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Twins Laine and Elizabeth McGurk have carved their own athletic paths that lead them to separate City 6 schools

Laine is heading to Drexel next year to play for the women's basketball team. Liz will be about five miles away, competing on Saint Joesph's lacrosse team.

Twin sisters and Rustin seniors Laine (right) and Elizabeth McGurk grew up as teammates, and, after this year, they'll head to Division I programs in their respective sport.
Twin sisters and Rustin seniors Laine (right) and Elizabeth McGurk grew up as teammates, and, after this year, they'll head to Division I programs in their respective sport.Read moreJose F. Moreno / Staff Photographer

Laine and Elizabeth McGurk have spent their entire lives attending the same school, hanging with the same friends, and even playing the same sports.

But as the twins’ senior year comes to a close at Bayard Rustin High School, a new chapter is opening; one that means separating for the first time as they head off to their respective Division I programs — truly driving home the words of poet Marion C. Garretty: “A sister is a little bit of childhood that can never be lost.”

Laine is joining Amy Mallon’s women’s basketball squad at Drexel. About five miles away, Elizabeth, who goes by Liz, will be playing for the St. Joseph’s lacrosse program.

“Our relationship as teammates and sisters is really similar,” Liz said. “When we’re not on the court, we’ll be best friends, then we’ll also get in an argument. We do the same thing on the court. We’re just so close.”

Although, they found success in different sports, Liz and Laine grew up playing lacrosse and basketball together. And while one always tried to be better than the other — as siblings do — they credit each other for instilling confidence and a tough demeanor that helped shape the athletes they are today.

While Laine stopped playing lacrosse once she got into high school, Liz wanted to continue basketball, so they would spend most of the winter months together inside the Rustin gymnasium. This season, however, was different.

On top of being the final moments of Liz’s basketball career — and their last time playing on the same team — they helped lead the Golden Knights (24-3) to their first PIAA state playoff appearance. Rustin claimed its first-ever title by winning the District 1 5A championship against Villa Maria and will take on Susquehannock in the first round of the state playoffs on March 11.

“This is definitely our best group that I’ve been with,” said Laine, who is Rustin’s all-time leading scorer with 1,715 career points. “Everyone’s so determined. Like, a whole other switch has been flipped this year. Our coach holds us to a different standard. She knows that we can win.

“It’s going to be very sad to not share the court with [Liz] after this year. But I have a lot of great memories from playing with her because it’s been a really fun four years.”

» READ MORE: Behind the shot that lifted Lansdale Catholic to its first Catholic League title

Laine, a 5-foot-10 shooting guard/small forward, is considered one of the Golden Knights’ leaders. She held down a bench role on varsity as a freshman, while Liz moved between JV and varsity.

Liz, though, knew early on that Laine had a natural gift in basketball. She recalled a moment while playing in the CYO championship in the eighth grade, where her sister sank a deep buzzer-beating three-pointer to end the half.

“That’s when everyone was kind of like, ‘Jeez,’ because even when you’re in middle school, shooting threes is pretty impressive,” Liz said. “She was able to do that from a really young age.”

At first, Liz felt a bit envious of her sister. But as the two prospered in lacrosse and basketball, respectively, both learned to appreciate each other’s individual success.

“Laine gets a lot of attention,” said Terry McGurk, the twins’ father, who played lacrosse at Drexel. “She was heavily recruited, she has all the accolades. Elizabeth has done a really good job of being mature about it, praising her sister and supporting her.

“Last year in lacrosse, Laine was a manager for the lacrosse team, and she supported Elizabeth. She was at every game, rooting her on, supporting her, so it’s really fun to watch.”

Laine had begun to rack up offers from programs like UMass, Fordham, St. Joe’s, and Drexel by the end of her sophomore year. When schools reached out, Terry said, Laine would mention she has a sister who plays lacrosse and pass along her information.

By their junior year, they could have committed to the same college, since both held offers from Drexel and St. Joe’s. But without much conversation, they decided to go a separate route.

“We thought about it, but I think I knew that she liked St. Joe’s better and she knew that I liked Drexel better,” Laine said. “Our parents were like, ‘Are you guys going to go to the same school?’ It was just a better fit for the sports that we’re playing.”

Liz added: “Even though we do everything together, we have our own thing, and it kind of makes us unique in our own ways, even though we’re similar.”

Playing on the same team, though, isn’t always easy.

When the two disagree, coaches have told them they need to stop acting like sisters. They’ve learned from experience to save those conversations for the car ride home.

But all arguments aside, they know there’s nobody that’ll be more brutally honest with them then each other.

“[Liz] points out when I’m doing something wrong or when I’m being a bad teammate,” Laine said. “It’s good coming from her because I know she’s 100% honest. It’s always true, whatever comes out of her mouth.”

Sure, there’s days where they can’t stand another, but the two cherish their final moments as teammates. And their biggest realization has been that they’re forever friends.

“I’ll definitely go to all of her home games, and she’ll come to mine,” Liz said. “I don’t think I would be able to manage being really far away from [Laine], just because anything that happens, I tell her, and everything I do, I tell her. She’s just my go-to person for everything, and she still will be next year.”