By BRYAN GASKINS Kokomo Tribune
---- — Twin sisters Caitlyn and Carley O'Neal made their plans clear from the beginning in their college recruiting process.
"We told schools that it was either double or nothing — we were a package deal," Caitlyn said.
Davis & Elkins College landed the package deal. The Western basketball standouts signed with the Senators this week.
Davis & Elkins is located in Elkins, W.Va. The NCAA Division II school plays in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference.
"It's a relief, just a weight off our shoulders," Carley said of the decision. "Caitlyn and I have been dreaming of this for our whole life and we're excited because we found a place that not only has what we want to do academically, but the players are awesome, the team is great, the school in general is just beautiful. I couldn't imagine doing it with anyone else. It's just great."
The O'Neal sisters, who form Class 3A No. 8-ranked Western's starting backcourt, also strongly considered another D-II school, Lees-McCrae College in North Carolina.
"We loved it there as well," Carley said. "We visited both schools for unofficial visits, but then came back to both of them for official visits and we made our decision. It just felt right."
Added Caitlyn: "We're so blessed that a school would want to have twins play for them because we're a lot similar when we play. We're just really thankful that we have this opportunity."
The sisters noted D&E plays an up-tempo, full-court game, to which they are accustomed.
"Hopefully it will be easy for us to transition into what they do," Carley said.
Last season, D&E went 15-12 overall and 14-8 in the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The Senators changed conferences following last season.
The sisters also have lettered in soccer and softball at Western, but basketball is their passion. They are combo guards and strong two-way players.
As freshmen, Carley averaged 4.2 points and a team-high 2.2 assists per game and Caitlyn averaged 3.3 ppg for an 11-10 squad. As sophomores, Carley averaged 8 ppg and 2.7 apg and was a third-team KT All-Area selection and Caitlyn offered 4.8 ppg and 1.9 apg for a squad that won Class 3A sectional and regional titles and finished with a 19-7 record.
As juniors, the sisters ranked 1-2 on the Panthers in scoring and assists. Carley scored 11.3 points per game, dished 2.5 assists per game and earned first-team All-Area honors. Caitlyn averaged 9.5 ppg and 1.8 apg and was a second-team All-Area pick. They led Western to a 19-5 record.
Western returns five of its top six players from last season. The Panthers are 1-0 following a 47-37 victory over West Lafayette on Tuesday. Carley scored 13 points and dished four assists and Caitlyn scored eight points.
"We have a lot of expectations for this year and we're hoping we can go far, end our senior season with a bang," Carley said.
At D&E, Carley plans to study exercise science with an eye toward a career in physical therapy and Caitlyn is excited about the school's art and business departments.