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East Grand Rapids sisters square off when Northwestern hosts Valparaiso

Spencer and Noelle Brown attended Sunday’s Valparaiso vs. Northwestern basketball game ready to cheer on their daughters.

Noelle wore a Northwestern hat and Valparaiso shirt to the game in Evanston, Ill. Spencer wore a Northwestern shirt and Valparaiso hat.

“We tried to stay like Switzerland – neutral,” Brown said.

The Browns always enjoyed attending their daughters’ basketball games, including the two years they were teammates at East Grand Rapids High School. But things were different when Northwestern defeated Valparaiso 81-47. It was the first time the two guards took to the court as opponents.

Olivia Brown, a junior, plays for Valparaiso.

Jillian Brown, a sophomore, plays for Northwestern.

RELATED: East Grand Rapids guard signs with Michigan, joins sisters at Division I level

Who’s a parent to cheer for when their children are on opposing teams? That’s easy, Brown said. They just don’t stop cheering.

“We have always seen them play together, so seeing them play against each other was a little nerve wracking,” Brown said. “But it was amazing, and we greatly appreciated the opportunity.

“We cheered the entire time. We know all the girls on both teams, and we wanted each team to do well, and obviously our daughters to do well. We did a lot of cheering throughout the whole game.”

The Browns were joined by more than 20 family members and friends. Olivia and Jillian both started and played 28 minutes. Jillian scored 17 points and pulled down six rebounds. Olivia had three points and four rebounds.

“They both played well, and they had fun,” Brown said. “I think it took them a little while to settle into the fact that they were playing each other. It was pretty cute at the beginning of the game at the tipoff. They gave each other a hand squeeze, which I thought was pretty special.

“Valparaiso struggled a little bit with Northwestern’s size and their shots weren’t falling. But otherwise, it was a great game. It was fun to see the girls competing at this high level against each other.”

Olivia transferred to Valparaiso last year after playing her first two years at St Bonaventure. She averaged 6.6 points and 1.6 rebounds a game last winter. Jillian averaged eight points, 3.8 rebounds and two assists in her freshman season at Northwestern.

It appears that the Browns will have more opportunities to watch their daughters compete against each other in the future. Youngest daughter Macy Brown is a senior at EGR and has signed with the University of Michigan, so Macy and Jillian will be squaring off in Big Ten competition.

“We’re going to have to get used to it,” Brown said. “It would be pretty cool (if Michigan plays Valparaiso). Olivia and Macy have never played together because of the age difference.”

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