Franklin senior girls basketball player Megan Lee is about 5 minutes younger than her fraternal twin brother and fellow basketball standout, Marcus.

The two have been backing each other down, and exchanging elbows and jump shots for years now on the playgrounds, backyards and anywhere they can find a hoop and a net.

Megan feels Marcus' "no quarter" attitude towards her was a big reason why she was tough enough, strong enough and skilled enough to earn Southeast Conference Player of the Year and also Now All-Suburban honors this season for the 16-8 Sabers girls basketball team.

"That was the biggest help I could have received," said the 5-11 Lee. "To play against a bigger, stronger guy like Marcus helped me in a lot of ways. He never backed down at all, and that made me tougher."

It cut both ways, as Megan even invaded Marcus' turf when she took part in flag football when she was younger.

Megan Lee needed to be tougher for the Sabers, who had enormous graduation losses last season and were looking for a leader to help the program maintain its high standards.

"She was something of a reluctant star," said coach Tony Kathrens. "She almost had to be told that it was OK to turn it on and try and take over games. She just didn't want to take the spotlight away from anyone; she just wanted to be a good teammate, but the talent was always there. She really made the most of her time in the spotlight. When she did turn it on this season, she was a real difference maker."

The senior averaged only 5.4 points a game last season as the fifth-leading scorer on a 17-7 team but elevated her game to average 14.7 ppg this year on 50 percent shooting. She hit 62 percent of her free throws (78 of 126) and was a force on the boards, grabbing 222 rebounds (9.2 per game) with 37 assists, 36 steals and 14 blocked shots. Franklin would have struggled mightily without her.

"I didn't really know I would be any good until about seventh grade," she said. "Then, things started happening for me, but for the longest time I was just a role player. It's tough getting noticed that way, getting recognized, but you have to do what you need to do to help the team win.

"It was a struggle to get this far, but it paid off."

The same could be said for the team, as after an uneven first month of the season, a new hard-line focus on defense paid off for the Sabers. Starting in late December, Franklin went on a stretch of 10 wins in 11 games. By this point, Lee recognized that she had to step up her game offensively until other players could help out.

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Every night, it was almost always the same, 15 to 20 points and eight to 12 rebounds. Even in two tough losses to Southeast Conference champ and rival Oak Creek, Lee never backed down.

"I really needed to step up if we were going to be a success," she said. "I really worked hard on my offensive game, and by the end of the season, I felt I could take almost anyone one-on-one in the conference. Again, that's where the workouts with Marcus really helped."

A tough, good win over Greater Metro Conference power Brookfield Central late in the season was good validation for the team. The season ended with a discouraging 3-point regional loss to DSHA, but even that had a silver lining, said Lee, as the Dashers had drilled the Sabers, 75-42, in Franklin's Rathke Tournament in December.

The conference Player of the Year honor was the final touch.

"It was a great validation for all the work that I did over the summer," she said.

It's a fine, final note to her formal athletic career, which will now come to an end. She will head to University of Louisville, where she looks to major in biology and hopefully become a physician's assistant.

"I always wanted to go south and somewhere big," she said. "The night we drove into the campus, I just fell in love with the place."

A place that meets her exacting standards.