Sister Act unites

STEPHEN SWEET, Special to the Examiner

Kaili Lukan is following in her sister's footsteps.

The third Lukan to come through and star in basketball for Barrie Central, Kaili received scholarship attention on both sides of the border.

And in the end, she's decided to go to the University of Green Bay-Wisconsin, where middle sibling Megan already plays for the conveniently named Phoenix.

"I wanted to play with my sister," said Kaili, who signed her letter of intent just over two weeks ago. "I think it will be a good experience and a challenge as well."

Megan, who has played for Canada's junior national women's team for the past two years, is a freshman at Green Bay-Wisconsin, since she was redshirted last year.

This season, though, Megan is already seeing significant minutes off of the bench for the nationally ranked program.

Despite her early success, Megan wasn't pressuring her younger sister either way.

"She helped me, but she didn't push me to go anywhere," Kaili said. "She just told me to go where I wanted to and to do what made me happy."

And Kaili decided that sticking with family would be what she'd enjoy best.

"I just think the experience of playing with my sister will be great," said Kaili, who didn't get that opportunity at Barrie Central because of the age difference. "We're close, so it should be fun."

Kaili, who already was a focal point of the Phoenix (Barrie Central, that is) gameplan as a Grade 11 student last year, took her play to another level this season.

"People who have never seen her play may raise their eyebrows at this and say, 'Is she really that good?'" said Steve Porter, who, along with Bob Caville, coaches Kaili at Barrie Central. "When you see her play, you know that she's that good."

Her abilities have shone even brighter over the past couple of weeks, leading Barrie Central to a berth in the Examiner Cup final and last week, to a Georgian Bay Secondary School Association 'AA' championship.

Kaili scored 31 of her team's 61 points in that contest, but what really gets attention is her defensive play.

"She can be a game-changer on defence, and there are very few people out there that can do that," Porter said.

Lukan receives high praise from a man who has coached basketball for many years, including at the collegiate level.

"What she does as well as anybody I've ever coached is lock people down," Porter said. "She's as good at jumping the passing lane as anyone I've ever coached, boys or girls."

There will be comparisons of course to Megan, as well as her oldest sister, Alyska, who stars for the McMaster Marauders.

But ultimately, they are different athletes, and fortunately enough, they play different positions, too.

"Megan is your prototypical point guard," Porter said. "She's a great passer, a bit better of a shooter than Kaili when she came out of high school, and a bit more comfortable playing point.

"We have Kaili playing point for us, but that's not her position. She's a natural three or four, that small forward, and she'll come out of high school as a faster player."

Kaili will also come out in a plum situation.

"What a fantastic thing to have happen to you," Porter said. "Not only are you playing NCAA, but you're playing NCAA with your sister.

"They were 14th last year in Division I, so there's a solid chance of going to the (NCAA tournament) and a solid chance of great things."

Porter feels that it will go to a well-deserved person.

"A nicer kid you'll never find," Porter said. "Fantastic credit to her folks, and I've had the pleasure of knowing all three sisters."

But what would happen if Kaili were to put the family niceties aside and challenge Megan to a one-on-one?

"We'll see (who would win), I guess," said Kaili, laughing. "We can find out next year."

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