Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
WAVERLY — The unpredictable happens when you sit Kami and Carli Knight beside each other.
The fun-loving pair of sisters go together like peanut butter and jelly … playing off each other’s words, annoying one another in just the right amount, and finishing one another’s sentences.
And when you get them together on a court, they’re just as fun-loving but also a pretty remarkable one-two punch.
Kami, a senior at Waverly, welcomed Carli into the school’s basketball program just a year ago. Carli was part of a talented freshman class and instantly earned a starting varsity spot.
“I was pumped from the beginning. I had always wanted to play with my sister and her class. I watched those guys grow up,” Kami said. “They’re all like my little sisters.”
While Carli and the Tigers’ freshmen continued to develop, Waverly finished 11-13 overall and won the program’s first Pike County Holiday Classic title since the 2009-10 season. But now, with another year of experience and maturity under their belts, the Tigers are looking to build off last year’s progress.
And for Kami, it’s her last ride. So a successful year and a lengthy tournament run mean the world as her career comes to a close. She’s also dedicated her senior year to someone who she says was “like a sister” to her and Carli.
Needless to say, you won’t find someone who gives more effort this winter than Kami Knight.
“It’s already emotional for me. That last game, I’m going to be crying a lot. This year, I switched my jersey number to two because I had a cousin that passed away, Raegan Bloss,” Kami said. “She was like my sister. Raegan got in a car accident when she was in sixth grade. Two was Raegan’s number. So taking that jersey off, untying my shoes and walking off the floor … it’s going to be really hard. This is the sport I’ve loved since I was five or six.”
Kami’s the sister that Carli’s loved since … well, forever.
Obviously, this season’s final contest will be an emotional one for Kami. But Carli says she’ll shed tears, too.
“I’m going to ball my eyes out,” Carli said. “I cried after volleyball season but then realized I had another season with Kami. This season, at the end, that won’t be a thing. It’ll be the end. I know I’ll always have her with me but on the court, it’s going to be different.”
As you can tell, the bond in which the sisters share is bigger than basketball.
“We’re with each other all the time and, of course, we can get a little sick of each other but we’ve got a good relationship,” Kami said. “I’ve realized that I need my sister. I’m thankful for her and I love the bond we have. We’re sisters. We don’t really argue about anything.”
“[Waverly coach John Bonifield] kind of has to calm us down a little bit when it gets aggressive during practice,” Carli said, smiling. “On the court, during games, it’s fine. But during practice, we can get a little rough.”
Bonifield has watched both sisters grow up inside the Tigers’ program. He remembers biddy ball days when the pair was climbing the ranks.
“They’re just two competitors that will give their all. As a coach, that’s all you can ask for. They’re talented, which helps, but I think other people look towards them,” Bonifield said. “Nothing has been given to them, they’ve had to earn everything. They’re just true competitors.”
However, they haven’t yet gotten the chance to compete together this year. Carli has been sidelined with a knee injury she suffered during volleyball season. She expects to return this week but the delay derailed Kami’s original plans.
“I was upset when I found out she couldn’t go,” Kami said. “In my head, before the season started, I had plays drawn up and was already thinking about our lineup. Like, ‘We’re putting Carli on this person,’ all of that. Not having Carli, it hurts us. I can’t wait to have her back.”
As Kami mentioned, when Carli does return, it instantly makes Waverly a more dangerous team.
It also helps that Carli knows Kami like the back of her hand. The duo has been to known use their close relationship to punish opposing defenses.
“They’ll be plays where, before she even gets the ball, I’m like Kami’s going to shoot this one. I know where she’s going to be,” Carli said. “She’ll get this aggressive look and you just know.”
Carli only has a handful of games left to witness that look. As always, the end of the season will be here in, what seems like, the blink of an eye. At that point, Kami will focus on college but not before leaving her fingerprints on Bonifield’s program.
“You’re talking about a girl that’s played every spot for me, one through five. I don’t think I’ve ever had a player do that,” Bonifield said. “I watched her struggle to get on the floor her freshman year to being one of our go-to players and a leader her senior year. Throughout my entire coaching career, when I look at players who have truly progressed and who have been a true program player, Kami Knight is one of the first that comes to mind.”
Then it’s Carli’s turn to carry the torch Kami first ignited.
No matter how this season or future seasons end, Kami and Carli Knight will always have the memories they made on the court, the ability to recall certain games or plays, and a bond they can say basketball had a hand in forming.
But most of all, they’ll always have each other.
“It’s amazing having a big sister. Anything I say, even if I don’t ask for help, she’s got my back,” Carli said. “That’s in life and that’s in basketball.”