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LZ’s cousin guard combo is a package deal
By Patricia Babcock McGraw | Daily Herald Columnist

John Repplinger, left, and his cousin Ryan Roach are cousins and both guards on Lake Zurich’s boys basketball team.


Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

Ryan Roach and his mother Kim, left, and John Repplinger and his mother Justine. The boys are cousins and both guards on Lake Zurich’s boys basketball team; the moms are twins.


Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

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Published: 1/28/2013 10:43 PM

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So far, Indiana University is a yes … and another yes.

Lake Zurich senior guards Ryan Roach and John Repplinger both got accepted there.

Now, they’re waiting to hear back from the University of Illinois. They both applied there, too, and their moms are keeping their fingers crossed. Kim Roach and Justine Repplinger both went to Illinois and (no pressure!) they’d love to see their sons carry on the tradition.

“Well, we really like the business program at Indiana,” John Repplinger said sheepishly.

“Come on, it’s got to be Illinois,” Kim Roach smiled as she sat around her kitchen table with Justine, Ryan and John.

“Yes, let’s just wait until we hear from Illinois,” Justine Repplinger said with a grin.

Indiana or Illinois, the one thing for certain at this point is that Roach and Repplinger will be going to the same college...and seeing even more of each other than they do now.

“When we applied for housing, we applied to be roommates, too,” Ryan Roach said.

“We’ve made a lot of great memories already,” Repplinger said. “It’ll keep going in college.”

Roach and Repplinger have accepted, albeit reluctantly, the inevitable. They know that the high school memories are coming to an end and that they’ll be done playing organized basketball with each other in a month or two when this season comes to an end.

But they’ve never been able to wrap their heads around the idea of parting ways like most high school teammates do when it’s time to go to college.

Then again, the boys aren’t your typical teammates. They are also best friends, and have practically grown up as brothers. They did playdates together as toddlers, went to the same pre-school and played on most of the same youth sports teams.

“I don’t have a brother,” Roach said. “But John is like my brother.”

Technically, Roach and Repplinger are the next closest thing. They are cousins.

Kim Roach and Justine Repplinger are twin sisters who actually roomed together themselves at the University of Illinois. They are two of four Centella sisters who all grew up in Palatine, all went to the University of Illinois and all settled in Lake Zurich as adults.

In fact, three of the four sisters even live in the same subdivision. And two bought lots in which the backyards back up to each other.

When I joked with the boys if they’d someday buy houses in the same subdivision, just like their moms and aunts have, they acted as if they had pondered that possibility already.

“I wouldn’t put it past us,” Roach said with a big grin.

For now, though, the boys are focused on keeping the smiles on their faces while they’re on the basketball court.

They’ve had plenty of happy moments already this season in leading Lake Zurich, a program that has struggled in recent years, to a 13-11 record, wins in 9 of its last 12 games and its first-ever win over perennial power Warren since the school joined the North Suburban Conference more than 10 years ago.

“It’s kind of sad to think about this experience almost being over,” said Repplinger, one of 12 total cousins in a family in which 11 of the cousins have played sports for Lake Zurich either at the youth or high school level. “That’s why we’re really trying to give it our all this season. We want to finish the season strong.”

Roach and Repplinger will help the Bears do that in different ways.

Roach is offensive-minded, a 3-point threat and one of the team’s leading scorers. He averages about 10 points per game. He heard extra loud cheers from the Lake Zurich faithful, which is usually dominated by his immediate and extended family, when he scored a career-high 18 points against Wheaton North earlier this season.

“Ryan is a really good shooter. He can score at will,” Repplinger confirmed. “He does the offense and I do the defense.”

Repplinger is among Lake Zurich’s leaders in steals and charges taken and is considered the team’s defensive stopper.

“John can shut down a bunch of different kinds of players,” Roach said. “We always put him on the other team’s best player.”

Repplinger is just as relentless when he guards Roach in practice, or in one-on-one games at the YMCA. Perhaps even more so.

The boys may be friends and even family, but they show each other no mercy on the court.

“At practice, we don’t really like guarding each other because we just go at each other harder, and we guard each other harder,” Repplinger said. “It makes us better.”

“We definitely push each other,” Roach said. “We always have someone to go shoot with or lift with. I remember one time over winter break when we were like freshmen or sophomores, we went to the YMCA together to work out for 11 straight days.”

Usually over breaks from school, the boys join their large extended family for ski trips or weekends at their grandparents’ lake house or vacations to Hawaii and Europe. Every holiday is spent together with family as well.

“I think the best part about having a big family that is close is the simple, everyday stuff,” Roach said. “We all see each other all the time. I can walk over to my aunt’s house for her good desserts or I can hang out with John and my other cousins all the time. It makes you realize how you can always rely on your family.”Kim Roach and Justin Repplinger didn’t intend for their families to be quite so intersected. Their pregnancies weren’t purposely coordinated some 18 years ago.

But they won’t deny that they have thoroughly enjoyed every minute of watching their boys grow up together. And it warms their hearts to hear their boys speak so glowingly about their families.

“We taught them family first and they really live by that,” Justine Repplinger said.

“It’s been so nice to watch the boys develop into two nice young men,” Kim Roach said. “I think having such a big family and all that support helps you grow up with a lot of confidence and self-esteem. For the boys, having each other helped them growing up.”

Having each other will help in Bloomington…or Champaign, too.

“We always do everything together,” Repplinger said. “We’re best friends and we look out for each other. I’m sure we always will.”