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Playoff basketball: Union’s family feel is a real family connection

Courtney Cranston and Mackenzie Lewis, close friends for years, found out recently they are related.

CAMAS — They have been friends for years.

Their friendship grew stronger, too, through basketball playing for the Union Titans.

Team camps, offseason workouts, summer ball. They spent a lot of time together on the court. And a lot of time together off the court. Same thing throughout the school year and the high school basketball season.

Courtney Cranston and Mackenzie Lewis have just always been there for each other.

Courtney Cranston (left) and Mackenzie Lewis of Union have been close friends for years. The teammates found out in the fall that they are cousins, and they are having fun with the new discovery. Photo by Paul Valencia
Courtney Cranston (left) and Mackenzie Lewis of Union have been close friends for years. The teammates found out in the fall that they are cousins, and they are having fun with the new discovery. Photo by Paul Valencia

They called themselves sisters, in the way that young people call close friends who really are not related.

Now, they call themselves cousins.

Why? Because they found out they are related. Distant cousins, who just happened to find each other.

Long before they knew, they knew they had a connection. They have a tendency to finish each other’s sentences. They share a love for photography. Not only that, but for planning photo shoots, dressing up in their best clothes and then finding a perfect spot to take a photo.

“We have the same interests,” Lewis said.

“We have the same sense of humor,” Cranston said.

And they both said, “We think alike.”

“Some people say we look alike. I don’t really see it,” Lewis said.

But there is no denying there is a special bond.

An aunt made the discovery this past fall, searching for family history on She noticed the name Cranston and remembered that Lewis had a teammate and a coach with that name. (Mike Cranston, Courtney’s dad, is the girls basketball coach at Union.)

It turns out, it was the same Cranston family.

“We didn’t really believe it at first,” Cranston said.

“At first, we were saying, “Are you serious? Cmon!’” Lewis added. “I guess it’s true but we’ve always just treated it as a joke.”

In fact, some of their teammates still didn’t believe them. But the aunt’s research and further investigation with both families was enough for Courtney and Mackenzie to confirm that they are, indeed, family.

Oh, by the way, that also means that their older brothers, former Union basketball players Cameron Cranston and Austin Lewis, who have been friends even longer, are cousins, too.

Courtney and Mackenzie, at least, love that they found out while still in high school, before their final season of basketball together.

“We’re always making comments on the court now,” Lewis said.

“When she makes a shot, I say ‘That’s my cousin,’” Cranston said.

“Or I’ll say, ‘You got this Cuz,’” Lewis continued.

The cousins have at least one more high school basketball game to play this season, and they are hoping for more. Union takes on Tahoma at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Stadium High School in Tacoma in a Class 4A bi-district elimination game.

Whether Union continues playing beyond Tuesday or not, the cousins know this is their last season on the court together. Cranston is going to San Diego Christian College to play basketball next school year.

“I’ll be checking up on you in college,” Lewis said to Cranston. “It’s definitely going to be different without you.”

Separation will be difficult, but it won’t be forever.

Even before they knew their official connection, they had a feeling this was more than just a school friendship. Cranston said she has always known this will be a life-long friendship.

Now that they do know, though, these cousins will have a fun story to tell all their new friends throughout their lives.

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About The Author

Paul Valencia

Paul Valencia joins after more than two decades of newspaper experience. He became the face of high school sports coverage in Clark County during his 17 years at The Columbian. Before moving to Vancouver, Paul worked at Oregon daily newspapers in Pendleton, Roseburg, and Salem. A graduate of David Douglas High School in Portland, Paul enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving three years as a soldier/journalist. He and his wife Jenny recently celebrated their 20th anniversary. They have a son who has a passion for karate and Minecraft. Paul’s hobbies include: Watching the Raiders play football, reading about the Raiders playing football, and waiting to watch and read about the Raiders playing football.

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