For Bryan and Vince Bayonne, twin brothers who are also seniors on the Live Oak High basketball team, playing sports has provided an outlet for their natural sibling rivalry, but underneath their competitive nature is a bond that makes them inseparable.
At basketball practice, Bryan and Vince Bayonne push each other to be the best players they can be. Off the court, whether it’s in the classroom or a rare moment playing a video game, working to achieve the better grade or the higher score is a battle for bragging rights.
Still, when the Bayonne brothers step onto the basketball court, personal rivalry is set aside. They know they can count on each other like no one else when they compete for Live Oak.
“It feels great (playing with my brother) because he’s someone that has my back,” said Bryan Bayonne, who is usually among the Eagles leading scorers. “He’s someone that will pick me up, and also someone that tells you what you need to do to get better.”
Vince Bayonne, an inside banger who is one of Live Oak’s top rebounders, considers it a blessing to be on the court with his sibling.
“I know I’ve got a brother who’s going to go hard every play,” Vince Bayonne said. “Sometimes it’s different because if he’s not having a good night, I know I’ve got to step up and pick up his slack. If I’m not having a good night, I know he’s got my back. He’ll be the first one there.”
The brothers, who are both 6-foot-3, began to see the fruits of their work on the court last season.
Seeded 26th in the Class 5A playoffs, Live Oak gave No. 7 Bonnabel all it wanted before falling 73-70 in the first round. This season, Live Oak is 13-5, its best start through 18 games in at least the last nine seasons according to the LHSAA’s website.
“They’re very competitive,” Live Oak coach John Capps said. “Sometimes that’s good and sometimes they can get on each other’s nerves, but they’re good kids. They’re a pleasure to coach and I’m really happy for the success they’re seeing this year.”
In describing the difference in the way, the brothers play, Capps describes Vince as having the edge as an inside player while Bryan is a little bit better shooting the ball. Both know their future at the next level will be at guard.
None of that matters if the two are left to their own devices in the gym. Merely playing a pickup game against each other can carry the intensity of a playoff contest.
“If you give us the gym alone, we always end up playing one-on-one,” Vince Bayonne said. “Just because, him being my brother, I’m going to compete, and every single time we end up talking trash to each other. We compete and we’re in each other’s face.”
As youngsters, there were times when the competition got the best of them, and they came to blows.
That hasn’t happened since before the two arrived at Live Oak High, they said, but the rivalry can surface even when the two discuss grade school.
“We used to get in a world of trouble when we were kids, but I guess we’ve matured,” Vince Bayonne said.
“I never got in trouble,” Bryan Bayonne quickly interjected.
“I used to give my teachers problems,” Vince Bayonne said, correcting himself. “But that stopped. Now we’re able to make class fun without getting in trouble.”
These days, the only trouble Vince and Bryan Bayonne are causing is for opposing teams. The siblings are always ready to put their competitive focus on an opponent as they do whatever is necessary to help the Eagles win.
“Either one of us can play any position. That’s always how we’ve been trained,” Vince Bayonne said. “We’ve trained to be guards, so when we play, if we’ve got bigger people on us, we’re able to attack them.”