O’Bear twins, Skyler, Shylar learn to let game come to them _lowres

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND -- White Castle's Skylar O'Bear and Shylar O'Bear embrace West St. John's Maya Trench after White Castle defeated West St. John earlier this month at White Castle.

If you check the high school basketball box scores regularly you’ve probably seen the names Skylar and Shylar O’Bear quite a few times.

Like White Castle High’s girls basketball opponents, you may be wondering when the twins — yes they are twins — will graduate.

After six seasons on the WCHS team, the O’Bears, who are committed to Southern University, graduate this spring. First, there’s some unfinished business.

The sixth-seeded Bulldogs (19-11) want to make a deep playoff run. They host Tensas for a Class 1A bidistrict playoff game at 6 p.m. Thursday.

“This is very important to them,” White Castle coach Tammy Pierce said of the O’Bears. “Because they’ve played on the varsity for so long, they felt like they had something to prove in years past. They rushed the game, even though we told them not to.

“This year I think both Skylar and Shylar have slowed things down some, and the game is coming to them.

Since what we do goes through them, we’ve been successful.”

There are specifics to know about the O’Bears, who have played on the varsity since they were sixth-graders based on White Castle’s school configuration.

“When you see ‘Sky’ think high as in taller,” proud mother Stephanie O’Bear said. “Shylar is the little one, but when they were born she was 19½ inches long and weighed more.”

Skylar O’Bear was just 15½ inches long when the twins were two months premature 18 years ago.

Though Skyler was hampered by gastrointestinal illnesses as a youngster, she’s now 5-foot-8 with a full grown game that includes averages of 18.8 points, eight assists, eight rebounds and eight steals and has close to a 4.0 grade-point average.

Shylar O’Bear is 5-0 and averages 17 points, six assists and four rebounds per game. The Bulldogs’ spark plug doesn’t let taking medication for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder slow her down on or off the court and carries a 3.5 gpa. Both plan college majors in the medical field.

Their mother, a White Castle assistant coach, never put limits on either twin, though she was given the standard warnings about possible issues with children who are born premature. In turn, Skylar and Shylar O’Bear have grown and excelled.

“I feel like I’ve improved my whole game,” Skylar O’Bear said. “I worked on my shooting and ball-handling. I just want to help the team win.”

While Skylar is likely to give a young teammate a tap on the shoulder to remind them where to be, Shylar is the in-your-face presence.

“If somebody’s not where they’re supposed to be, I’ll tell them,” Shylar O’Bear said. “We’re the seniors, and that’s part of our role. We’ve got to play together to win.”

Pierce offered a more detailed critique.

“Skylar has great court vision, which is why she gets assists,” Pierce said. “Sometimes, she passes up shots she should take because she wants to pass to her teammates. We’ve told her that when she shoots it’s not being selfish; it’s doing what’s best for the team.

“Shylar is fearless. She’s not afraid to go inside and drive to the basket, and she’ll ask to guard the other team’s best player no matter how big that player is.”

The O’Bears were eighth-graders the last time the WCHS girls advanced to the LHSAA’s Top 28 tourney semifinals in 2010. There are family bragging rights on the line.

Older brother Isaac was part of White Castle’s 2010 football and 2011 basketball 1A state title teams. He’s now a junior pitcher at Grambling and has challenged the twins for years on the court, helping prepare them for this playoff challenge.

“This is our last chance,” Skylar O’Bear said. “We want to make it count.”