Twins Hannah and Heart Lising depend on one another

Without a second of hesitation, Hannah Lising was there for her sister.

Jerseys had been grabbed and shoves exchanged from the primary minutes of a tough, bodily City Section Division I semifinal playoff recreation Feb. 17 between Sun Valley Poly and L.A. Hamilton. And with the fourth quarter winding right down to an eventual Poly win, simmer turned to a boil as Parrots level guard Heart Lising and a Yankees participant dove concurrently for a unfastened ball. As each obtained up after a foul name, the Hamilton participant flipped up Heart’s black ponytail.

So Heart flung the ball instantly at her again. She was hit with a technical. And as a throng of Hamilton gamers gathered, twin sister Hannah — additionally a Parrots guard — walked over, positioned herself instantly in entrance of her sister, and raised her fingers excessive.

It was a blatant act of safety, two twins linked at a deeper degree than the jersey on their backs, than even the shared DNA buried of their cells.

“That protectiveness came out,” Poly coach Tremeka Batiste chuckled every week later. “And nobody was going to get to her sister.”

Some shoving broke out, and Hannah took an elbow on to the face, stumbling away. She didn’t cry. They’d grown up enjoying on a concrete court docket within the Philippines, operating round roughhousing with boys. Unfazed.

But as Hannah stood, a chunk of gum flew from the gang and hit her shoulder. Heart noticed it, and it additional upset her, making a present of pointing on the wad on the court docket and waving her fingers on the crowd.

She obtained a second technical, and was thus ejected. It meant unhealthy information for the Division I last the next week: Poly could be with out one of many sisters, their two greatest gamers. And it meant one thing even worse for Hannah.

The twins got here to America two years in the past, adjusting to an unfamiliar nation in the midst of COVID-19. But they at all times had one another. Always had a buddy, a companion.

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Now Hannah Lising, for the primary time, was alone.

Twins Heart and Hannah Lising pose for a photograph at Sun Valley Poly High.

(Luca Evans / Los Angeles Times)

They realized the sport on that unpainted concrete court docket of their village within the Philippines, going out each afternoon after college with their cousins.

The twins didn’t put on footwear after they performed. Sometimes, their ft would get minimize up.

“We just had to get used to it,” Hannah mentioned, smiling.

Those had been the times. Their mom gave beginning to them of their childhood home, and the twins grew up going from home to accommodate in the midst of a lower-class, five-block-wide province the place they knew everybody and everybody was household.

They’d wake at 5 a.m., catching a trip from a motorized-tricycle cab — “tráysikél” in first-language Tagalog — to a Catholic Okay-12 college about quarter-hour from their home. There was a hospital two miles down the street. A McDonald’s close by.

Two years in the past, after they had been 15, their father — a U.S. citizen — efficiently petitioned for them to return stay within the States together with his aspect of the household, an thrilling transfer for extra alternative.

Yet the longer they’re right here, the extra Heart and Hannah discover themselves lacking their outdated village. They miss Christmas of their province, the place every home sparkles with decorations. They miss their mother most of all, whom they nonetheless name after most each recreation to replace.

Their dad’s household has been making an attempt to get her to the United States for 2 years. Paperwork remains to be pending.

“They do have bad days, and think of her a lot,” mentioned cousin Sofia Gregorio, a pupil and volleyball participant at Poly. “It kind of takes a toll on how they go to their school, and there’s sometimes I have talks with them on how things will come together.”

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Hannah and Heart enrolled at Poly within the peak of the pandemic, unfamiliar with on-line education or Zoom. They had been usually shy, each Gregorio and Batiste recalled them talking English as a second language whereas making an attempt to higher perceive grammar.

But that they had their dad’s household and Gregorio, whom they rapidly bonded with by enjoying “NBA 2K” on the Xbox. And most of all, that they had one another.

“I can learn stuff, and then I can teach her,” Hannah mentioned. “You already have like a best friend.”

“I grew up with her,” Heart added, “and everything is basically, ‘I’m with her.’ ”

Sometimes, they’re one another’s worst enemy.

Hannah is extra extroverted. Heart extra introverted. They have completely different personalities, and are risky together.

“They bicker,” Batiste mentioned. “They’re like an old married couple where they snap at each other, and then they’ll slap each other on the back laughing a moment later.”

Such is life, although, once you’re connected on the hip. Basketball wasn’t their main sport — merely a interest as a result of their actual sport within the Philippines was badminton, the place the 2 had been companions adequate to play on the nation’s junior nationwide crew.

Sun Valley Poly guard Hannah Lising blocks a shot by LACES guard Maya Sano in the City Section Division I title game.

Sun Valley Poly guard Hannah Lising (proper) blocks a shot by Maya Sano of LACES in City DI ladies’ last. Poly received in OT. Lising completed with 35 factors.

(Steve Galluzzo / For The Times)

Plain and easy, although, they had been pure athletes. They might leap. They might burn. And they may shoot.

“They were a different breed,” mentioned Poly boys’ basketball coach Alex Pladevega, who helped prepare the twins after they first arrived.

The first recreation they performed their freshman 12 months, Batiste remembered, she subbed one in all them out — and the opposite would preserve scanning the sideline each time she ran up and down the court docket. The coach didn’t bear in mind which was which. This was a typical drawback.

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“She wasn’t focused on the game,” Batiste recalled. “It was like, she kept looking for her twin.”

They each averaged greater than 15 factors a recreation final season to steer Poly to a 15-5 report, although, and have additional developed their basketball IQ as juniors. Heart is now the crew’s de facto level guard, and the mixture propelled Poly by way of the City Division I playoffs.

“Sometimes, I don’t trust them,” Heart mentioned of her teammates, “but you kind of have to.”

And then she obtained suspended.

Poly guard Hannah Lising dribbles across the time line Saturday against LACES in the City Section Division 1 title game.

Poly guard Hannah Lising dribbles throughout the time line Saturday in opposition to LACES within the City Section Division 1 title recreation.

(Steve Galluzzo / For The Times)

In one recreation this season, Gregorio remembered, Heart was in foul bother. After every whistle, Gregorio mentioned, Hannah would increase her hand to the referee, making an attempt to assert every subsequent foul was hers.

For years, the 2 had been one another’s crutch. But now, Batiste mentioned, there’s no extra stares to the sidelines when one is within the recreation and one isn’t.

“If I get hurt, you don’t care,” Hannah mentioned, in an interview with Heart in January. “You just play the game, and I’ll play my game.”

Hannah completed with 35 factors Saturday earlier than fouling out with 1:34 left, Poly holding on to win the City Division I title, enjoying her personal recreation with out her twin beside her. The Parrots will host San Juan Capistrano St. Margaret’s in a Southern California Regional Division IV first-round recreation Tuesday.

“That was something else,” Batiste mentioned. “That’s maturity … if this happened last year, or the year before, it probably would’ve been a different story.”

Now, they hope to play in faculty and research to grow to be docs or dentists, or perhaps one in all every.

And the household is hoping the twins’ mother will probably be within the U.S. by the tip of the 12 months, Gregorio mentioned. In the meantime, they’ll preserve sending her movies after the video games.

“Their whole family,” Batiste mentioned, “is on this journey with them.”