They might not be identical cousins like the early to mid 1960s TV show Patty Duke, but Hobbs' Amaya Lewis and Cibola's Amaya Brown, as cousins, still have a pretty close and special relationship. "In the beginning of the season we saw that we had a game scheduled against each other and we were like, 'Oh my gosh! Yes,'" Amaya Lewis said. "I think it was more exciting for the fact that we get to see each other than play against each other." Their moms both graduated from Hobbs High School. Amaya Lewis' mom, Lisa, graduated from Hobbs High in 1992 while Amaya Brown's mom, Tina, graduated in 1991. "I think it is really funny that we are playing my mom's old high school," Amaya Brown said. "My mom was real good for Hobbs, so I think it is going to be real cool playing her old high school." Their dads were teammates on the New Mexico Junior College men's basketball team. Amaya Lewis' dad, Pete, graduated from Hobbs High in 1990, while Amaya Brown's dad, Greg, graduated from Albuquerque High the same year. Both dads went on to play for the Thunderbirds. Over 64 games for the T-Birds, Pete scored 813 points before taking his game to Oklahoma while Greg finished with 990 points and ultimately transferred to UNM. "When they were in high school, they were ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the state, as well as Amaya (Lewis) and Amaya (Brown)," Lisa said. "They both took scholarships to the junior college and they were both ranked top 10 in the nation in junior college basketball players back then. So now, it is kind of funny that Amaya (Lewis) and Amaya (Brown) are ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the state and their dads were at the same time in their high school careers and we are playing this weekend." Not only are both girls following in their father's footsteps, but they are doing things the parents never dreamed of. "Her dad says that Amaya (Brown) is going places that we would have never imagined," Tina said. "Amaya (Brown) went to Italy with the U.S.A. Team in the summer for Adidas. She has traveled the world and been everywhere. We are proud of her for being able to do those things." The two Amaya's are two months apart in age. Lewis' 18th birthday was Thursday while Brown's is the first week of February. Lewis and Brown have even played on the same summer AAU basketball team. The families are so close, that whenever they are in the same town, they stay together. Even tonight, while their daughters are going up against each other, the Lewis' will stay with the Brown's. "Last year during state, she came and they stayed at my house during the state tournament," Tina said. "In April we went to Phoenix. Amaya (Brown) played on Texas Elite Prime, which is the top team for Adidas, while Amaya (Lewis) played for Texas Elite Gata and we stayed together, me and her. We always stay together." Tina's father is Mike Dunn and her sister is Rose Dunn. Rose is also a part of the Taylor family, who Lisa is also related to, which makes Tina and Lisa cousins. The way the cousins ended up with the same first name is a story in itself. "When I was two months pregnant, I didn't even know I was going to have a girl, but I decided I was going to name her Amaya because I saw it on the show The Real World," Tina said. "Lisa said they named their Amaya that at the last minute and we were like, 'How did we end up with the same name?' That was crazy."
While Brown's mom might have come up with the name first, Lewis likes to remind her that she had it first. "Our moms got our name off of the same TV show (The Real World)," Lewis said. "But I just say I am Amaya No. 1 because I am the oldest."
With everything the Amaya's have and do share, tonight will be a new experience for the cousins as they will be competitors when Lewis' Lady Eagles play Brown's Lady Cougars at Cibola High School. Game time is set for 5:30 p.m.
"I think it is going to be fun," Brown said. "Me and (Lewis) have never played against each other throughout high school, so it is going to be really fun."
"We have never really played against each other," Lewis said. "I think we played a game of one-on-one once, but I don't really remember. Other than that, we have never played each other." Amaya Lewis and the 7-0 Lady Eagles come into the game ranked No. 1 according to Maxpreps while Amaya Brown and the 7-0 Lady Cougars are ranked No. 5 by the same site. However, according to the New Mexico coaches poll that was released Tuesday, Cibola is ranked No. 1 and Hobbs is No. 2. "Tina and I are both very aggressive and passionate about the game," Lisa said. "My husband and our friends are like, 'Are you going to sit together at the game?' We are not aggressive to each other or anything like that. … It will just be fun to see our kids play against each other. They have played against each other at practice and they know each other's game, so it will just be fun to watch them." Coming into tonight's game, Lewis has scored 140 points and is averaging 20 points a game for the Lady Eagles. Brown is averaging a double-double. She is scoring 22 points a game while grabbing 11 rebounds. She is also coming up with an average of four steals per game.
"It's just like another game to me," Lewis said. "It's just this time it's against family. I mean, (Brown) is good, very good, so it is just exciting."
Hobbs is scoring 67 points a game while allowing just 38.4. The Lady Eagles' closest win was a nine-point victory over Palo Duro. Hobbs has won four of its games by 25 or more points and three by 40 or more. Cibola won't be easy to beat, though. Hobbs has scored no fewer than 55 points in a game this year while no opponent has scored more than 47 points against Cibola this season. The Lady Cougars are averaging 56.8 points a game while giving up just 36.4 points a game.
"It is going to be a tough game," Brown said. "It is going to be tough and competitive. I think it is going to be one of the best games of the season."
Both players will be continuing their basketball careers after graduating. Brown has already signed her letter of intent to play for Florida State next year while Lewis is still being pursued. Among the schools interest in Lewis are New Mexico State (NCAA Div I, Western Athletic Conference), Weber State (NCAA Div I, Big Sky Conference), NMJC, Midland College, and Hutchinson College.
"I felt like I have something to prove," Lewis said. "I am about to prove it. Throughout the season, I am going to prove myself to whoever is watching."
Unfortunately, there has to be a winner in the game. One of these teams will suffer its first loss of the season. But, when the final buzzer sounds, they will still be family.
"If I feel any pressure, it is good pressure," Lewis said. "It is continuous thing. I feel like at the end of the day we are not going to upset anybody. It is just a game."
And like Tina told Lisa, when it's over, they will all still be family.
"I told Lisa that I will still be her friend after the game," Tina said. "I told her I will still love (her)."
T-Birds head women's basketball coach, Drew Sanders added to Amaya's signing that "we are very excited and proud to have a young lady the quality of Amaya Lewis sign with us. She is a very talented student athlete and a very good person with a great family. She will bring those qualities to our program. We are delighted that she is from our home city. Coach Carpenter has done a really good job helping prepare her for the next level and will make our jobs much easier. We wish her and her high school teams continued success throughout their seasons and cannot wait for Amaya to make the transition across town to NMJC."