If one doesn't get you, the other one Gill.
That's how it is with identical, basketball-playing twins and the Gills, 6-foot senior guards at Engineering & Science High, are no different.
There's Mike, who's 90 minutes older, sports hair in maybe a one-third bush and mostly serves coach C.M. Brown as a wing guard. And then there's Chris, whose hair is closely cropped - that's going to change, he said - and mostly handles floor-general duties.
When asked about the Gills, Brown laughed heartily and said, "There's something wrong with both of them."
Hmm. Entertaining characters, eh?
"Everybody knows about us around school," Mike said.
About 5 minutes later, Chris echoed that sentiment.
Yesterday, what the Gills most had to do was keep from falling asleep. The occasion was an old-school Catholic North game between visiting E & S and Philadelphia Electrical & Technology Charter . . . Oops, let's make that Division B of the Public League.
E & S prevailed, 34-28.
"I'm used to it," Mike Gill said, referring to the game's s-l-o-w pace. "I've been on this team for 3 years now. I don't mind it. It's a style that works for us."
It does not make statisticians work up a sweat.
Mike Gill managed seven points, one apiece of assists and steals and two whole rebounds. Chris settled for two points and as many assists and steals as his twin.
Among the spectators was their mother, Stacy. She and the twins' father, Michael Gill, are no longer together and for about a 3-month period 3 years ago, Mike and Chris lived separately.
"I think we were too much to handle for one parent," Mike kidded. "We didn't like it, though. We still saw each other in school every day, of course, but it was rough not living together."
The boys, in tandem, now switch back and forth between their parents' houses. Weekdays are spent with mom near 56th and Vine, in West Philly, not far from Shepard (nee Haddington) Rec Center. "We always play one-on-one over there," Chris said. "Fullcourt, too. Who wins? That goes back and forth. It really does. I'm the quicker. He plays more of a solid style."
For the longest while, the twins could not pinpoint any significant differences (though Chris is a lefty). They like the same music, enjoy the same hobbies and even make occasional attempts to outfox their female admirers by pretending to be the other.
"But," a smiling Mike said, referring to actual dates, "we never take it to the next level."
Then it happened. Chris noted that Mike is renowned for sometimes losing his cool and can be considered The Angry Twin. After nixing calm, he finally settled on The Relaxed Twin for his own description.
Mike already has been accepted to Morgan State, in Baltimore. Guess where Chris wants to go?
"If we could be there together, that'd be great," he said. "Maybe at some point we'd live in separate places, but not for the first couple years. I want to be right where he is."
Near the end of the first three quarters, the ball belonged to the Engineers and they placed it right in the freezer. First: hold for 45 seconds, launch an airball on a trey. Second: hold for 30, brick a baseline jumper. Third: hold for 45 and . . . hey, success! Mike Gill nailed an 8-foot runner along the right baseline, providing a 21-19 lead.
As the fourth quarter opened, another lefty, Jamil Cherry used his right hand to complete a drive for 23-19 math. After Jabreil McLeod's steal and layup pulled PET into a 25-25 tie, Mike and Chris hit two free throws apiece and E & S led the rest of the way.
Marcus Brown, a swooping 6-4 junior, managed nine points and 13 boards for E & S. Andre Howard, yet another lefty, had two blocked shots.
PET, which is missing three rotation members due to injury, received 10 points and seven boards from guard Sean McCall.
Chris said he enjoys being a twin because it's "so unique."
Mike said there's a basketball advantage "because people don't know who they're covering. Yeah, our hair's different, but guys might see a little of my face and come running over. Maybe that's the guy who should be covering Chris. That leaves him open. That's good because he likes jumpers. I'm better on drives." *