Freeman twins: Doing their work 

It started each day with a 5 a.m. wakeup call and by 6 they would be at Ocean Beach with their boots laced up ready to start running with trainer Brian Thompson.

It continued up and down the stairs and around the track at Kezar Pavilion or on the brutal Visitacion Valley hills near their home.

All summer long, twin senior Wallenberg boys’ basketball stars Rodney and Ronney Freeman were putting in the work. And all of it was done with this moment in mind.

After winning a school-record 21 games and going 13-3 in Academic Athletic Association Neff Division play, the Bulldogs (21-7) open up the San Francisco Section playoffs today at 3:45 p.m. at Washington (18-12).

"We worked hard all summer — the whole team worked hard all summer," Ronney Freeman said. "And we don’t want all that sweat to be in vain."

The conditioning has already paid dividends for the Freemans in two of the Bulldogs’ biggest wins of the season. On Jan. 23, Ronney Freeman scored 10 of his 26 points in overtime in a 69-59 victory over Lincoln, handing the Lang Division-winning Mustangs only their second loss of the AAA season. On Feb. 6, Rodney Freeman had 16 of Wallenberg’s 19 second-half points (including a game-winning three-point play in the final seconds) in a huge 51-50 win over eventual Neff champion Lowell.

"We always feel fresh when the fourth quarter comes around," Rodney Freeman said. "And when you see other guys pulling on their shorts and gasping for breath, that’s a great feeling."

The Freemans’ commitment does not end with games, practices or even their own training sessions. It is a common sight to see a group of Wallenberg players in the stands at games around The City, camcorder or notebook in hand, doing some advance scouting. For example, the Freemans joined Wallenberg coach Patrick Mulligan on Saturday night at Kezar Pavilion for the Bay Counties League West final between Lick-Wilmerding and Stuart Hall, even though Wallenberg won’t play either team for the rest of the season.

"The best part about these guys is that they really just love ball," Mulligan said. "They’re really highly conditioned guys with a great understanding of the game who love to play."

For the season, Ronney Freeman is averaging 14 points, six rebounds and four assists per game, with Rodney adding 12 points and six rebounds. Each has proven to be one of the most versatile and assertive players in the AAA this season.

At 6-foot-1 and 160 pounds, they can defend both bigger and smaller players, handle and distribute the ball, rebound, shoot from the outside, hit midrange shots and make their free throws. And despite not being the biggest players on the court, they are especially adept at driving into the lane and finishing around the basket.

"On the court, I just think of everyone as being the same size," Rodney Freeman said. "And coach always tells us to attack the basket."

About the only basketball-related thing the Freemans won’t do is size themselves up against their twin or play against one another.

"We’ll never answer who’s better and we don’t play one-on-one — neither of us likes to lose," Ronney Freeman said with a smile. "But we practice together all the time and always try to encourage each other out there."

melliser@examiner.com

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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