BILLINGS – Getting a read on the Albrecht twins is impossible. Neither a smile nor a frown nor even a furrowed brow in frustration crosses either of their faces during their Billings West girls basketball games.
From their best plays to their not-so-good plays, Maddie and Willa Albrecht pretty much remain unblinking and stone-faced.
“I don’t think anyone who doesn’t know us could tell” what they’re feeling, Maddie said Saturday afternoon, after the Golden Bears defeated Billings Central 53-35 at the Nelles Activities Center.
Maddie was smiling when she said that, and there was a lot for the Bears to smile about. TyLee and TyRaa Manuel — a second set of twins for West — combined for 27 points, and Ambreya Windy Boy added nine as the Class AA Bears completed the regular-season sweep of the Class A Rams.
Just past the midpoint of the season, West’s double-dose of what coach Charlie Johnson called “twin telepathy” might be coming into focus.
He’s pairing each set of sisters on the floor more, and both sets had instances of high-low touch passes from one sister to another for baskets as the Bears (9-2) kept holding back the Rams before eventually running away from them in the second half.
Telepathy or not, they’re like any other players seeking their comfort levels. The Manuels, who are juniors, returned from Class C Melstone, where they played last season after spending their freshmen year at West. The Albrechts, who are sophomores, are in their first year of varsity.
TyLee, who had 16 points, and TyRaa, who had 11, have been the more offensive-minded sisters. Willa and Maddie, who combined for 10 points, are starting to show more confidence offensively. But the Albrechts have been defensive forces since day one because of their size (6-foot), quickness and athleticism.
"Players today are so focused on points per game and what's my shooting percentage," Johnson said. "But you can impact a game so many different ways than just scoring baskets. (The Albrechts) alter a lot of shots, grab some rebounds, get some steals, and that helps with getting a victory."
TyRaa Manuel said the Bears are continuing to grow as a team.
“The way we played tonight, I think if we keep playing like that we have a great chance of doing really great things together,” she said. “Another thing is everybody is important on the team. Even if you sit on the bench, if they keep us going I think that’s really important.”
Central (6-6) was within four early in the third quarter before things started falling apart. After consecutive baskets by Olivia Moten-Schell had the Rams within 28-24, West went on a 17-4 run to put the game out of reach.
Moten-Schell finished with 15 points to lead the Rams.