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River Ridge twins inseparable

Ryane Hille scoops up a loose ball and finds Lauren Hille ahead of the field. A fast-break opportunity is about to begin.

This is when the Hille twins work on some telepathic level of basketball.

Ryane to Lauren.

Lauren back to Ryane.

Ryane back to Lauren.

This is double trouble for a defender left alone to stop them.

It's hard to tell the difference between the junior fraternal twins when they're on the court in matching purple and silver River Ridge uniforms?

Quick, which Hille twin just made that 3-pointer? Ryane or Lauren?

Hard to tell, especially when there are no names on the their backs and they wear their hair in the same ponytail style.

"We often joke about how in tune they are with each other," River Ridge coach Al Sorrentino said. "You can see that when they have a 2-on-1 advantage. They'll make three or four passes and have the defender's back turned for an open shot."

Though Ryane and Lauren can be mirrorish, there are ways to tell them apart. Ryane wears No. 1; Lauren No. 2. They chose those numbers because Ryane was born 15 minutes before Lauren. Ryane also has a birth mark above her nose.

"We pretty much do everything together and we have the same personalities," Lauren said. "I can see why it would be difficult for some people to tell us apart."

The lockstep of their childhood is forever. Sisters can sometimes drift apart, growing at different stages, but twins? The food was the same food at the same time. Every day. Every meal. The clothes were the same clothes. They dressed in identical outfits until they got fed up when their kindergarten teacher could not tell them apart.

The experiences were the same experiences, matching steps taken on the same paths, tests taken under the eyes of the same teachers, lessons learned at the same time.

Through everything there was the constant confusion, the fare of all Hayley Mills movies ever made about twins. Which was which? Who was who? There were not a lot of tricks, but a few. One twin once went to a class for another. Little things. There also were touches of that psychic connection that twins supposedly have.

Those instances almost always occur on the basketball court.

Ryane and Lauren can remember times when an opponent's confusion led to an easy bucket. But the two say that has just as much to do with playing together since elementary school.

"We've played together for so long that we know each other's weaknesses and strengths," Ryane said. "I can tell where Lauren is going to pass, and we can make switches on defense without communicating because we automatically know where each other is going to be.

"I know that's hard for our teammates and we're trying to do a better job communicating with them."

On the court, the twins share more than a last name. They also have the same desire to play for a greater cause.

Each point they scored last year generated donations for Steven, a 13-year-old Hillsborough County resident with sickle-cell anemia, and were earmarked for his trip to Jamaica as part of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The program proved so successful, the Hilles decided to do it again this year.

"When we were freshmen, we had a friend who was involved in the foundation as part of his senior project," Lauren said. "We were interested and felt like we needed to do something. It's something to look forward to in our games."

"We know we're not just scoring for ourselves. We're scoring for someone less fortunate."