Unfinished business: Central Valley products Lexie and Lacey Hull hope for second consecutive national title


There has to be a way to capture the essence of Lexie and Lacie Hull.

The most notable basketball players left Central Valley with two state championships and a 98-6 record over four seasons, 83-1 the last three and scholarships from Stanford.

The Cardinal won the NCAA Championship last spring and is heading into the senior twins season in third overall.

But at Stanford, where basketball is a physically and academically demanding job, the twins are also approaching master’s degrees.

“They are exceptional people,” exclaimed the Cardinal’s coach, normally reserved Tara Vanderveer. “Obviously there are things that I want them to do better, things that I told them about, but there are no better players that I have coached in terms of people and students. They are totally Stanford through and through.

And that should conclude Hull’s story, given that Vanderveer is the most successful coach in the history of women’s college basketball and a Hall of Fame member.

“I told their parents I’m crazy for them to have twins, not triplets,” Vanderveer added. “They are winners in everything that concerns them. You’re not having a bad day with Lexie and Lacie.

“It was great, I loved every minute of it,” said Lacie. “Honestly, it has been a growing experience. I feel like every year I’ve grown as a person, as a player, as a student. The experience is one of a kind, full of new people, new experiences, great opportunities.

Lacie is studying product design and last summer she did an internship at eBay. Lexie’s interest is in finance and did an internship at a private equity firm in Palo Alto.

But it was basketball that opened the door (and held them back enough on campus over the summer that they were both on their way to the Masters in Management and Engineering – the way. from Stanford to say MBA).

Their first year, they went 31-5 and reached the Elite Eight. The Cardinal was 27-6 when COVID-19 called off the NCAA tournament.

Last season they were 21-2, going through the Pac-12 tournament and the first four games of the NCAA tournament in San Antonio before winning one-point games against South Carolina and Arizona in the Final Four.

“The fact that we are national champions still doesn’t feel real,” said Lexie. “Every year we talk at the start of the season, we want to win a national championship. This year, saying it’s “My God, we did it”.

The two have been key players since their first game.

“No. 1 was their competitiveness, they played really hard, they were super aggressive,” said Vanderveer. “They brought real brotherhood to the team… they get along well with everyone.”

Lexie started from the start, but was injured three games in her career and missed nine games, including one game at Gonzaga. She was off the bench the rest of the season and Lacie took over, being part of the All-Pac-12 All-Freshman squad.

Lexie resumed the start and earned All-Pac-12 recognition, averaging 13.6 in the failed season and 11.6 in the championship season. She was also part of the All-Final Four, All-Western Regional and All-Pac-12 Tournament last season in addition to being part of the all-defensive team in the league. For good measure, she was on All-American’s First Academic Team.

The combination of school and basketball, starting with “hard” practices in the quest for playing time, is a huge challenge, not to mention the intimidating schedule the Cardinal still plays – including a visit on the 21st. November in Gonzaga.

“Putting it all together takes a lot more time management, a lot more courage and persistence,” said Lexie. “To juggle everything at the same time was a challenge. We have a great support system here. …. This is a big part of why I came here.

Lacie has become a key reserve and a defensive stopper. Her offensive numbers don’t match her sister’s, but she was twice chosen to the All-Pac-12 defensive team and last year the sixth Pac-12 player of the year and an academic winner. of the first regional team.

“I definitely had a lot of different roles,” Lacie said. “That was a bit of everything, starting, getting off the bench, picking the best player from each team.”

Stanford won the championship with a 66-65 victory over South Carolina in the semifinals and a 54-53 victory over conference rival Arizona in the final. Both games were decided when the opposing team missed a last second shot.

“Those last few seconds are stuck in my head,” Lexie said of the South Carolina game. “I remember sprinting in defense after losing the ball. I swear there was a swarm of people from South Carolina coming towards me. I was like, “Don’t make a mistake, but defend yourself. I still see visions of it.

Lacie, recalling the last seconds of the championship, which went the same way, said: “I think everyone (on the bench) passed out the last 30 seconds. I was standing next to Alyssa (Jérôme) holding hands. I didn’t even notice that. It was like an out-of-body experience.

Lexie ran around the field looking for Lacie after the final bell and the celebration exploded.

“We’ve been on the same team every second, I’ve never played a game without her,” said Lexie. “I remember running and thinking, ‘Where is she? Where is she?’ Hugging him was really special.

Vanderveer has seen a few other twin moments over the years.

“There are twin moments every day in practice,” she said. “Lacie will throw that blind pass and there’s Lexie doing a lay-up.

“One thing I don’t like them doing is protecting each other in training because I don’t want them fighting as a family. They are so competitive that they compete really hard. I don’t want either of them to get hurt. I say it’s okay you made it in the aisle, not now.

Despite this closeness, the twins seem well prepared to go their separate ways. Assigned to roommates as freshmen, they lived across campus and joined different sororities. In sophomore they were living in their sorority homes and last year the team was in a bubble together.

“This year we’re in a sequel together and I see her all the time,” Lexie said. “We’re very close, best friends. We share everything.

They also shared similar thoughts on their roles for their final season, when they have only one goal: to win another championship.

“I really want to bring my experience and my leadership to the team,” said Lexie. “I hope it shows when I play. We have a lot of awesome and incredibly talented freshmen and I’m delighted to see our talented sophomores getting more time. But I really think that as a as senior, my job is to lead.

“Statistically I would love to be successful, but I think the most important thing is that we as a team can be successful. “

Lacie said: “I want to contribute a lot. We have a lot of players this year, it’s going to be competitive and I’m ready and willing to do whatever the team needs of me. Hope that means being in the game a lot, but if it means being on the bench I’m going to be the best teammate I can be.

Vanderveer had a warning for the whole Cardinal.

“For Lexie and Lacie, and that really goes for our whole team because it’s so competitive, people are going to have to be so efficient,” she said. “You won’t be able to just shoot a lot of shots. … We are going to look at the percentage of baskets, the turnovers, taking care of the ball, not the fouls. So I think that just makes their game better.

“They’re already doing all the right things, so it’s just doing those things better.”

And if they had an out-of-body experience in their last game together, so much the better.

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