Even at this stage in his young life, Aidan Walker can lay claim to a degree of fame: He has defeated Southold High School’s best basketball player in one-on-one competition. And more than once, too.
Not many people can say that.
That player, by the way, just happens to be his older brother, Liam Walker. Liam smiled and chuckled when the one-on-one contests were brought up.
“I’m not going to lie. He beats me a lot of the time,” said Liam.
“About 75 percent of the time,” he said.
That revelation may send shock waves through the high school and grant Aidan instant celebrity status. After all, Liam is an All-Conference shooting guard for Southold, exceptionally talented and a game-changer. The 5-foot-11 senior’s basketball achievements have been well-documented.
Aidan, however, is a relative newcomer to the scene. While Liam was lighting up scoreboards last season, Aidan made his first venture into school ball, playing for the junior varsity team.
Now Aidan, a junior, is playing alongside his brother for Southold’s varsity team in the Town of Brookhaven Summer League. The two know each other so well that they can communicate non-verbally on the court. “We can make eye contact and we’ll be on the same wave length,” said Aidan, who is also a talented musician.
The 5-9 Aidan played guard last season, but has been playing more as a swingman this summer. He said the summer league has helped him and he has been happy with his progress.
“I just give 100 percent,” he said. “I think I’m doing well on defense and rebounding. I got to work on putting the ball in the hoop but I think that will come with more time on the court.”
Liam said Aidan has helped the team by boxing out for rebounds under the boards.
“He’s definitely earning a lot of minutes,” Liam said. “Every game he’s improving. The more he keeps proving himself, the more minutes he’ll get.”
The pair don’t have such similar appearances that one would automatically suspect they were brothers.
“You probably wouldn’t know,” Southold coach Phil Reed said. “They don’t really resemble each other very much, but when they smile, you can tell they are brothers.”
How do the Walker brothers compare in terms of playing styles?
“I’d say he dribbles a lot,” Aidan said. “He can take you to the rim. I like to play more with my back to the basket and also, I put more of my effort to defense as opposed to offense.”
Liam said: “We’re pretty similar in that we like going to the rim. Besides that, I don’t know how similar. We both like to defend.”
Reed said Aidan will do the dirty work, whether it be battling for rebounds or playing tough defense. “He doesn’t have a problem playing anybody bigger than him or anybody smaller,” the coach said. “He’s got a lot of heart.”
It was Liam’s offensive skills that were on full display Thursday night in a 42-36 defeat of a plucky Westhampton Beach team that played with only five players.
Liam knocked down five 3-point shots and struck for 21 points in the game at Eastport/South Manor High School. He also had 5 steals, 2 blocks and 1 rebound.
A number of his shots hit nothing but net: pfiht!
“That’s when you know your shot was perfect,” he said.
Aidan said a performance like that inspires pride. “I’m proud of him because I see him every day, going out, shooting, working hard,” said Aidan.
The fifth 3-pointer drilled by Liam put Southold (4-4) ahead to stay, 37-35.
“Liam rises up to the competition,” Reed said. “He’s got another level that others don’t have.”
Liam, Patrick McFarland and Patrick Mejsak sank 5 of 6 free throws in the final 36.9 seconds to preserve the win.
Westhampton Beach (6-2), which outrebounded the First Settlers by 24-11, had led by as many as 12 points when a 14-0 run made the score 28-16 with about 13 minutes to go.
The Hurricanes had a Liam of their own putting up points. Liam Huysman delivered 19 points and 9 rebounds.
The summer league experience isn’t so much for accomplished players like Liam Walker as it is for less experienced players like his brother.
“It’s a bigger jump from JV to varsity than people think,” Liam Walker said. “It takes a while to adjust.”
Now, how about those one-on-one games. Are they intense or easygoing?
“It depends on the day,” Aidan said. “Sometimes it can be pretty intense; sometimes we’re messing around.”
And sometimes the winner isn’t who one might expect.