Always a competition: Sisters Terese, Avery Ledy of Marquette help each other improve on basketball court

Northern Michigan University's Terese Ledy hits a 3-pointer against Tiffin in a GLIAC women's basketball game played at the Berry Events Center on Jan. 4 in Marquette. (Photo courtesy Daryl T. Jarvinen)

MARQUETTE — Basketball is a tradition within the Ledy household as it’s passed down from sister to sister in Marquette.

Terese Ledy was a freshman last season on the Northern Michigan University basketball team. Unlike most freshmen, she was thrust into playing time much sooner than expected. Along with fellow former Marquette Senior High alumnus Amber Huebner, Ledy played a lot more minutes than she originally thought and she said it was a “pleasant surprise.”

“Well, (Wildcats head coach Troy Mattson) started off the year by telling me that I probably wouldn’t be getting much to any playing time,” Ledy said. “The first game that I actually played significant minutes was the Saginaw Valley game at home.

“A couple of days before that game, he told me I’d probably get a couple minutes here and there. When he put me in, I guess I was doing something good or something right.”

When entering her first game as a Wildcat, Ledy said it was a little intimidating at the start, but she tried to process things and once she got her first basket, things started to slow down.

Marquette's Avery Ledy, front left, pulls the ball away from Kingsford's Tori Kowalkowski in their high school girls basketball game played at the Flivvers' gym on Feb. 9. (Iron Mountain Daily News photo by Burt Angeli)

“It was pretty scary,” she said. “I didn’t really know what to expect, so I tried to stay calm and just relax. (Scoring her first bucket) was pretty cool and I liked that a lot. My mom had this picture of my older sister Jade (who played at Northwood) of her first collegiate bucket, so I was thinking about that after the game.”

Ledy, who became known for being both an accurate and reliable 3-point shooter, said that making her first trey for the Wildcats was even more gratifying as she was still trying to get comfortable playing at the college level.

“That was pretty cool, too,” she said. “That was during the early moments of the year, so I was still trying to get my feet under myself a little bit. So when I chucked it up there and it went in, it was kind of like a tiny victory. I was so glad and I was hoping I didn’t airball it.”

Marquette head coach Ben Smith watched his former star play in several games at NMU last season. He also feels that with the experience she got, she’ll be more relaxed this upcoming season.

“She does all the little things well like she always did and I’d say her biggest strength is her ability to shoot the ball,” Smith said. “I think that’s the one thing she was a little bit hesitant to do, because she wasn’t quite sure what shot was a good shot.

Northern Michigan University's Terese Ledy, left, shoots a layup as Tiffin's Annie Santucci, right, defends during their GLIAC women's basketball game played at the Berry Events Center on Jan. 4 in Marquette. (Photo courtesy Daryl T. Jarvinen)

“It’s an adjustment when you step up to the next level. This year with this being her first full year since high school, hopefully she’ll use that as a stepping stone, and then next year step in and feel as comfortable and confident as she should in all the abilities that she could bring to the team.”

While Terese was figuring things out at the college level, Avery Ledy was emerging as a force as a Marquette Redette. As a junior, Avery made the Upper Peninsula Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association’s All-U.P. Class ABC Second Team as well as the Great Northern Conference First Team. She was also named All-GNC Defensive Player of the Year.

Avery Ledy was happy to make the All-U.P. Second Team and that she has the potential to have an even better senior year.

“That was pretty good,” she said. “I feel like I’m ready to come back next year and try to make First Team. But I think being a junior and making Second Team is good, though. I’m pretty proud of what I accomplished.”

When asked what helped her get those awards, Avery said she’d been practicing hard and credited her father, Rich Ledy, for his coaching and also playing against her sister.

Marquette Senior High School's Avery Ledy dribbles against a Saginaw Heritage defender during the Class A girls basketball regional semifinal game held in Gaylord on March 6. (Photo by Brandon Folsom)

“I worked on it a lot,” she said. “My dad being a coach my whole life has really helped me work on basketball and obviously having a sister like Terese, who is a really good athlete, has helped me too. Playing against her has helped me be a lot better player.”

Speaking of playing against her sister, there’s a funny story that goes along with that. Terese Ledy said that she played one-on-one against Avery a lot, and one day, Avery finally beat her and then insisted that that would be the last time they’d face off against each other.

“I remember during this past year, we were playing one-on-one and she beat me by one point for the first time,” Terese Ledy said. “Then she said ‘That’s it, I’m never playing you again.’ It was really funny. I’d like to get a rematch, but I’ve beaten her every other time, so I’m holding onto that.”

Avery Ledy responded to her sister’s story with a laugh and stuck to her guns, saying Terese isn’t getting a second chance.

“I was really proud of myself, so I just said that’s it. I’m done. Never again,” she said.

Marquette's Terese Ledy, left, shoots a quick 3-pointer over the head of Bark River-Harris' Katie Schultz, right, during the Upper Peninsula girls all star game on June 18th at MSHS. (Journal file photo)

They don’t play each other anymore, but both are trying to be like the other to help enhance their skills. Terese Ledy says Mattson wants her to get bigger and stronger so she can fight her way to the hoop, which is the way Avery likes to play.

“I need to eat more food and I need to get more muscle,” Terese said. “That’s the biggest thing that he tells me all the time. That I need to be gaining like 15 pounds of muscle.”

Meanwhile, Avery wants to become a better shooter like Terese and be a post player who can power to the basket, but also be a threat from the outside.

“I need to be better at shooting,” she said. “Like try to get up to my sister’s level, which will be hard to do, but hopefully I can do that. I also want to work on ball handling more and post moves. I still need to get bigger, but I definitely need to be better at what she does.”

Smith agrees that improving her ball-handling skills will help Avery out as more and more colleges take notice of her abilities.

“I think the thing that she can really expand her game is just being comfortable and confident handling the ball out on the wing,” he said. “She can shoot it pretty well already, but if she can work off of her jump shot or off the threat of a jump shot, her ball handling could really allow her to benefit with some mismatch opportunities.

“When you guard her with a big, she’ll be able to put it on the floor and get to the rim. If you guard her with someone small, she’s got a pretty good toolbox of post moves that she can go to.”

A one-on-one game against her sister may no longer be a possibility, but if she does play basketball at the next level, Avery Ledy says she’d like to see Terese on the court in college, whether at Northern or somewhere else.

“It’d be pretty cool (to play with Terese), but I also think it’d be cool and better to be her competition,” she said.

Some things never change when it comes to sisters.

Ryan Stieg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is