It's hard not to notice Heather Hansen when you watch Mountain View High School girls basketball team.

It is also hard not to get her confused with her twin sister, Hollie.

The identical twins make up the state's most potent guard combination, having led the Bruins to their third state title in a row. In addition to a state championship trophy, the twins earned the two top awards in girls basketball this season. Heather Hansen earned the state's highest award as 2003 Ms. Basketball, while Hollie was voted the 4A MVP.

Heather was the team's offensive spark, scoring an average of more than 15 points per game. The senior, who, along with her sister, has committed to BYU, was far from a ball hog as she averaged 5.1 assists per game. She was equally impressive on the defensive end with 8.2 steals per game.

But it was her ability to lead that earned her the loyalty of her teammates and the confidence of her coaches.

"She was an extension of me on the floor," said Mountain View coach Dave Houle. "She guided and directed the team. She kept things on track. Even when it got so loud they couldn't hear me calling out the offense, I'd look down there and she'd be running what I'd called."

Maybe Heather's leadership abilities come from having to deal with realities that some adults can't even fathom.

"They had to grow up really fast," said their father, Scott Hansen, "because of their mom dying when they were 12. They've had to be incredibly mature."

And though the twins haven't had their mother as they journeyed from girlhood to womanhood, Scott Hansen said they sense her influence constantly.

"They're just a lot like their mother," he said. "They're very confident, and she was very much a people person. They see themselves and the world very clearly."

The family makes it a point to talk about their mom, Laurie, a lot, and he said they feel her presence.

"I never hear the girls say, 'We wish mom was here' because we feel like she is," he said. "There are times we look at each other say, 'She's here' and we can feel how much she loves us."

Scott Hansen said while his daughters share a lot in common — including their appearance — they definitely have their differences.

"Heather plays basketball because she likes doing well," Scott Hansen said. "Hollie does it because it's fun . . . As much as they are alike, they're different enough that they really enjoy each other. They really are each other's best friends."

Their connection helps them when they play basketball together.

"When they play together, their comfort level kind of goes through the roof," Scott Hansen said. "They kind of feed off each other. They know how to create offense for themselves or how to get the ball to each other. The biggest thing is they trust each other."

Adds Houle, "When Heather was off, Hollie would pick up the slack. It was like a sixth sense they had about each other."


E-mail: adonaldson@desnews.com