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DOUBLE TAKE: Norwalk's Thomas twins have identical goals

Mark Hazelwood • Feb 5, 2018 at 8:51 PM

For six minutes, Jasmine Thomas was alone.

What would life be like today for the Norwalk senior girls basketball standout with six minutes of isolation?

No one would think her and identical twin sister, Jada — born six minutes apart — are the same person. No sharing the same car — and obviously at times as kids, the same clothes.

But where is the fun in that? Most everyone else already lives that way.

“When you just see us on the surface, people think we're the same," Jasmine said. "We do have a lot in common with each other, but once you get to know us — we're pretty different, too.”

Many around them, including the twins themselves, speculate which is kinder, or that one dresses nicer than the other. But one thing in particular is more identical than their appearance: The goal of leading Norwalk to another big season in perhaps its most important year in the long-term as a program.

“This season validates us as a group,” Jasmine said of Norwalk’s 14-3 record entering tonight’s game vs. Western Reserve.

Why so serious?

Those close to the Thomas twins, such as family, teammates and coaches, can tell the two apart by now.

But if they were standing next to each other in uniform from a distance, there are a few distinctions to tell them apart.

“Usually Jada has two buns in her hair, and Jasmine goes with one ponytail,” said senior teammate Bethany Cring, who admittedly needed to study the two closely before answering. “That’s probably the most obvious.

“And Jada tends to be more smiley and joking,” Cring added. “Jasmine is more serious. You can definitely tell by their facial expressions.”

Norwalk’s other senior guard, Kaelyn Harkness, took it a step further.

“Jada is more sweet than Jasmine,” she said. “She has more of a kind heart, and Jasmine always tries to pick with people. She likes to mess around with you and get a laugh out of it.

“Jada definitely has the bigger smile, and Jasmine is more serious most of the time,” Harkness added. “At this point, I just need to hear their voices and you can sense which one is which.”

Both twins agree with the personality differences — but it wasn’t always that way growing up.

Their mother, Marla, had picked out matching butterfly fairy costumes for Halloween when the twins were young.

It was a great idea — until Jada decided that she had to go trick-or-treating as a baseball player instead.

“When we were babies, I’d take a toy away from her and Jasmine would just laugh,” Jada said. “She didn’t care. I don’t think that would happen now.”

Opposites attract

The average person has a hard time telling Jada and Jasmine apart, even in extended interactions.

That even included Marla Thomas, who once handed off to a friend who she believed was Jasmine at seven months old to watch.

But it was Jada, as confirmed by a birthmark that often served as an early guide for both mom and dad, Craig.

“One time we switched seats in a class to see if our teacher would notice, and he never did,” Jasmine said. “Never even sensed anything was different.”

But the differences are telling.

On top of being the perceived nicer sister, both twins agree Jada is slightly ahead in academics.

“Oh, Jada’s smarter than me,” Jasmine said. “But whenever I’ve been down, she always gets me back up when it comes to that. There was a time I wasn’t really doing well in school, and she picked me up and helped me out with my homework.

“She gave me confidence and got me feeling better,” she added.

Jasmine, however, has a noticeably different feature.

“She likes to dress up more. She’s more … dressy,” Jada said. “I just like to wear hoodies and sweatshirts, and she’s more into wearing a nice sweater. I’m definitely more into relaxed, comfortable clothing than her.”

Or, as Jasmine bluntly said, “Usually, I dress nice. Jada … she just — she doesn’t dress all that nice.”

Making an impact

Much like their personalities, Jada and Jasmine are different on the basketball court.

“But not by a lot,” Norwalk coach Brock Manlet said. “Jada is more of the bruiser. She’s going to push you around and beat you up a little bit. Jada is our Dennis Rodman. She’s going to get rebounds and make hustle plays.”

Manlet said Jasmine is more of a finesse player.

“Though she’ll probably want to have words with me for suggesting that,” he said. “Jasmine has done a nice job with her skills in terms of outside jump shots and putting the ball on the floor. They both complement each other pretty well.”

Through 17 games, Jasmine averages 11.2 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. Jada counters with 8.6 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. With Cring and Harkness added in, the quartet averages from 8-to-12 points per game for solid balance.

But the twins in particular are a headache for opposing coaches.

“Obviously they look a lot alike, but they play a lot alike,” Bellevue coach Kory Santoro said. “Those two girls are very energetic, get after it on the offensive end with crashing for rebounds and running the floor.

“They are very good players, and any time we play Norwalk — they have to be part of the game plan,” he added.

And while there is strong competition between the two that lead to the aforementioned statistics — it’s friendly fire. Sort of.

“Oh yeah, there’s competition,” Jada said. “And it’s strong — but kindhearted. But even if I wanted more points than her, I’m going to pass it up if she’s open. I’m not looking to get greedy.”

Except for that one time.

“Remember that time against Clyde, and you didn’t pass me the ball and I hit you in the back?” Jasmine asked her sister.

“The one time I didn’t pass her the ball, and she gets mad about it,” Jada responded, rolling her eyes.

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