Pugh crew have Bambies dancing on air

MacKenzie Pugh provides St. Hubert with muscle down low. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

The games are a lot more exciting than the recitals.

At least that’s the way the Pughs see it.

For most of their lives, MacKenzie, Payton and Charlotte Pugh were dancers. They did it all, from tap to ballet, and they were pretty good at it, too.

But when MacKenzie was in seventh grade, Payton was in sixth and Charlotte was in fifth, they needed basketball players at St. Jerome.

They turned in their dancing shoes for sneakers.

“We did it mostly because our sister (Jasmine, now 27) was in dance and we kind of just did what she did,” said MacKenzie, now a senior at St. Hubert High School. “But basketball has been way better. We like that a lot better. Once we started doing that, we didn’t like dance as much.

“I think it definitely helped a lot with basketball, especially with the footwork and everything. Dance was good, but basketball is what we like better.”

Now the sisters are three of the key cogs on the Bambies’ basketball team, and so far things have been going quite well.

With MacKenzie playing center and Payton and Charlotte playing swing shooting guard and small forward, the Bambies are hanging tough in the new Catholic League Blue Division.

Hubert has won its first two games pretty convincingly in the small school division, putting the Bambies in first place. Led by coach Dave Schafer, the Bambies are 5-2 overall, and their two losses were to talented teams, Archbishop Wood and Merion Mercy. They still have a lot of games to play, but so far it looks like they’ll be contenders in the Blue Division.

The Pughs are a big reason for that. All three play meaningful minutes and since they’re so close, they work together well on the court. But they’re not taking the credit for the team’s success. Instead, they’re handing out praise like three point guards dishing out assists.

“It’s not just us at all, it’s everyone,” said Payton, a junior. “The chemistry on this team is really good. Everyone gets along really well. I think that’s the best thing about the team and why we’re doing well so far. It’s because we like playing together and we’re so close. That makes a big difference.”

The team is united, but the sisters certainly have a bond.

They’re best friends on the court just as they are off of it. While MacKenzie has led the way as the oldest of the trio, they’re all key contributors in the triple threat, and it certainly helps when you’re doing great things with people you enjoy being around.

“MacKenzie was the first one to play here, so she helped us all,” said Charlotte, a sophomore. “We’re all close because we do a lot of the same things. We all play volleyball too, but in the spring, I play a different sport. It’s good to be around them, but it’s fun playing a sport by myself.”

In the spring, Charlotte is on the Bambies’ softball team while MacKenzie and Payton are on the lacrosse team.

In the fall, all three helped Hubert go 6-6 in volleyball.

But they are similar away from athletics, too.

All three sing, and they’re in the orchestra.

They’re also very good in the classroom, where all are honor students. Charlotte isn’t in the National Honor Society because she’s not a junior, but the other two are. All three are also on student council.

They’re quite busy, but it helps that they’re doing it together.

“I think we are all a lot alike and we’re pretty (close) so we have the same interests,” Payton said. “We do a lot, but we have fun. We’re not too busy. We love playing sports and the other things we do. We have fun, I think, because we do a lot of it together.”

The girls have high hopes during their final season of playing basketball together, at least at St. Hubert.

Payton and Charlotte will take over the leadership reins next year when MacKenzie heads off to college, where she’s unsure about sports.

Just like she does at Hubert, she has high hopes for the future, hoping to major in biomedical engineering. A tough major, but she has big plans.

“I wanted to do something in medicine, but blood and things like that skeeve me out,” MacKenzie said. “I think I want to do something like make prosthetics for people, for athletes. I think that would be something I would really like to do because it’s in medicine, and it’s something that’s really needed.”

But for now she’s going to soak up the rest of her basketball career while playing for the Bambies and playing with her sisters.

The three have been teammates for a long time, and while she’ll have some more time playing with Payton, her days with Charlotte will come to an end when basketball season comes to an end.

Good thing for them, they believe it could be a great season.

“I really think we can do well, especially in the new division,” MacKenzie said. “We have a great team, a lot of good players who work hard. I think we can have a really good year this year.”

And entertain their family while they’re doing it.

“My dad likes basketball a lot better than the dancing,” said MacKenzie, who lives in Winchester Park. “We have so much support. Our parents, our sister comes when she isn’t busy. Our grandparents. We’re very lucky. We have a very supportive family and we have each other.”