Page sisters leading the way for Red Raiders

By Brady Bauman

Coaching is stressful.

Now, imagine if the coach’s daughter is on the team.

Imagine if two of the coach’s daughters are on the team.

That’s the case for the Wamego girls’ basketball team, where head coach Jim Page has his daughters Kaylie and Lanie in the starting lineup.

The Page girls aren’t just any sister duo of basketball players, though.

Kaylie is a 6-foot-2 sophomore, who averages 20.9 points per game and is already getting attention from multiple Division I programs.

Lanie is a 6-1 freshman, who skipped the eighth grade and is second on the team in scoring at 13.3 points a game.

It’s not surprising the Red Raiders are 9-4 and 5-0 in the NCKL — one of Wamego’s better seasons of late.

Many would assume Coach Page is in what could be a stressful situation. There is the fine line between being a coach and being a father, plus the added stress of dealing with outside perceptions when it comes to playing-time concerns between his daughters and the rest of the players on the team especially when scouts are in the seats.

But the second-year coach — in his second stint with Wamego — dismissed the bait.

He’s enjoying it.

“It’s been pretty fun, especially this year,” he said, joined by his daughters at a Kansas State women’s home game last week. “I’ve coached them since they’ve been in fourth and fifth grade, so it’s just something we’ve always done.

“I’ve been really lucky to have AAU or MAYB teams with both of them on it. Even though Kaylie is two years older, we’ve always had Lanie on the same team and she’s just always played up.”

Page said Lanie, who is only 13, was able to pass the tests and paperwork needed to skip the eighth grade.

“Intellectually, socially, and just a lot of reasons, she skipped the eighth grade,” Page said. “It really wasn’t a big headache at all. The superintendents and the principals of the Wamego school district were great. They put together some tests, almost like the state standards test, and she was able to take those last summer — passed them. We all kind of met as professionals and decided that yes, intellectually, socially, emotionally — everything — that it was time for her to move on.

“You hear about kids being bored in school, and she was just really bored in school. The people in Wamego were super about it.”

Kaylie, who also averages 5.1 blocks per game, said she enjoys having her sister on the floor with her.

“We’ve done it forever — she’s my best friend — so it really isn’t nothing new,” she said. “I feel like we both have a different game. My weaknesses are her strengths, and her weaknesses are my strengths. We mesh together, we now each other’s game… it works out really, really well.”

Coach Page said Lanie’s speed is an asset for his team.

“She’s so long and more of a slasher,” Page said. “Left and right hand, she can take the ball to the basket. She’s so long that people don’t realize how quick she is.”

Lanie leads Wamego with 43 steals — 14 more than Kaylie. Like her older sister, she also racks up the blocks with 2.9 a game.

The younger Page said the transition from seventh grade to high school has been helped by the tutelage of older sis.

“I’ve gotten used to it,” the 13-year-old freshman said. “It was a little rough at first with the new grade, the new people, but I’ve gotten used to it as the year went on. It’s more competitive. Middle school ball is more relaxed and not as intense as high school ball. It’s more physical — a lot more physical.

“At the beginning of the season (Kaylie) talked to me and told me it’s going to more physical and to be strong. She’s helps me out before games and after games on what I did wrong and what I did right.”

Kaylie said the sisterly bond and ability to read what each other is thinking translates on the floor.

“I know it sounds so dumb and weird, but we really can,” Kaylie said. “We know what each other is thinking. I can just dribble over and we can just look at each other and know what to do, because we’ve been playing with each other for so long. It’s really, really fun having her here.”

But with his two daughters on his team — both of whom play significant minutes — Coach Page said finding an overall team chemistry hasn’t been difficult and that the obvious jealousy issue hasn’t been one at all.

“It’s been really good,” he said. “Several other of our kids on the team have played with them in the past and it’s been a pretty easy mix. They know what they can do. It’s been pretty easy, it really has.”

The Red Raiders, who defeated Abilene 79-54 on Tuesday in Wamego, will travel to Valley Heights tonight.

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