Aidan and Pacey Queen gave opponents of the Team Nebraska Express 15U boys basketball team double trouble during the spring and summer.
The twins, who will enter their sophomore year at Fremont High School on Monday, played for the all-star team in various tournaments in Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
The Express earned a runner-up finish in Minnesota and also captured championships at events in Omaha and Lawrence, Kansas. In the latter tournament — the Hardwood Classic — the Express went 6-0.
“We were real pleased with that,” Pacey said. “There was some really good competition there. The team that we played in the championship had beaten the No. 8 team in the country and we blew them out. We were really happy with that.”
The Queens aren’t strangers to all-star competition. They played for the Nebraska Bison program last year before getting selected by the Express after tryouts in February.
The team was coached by the late Alonzo Mitchell. Better known as “Coach Mitch,” Mitchell died on Friday night. The Queen brothers said he pushed his players to be the best they could be.
“The thing I will remember about Coach Mitch is that he didn’t treat me any different than anybody else and he coached me very hard,” Aidan said. “He coached me the same way he coached everybody else and he demanded the same things from me that demanded from everybody else. I loved that about him.”
“He could be hard on us, but it was because he wanted the best for all of us,” he said. “He was a really good coach and he cared about all the kids and wanted them to get better. Even outside of basketball, he wanted us to do well in school and keep our grades up.”
Aidan said he performed well under Mitchell’s tutelage during the all-star season.
“I thought that I played really well,” he said. “I loved how fast our team played. I thought I fit in perfectly with that type of playing style.”
Pacey said the Express had a balanced attack.
“There were some tournaments I played well and some I didn’t play as well,” he said. “But we had other guys who could pick up the slack when I wasn’t playing well and I could pick up the slack when they weren’t playing as good.”
The 6-foot-2 brothers played primarily on the wing, but also on the inside for the Express. The all-star experience gave them both the chance to improve various parts of their games.
“I wanted to improve on finishing around the basket and my ball handling,” Pacey said. “I feel like that if I can get those aspects of my game better, I could be a real threat to other teams. I feel like I can do anything. I can shoot, I can shoot over smaller guys and I can drive past bigger guys.”
Aidan also was an offensive threat for the Express, but he said his biggest improvement may have come on the defensive end.
“Our team philosophy was that defense creates offense so we worked on defense a lot,” he said. “Because we worked on defense so much, my feet got quicker and I got faster. It helped me succeed throughout the summer.”
Pacey is glad he got to play on the team with his brother.
“Having him as a teammate is good because we’re always competing against each other,” he said. “We try and do better than each other and that makes us better overall. We have arguments on and off the court, but we can also talk about things off the court as teammates and discuss the things we can improve on.”
Pacey said the brothers will likely continue to play on summer all-star squads.
“It gives you a great opportunity to get looked at by college coaches and you play against kids from all over the country that are very good,” he said. “You kind of get to see where you are against the best competition.”