they’ll take their sister act to Topeka next fall, but it will start right back here in Riley County as the Ichabods are set to open their 2014-15 schedule with an exhibition matchup against Kansas State in Manhattan.