“7-12 [grade] there’s about six, seven of them that all come from the same family,” said Four Winds/Minnewaukan head basketball coach Rick Smith.
This includes two of the team’s biggest stars: junior guard Jayden Yankton and senior Bronson Walter, whose moms are sisters.
“He’s actually my first cousin,” said Yankton.
Jayden says he his big cousin have been shooting hoops together all their lives.
“Since we were in diapers,” he said.
For Walter, he’s appreciated having someone there all his life.
“It’s fun,” he said. “I’m glad I get to play on the same team as him.”
Together, the two are currently leading Four Winds as the No. 2-ranked Indians are 11-1 on the season. With Bronson at 6-foot-10, and Jayden at 6-foot-1, they help create a tough inside-outside game.
“We’re always going off [Walter] basically,” said Yankton. “That’s how we get our points. It’s good to have a player like him.”
“It’s easy,” said Walter. “Especially around players like [Yankton]. They make the big highlight plays and it’s fun.”
Growing up on a reservation means always being around one another. That means ample time for the two to make each other better in one-on-one.
“We’ve always been competitive since we were little,” said Walter.
“We always went to basketball camps, they always had these one-on-one competitions.” said Yankton. “In the championship game it was always me and [Walter].”
The height advantage was always in favor of Walter, but that didn’t stop the smaller Yankton from picking up some wins.
“It was 50-50,” Yankton said. “I’d win some and then he would win some.”
From a young age to now, the two still go at each other at Four Winds practices.
“Some drills we do,” said Yankton. “It not only makes me better, but I’m pretty sure it makes him better.”
Even when basketball’s not involved, the two are still inseparable.
“We’re doing everything together, we’re playing hoops, or whether it’s video games, we’re just always together,” said Bronson. “It’s fun being around family.”
When Yankton and Bronson hang up their basketball shoes, their kids will most likely follow in their footsteps.
“Them carrying on the family legacy playing ball together, I would like that. I would enjoy that,” said Walter.