Brief renewal of sibling
rivalry; Kendra and Vanessa West share one last
athletic adventure with Warriors
By MATT BANEY
OF THE TRIBUNE
The shared childhood of Kendra and Vanessa West
followed themes familiar to most sibling stories.
The sisters fought with each other, and they loved
each other. When Kendra took up a new sport, younger
Vanessa was always determined to beat her at it.
"And if we were closer to the same age," Vanessa
said recently, "we might have competed over boys or
But here is where their story deviates from the
norm. With both of them now edging into adulthood --
a time when most siblings start drifting apart --
the Wests have spent this basketball season
together, as Lewis-Clark State's top power forwards.
The sisters from the southern Idaho town of
Jerome still maintain a robust rivalry (their
showdowns in practice are reputed to be
no-holds-barred affairs). But they now seem to have
a better appreciation of their relationship.
The Wests and the Warriors will begin play in the
Frontier Conference tournament Thursday at Butte,
Mont., taking on Great Falls in the first round at
11 a.m. PST. After that event, LCSC is hoping to
qualify for the NAIA national tournament.
So at some point this month, the sisters' one
college season together will end. Kendra, a senior,
is planning to marry fiance Shane Keen this summer,
then return to school to finish her elementary
education degree. Vanessa, a freshman, still has
three seasons left.
These two nicely complement each other on the
court. Since they share the same position -- Kendra
is the starter, Vanessa comes off the bench -- they
often trade notes in the midst of games.
"In the middle of the court," Kendra said, "we'll
tell each other something like, 'She socked me in
the gut. You've got to get her.' 'She knocked Cami (Kalbfleisch)
down, go get her.'
"It's worked out well because whenever I'm not
playing good, she's playing good," Kendra added.
"And whenever she's not playing good, I'm playing
good. We've actually balanced each other out pretty
Their skills are also varied. The 6-1 Kendra is
at her best in the paint, wrestling for rebounds.
She recently passed Amanda Campbell and Rosie Albert
to become LCSC's career rebounding leader. She is
averaging 9.8 points and 5.7 boards this season.
Meanwhile, the 6-2 Vanessa has the potential to
be a more potent scorer. She has averaged 5.7 points
and 4.0 rebounds during her somewhat surprising
And what about their personalities? "Oh, night
and day," Kendra said.
Vanessa "is the opinionated,
I'll-tell-you-what-I-think person," Kendra said,
"and I'll be nonconfrontational and like
'Everybody's happy.' "
"She keeps the order on our team," Vanessa said
of her sister. "I'm ready to say what's up, and
she'll say, 'No, no, you have to understand that
they're feeling this way. You have to make sure not
to offend them.' "
Sheryl West, the sisters' mother, said Vanessa
always gravitated toward speech and drama in school.
(She is now studying communications at LCSC.)
Meanwhile, Kendra was more of a "caretaker" of
people, Sheryl said.
But Sheryl and LCSC coach Brian Orr both said the
sisters share plenty of traits. Kendra has always
been a favorite among LCSC boosters, and they have
begun to gravitate toward Vanessa as well.
"They love kids, they love family," Orr said.
"You watch them during a men's game after we play.
I'll turn around and Kendra is carrying somebody's
kids, and over here Vanessa's got somebody else's
The sisters' parents are both art professors at
the College of Southern Idaho at Twin Falls. Bill
West played college basketball at the Caldwell
school now known as Albertson, and the couple often
took their daughters to athletic events.
The Wests have another daughter, Justine, who is
nearly 10 years older than Kendra. So the two
younger girls spent most of their time together as
they grew up.
With a three-year head start, Kendra, of course,
was more advanced than her younger sister. But that
didn't stop Vanessa from wanting to overtake her --
even when it came to reading.
"Vanessa was 4 when she came to me," Sheryl said.
"She cried because she thought there was something
actually wrong with her because she couldn't read.
It was shortly after that that she learned to read."
Given her disposition, it seemed unlikely that
Vanessa would follow Kendra to college. After the
sisters played together on Jerome High's 2000-01
team, Kendra went to LCSC.
Vanessa "was kind of happy to see her go," Sheryl
said. "But when she was gone a year, she really
As the West family made regular trips to Lewiston
to see Kendra play, Vanessa grew more familiar with
the players, coaches and fans at LCSC. Prior to
Jerome's unbeaten state championship season last
year, Vanessa committed to the Warriors.
She has savored this season with her sister, but
does Vanessa ever look ahead to the next three
"When I start thinking about it, I don't want to
think about three more years of 400s," Vanessa said,
referring to one of L-C's brutal running drills. "So
I pretty much stay in the present."
Then Kendra added a bit of big-sister advice:
"Hey, you're going to miss the 400s. I miss the 400s
Baney may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org