North Webster center Dontavious Smith is 6-foot-7, and they call him “little.”
That’s because Smith’s twin, 6-foot-4 Montavious Smith, gets the “big” nickname because he’s thicker and weighs more.
The twins have one more run together at No. 17 North Webster (24-9), which won a first-round playoff game at No. 16 Union Parish on Friday and will now host No. 1 John Curtis (20-5) tonight at 6:30 in a second-round contest.
“It’s been fun, it’s been everything two brothers playing together could want,” Dontavious said. “We want to finish on top.”
Dontavious is a senior and is a Massachusetts-Lowell signee (Division I). Montavious, a rambunctious child who repeated kindergarten because of his behavior, is a junior that has one more season.
But Montavious said he’s learned from his “older” brother.
“Back in kindergarten, I was bad, and my mom wanted to teach me a lesson,” Montavious said. “But (Dontavious) helped me coming up, and told me what to expect for each grade because he was always a grade ahead.”
The twins’ relationship has had its peaks and valleys, and North Webster coach Rodney Thrash said the boys fought regularly.
“You’d have to break ’em up in the sixth grade. They’d throw rocks at each other,” Thrash said. “They’ll still get verbal with each other once in awhile and will get at each other.
“But we use that too, pitting them against each other in drills in practice.”
Dontavious, who is the older brother, has developed into a defensive standout using his height and quick feet to deter opponents from attack the basket.
But he had to grow into his own role after wanting to follow in Montavious’ footsteps and play like his younger twin.
“Defense for me separated us, and it was about finding my niche,” Dontavious said. “Growing up, I wanted to be like him … but now I have more self-confidence to be my own individual person.
“All brothers fight, but maybe we fight a little bit harder. But after the fight, we make each other better. It made us stronger.”
Wrestling was also a common past time growing up, and sometimes the twins were on the same team and sometimes they weren’t.
“We wrestled non-stop, and we would get into trouble tearing up the house,” Montavious said. “Sometimes we would be tag team partners then turn on each other.
“We would pretend to be Shawn Michaels and Triple H.”
On the basketball court, Dontavious said the twins pretended to be famous duos, and their favorite was Pau Gasol (Dontavious) and Andrew Bynum (Montavious).
Dontavious’ style is similar to Gasol, finesse around the rim and in his jump shots but Dontavious’ specialty is help defense. Montavious has a more physical style in which he can play through contact when he drives, in the post and on defense.
Dontavious said playing against his more rugged twin aided in his development.
“I’ve always been the tallest, and he’s always been the biggest,” said Dontavious, who was born first. “It makes me be more aggressive because he’s tougher.”
Montavious, who missed four games with bruised ribs but said he’s almost fully recovered from the injury, said he can have more success against taller players because of his twin.
“It’s tough … he alters my shot a lot and I had to learn to shoot over him,” Montavious said. “It helps me shoot and dribble better because he’s long, and I had to learn not to force it.”
“The rib injury scared me, and I didn’t think I would play anymore (at the time of the injury). But I’m wearing a quarterback’s vest, and I am getting back to the old me.”
Dontavious scored eight points and Montavious scored 12 to go along with Willie Lee’s team-high 21 points in Friday’s 61-58 road win.
“Dontavious played through a wrist injury … and I was extremely happy to get a win against a physical team,” Thrash said. “Dontavious will need to work in the weight room and become more of an outside shooter in college, but he’s just now blooming and has a lot of potential. He’s always played the baby brother role, but he’s made a name for himself now.
“Montavious has always done his own thing, and he’s a very physical and athletic player.”
Thrash said Friday’s win was a performance “he’d been waiting on,” where all phases of the game were clicking. The Knights led Union Parish by as many as 14 in the fourth quarter before the Farmers made a furious rally.
The Knights will need to repeat that performance when the No. 1 Patriots, who beat No. 32 J.S. Clark 75-48 in the first round, visit what Thrash expects to be a “wild venue” tonight.
The Patriots’ No. 1 football team beat No. 17 North Webster in Springhill 50-6 in the second round of the 2012 playoffs, and Thrash said eight basketball players were on that football team.
“I hate to use the word revenge, but it’s gonna be there,” Thrash said. “John Curtis has size inside with a 6-foot-9 and a 6-foot-7 player, and their point guard is really steady.
“We found some intestinal fortitude to go with all of our talent, and we’re gonna need it. It helps being at home and not having to go way down to the other end of the world.”
Win or lose, Tuesday will be the twins’ last home game together, and Montavious said he doesn’t want the twins era to end in their hometown close to the Arkansas state line.
“It means the world to us, this last run,” Montavious said. “We’re trying to make it to the top and strive to be number one.
“It’s going to be tough, but we’re going to play our hearts out.”
The twins might play together again if Montavious is the one to follow his brother’s footsteps to Lowell, Mass., but for now, the pair will settle for a trip to Lake Charles for the semifinals.