Sisters' shadow looms over Seton's Wirth - East Valley Tribune: VarsityXtra

Sisters' shadow looms over Seton's Wirth

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Posted: Saturday, January 24, 2009 5:54 pm | Updated: 3:11 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

Theresa Wirth is just a sophomore, and arguably the best girls basketball player in the 4A-II East Sky Region. But it's hard to gain an identity when everyone knows your last name.

Theresa is carrying on a legacy at Chandler Seton set before her by older sisters Alana and Christina Wirth.

Alana set a school record for career rebounds and then went on to play at Barry University in Florida.

Christina was a McDonald's All-American and had her choice of colleges. She eventually chose Vanderbilt and is the team's leading scorer this season.

And while Theresa is averaging 15.9 points, 8.4 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game, creeping out of that long shadow has proved to be more difficult than doing anything on the court.

"I'm still Christina Wirth's little sister a lot of the time," Theresa said. "It's hard sometimes to live up to that."

It's always been a delicate balance for Wirth.

She would go to all of her sisters' games when she was little, and got a thrill hearing about Christina's travels with USA Basketball.

"She told us stories of going to Spain and Puerto Rico," Wirth said. "I think it's amazing that you could do that for basketball."

But when Alana tries to give her advice on the court, Christina doesn't want to take it.

"I don't handle it very well sister to sister," she said. "I'd rather hear it from a coach."

Theresa is also the daughter of a former major league baseball player. Her dad, Alan Wirth, pitched for Oakland from 1978-80.

Seton coach Karen Self has known the Wirth family for a decade, and coached both Alana and Christina.

She can see the same mannerisms in Theresa as her older sisters, but rarely compares her to them.

"She really is her own person," Self said. "It would be nice for people to just see Theresa as Theresa Wirth and not worry about her being Alan Wirth's daughter or Alana Wirth's sister."

There is one surefire way for Theresa to gain family bragging rights and make a name for herself.

The Sentinels are currently the top-ranked team in the Tribune's 4A-II rankings, and a state title for Theresa would give her one more than Alana and Christina combined.

"That's my goal," Wirth said with a sly grin.

Sometimes, the expectations wear on Theresa. Having to see Christina's retired jersey every day can't be easy.

But deep down, she enjoys the position she's in.

"As much as I want to not be compared, I do," Theresa said. "They were both very successful, so why wouldn't you? They're in your own family, so you might as well take advantage of it."

With three different Wirth sisters as anchors, Seton has been a perennial contender for the state title.

That run won't be ending any time soon.

Theresa has 10-year-old twin sisters named LeaAnne and Jennifer.

"Once the twins graduate, then I can retire," Self said with a laugh.

When LeaAnne and Jennifer reach high school, it could be even worse, as they might have to face questions about the accomplishments of three big sisters.

And Theresa never had to worry about breaking tradition. Alana and Christina both wore jersey No. 34 for Seton, so Theresa did, too.

But what about the twins?

"They're going to have to take 3 and 4," Theresa said.

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