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Twins double chance for successful season

Sometimes people don't believe Brandon and Blake Vanderford when they say they are twins.

A few times, they've had to pull out their driver's licenses to prove it. This is understandable, because their faces look different.

But even for fraternal twins, the Hernando junior guards resemble each other quite a bit.

They have the same hairstyle. "I started growing mine out," Brandon said of his curly mop. "And Blake just followed."

They have the same build and height.

"Actually, I'm 6-3," Blake said. "And he's 6-2."

They have the same GPA: 3.8 weighted, 3.6 unweighted.

They even share the same bed. Well, they have a bunk bed, which isn't so bad at times.

"It's all we've ever done, so I guess we don't know what it would be like to have our own beds," Brandon said. "I sleep on the top bunk, which (stinks) because I have the railings there and I'm always knocking into them. Blake gets all the air flow on the bottom."

The most remarkable thing they share in common, though, is how they became two of Hernando's top scorers and rebounders at almost the same pace. Both were called up from junior varsity at the end of last season, and they _ along with senior guard/forward Dan Widboom _ are among the best varsity players.

What makes this remarkable is that, despite everything else, the twins are more different than one might imagine.

Blake, the more quiet, laid back one, wasn't much of an athlete growing up. "When we were younger, he was fat," Brandon said. "Like, really fat." And Brandon wasn't.

The summer after their seventh-grade year, Blake started going to a nearby park and playing basketball by himself. Day after day, he would stand out in the hot sun and shoot baskets. By the time the twins started eighth grade, Blake shed so much weight from shooting hoops, he began to look more like his brother.

Brandon began taking an interest in the sport as well. After the two joined Hernando's junior varsity during their sophomore year, Blake fractured his fibula and missed most of the season.

"I made a pact with myself that I was going to work hard to get better when I came back," Blake said. "Brandon started averaging 20 points on JV. When I came back, me and Brandon just dominated."

Hernando coach Jeff Laing called up the brothers to varsity at the end of the season. With Blake more of an outside force and Brandon providing the muscle inside, they played off each other well. This season Blake is averaging 7.1 points, Brandon 9.8. Both are recording about six rebounds per game.

"They both play off each other and in different positions, so it's kind of like getting 2-for-1," Laing said.

Brandon, not surprisingly, is the more quick, aggressive contact player. Brandon prefers to hang in the wings and take his time on the 3-point shot. He earned the nickname "Sunshine," because nothing seems to bother him.

There is one thing, though.

"I get mad if Brandon plays better than me," Blake said. "I get mad because I know I can play better, too."

WHO HAS THE EDGE?

Blake vs. Brandon Vanderford

FAVORITE MOVIE

BLAKE: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

BRANDON: Old School.

EDGE: Blake.

LAST ITEM BOUGHT

BLAKE: PlayStation 2. "Me and my brother went in on it together."

BRANDON: Pack of Mentos. "The fruity ones. They're so good."

EDGE: Brandon.

FAVORITE ANIMAL

BLAKE: Turtle.

BRANDON: Liger (male lion bred with female tiger).

EDGE: Brandon.

FAVORITE CHILDHOOD TOY

BLAKE: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

BRANDON: X-Men light projector thing.

EDGE: Blake.

DREAM CAR

BLAKE: Cadillac Escalade.

BRANDON: Ford F150 Lightning.

EDGE: Blake.

FAVORITE TV SHOW

BLAKE: Pimp My Ride.

BRANDON: Viva La Bam.

EDGE: Brandon.

FAVORITE CANDY

BLAKE: York Peppermint Patties.

BRANDON: Junior Mints.

EDGE: Brandon.

FAVORITE ACTRESS

BLAKE: Hillary Duff.

BRANDON: Nicole Kidman.

EDGE: Brandon.

FINAL EDGE: Brandon.

_ EMILY NIPPS, Times staff writer

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