Second round playoff schedule:
Gainesville vs. Effingham County, 5:30 p.m. Thursday
Buford girls vs. Ware County, 6 p.m. Wednesday
Buford boys vs. New Hampstead, 6:30 p.m. Thursday
Flowery Branch girls at Statesboro, TBD
West Hall girls vs. Columbus, 7:30 Wednesday
Dawson County girls at Monroe-Albany, 6 p.m. Wednesday
East Hall boys vs. Islands, 5:30 p.m. Thursday
North Hall girls at Johnson-Savannah, 6 p.m. Thursday
Lakeview Academy girls vs. Greenforest, 6 p.m. Wednesday
Lakeview Academy boys vs. Wesleyan, 6:30 p.m. Thursday
Only one word is required to get Jarred and Jarrel Rosser’s attention — “twin.”
Sure, it’s not exactly subtle or original, but it’s the most effective way for members of the Gainesville high boys basketball team to communicate with the pair of junior forwards.
“Nobody can tell us apart,” Jarrel said.
And who could blame them? The Rosser twins both possess 6-foot-6 frames with lanky limbs and sport matching mustaches that mask one of the few distinguishable differences between them. The brothers even display comparable skills on the court, to boot.
For all their similarities, Jarred and Jarrel are actually fraternal twins, born just minutes apart. But they might as well be identical.
“I honestly don’t even know how to tell them apart,” junior forward KJ Buffen said.
“We just call them 'Twin,' and whichever one looks, we make eye contact,” senior center Ross Tipton said with a laugh. “That’s it. They’re both ‘Twin.’ ”
Luckily for Red Elephants coach Benjie Wood, “Twin” is two different people. The Rossers are part of a deep rotation that has helped No. 2 Gainesville reach the second round of the Class AAAAAA state playoffs after going 26-1 with an undefeated mark in region play this season.
The twins are emblematic of their entire team — long, athletic players who attack opposing ball-handlers and the basket with equal aggression. Jarred (10.7 points per game) and Jarrel (7.1) have thrown down plenty of dunks this season, sometimes thanks to an assist from the other, and share a brotherly bond that began before they were even born.
Not that they necessarily act like it all the time.
“They don’t like each other,” Buffen said with a grin. “They fight with each other.”
Tia Gibbs, the twins’ mother, said their bickering is the usual squabbling among siblings. For example, Jarred frequently calls Jarrel “little brother” despite being born only five minutes earlier — fittingly, Jarred dons the No. 1 jersey, while Jarrel wears No. 2.
Even a simple discussion about which one is a better dunker quickly devolves into a debate, with each making a case that he can jump higher or that foot injuries render the comparison unfair.
“They have a close bond, but you wouldn’t think it because they fuss and fight like cats and dogs,” Gibbs said with a chuckle. “It’s unbelievable.”
When Jarred and Jarrel are involved in the same conversation, one rarely begins a sentence without the other interjecting or finishing it outright. This open dialogue acts as a single stream of consciousness between the two brothers, lending some credence to the “Twin” moniker.
But the Rossers and their mother claimed the two looked more alike in their youth. The twins played football back then, and Gibbs described them as “short and stocky,” the exact opposite of their current builds.
Jarrel played quarterback while Jarred lined up at receiver, and they turned their brotherly connection into a literal one with every touchdown pass.
“(Jarrel) pretty much threw (Jarred) the ball every time,” Gibbs said.
Now they hook up on the occasional alley-oop, excelling in a sport they took up after hitting a growth spurt in sixth and seventh grade.
As the Rosser brothers aged and grew, their differences became more apparent. Jarrel has a small triangular break in his hairline and a scar on his eyelid. Jarred has a similar marking on his upper lip, but it’s currently concealed by the mustache he said he grew independently of his brother.
Those who spend the most time with them can spot the tiny characteristics that separate “Twin” into two distinct people.
Buffen sees a slight contrast in their complexions and jawlines. Gibbs, who said she sometimes confuses which of her sons is which, finds Jarred’s face a bit rounder than his brother’s. Wood points out Jarrel is the thicker of the two, but not by much.
Jarred, of course, uses the latter observation as ammunition to pick on little brother.
“He’s fat,” Jarred said.
When Jarrel learned of the playful jab a few minutes later, he sighed and shook his head.
“He calls me that all the time,” Jarrel said. “I used to be big, but he still calls me that.”
The Rossers said all the ribbing and arguing is meant to push the other half of “Twin” to be the best he can be. There’s trash-talking off the court and competition on it, but Tipton said it’s no different than what any set of brothers would normally do.
Gibbs recalled when her sons started sleeping in their own beds years ago. Though young Jarred and Jarrel went to sleep separately, their mother would often find them in the same bed when she woke them up for school in the morning.
Maybe referring to both of them as one person isn’t such a crazy concept.
“They’re still siblings; they fight and they fuss,” Gibbs said. “But they’re still concerned about each other when the one of them isn’t feeling well. They have compassion for each other. I think that’s just the bond from being in the womb together.”