Following in big sister's footsteps: Wilson twins leading West Henderson girls basketball

·5 min read
West Henderson freshman twins, Jaza Wilson, left, and Jania Wilson pose during pre-game warmups on Monday at West. [PAT SHRADER/ SPECIAL TO THE TIMES-NEWS]
West Henderson freshman twins, Jaza Wilson, left, and Jania Wilson pose during pre-game warmups on Monday at West. [PAT SHRADER/ SPECIAL TO THE TIMES-NEWS]
Jaza and Jania Wilson pose for a photo when they were 6 years old and played for a youth recreation league.
Jaza and Jania Wilson pose for a photo when they were 6 years old and played for a youth recreation league.

Born just a minute apart, West Henderson High freshmen twins Jania and Jaza Wilson have always been together and a big part of each others' lives.

They wouldn't have it any other way.

Basketball runs in their veins. They have been playing the sport since the first grade, and now they're team leaders for the Falcons in their first year of varsity just like their big sister, Jaia, was her freshman and sophomore seasons at West.

"My biggest inspiration is my older sister, Jaia," Jania Wilson, who is the oldest twin, born just a minute before Jaza, said.

Jaza Wilson agreed.

"She pushes me and my sister to be the best we can be. We all work out and practice together during the summer when she is home from college," Jaza Wilson said.

After three years at West, Jaia Wilson went on to transfer to Erwin, graduating in 2019 and earning a scholarship to Wingate University. She was the leading scorer for Erwin her senior year, leading the team to a conference title. Now a junior at Wingate, she is tied for fourth on the team in scoring at 8.1 points per game and is second in assists at 2.4 per game. She had a season-high of 18 points against Lincoln Memorial in November.

During her two years at West, Jaia Wilson was the team's scoring leader and led the area in scoring in 2018, averaging 24.2 points per game to earn Times-News Co-Player of the Year honors, along with East Henderson's Drew McMillan.

Four years later, her younger sisters are now displaying that same brilliance on the court.

An immediate impact

For the past five previous seasons, West's girls have struggled, going without a win for two seasons in 2020-21 and 2018-19. During that five-year span, the Falcons won just nine games and lost 100.

The Wilson twins have made an immediate impact, leading the team to a big turnaround. West is looking to have its first winning season since 2016, as it is now 11-8 and 5-3 in the conference in third place after Thursday's loss at Pisgah.

Through 18 games, Jaza Wilson is leading the team in scoring averaging 13.7 points per game, and Jania Wilson is close behind, averaging 11.1. Both share the team lead in steals, averaging 3.4 per game.

Their success comes as no surprise to first-year coach Kaycee Beyer.

"I first saw the Wilson twins play when they were in seventh grade at Rugby Middle School. I was instantly impressed with their skills and basic knowledge of the game and knew we had big things coming down the line for us here at West," Beyer said. "The first time I coached the twins was this past summer when we took our team to a summer tournament. It was evident very quickly that the twins were ready for the varsity level."

Both twins said they cherished their time at Rugby and are now focused on bringing that same success to West.

"I was around great coaches and teammates who helped us accomplish success and helped us become conference champs at Rugby," Jania Wilson said.

"We were a very athletic group which led over to West," Jaza Wilson said.

Looking ahead to the future

Like their big sister, the Wilson twins have a genuine love for the game and want to play college basketball.

"My plan after high school is to go to a D-1 college somewhere not too far from home," Jaza Wilson said.

"My plan after high school is to attend a college with a great basketball program for me and my sister," Jania Wilson said.

Their big sister ended up catching the eyes of college scouts after leading Erwin in scoring her senior year. She had some colleges to choose from but ultimately decided on Division II Wingate, which is just a few miles South of Charlotte.

Like West, Wingate has also had quite a turnaround season. After going 10-10 last year, Wingate is currently on a 17-game winning streak with a 17-1 record and a perfect 15-0 mark in the South Atlantic Conference.

Alike but different

West coach Beyer said like twins usually are, both are alike in many ways, but at the same time, they are different.

"They are alike in their love of the game, their willingness to do whatever we need them to do to help their team, their unselfishness and their love of their teammates. They both have a calm demeanor on and off the court but get after it on the court," Beyer said.

Both have natural talent with great ball-handling skills, Beyer said, but both do have different styles of play.

"I would say that Jania is definitely a bit more feisty of the two on the court. They are not too different in their games other than Jania is a primary ball handler for us, while Jaza being a bit taller, has had to play more in the post and has turned into a great rebounder, the coach said.

"But Jaza also handles the ball extremely well in the open court. They are both great shooters but Jania has the slight edge in 3-point percentage, while Jaza has the lead in free throw percentage. Jaza is very crafty around the rim and is a great finisher."

Beyer said the twins are already showing leadership skills that upperclassmen possess. Knowing their caliber of play, she said she and her staff talked with the twins at the beginning of the season and gave them a challenge: To play like seniors.

"They've done exactly as we asked them to do and are playing like seniors by taking the scoring load (they are our top two scorers on the season), being calm under pressure in close games... everything," Beyer said. "They have contributed tremendously to our team this year in so many ways. They have done all that while maintaining a sweet and humble demeanor, which is very remarkable for two ninth graders."

Their first year of high school ball is quickly drawing to a close, as West has just four games left in the regular season. The Falcons will have three games next week (Monday at East Henderson, Thursday at Tuscola and Friday at Franklin) before closing out the season at home Feb. 8 against Tuscola.

This article originally appeared on Hendersonville Times-News: Wilson twins leading West Henderson girls basketball

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