|Twins Bryan, left, and Erik Launi have played basketball together since their days in the Dulles Youth Basketball League. Both are now seniors at Heritage High School.—Times-Mirror Staff Photo/Beverly Denny|
The conclusion of the basketball season will mark the end of a unique family tradition for Erik and Bryan Launi.
Since the identical twins could toss a ball through a tiny plastic hoop in their home's basement, the pair has been inseparable from hoops.
They're difficult to tell apart from their love of basketball.
"We've just always enjoyed playing," said Bryan, a power forward and the older of the two by 13 minutes.
Erik, a small forward and shooting guard, feels – as one might imagine – the same.
"It's more of a team sport. You can't just rely on one person," he said.
Through the Dulles Youth Basketball League, Harper Park Basketball League, middle school basketball and several AAU teams, the Launi twins have been an effective double-team. Now in their respective third years suiting up for Heritage High School's varsity team, the senior duo looks to go out on a high note for the Pride.
With precious few regular-season contests remaining, Heritage is 15-5, unbeaten outside the district and in the thick of the Dulles District race, standing third in the 10-team league. They already own victories against the two schools they're chasing, Potomac Falls and Loudoun Valley – including a home win Feb. 1 over Valley, the Vikings' first loss of the season.
"We really want to help build a future for Heritage basketball. We want to make our mark and have the younger guys know how to play basketball as a team sport," said Bryan, like his brother, a captain for the Pride.
The twins will turn 18 in early March. Their birthday wish is for a prolonged postseason run in their final hurrah together in organized basketball.
Mary Launi gave birth to the two youngest of their four children in 1995. The family, along with husband Joe, moved to Leesburg in 1999, and by the time their twin sons began their careers in Loudoun County Public Schools, their basketball careers had already started.
As the brothers grew, one would surge ahead of the other in height, only to be passed later. Now they've evened out at 2 inches above the 6-foot mark, both with slender builds and similar black sideburns.
It's not always simple, even for the parents, to tell one from the other.
"Usually they just call a name, and it's whoever comes first," Erik said.
They share an affinity for hoops like they share chromosomes. They've long played on the same team largely because when they have gone against each other, the sibling rivalry comes out, as do the shouts and shoves.
"We stopped that in middle school, because every time we play we get into a fight or something," Bryan said.
Erik added, "It's true. There's always a competitiveness between us. But it's not that we want to be better than one another. We just want to be good team-wise."
Each is undecided about his college destination, but likely their respective choices will not include continuing their basketball careers beyond intramurals.
The few days remaining for the Launi twins as teammates isn't going unappreciated, but their focus is squarely on the Pride's goal – one they've had since they were sophomores, Erik said.
"The goal is to get to that championship, to leave our legacy with that 2013 up on the wall," Bryan said. "I want to come back and show my kid, 'That was the year me and Erik played.'"
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