Kenney twins follow mom’s legacy, power Mineola basketball

Kenney twins follow mom’s legacy, power Mineola basketball
Caitlin Kenney (20) of Mineola has emerged as one of Nassau County's best girls basketball players this season. Photo credit: Mineola H.S.

The film exists. It surely does. Cameras and videotape were most certainly around and being used in the early 1990s.

But Suzanne Collins Kenney’s daughters say they’ve never seen it.

Caitlin and Liz Kenney, junior stars for the Mineola girls basketball team, have been hearing tales of their mom’s career since they were babies, small enough to fit through a hoop.

Suzanne Collins Kenney was a captain and starter for St. John’s University from 1991-95, and later went on to coach Manhasset High School’s girls team as well.

Since her twins Caitlin and Liz were born 16 years ago, she’s coached them, developed a love for roundball in them, and told them about some of her days playing ball.

Thing is, the girls have never actually seen visual, moving proof that mom was all that on the court.

“We’ve asked her to find some video and it just hasn’t happened yet,” Liz said, laughing during a recent phone interview. “We know she was really good, though.”

Like mother, like daughters. Since arriving on varsity in 8th grade (Caitlin) and 9th grade (Liz), the Kenney kids have made an impact for the Mustangs in a major way.

Last year as a sophomore Caitlin averaged 11 points per game while Liz led the team in three-pointers, and this year both have boosted their numbers considerably.

Caitlin, a 6-foot-1 post player who also excels in lacrosse and volleyball, is averaging 16.5 points and 12 rebounds per game through games of Jan. 13, and adds 4.75 assists and 3.6 steals as well.

Liz, a 5-foot-10 sharpshooting guard, is pouring in 14.9 points and ripping down six rebounds per game, and has sunk 32 3-pointers.

Together the Kenneys are hoping to go at least a step or two further than last season when Mineola last in the Class A semifinals. After a slow start this season, the Mustangs’ recent win streak has boosted their record to 5-7, and 3-3 in Conference A-IV.

“They’re both just extremely reliable players who have become leaders on the team,” said Mineola head coach Kayla Koch. “Caitlin is so adaptable, she can bring the ball up, she play inside when we need her to, she can do it all.

“And Liz is our best clutch shooter; she can knock down a 3 at any given point, from any spot.

“Both of them are true leaders on the floor.”

For Caitlin and Liz,  being twins means more than just finishing each other’s sentences or being such good friends that they were stumped when asked an annoying trait their sister possesses.

On the court, it means having a comfort level with a teammate you’ve known since the womb.

“We’re always pushing each other to get better, in practice and in games,” Caitlin said. “When we’re playing together she’s always my first option (to pass to), but it’s also I see things in her game that I want to get better at, and learn from her.

Liz remembers the twins first getting serious about basketball in elementary school, and competitive vibes kicking in. Suzanne has coached them since childhood on the Rising Stars AAU team.

“I’ve just always tried to be like her and compete with her,” Liz said. “Like in fourth grade, or maybe it was fifth, she was on the better Rising Stars team, and I knew I had to get better to keep up with Caitlin.”

While the two have developed different games, they’ve each taken aspects of the other’s to get better. Caitlin has developed more of an outside game, Koch said, to keep from teams suffocating her in the paint, defensively. And Liz has worked hard to become more than just a shooter, becoming a penetrator and driver this season.

“We’re just always watching basketball around the house and picking up things from college and pro games,” Caitlin said. “It’s not like ‘oh, do what Candace Parker just did,’ but it’s more like Mom will say ‘see what she did to get open there, you could try that’ kind of thing.”

Like most twins, the Kenneys are protective of each other and have had lots of one-on-one battles growing up, but continue to be close. Sure, Liz is more into social media (she manages Mineola H.S.’s sports social media accounts) and Caitlin has a thing for LEGOs, but their interests converge on the basketball court.

Both Caitlin and Liz said they’re just starting to get into the college search process, with Caitlin likely to garner recruiting attention in her other sports as well. They are getting used to being leaders on the team and primary scoring options, and trying to gain that elusive county title.

“We want to be conference champs and then go further than last year, and it’s starting to come together for us,” Liz said. “The team is growing closer and we just need to keep at it and keep getting better.”

Imagine how good the Kenneys would be if they could ever find the video of mom playing.

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