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There's an old Bugs Bunny cartoon where the rascally rabbit plays all nine positions in a baseball game.

Opponents feel the same way with Kouts, where three Wiremans — junior Brent and freshman twins Cole and Cale are all key players.

"The thing I like best is when all three play together, even two out of the three, it makes them play harder," coach Kevin Duzan said. "They're live wires, energetic, outgoing, It's a lot of fun in practice. There's never a dull moment. Some drills, it's survival of the fittest. They go at it pretty hard."

That's no different than it's always been for the trio, who grew up playing together, both at home, where the driveway battles can get intense, and on the AAU circuit.

"They always played up with me since we were little," Brent said. "Our dad pushed us. His goal was always for us to play together. They were always able to hold their own, playing older, stronger guys. They're better than I was (as a freshman)."

Sam Wireman played at Kankakee Valley and the family still lives in Wheatfield. The family started paying tuition to send the boys to Kouts when Brent was in sixth grade and the twins in fifth. There's actually just a year or so age difference between Brent and the twins, who were home schooled last year.

"It was best for basketball," Cole said. "We were young for our grade. We got a lot stronger. At first, it was really weird, being home. In the morning, we'd do a skills workout, do school, then go to the gym in the evening."

You have to look pretty closely to tell a difference among the three, who still share a bedroom, let alone just the twins. Cole's a tad taller, only by an inch, Cale's quick to point out. Brent said he's the shy one in the bunch, Cole calls himself the talker and Cale professes to be the jokester.

"They're always with each other. They do most of the same things," Brent said. "A lot of people ask how I tell them apart. I tell them, just live them with a day. They always try to get at me."

All it takes to see how competitive they are is to ask who wins when they play one on one. Cole contends he's the best, eliciting eye rolls from his brothers, while Cale said it's 50-50.

"After a loss, (the house) is always quiet," Brent said.

"Sometimes, we don't even eat," Cale said.

The twins played with the varsity group all summer and fit in from the start.

"They were accepted right away, Why not? They can play," Duzan said. "They live for basketball. They go home and in a couple hours, they're in the gym, They put in a lot of time."

Duzan credits Brent, in his third year on varsity, for his mentorship of his brothers in their transition.

"That's what you expect out of a leader," he said. "It was probably more of an adjustment for Cale, coming off the bench. They've been out there together all their life. Cole started from day one. He's a little more defensive minded. Cale's a little more offensive minded. It's good that they're not the same guy. It's really changed what we're able to do defensively. We finally have guys who can go out and get after guys. We can challenge people. We're able to push the pace."

Brent starts at point guard with Cole at the two guard spot, Brent sliding over when Cale comes in for Cole.

"I never had to play point guard. It was always Cale or Brent," Cole said. "It's going better than I thought. I'm surprised I'm starting. You always feel you have to prove yourself (as a freshman), make people respect you."

"It puts a chip on your shoulder," Cale said. "They're looking at you, you're smaller, younger, you have to prove them wrong. We knew coming in we'd have to work hard to earn respect, to get minutes. It's going pretty smoothly."

The twins credit Brent for helping them keep an even keel.

"He's always calm, no matter what," Cole said.

"When we start to lose our head on the court, he'll come over and make sure we stay calm," Cale said.

This season has been years in waiting for the family, which is enjoying seeing the boys hooping for the same Kouts team.

"It means the most to our grandpa (Dale Ward)," Cale said. "He's been talking forever about getting to watch us all play together."

Sammy (Poppy) Wireman, their other grandpa, even goes to the gym with them on occasion to help rebound.

"It means a lot to him that we're all playing also," Cole said.


Sports reporter

Jim was keeping standings on his chalkboard from the time he could print and keeping kickball stats in grade school at St. Bridget's. He covers all manner of prep sports for The Times and is a long-suffering Chicago Cubs fan.