North Texas Daily

Sibling rivalry alive in the Sun Belt

Sibling rivalry alive in the Sun Belt

February 28
22:14 2013

Tim Cato / Senior Staff Writer

Racheal Blakely and her family are usually some of the biggest Mean Green women’s basketball fans on game day, but they had difficulty rooting for UNT when it faced Florida Atlantic University on Feb. 20.

Blakely is a common sight at UNT games, cheering on her youngest daughter, Braylah, who plays for the Mean Green. The FAU game was especially important to the Blakely family because of the opponent – it’s one of the few games she’s able to watch her other daughter, Briah, suit up for the Owls.

“You can’t root for one team, but you got to root for both,” Racheal said. “We pretty much just watched the game unless Briah made a shot or Braylah made a shot.”

The Blakely sisters are a year apart – Briah is a 5-foot 8-inch junior guard for FAU and Braylah is a 6-foot sophomore forward at UNT. However, things could have been different if it hadn’t been for a case of sibling jealousy.

“Actually, she’s the reason why I started playing basketball,” Braylah said. “I was a cheerleader, and when she started, our family would go to the games, so I would be jealous. That’s what made me want to play.”

The sisters’ competitive nature helped them develop their skills on the court, as they realized they would be able to play collegiately.

In 2010, Briah was the first to leave Cedar Hill, Texas – the Blakely family’s hometown. She didn’t go straight to Florida, though, stopping first to play at McLennan Community College in Waco for two years.

Braylah graduated a year later, and though the two sisters had always played for the same team, she made the decision to attend UNT.

“My first thought was to go down to school at the community college and we would play together,” Braylah said. “That’s when North Texas called and I decided to go.”

Braylah tried to convince her sister to come to UNT, but Briah opted for FAU instead. Racheal said she was a bit surprised, but understood and trusted her daughter’s decision to move so far from home, especially since it was something she had always talked about doing.

UNT played FAU twice this season, in Boca Raton, Fla. on Jan. 19 and in the Super Pit on Feb. 20. The sisters said it was hard not to root for each other in those games.

“I always want my sister to win,” Briah said. “But when we played against each other it kind of went out the window because of both of our competitive natures.”

Both FAU and UNT are moving to Conference-USA next season, so the Blakely sisters will meet two more times next season before Briah graduates.

Though they live more than 1,300 miles apart, the sisters stay connected, talking on the phone every other day. The only topic they avoid in their talks is basketball. They save that for the actual game.

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