High School Sports

Twins moved to Biloxi with a basketball title on their minds. Now they’re 4 wins away.

Biloxi beats Gulfport to claim Holiday Classic title

Jariyon Wilkens sparked Biloxi basketball in a victory over Gulfport in the Holiday Classic.
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Jariyon Wilkens sparked Biloxi basketball in a victory over Gulfport in the Holiday Classic.

Seber Windham will sometimes shout, “Twin!,” when action comes to a halt on the court.

When the Biloxi boys basketball coach isn’t sure whether Jariyon or JaRonn Wilkens made a mistake, he knows that’s often the best way to get one of twins’ attention during the confusion of a game.

“The one that has done something wrong, he knows who I’m talking to,” Windham said.

Biloxi begins its pursuit of a Class 6A state championship when it hosts Petal (20-8) for a second-round playoff game at 7 p.m. Saturday. Whether the Indians can claim their first state title since 2009 will rely a great deal on the play of the Wilkens twins.

When the 6-foot-5 identical twins arrived on the Biloxi campus for the 2018-19 school year, they were already considered two of the Coast’s best players at nearby St. Martin.

Their impact on the court at Biloxi has been obvious, making a strong squad that much better as they enter Saturday’s game with a record of 29-1. The only loss for Biloxi this season was a 41-38 defeat at Harrison Central on Feb. 7 when Windham sat five of his best players.

If Biloxi is to hang another championship banner, the Indians will have to win their next four contests. Considering the Indians won their first 27 games of the season, that doesn’t seem like a big stretch.

The Biloxi High School basketball team beat Gulfport Thursday night with five players suspended.

Changing teams

When the Wilkens twins showed up at Biloxi, Windham sat the two players down to have the same conversation he has with any player who transfers in.

“I talked about how we’re going to carry ourselves,” Windham said. “There are no superstars in this program. Whether you score 20 points a game or you’re a kid that doesn’t play at all, we’ll treat you just the same. Everything is going to go through me. Our slogan is ‘One team, one goal.’ We want you to do well individually, but that doesn’t mean anything if the team isn’t doing well.”

Jariyon and JaRonn have been responsive to their coach’s demands ever since that first sit down.

“He always holds us accountable for what we do,” Jariyon said. “There are no mistakes (this time of year). We should already know where to be, what places to go.”

The move to Biloxi was an easy one for the twins after proving themselves as standouts under Charlie Pavlus at St. Martin.

“I love it,” JaRonn said. “I felt like it was home when I first came here.”

Adjusting to a team that already had established players like Dontavius Proby, Caleb McCarty and Nakia Daniel has proven to be an easy transition.

“They welcomed us with open arms,” Jariyon said. “I loved it from the jump. I’m playing with more scorers so I had to realize that not everything is meant for me. We’ve got to move the ball around. I like it better like that. It takes more attention for me.”

‘The sky is the limit’

Windham is convinced that both players will eventually fulfill their dreams of playing Division I basketball, and one facet of their games that will likely get them to the next level is their ability to hit the 3-pointer. JaRonn has hit about 38 percent of his 3-pointers this year while Jariyon checks in at 33 percent.

Jariyon is averaging 14 points and five rebounds this season while JaRonn is putting up 12 points and seven rebounds.

While they are identical twins, there are some differences in the way the brothers play.

“Jariyon is more a perimeter skill set,” Windham said. “He plays a little higher from the ball handling standpoint. The other one has ball skills, but Jariyon is more of a perimeter player who can play 1-2-3. He can play point guard. JaRonn has more of a presence inside as a low post guy. He can shoot with the right hand, shoot with the left hand. The sky is the limit for both of them.”

The two players’ abilities complement each other well and they’ll continue to play on the same team next year at Pearl River Community College.

They’ve grown accustomed to life on the same team.

“I enjoy playing with him and I know he likes playing with me,” Jariyon said. “This summer, I left our Mississippi (AAU) team. Every day I’m in (California) or New York and my mom is calling me saying, ‘JaRonn is talking about how he misses playing with you.’ I felt bad.”

The intensity will pick up for the Wilkens brothers and the rest of their Biloxi teammates on Saturday with the realization that the only path forward is to win every game.

The Wilkens twins admit that they had their sights set on a state title as soon as they decided to make the move to Biloxi.

“That was on my mind the whole time,” JaRonn said.

Patrick Magee is a sports writer who has covered South Mississippi for much of the last two decades. From Southern Miss to high schools, he stays on top of it all.
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