Finks provide different styles, perfect fit for Dover
Rayah and Rajah Fink don't look alike. They don't talk alike. They most certainly don't play alike.
But being different isn't necessarily a bad thing. Nor does it mean one is better than the other on the basketball court. They complement each other, and because of their services, the Dover High School girls' team is playing at a high level this season.
“You have a little finesse with Rayah," head coach Kevin Glover said. "Rajah is the younger sister, but she’s the bull. Inside-out. They rely on each other on the floor. They feed off of each other.”
Rayah, the senior, is a slasher who can spot up from long range. She entered this week shooting over 37 percent from 3-point territory and is averaging 15.8 points per game and 8.5 rebounds per contest for the Eagles.
Rajah, a junior, is bigger, stronger and will surprise with her above-average ball handling ability. She'll bring the ball up court, take it into the teeth of the defense, can dish it off and isn't afraid to mix it up inside. She entered this week averaging 18.8 points per game, 11 rebounds per contest and averages four assists.
And another thing is apparent: The team — and the two players — couldn't have one without the other.
"When Rajah's not there, it's not the same game. When Rayah's not there, it's not the same game," said Eagles' senior guard Julie Fox. "It just doesn't make sense anymore. It's the sister bond, you know?
"Not just on the court. Off the court too. The leadership they bring. Extremely important to us."
The two sisters each rebound the ball well, particularly Rayah, who gets to the glass with a vigor.
“She always crashes,” Rajah said of her sister. “I’m not rebounding by myself down there.”
Following the team's 72-62 win over York Catholic on Dec. 21, the Finks' divergent personalities were on full display at the outset of separate postgame interviews.
Rayah, the cerebral older sister, carried with her a business approach: "She can talk in front of a lot of people," she said of Rajah. "I'm too shy to do that."
Rajah, meanwhile, was the bubbly extrovert: "My name is Rajah Olivia Fink," she said, sporting a wide smile. "I play basketball."
"They're both great people with fun-loving energy. I love them both to death," Fox said. "Rayah is more shy and Rajah is just so outgoing. She's talking to all the families after games. Always laughing."
Glover said Rajah, despite being a year younger, is the protector of the siblings.
"I'm the big mama bear," Rajah said. "She's the baby bear."
Still, Rajah said once her sister gets comfortable, "She's the comedian of the two. If we’re having a bad day or something, she’ll say the most random thing and we start busting up laughing."
With that being said, Rayah's toughness and commitment to the game should never be questioned. Both qualities were on display leading up to her senior season, after she missed her freshman and junior campaigns with separate ACL injuries. Regardless, she persevered and this past October ditched the knee brace she was wearing. She said she felt like she could play without it and, in turn, her confidence rose.
“It was the most depressing time of the my life. It was so boring," Rayah said of the injuries. "I had to sit on the bench and just watch. I wanted to get in the game so bad. I had my time where I had to give out water.”
She added, "I feel like I’m just getting better and better, and as a team we’re better and better.”
Glover took notice of Rayah's rebounding prowess following the team's victory last month over York Catholic.
“For any kid to sit out two years of their high school career for injuries, it just sucks. She’s hungry," the head coach said. "One of the first ones in the gym, one of the last ones to leave it. She owes it to herself. She loves the game.”
Both sisters have a serious demeanor on the basketball court, in a sport that brought them closer together.
Their mother, Lisa, said the sisters fought often when they were younger but now are inseparable on and away from the playing court.
That includes their brother, Najah, a former Dover basketball player who now takes the court with Central Penn College in Harrisburg.
"As we got older, we just became a pack," said Rayah.
Specifically regarding her sister, Rayah said, "Where she goes, I go. Where I go, she goes."
“When I was younger, I didn’t talk to anybody. I was the introvert," Rajah said. "After I started playing basketball, I realized my sister was my best teammate. 'Why are we fighting all the time?' We started becoming closer.”
The Fink sisters, along with their first-year head coach, have Dover in prime pouncing position in YAIAA Division II play.
While not much talk centered around the Eagles entering the 2016-17 girls' basketball season, they currently hold a 9-1 record and 4-1 mark in division, which is good for first place.
"It's up for grabs," Glover said of the divisional chase.
Glover coached the Finks, along with a handful of their teammates, for York's AAU team, the York Lady Raiders. He also has coaching in his blood — Glover's brother, Kerry Glover, is the head coach of boys' basketball program at Columbia High School.
That portfolio has allowed his players to buy in as the Eagles look to be one of the area's most improved teams in 2017.
"We're for real this season," Rayah said. "All we have to do is continue to work hard. We get better and better every day. Coach continues to push us and push us to the fullest. And I thank him for that."