Not only do Ashton and Andreas Malmstrom look alike physically, their basketball stats look alike as well.
The twin brothers of Littleton High School boys hoops, in their junior season, are two of the Lions top three scorers. They each have 167 points through Littleton’s loss to ThunderRidge Jan. 12 at home, and each average 12.8 points per game.
In addition, both of the twins average between 50 percent and 55 percent in shooting from the floor, a slight advantage to Andreas, and about 30 percent from outside the paint.
On defense, however, is where their stats start to split up. Although they have nearly the same steals to their credit. Ashton Malmstrom, a captain on the team, leads the team in rebounding, while his brother has blocked more shots.
The two brothers came to play for Littleton their freshman year. Their freshman season was also the first year of playing basketball in the United States.
Originally from Colorado, the twins learned the sport of basketball while in Europe. Their father, working for the United Nations, was post on the Island of Cyprus in the Mediterranean Sea. At the age of seven, the twins began to learn the sport.
Once they returned to their state of birth, there was an adjustment to Colorado and American-style basketball for them from the European-style which they spent most of their lives playing.
“It was a big adjustment we both had to deal with,” Ashton Malmstrom said. “Being from Europe [hoops], we just shot the ball all the time. ... But we [eventually] took to driving the lane and taking layups.”
Littleton coach Ray Van Heukelem has enjoyed working with the boys and their European influences. He describes the twins’ hoops background as honest and naive, and it helps keep the team loose and relaxed.
“They are definitely the humorists on the team,” the coach said. “They sing in Greek sometimes.”
Andreas Malmstrom said he feels the coaching style was another big difference. In Europe, coaches will mostly concern themselves with a kid’s involvement with the team, while in the United States, coaches take it upon themselves to help guide a player in all facets of their lives, even off the court.
After coming to play for Littleton, the Malmstrom’s were junior varsity their freshman season and moved up to varsity as sophomores. This is the first season as starters for the Lions.
“They shoot the ball very well and have been developing the rest of their game,” Van Heukelem said. “Shooting well definitely makes the offense work better.”
Being brothers who grew up learning and playing the game together, the two obviously have a connection on the court, but being twins, they feel their chemistry is almost metaphysical.
“At times when were playing together, we have a sort of twin telepathy,” Andreas Malmstrom said. “I’ll know [Ashton is] going to make a shot. I’ll already know it’s going to go in, and I’ll start getting back on defense.”
Van Heukelem said the pair also seem to work better as individuals when they are both on the floor, and that their presence together seems to help their confidence.
“We’ve seen so much that we can just handle every situation,” Ashton Malmstrom said.
Despite a 3-10 overall record, including the loss to Highlands Ranch Jan. 13 to start their Continental League schedule, the Malmstrom twins continue to stay upbeat.
“They are very resilient and positive despite losing so many games,” Van Heukelem said. “They love to play.”
The twins also seem to be a good fit for Littleton’s systems. Without a ton of size on the team, mostly provided by the 6-foot-5 inch junior Chris Juracek, the 6-2 twins are asked to grind it out against the biggest other the team’s opponents, some of which stand as tall as 6-10.
When the pair first came to Littleton, they saw, as they developed the rest of their game, they could be useful in passing and rebounding as well as scoring. Andreas Malmstrom said.
“We just fit into coach Van Heuklelem’s decisions for the team,” he said. “We’ve learned so quickly. We came not really knowing an American-style of basketball. Even the crowds are so different. ... We’ve had to cope, and now we feel we can handle any situation. It’s like we have a sixth sense about it.”
The Malmstrom brothers’ talents come through personal adversity as well. Their father is presently stationed in Haiti, while their mother is not a part of their lives. Their childhood has not been easy. Today, they live with the family of one of their teammates.
The two are also not just twins but a part of quadruplet siblings. They have another brother, who also attends Littleton, and a sister who live with other friends.
“They have been able to keep a remarkable perspective on life given the tough circumstances,” Van Heukelem said.
Regardless, the Malmstrom brothers are key components of what Littleton boys roundball is able to bring to the court.
“We are starting to figure out our offenses and our team defense is solid,” the coach said. “We still lack good size to compete in the Continental League.”