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By Jeff Pack
Staff Writer 

Calhoun twins wrap up four years of basketball in Fallbrook

 

Last updated 3/19/2020 at 8:46pm

Joel Calhoun can remember playing basketball at a very young age, ever since he could pick up a ball and walk.

His twin sister, Kate Calhoun, started a little later.

"I was like too shy or I wasn't really into sports until fourth grade," Kate Calhoun said. "Then I finally ended up playing basketball. As soon as I started, I loved it. I couldn't get enough of it and I played softball for a while, but it really just was too slow for me, basketball was always just my No. 1.

"When I was little, I did gymnastics and ballet and I was the worst," she said. "I can't even do a cartwheel and so that wasn't for me. And then as soon as I started getting into basketball and got to be a little competitive with my brother, then I just continued with that and started doing club in middle school."

The Calhoun twins have been a mainstay inside the Fallbrook High School gymnasiums ever since they arrived on campus four years ago. Both have played on the varsity basketball team since their freshman year and both were co-captains of their respective teams.

"I think like going into freshman year, I think Joel and I really wanted to push ourselves and make varsity, and it was a huge goal for like both of us," Kate Calhoun said.

Joel Calhoun said it was tough going early on as a young freshman on a team that featured 12 seniors.

"At that point I was young," Joel Calhoun said. "I looked like a kid. I was 14, I think, playing with 18-year-old guys. And it was a whole transition. I knew most of those guys from NJB years previously. I was transitioning into that summer ball after my eighth-grade year and then playing summer with those guys.

"I got really comfortable with them. They were fun guys. I had to mature quickly though. Twelve seniors and a freshman, you're the butt of every joke, and you're the end of every prank. I really had to grow up fast, which in the long run, really paid off," he said.

Both siblings said that freshman year taught them a lot about leadership.

"I had quite a few seniors on my team too," Kate Calhoun said. "Immediately during the summer workouts with them, it just felt like it was good. I think having Tony Morrow as a coach during my freshman year, that really pushed me and he was probably the best coach I ever had.

"He was the one who showed me how to really work hard and just get to know the game really well. I think that was something that really helped me. He had a really good relationship with our captains on the team, and there was just really good communication and it was a really close team. I think having those role models as my captains and Morrow as a coach as a freshman really helped me be a leader going in as a sophomore," she said.

After such a positive start to their careers, things took a bit of a turn. In their career at Fallbrook, each of them had multiple head coaches at the helm.

"Freshman year that was an experience, it was a good atmosphere with those kids," Joel Calhoun said. "It felt like every high school movie. But sophomore year and junior year were definitely, without a doubt the hardest times of a high school basketball for me.

"I was captain for both those years," he said. "Sophomore year wasn't bad because we knew we were losing 12 guys, that's like 93% of your team. We knew that was going to be a rough year with a new coach and a new everything. But I didn't expect junior year at all. That was probably the worst experience of high school going through those three months. It was hard to go to school some days, but it makes your skin a little tough."

Kate Calhoun had a similar experience but in a different way.

"My freshman year we won the league and that was super exciting," she said. "That was just huge, coming out and going into high school and already having a league title under my belt.

"Sophomore year it was a little bit tougher, but I think we still, ended up with a pretty good record," she said. "I felt like we had a really solid group of girls that I'd always grown up playing with. That has always helped us as a team. But the junior year was tough with the coaching switch in the middle of the season, and we were playing tougher teams. Sometimes we would play teams, and we knew for a fact that we were going to lose. But I mean it definitely I think helped us in the long run," she said.

In their senior year, both siblings led their teams into the playoffs after enjoying strong seasons.

Kate Calhoun's team finished with a record of 17-11, were seeded No. 7 in the CIF San Diego Section Division 3 CIF Playoffs, but fell to No. 10 Madison 41-37 in the first round.

Joel Calhoun's team fell just six points short of going to the CIF San Diego Section Division 5 Championship game after losing 50-44 to Classical Academy in the semifinals. The team that won just one game in his junior year, rebounded to rack up 18 wins.

"We ended really strong. We had 17 wins my senior year, and it was a good way to finish," Kate Calhoun said. "It was nice having more of an uphill climb, I guess you could say. But definitely, I wish I would have gotten one more league title, but sometimes it just doesn't work out."

She credited the hiring of a new assistant coach early in the season with helping the team come along.

"We had a really solid group coming back from last year, and we have four underclassmen and they're just a really strong group," Kate Calhoun said. "All of a sudden one day our coach comes to a preseason workout, and she's like, 'Oh, I hired a new coach.' We were just kinda like blindsided. 'OK, who is this guy?' But he came in, and he ended up being a good thing for us. He definitely gave us a lot of structure, and he really stresses defense. I think that was something that we really lacked like in our game."

She said bumps and bruises and a long season wore on the team heading into the playoffs.

"That should've been our game, hands down," Kate Calhoun said. "That team was not better than us, and there were definitely some decisions made in the game that I think definitely affected the outcome.

"They were playing in state a week ago, so they went all the way. And that could have been us, definitely. But I can't complain about this season," she said.

Even after a disappointing loss, Joel Calhoun was pleased with the way the season played out.

"Even though we came up a little short, which was definitely a disappointing loss, throw that one aside and it was the most fun season I ever had," he said. "Probably in anything I've ever done. It was one of the coolest things I've ever been a part of. Every kid wants to have a good senior year and most don't. So to have a senior year as I did along with the other guys, it couldn't have gone any other way, win or lose, it couldn't have gone better."

Joel Calhoun did a lot of work beforehand to help make that season happen, he said. He recruited some of his friends back to the team.

"We got guys off the street," he said. "Not literally off the street, but we got guys that were skating last year, and these were some of my closest friends. We got some baseball boys that joined late, and it was just a magical season almost. I wouldn't have wanted to do it any other way.

"To be honest with you, I can toss away all the three other years, and I can just hang my hat on this last one," he said.

Joel Calhoun said he will be attending Arizona State University in the fall, and Kate Calhoun is still waiting on a few acceptance letters, though she's already heard a yes from University of California Santa Barbara.

As for whether Joel Calhoun, who passed the 1,000 career points mark during his junior season, plans to play in college?

"I can fairly say I was a pretty good player at Fallbrook, but college is a little bit too big for me, so there's no way," he said. "Maybe I would make a walk on, practice squad team, but I would not be good enough to make the real team. I am just going to focus on being a student which will be really fun. When I'm there I'll probably find an intramural league."

Kate Calhoun is going to study sports journalism, and University of Southern California is her first choice.

The twins definitely cherished the experience of playing together side by side all those years, albeit on separate teams.

"It's definitely been fun," Kate Calhoun said. "It definitely brought us closer. Always having basketball and doing it together. I think I've gone to almost every one of his games, even his club games, and that was fun for me."

Joel Calhoun agreed that it's been fun, with one little issue.

"Yeah, it was fun," he said. "Looking at it I don't remember a guy and a girl, twins that have done everything almost the same.

"It's funny though, when in public, you know, I have to keep my space because everyone thinks she's my girlfriend," he said.

They both laughed pretty hard at that one, together.

Jeff Pack can be reached by email at jpack@reedermedia.com.

 

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