SUTTON — For sisters Monica Smith and Maria Van Kirk, making the trip to the Nebraska state girls basketball tournament as part of the Sutton team has been a long and bumpy ride.
Smith, a 2002 Sutton graduate, is in her first season as the Fillies' head coach, while Van Kirk is one of four seniors on the team that went from a 5-17 season in 2011-12 to a state berth in 2013.
That road didn't come without some challenges for the two sisters.
"I've always been her biggest critic even when I wasn't her coach," said Smith, whose squad opens the Class C-2 state tournament 9 a.m. Thursday against St. Cecilia at Lincoln East High School. "She's really stepped up and taken it all pretty well."
When Smith returned to her old high school three years ago to serve as an assistant coach, she didn't know how her sister would react.