TEMECULA ---- Sherbert versus Sherbert was in many ways your typical one-on-one basketball tussle between siblings.
Games were contested on the Sherbert driveway with a portable hoop. There was always the usual pushing and shoving that comes from a family affair.
"We never called fouls," recalled the younger sister, Katie, now a junior forward at Great Oak. "So we ended up beating each other up."
Katie's opponent and sister, Lindsay, possessed the kind of size and skill not seen everyday.
"Playing one on one with Lindsay was always a challenge," Katie said. "She's the best player I've ever gone up against."
"Our one-on-one games were always a great time," said Lindsay, a three-time Southwestern League MVP with the Wolfpack and a McDonald's All-American selection as a senior two years ago. "I never took it easy on her, but she never complained."
These front yard battles may have given Katie a few bumps and bruises. But they also left a more lasting mark.
"When she'd make a move that I couldn't stop, I'd have her teach me how to do it," Katie recalled. "She would always stop and teach me how to do a new move and I always learned a lot."
Lindsay may have schooled her younger sister on the home court, but she also taught her some invaluable lessons.
"We never really kept score and we'd play until we were both completely worn out," Katie said. "She would show me how to pull back and set my feet and get a quick shot off.
"I believe that I've become a good shooter by having to keep up with her in those games. I always wanted to beat her."
The younger Sherbert has become a quick study. Katie scored 27 points-including six 3-point baskets-in Great Oak's win over Twentynine Palms last week.
Following in the footsteps of a local basketball phenom can create an inner burden at times. But Katie was encouraged early on to forge her own unique path.
"I told her when she was a freshman that she needed to just be herself," said Great Oak coach Shannon Maurice. "She has done a great job of just being herself on and off the floor."
Katie is doing her best to perfect her mentor's most dangerous offensive weapon ---- the outside shot.
"She can outshoot me any day," admitted Lindsay, now a 6-foot sophomore starting forward at Cal. "The kid can really shoot, and has stepped up on her high school team to become a well-rounded player and leader."
Defenders beware: If Katie is given an inch, she will pull the trigger.
"I have developed my own identity on the court by being a threat," Sherbert said. "I love to shoot, and I won't hesitate to do so.
"Making a long-range shot does get me really pumped in games. Once I hit a shot, my adrenaline starts racing, and I can go from feeling completely exhausted, to having a sudden burst of energy."
She hopes to inject plenty of vigor on her teammates. The Wolfpack will look to improve on last year's 16-8 record, including making a run at the league title.
"Katie is leading through her work on the floor. But one change for her this year is her verbal leadership," Maurice said. "She didn't have that role last year, but recognized she needs to have that this year."
She also works hard off the floor. Sherbert sports a 4.0 grade point average.
"Not only is she valuable to the program on the floor, but she is also the example of what the Great Oak girls' basketball program is," Maurice said. "We always strive to succeed in the classroom and on the court."
Lindsay will get a chance to see her star pupil when she visits later this month.
And since the hoop still sits in the driveway, a rematch may be in order.
"Katie always put up a fight, and impressed me every time," Lindsay said. "She got better and better as we kept playing."