A highlight of the Foster basketball season for Ronnie Roberson so far is the game against Evergreen, not because the Bulldogs played well and he got a dunk.
It’s what led up to that dunk: playing with his younger brother Freddie.
“When my brother passed it to me and I got the fast break, it was like, a surge of emotions. This is that click. This is brother playing with brother, older and younger, all together, doing the same thing on the court, together, helping each other out.
“Basically, it was like a dream come true,” he says.
Senior Ronnie, a co-captain, and freshman Freddie are the leading scorers on the Bulldog boys basketball team, which stood at 3-5 after a loss to league-leading Kennedy Catholic on Jan. 14.
You might call the team a band of brothers, in the figurative sense as well as the literal one. Three sets of brothers play for the team, but the Robersons are the only ones who play together.
Varsity co-captain Mohamed Abdi’s brother Hanad plays junior varsity and varsity junior Ericsson Leasure’s brother Erin, a freshman, plays on the junior varsity team.
Foster Coach Isaac Tucker says the importance of the Robersons to the team is hard to put into words. “We drop off very fast when either of them isn’t on the court,” he says. Ronnie is 6-foot-5; the roster says Freddie is 5-foot-11, but he’s not much shorter than Ronnie.
Tucker is confident in saying both should receive first-team Seamount League honors – “they’re that good,” he said.
“They’re dynamic together on the floor is very fluid, they play to each other’s strengths as you’d expect from siblings; they know where and when the other needs the ball to be successful,” he said.
But to their credit, Tucker says, “they also look for their teammates as much as they look for each other; what sets them apart is that they play with more energy and have a competitive streak that most kids just don’t have.”
Standing in the coaches’ office, the Robersons talked about themselves and each other, only as brothers can, and their team. Based on what they had to say, Tucker has them down pat.
Ronnie offered up Freddie’s biggest strength on the court – the ability to read what the other team is doing. And he’s not a one-man show.
“He’s able to take command,” says Ronnie. “Even when I am off the floor, he’s able to use what he has learned and then put it to use. That involves his teammates and himself at the same time.”
Freddie will go for, like, five points a game, but if he gets 12 assists to help teammates get points, then that’s a win for him, says Ronnie, 18.
“He always puts his team first before anything else,” he says. Freddie averages nearly 4 assists a game
Freddie’s assessment of Ronnie is simple: “He’s like the muscle of the team.”
“He’s basically the most aggressive player on the team, one of the hardest workers on the team,” he said. “Even when he misses the shot, he’s going to keep going for the ball, until he gets the ball back.” Ronnie averages 16.6 rebounds a game.
Ronnie says Freddie is the best shooter, “by a little bit.”
“I’ve got the touch,” says Freddie.
“He’s got a little more of the touch,” Ronnie says. “I’ve been working on my force.”
For the record, through the 1-point loss to Renton High on Jan. 9, Ronnie has scored 237 points, or an average 18.2 points a game, to Freddie’s 217 points or 16.7 points a game.
They have nicknames. Freddie’s is Derber. When he loses focus, like throwing the ball toward a referee rather than a fellow player, that’s a Derber moment, says Ronnie. Freddie’s nickname for Ronnie is Reginald, after a middle school friend Freddie did “dumb stuff with on the court.”
Yes, according to Freddie, Ronnie is sometimes uncoordinated. Ronnie says that’s an exaggeration. He didn’t get called for traveling in the Seattle Christian game. Playing one-on-one, Ronnie fell down, but Ronnie says Freddie pushed him.
Even though the Bulldogs lost 58-57, Freddie says the highlight of his season so far is the game against Renton.
“I felt like this was the first time we were all playing together,” he says. “Nobody was being selfish with the ball. Nobody has attitude. Even when we were down, we were still playing together.”
Coach Tucker says Freddie, Jordan Magee, another freshman starter, and freshman Elijah Nnanubu are the heart of the program going forward, along with freshmen Jaloni Garner and Musa Leigh and sophomore Khalfani Carter.
“We are very young this year, and we’ll be young again next year, but that is far from a bad thing,” said Tucker. “It’s exactly what we need to build a strong program over the next few years… sky’s the limit for this group of young, but skilled, basketball players.”
Ronnie’s plans for after Foster include playing basketball at a community college that offers forensic science. Since he was young, he’s always wanted to get into law.
Ronnie and Freddie have played basketball with and against each other for years. They’re competitive with each other, which Ronnie says helps keep them sharp.
“In high school, it’s like, this is the last time playing with each other. So we just have to do it,” Freddie says.