Cousins who play together stay together

Nicole Ely/The News
Freshman forward Abria Gulledge directs Murray State players.Nicole Ely/The News Freshman forward Abria Gulledge directs Murray State players.

Story by Sarah CombsStaff writer

Nicole Ely/The News Freshman forward Abria Gulledge directs Murray State players.

Nicole Ely/The News
Freshman forward Abria Gulledge directs Murray State players.

Chemistry is something every team aims for. It’s a dynamic of cohesion that every team strives for, hopes to establish and should have perfected come tournament time.

A team’s success can be attributed to their chemistry or lack thereof.

It’s the moment everything and everyone “just clicks,” and that is exactly what senior forward Kyra Gulledge and freshman forward Abria Gulledge have done.

The duo grew up playing basketball together in rural Mississippi.

They played together in high school and AAU, winning two State Championships at H.W. Byers High School.

Having that much experience with one another radiates chemistry, and in basketball, good chemistry is being able to know exactly where the other will be at any given time on the court and knowing each other’s strengths and weaknesses, allowing their game to flow and “just click.”

Developing that kind of chemistry can take years for new teammates, but it’s an obstacle the Gulledge cousins didn’t need to overcome.

“We’ve gotten a lot of comments and feedback about when we are on the court together,” Kyra said. “She particularly knows how to get the ball into me. And I knew where to find her on the 3-point line to get her shots open.”

As far as rivalry, Kyra and Abria resemble the competitive nature of sisters, taking it back to hiding their cereal box prize from each other so they wouldn’t have to share.

On holidays, the two won’t tell the other what presents they asked for because they don’t want the other to get the same thing.

Nicole Ely/The News Senior forward Kyra Gulledge drives to the basket in Saturday’s loss to UT Martin.

Nicole Ely/The News
Senior forward Kyra Gulledge drives to the basket in Saturday’s loss to UT Martin.

Although they are not blood related, they have developed a relationship that has helped them come together on the court.

Abria might have a slight advantage regarding college. Having an older cousin who has  been there and done that can come in handy when college life becomes overwhelming.

However, it’s a two-edged sword: Kyra makes sure to be the first one to let Abria know if she’s slacking or if Kyra thinks she’s capable of a better performance.

Although this is Kyra’s last year of eligibility on the court, she is excited to be able to spend it with her teammates and younger cousin.

Kyra expects her team to make it through the OVC Tournament and her ultimate goal is to win a championship and put Murray State women’s basketball on the map.

“It was great to have her to play with for my last year,” Kyra said. “I was really excited about that.”

  Kyra graduates in May with a degree in Human Services. She has played in 26 games averaging 26 minutes per game with 7.5 points per game. She shot 54 percent from the field, 73 percent from the free throw line and pulling down 8.6 rebounds per game.

The two will finish out the season together and enjoy Kyra’s last few months on campus.

Abria plans to learn what she can from her older cousin, and, in some situations, what feels like an older sister.

Abria has played in 21 games, averaging 16 minutes per game with 6.7 points per game. She shot 35 percent from the field, 33 percent from the arc and 70 percent from the free throw line. Her season-high was 19 points in their first meeting with UT Martin.

The Racers, 7-9 in the OVC and take on first place UT Martin, 14-2 in the OVC this week in the first round of the OVC Tournament at the Municipal Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee.