It is said that teammates develop a connection in their sport the longer they play together. Luckily for the Lady Eagles, sisters Patrice and Sierra Butler have had 19 years to develop that connection.
Junior forward Patrice Butler is experiencing her first season at Georgia Southern after transferring from Furman and taking advantage of the NCAA rule that allows her to play immediately. Patrice has been one of the leading scorers for the team, averaging 10.9 points per game. She was undoubtebly a great addition to the lineup, but she did not come alone.
“Both of the sisters came together on a visit with their mom, and we got a chance to know both of them,” Chris Vozab, head coach, said.
The coaching staff had known about Sierra for a while and took the opportunity to get to know both of them as individuals. Shortly after her visit, Patrice committed to Georgia Southern to play basketball. While her older sister was committed, Sierra played through her recruiting season before making the decision to join her sister.
“We wanted them to know that we would treat them as individuals and still complement each other well, both on and off the court, without being in another’s shadow,” Vozab said.
Sierra has played in 12 games this season for a total of 147 minutes where she has scored 32 points. While both do play the same position, there are times where they will be on the court at the same time. We got a chance to meet up with both of them and ask them about their history in basketball and their chemistry on the court.
“I started playing basketball in third grade, (Sierra) was a cheerleader, then she got too tall, so she had to switch to basketball,” Patrice Butler said.
“It was a rough start, I scored in the wrong basket,” Sierra said.
“It was so frustrating to watch! She was my sister and I wanted her to be the best, so I would yell at her to keep her motivated,” Butler said in agreement.
With the age difference, the sisters were able to play together for two years at Norcross High School. Sierra had fully blossomed into a serious player as her sister went on to win several championships in both their region and state.
Now that the sisters have reunited, they have had a chance to continue to work on their relationship on the court. When asked what the other one does best, both had nothing but good things to say.
“(Patrice) is good at everything. She can shoot, she can post up, she can drive, just everything,” Sierra said.
“I think (Sierra) is best on defense. She can move her feet, she can block shots, and she can block my shots! If she doesn’t want someone to score on her, nobody will score on her,” Patrice said.
Both players are only getting better and will have to be on their best game to take the Lady Eagles through the meat of Sun Belt play to come. If the moment comes where one basket is all they need to when, both knew when asked who should take the game winning shot.
“Patrice,” Sierra said.
“Me,” Patrice said.