|McNeill sisters take on twin basketball objectives at Va. Union|
|Harding High graduates eye CIAA, national titles|
|Published Wednesday, October 9, 2019 10:13 am|
|PHOTO | TROY HULL|
|Shareka McNeill, a Harding High graduate, set the CIAA tournament scoring record with 134 points in leading Virginia Union to the 2019 title. McNeill and her sister Shameka have helped Virginia Union to a pair of championships in as many years.|
The McNeill twins like championship rings.
Harding University High alumnae Shareka and Shameka McNeill have two CIAA tournament titles with Virginia Union. If you ask the junior guards, it’s time to do it again. The Panthers were picked to finish first in the North Division and overall. They have won three of the last four tournaments, advancing to the national championship game in 2017, but have been knocked out of the NCAA tournament within the first two rounds since the twins’ arrival.
“It’s a whole new year,” Shareka said. “Let’s see what we can do differently, and win it again.”
Coach AnnMarie Gilbert met the twins through the CIAA’s Day of Service, which placed the Panthers at Harding. Their high school coach encouraged Gilbert to take a look at the twins.
“She came to our school two years in a row,” Shareka said. “She would always talk to us, because my coach knew her. She would always tell us, ‘I love your game,’ because he would send her film.”
The three-time CIAA coach of the year lured the McNeills away from league rival Johnson C. Smith and coach Steve Joyner Jr., whose birthday coincides with theirs. The twins also left Charlotte for Shareka to pursue a major in criminal justice.
“I wanted to get out of Charlotte too,” Shareka said. “I wanted to get away from my parents.”
“It’s like she predicts the future,” Shareka said of Gilbert. “She knows what’s going to happen, and she knows how to play the game. I just love it. She’s blunt. She’s straight up ‘this is what I need you to do. It’s going to work. Go with what I’m saying, and it’s going to work,’ and you see what we’ve been doing. Going her way, what have we been doing? Winning the CIAA, doing a lot. Breaking records. She’s a great coach.”
Shareka, the CIAA 2018-19 player of the year and preseason all-conference, broke the tournament scoring record with 134 points. She also so tired the single-game record in the quarterfinals with 59 points. She led the Panthers in scored with an average 24.7 points per game, shot 41 percent from the field and 38.2 percent from three-point range. Her performance hardly surprised Gilbert, who expected this level of production.
“It’s amazing,” Shareka said. “To have people who were already in the book, breaking records, and for a little person like me to be in the book is just amazing, and I did it in my city.”
Their chemistry fuels the Panthers, and confuses the opposition.
“It is confusing, I’m not going to lie to you, because players on the court be like, ‘which one do I got? I don’t know which one I’m supposed to be guarding,’ which is interesting,” said Shameka, who averaged 3.6 points per game.
Said Shareka: “Sometimes two players will be guarding me, and she’ll be open … when I do play off her, it’s great. It translates to the team too. They see we’re scoring, let me get some of that—we involve them, because it’s not just our team. It’s a we thing—it’s a team thing.”
The Panthers open the season on Nov. 9 at Embry-Riddle in Daytona Beach, Florida.
Send this page to a friend