Most sibling rivalries are settled in the backyard or on a hoop in the driveway, but it goes far beyond that in the Larson family.
They don’t just win bragging rights for at the dinner table, they win bragging rights in the state of Alaska.
“Ashley (Larson) had three in softball and one in basketball, so four total. And Danielle (Larson) has one in softball,” 2011 Juneau-Douglas High School graduate Taylor Larson said. “It’s definitely very important. My dad’s always said if we can win (this weekend), he’ll have 10 for all his kids.
“He’s a proud dad.”
Taylor has won three total, one in basketball and two in softball, and brother Ryan won one in 2005 as a member of the JDHS football team.
And this championship is an important one when it comes to Taylor’s place in the pantheon of Larson family athletics. One more state title ties her older sister, Ashley, something she said is crucial when it comes to their sibling rivalry.
“That’s just how we are as sisters,” Taylor laughed. “It would be boring otherwise.”
But all joking aside, Taylor is quite serious about this one. After all, it’s the last chance for this year’s group of seniors.
“We definitely want to win, want to be back-to-back state champs our senior year,” she said. “We want to give it our everything, give our all to bring that state title home.”
But as defending state champions, this sleuth of Bears is now the hunted instead of the hunter. Then again, that role — one they share with many of their Juneau-Douglas athletics counterparts — is one they are well accustomed to.
The JDHS softball team has competed in 11 of 15 ASAA-sanctioned state championship softball games, winning seven titles and four runners-up.
“Always. Everybody’s going to be gunning for us, but we’re used to it. It’s not anything different,” Taylor said. “We just need to play our game. Like I said, we really need to stay positive and stay up because that’s been one of our problems this year.
“Even if we get down in a game, we just need to pull each other back up.”
After failing to take the title home in her final season on the basketball court, Taylor said it’s now or never.
“It definitely makes a big impact,” she said. “I’m the only basketball player on the (softball) team with Brittany (Fenumiai) not here anymore, so it definitely makes me want to help my team even more because I’ve already lost this year.”
And this is a team that has been together for quite some time. Their familiarity with one another reaches well beyond the white lines and base paths of Melvin Park. It stretches down the hallways of Juneau-Douglas High School and outward, including all of the in-state traveling they’ve done together and their yearly trips to Arizona.
“It feels good, but sad at the same time. I’m going to miss high school. I’m going to miss all my friends. I’m going to miss being a Crimson Bear,” Taylor said. “I’ll never find another team like the ones I’ve been on.
“We’ve been playing since we were 10 years old, so to move on to try and play with other people won’t be the same.”
Taylor is a three-sport star at JDHS with two Second Team All-State basketball selections, and she could be in line for this year’s Gatorade Alaska Softball Player of the Year award.
She is hitting .473 with 12 home runs, 40 RBIs and 13 walks on the season, with a slugging percentage of 1.208 and an OPS of 1.760. A player’s OPS is derived from the combination of their slugging and on-base percentages.
The end of the line in her stellar prep career has Taylor thinking about the future.
“I’m looking at a few schools in Washington for basketball,” she said, “but I’d love to go somewhere where they would let me play basketball and softball.
“Dave (Massey) is helping me out right now trying to contact some schools for softball because, not that I wouldn’t want to play basketball, but I’m probably leaning more toward softball. Either would be amazing, though.”
But the Bears still have this weekend, at the very least, where they don’t have to think about the future.
“This is it. I don’t think they’ve actually realized it yet. We’re just going in thinking positive,” Taylor said. “We don’t want to think about it being our last weekend together. We don’t want to think about the sad part.”
While it might be sad for the girls to go their separate ways when it’s all over, the end hasn’t arrived just yet. Nothing would make them happier than to bring home one more state trophy.
And the Crimson Bears are favored to do just that.