In the stands -- right in the middle, between the Duke and FSU benches -- sit the members of two families that became one. They are cheering for both teams, although on this night, one team will come out resoundingly on top.
Thomas, a 6-foot-4 junior center for Duke, gets a little breather on the bench and is about to check back into the game. She sees Deluzio, a 5-9 redshirt freshman guard for Florida State, pull the trigger on a 3-pointer. "Yes!" she thinks, followed in a split second by "No!"
Then Thomas will make a free throw, and Deluzio will instinctively move to slap her hand, then remember, "Wait! She's on the other team."
They'll both laugh about it later.
"When we are between the lines, we both want to win," Deluzio said. "But outside of that, we're family."
Basketball brought them together as friends, then some painful adversities made them sisters. Now, here they are playing for the teams that are currently first and second in the ACC standings. Thomas is averaging 8.3 points and 7.3 rebounds for the 19-4 Blue Devils. Deluzio is averaging 9.0 points and 2.4 rebounds for the 20-4 Seminoles.
"It's such an awesome experience to be able to watch two girls who have grown up together," said Deluzio's father, Don, "and they're playing basketball at the highest collegiate level, going to two great universities, playing for two great programs. I don't know that it could get much better."
Which is especially wondrous because in Thomas' life not that long ago, things couldn't have seemed much worse.
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