- Keff Ciardello American-Statesman Correspondent
For Brooke and Bailey Holle, being identical twins doesn’t necessarily mean living identical lives. The Texas State basketball players don’t share all of the same friends, and they have different majors. Even their playing styles are different.
The former Westlake High School standouts are making an impact as sophomores for the Bobcats, who are 16-7 and, at 9-3, in second place in the Sun Belt Conference heading into Saturday’s game at UT-Arlington.
Brooke, who has started this season at the three spot, is more of a physical scorer. Bailey is an on-ball defender at the one and two spots.
And neither played much during their freshman season. Brooke broke into the starting rotation this year and is averaging 11.5 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.5 steals in 31 minutes. She’s scored in double figures 11 times, including a 26-point effort in an 81-56 win over Georgia Southern on Jan. 25.
“I’m definitely more comfortable and more confident in myself,” Brooke said of the difference in her play this year. “I wouldn’t be able to be where I am without getting in the gym and working hard in the summer and in the preseason, but just having the confidence in myself and thinking, ‘I can do this; I did this all of high school. I can score; I can rebound; I can defend.’ Just pushing the mental aspect of it more so even than physical.”
With the one and two spots occupied by the Bobcats’ two leading scorers — junior Toshua Leavitt at the two (19 points per game) and senior Taeler Deer at the one (16.7) — Bailey is patiently waiting her turn for increased playing time while she cheers her sister on.
Still, Bailey — who has started three times and averages 14.2 minutes, 1.8 points, one assist and 1.6 rebounds — doesn’t want to be a spectator forever. She can see a time when both of them are in the starting lineup.
“It’s been really fun to see her do it here, but I saw her do this in high school, so it isn’t anything surprising to me,” Bailey said. “Last year, neither one of us really got playing time, but this year she is really showing everyone that this is what she can do.”
Nurturing the separate identities of twins is important to head coach Zenarae Antoine. It’s something she has embraced due to firsthand experiences with her own twin boys.
“To me, the most important thing that I try to stress to people is that they are each their own individual person,” Antoine said. “I think it’s important that people recognize that they each have their own unique gifts and talents. It’s so hard when you are a twin because you are always being compared to your twin.”
College life might have led the Holles to separate interests, but they still lean on each other and share the same support system at every game. Their mother, Michelle, graduated from Texas State. Their father, Eric, went to LBJ High School, played football for Texas and then had a three-year NFL career with the Kansas City Chiefs.
“Having them come to every home game is just super comforting,” Bailey said. “I know it was really important for them because my mom and my dad are huge basketball fans, especially when we’re playing in the games.”