When they were grade schoolers playing in the Below The Rim basketball organization in Camden, Nasir and Nasim Hinson never were on the same team.
"They always put us on different teams," Nasim Hinson said. "They said if they put us on the same team, nobody would get the ball up the court."
The identical twins are seniors at Camden High School. They still specialize in defensive disruption.
On Tuesday, the Hinson brothers sparked a strong defensive effort in Camden's 54-41 victory over rival Camden Catholic in an Olympic Conference National Division clash of Top 5 teams at Rutgers Camden.
"Our defense, our pressure on the ball, had a lot to do with [the victory]," Camden coach John Valore said. "Catholic always is so tough because they control the tempo. But our defense, we forced them to start a little higher than they usually do and we made it a little more difficult for them to do what they normally do."
Camden (4-1), the No. 2 team in the Inquirer Top 25, got strong work from seniors Corey Greer and Myles Thompson, a pair of seasoned veterans of the twice-annual battles between the Panthers and Irish.
Greer scored 21 points, hitting a trio of three-pointers, with three steals and five rebounds. He also was 8 for 8 from the foul line.
Thompson scored 18 with eight rebounds and three blocks.
"This was a great win because they always play us tough," the 6-foot-6 Thompson said. "We haven't been able to practice much and we haven't played much because of the weather, so to come out and play like this against that team, it's a good sign."
Junior forward Baba Ajike generated 15 points with 12 rebounds and junior center Uche Okafor added 11 points with 10 rebounds for No. 5 Camden Catholic (7-2).
"We got outplayed today," Camden Catholic coach Matt Crawford said. "Our team is in a little bit of a funk, but I give credit to our last two opponents, AC [Atlantic City] and Camden."
Camden has reinforcements on the way. The Panthers expect 6-foot-8 sophomore Lance Ware, a highly touted transfer from Life Center, and 5-10 junior El Khana Hildalgo, a transfer from Paul VI, to be eligible next week. In addition, the school still is working with the NJSIAA to determine the eligibility of 7-0 junior Osato Iduwe, an exchange student from Nigeria.
Camden on Tuesday also was missing starting guard Ethan Tarte, a junior standout who was absent with an injury, according to Valore.
The Hinsons picked up the slack. Normally they bounce off the bench, but Nasir Hinson was in the starting lineup against Camden Catholic.
"They give us energy," Thompson said. "Energy and defense."
The Hinsons combined for 10 points, with Nasim, who is older by a minute, scoring six on a pair of three-point jumpers.
They helped tilt the game Camden's way late in the second quarter, as Nasir scored four straight, with the second basket off a steal and dish by Nasim.
"That's what we love to do, play defense," Nasim said.
The Hinsons, who stand 5-6, used their quickness and tenacity to keep Camden Catholic from settling into an offensive rhythm.
"The Hinsons did a great job making our guards uncomfortable," Crawford said. "Camden's defense took us out of our sets."
Valore said the twins were the key to Camden's defense, which held Camden Catholic to its lowest point total of the season.
"They're hard-nosed kids, they're Camden kids," Valore said. "They don't back down from anything."
CC: Baba Ajike 15, Dominic Dunn 5, Uche Okafor 11, Pat Corbett 4, Hakim Melvin 6.