Denmark triple threat

Hanahan juniors JaRon (from left), Angelica and LaRon Denmark are one of the rare sets of triplets anywhere in the country who are all playing varsity basketball. JaRon, the 'baby brother' of the three, is a Hawks boys team captain.

Wade Spees

HANAHAN -- As the clock winds down to the end of the first quarter, Hanahan junior guard JaRon Denmark calmly dribbles across midcourt. Just as the clock reaches two seconds, Denmark unleashes a 30-foot jumper.

As the clock hits zero, the ball swishes through the bottom of the net. The small crowd erupts into cheers and Denmark heads to the bench pumping his arms.

The first player off the bench to greet JaRon is his brother, LaRon, who slaps a high five and delivers several pats to the back.

In the stands, parents Ronald and Angela stand and clap. Also enjoying in the brief celebration is sister Angelica -- the third basketball-playing member of the family.

All three -- JaRon, LaRon and Angelica -- are juniors and are one of the rare sets of triplets that are playing varsity basketball in the country.

Looking at the three together, one could hardly tell they were related, much less triplets. While they hardly resemble each other at all, the three Denmark's share a special common bond -- basketball.

JaRon is the star of the trio. He has been a member of the varsity team since his eighth-grade year and is one of the team captains this season. At 6-2, 185 pounds, Denmark also ranks as an outstanding wide receiver in football.

LaRon and Angelica readily admit they are not as talented athletically as their "baby brother," yet they share the love for the game and their sibling.

"We played together growing up and JaRon was always the star," says LaRon. "He's always been so good. It doesn't bother me at all. I love watching him do his thing on the court. I'm really proud of him. He can really play.

"I know basketball is probably over for me after high school, but JaRon can keep playing. I want to do whatever I can to help him get better. I look up to him and respect him for how much he loves the game."

Angelica did not begin playing seriously until her freshman year, at the urging of her brothers, who took time over the years to teach her the game.

"I learned some from watching them and playing outside with them," she said. "I enjoy playing, but I know I started too late. I just like being out there, and I love watching them play."

JaRon is one of the top scorers on the Hawks team this season, routinely reaching double figures in the scoring column. However, there is no cockiness in his demeanor and his leadership on the floor is quite evident.

"He works very hard at his game, and he is certainly one of the better athletes in our school," says Hanahan boys coach Chris Pope. "JaRon has unlimited potential. LaRon kind of got started late, and he's coming along great. We try to get them on the floor together when we can. LaRon pushes JaRon to be the best he can be. They are really close."

It's easy to see that JaRon, despite his talent and attention, is very grounded. He just wants to be one of the family, one of the Denmark's.

"Me and LaRon are closer I guess because we're boys and we hang out together all the time, but we love our sister too," said JaRon. "We're triplets, but we don't want to be exactly alike. We want to be individuals even though we are a close family."

Both the Denmark boys admit that while athletics is more their thing, the brains of the bunch is Angelica, who has hopes of being a pediatrician.

"We help her with basketball and she helps us with the books," LaRon says with a laugh.

Pope says the triplets exude class on and off the court.

"They are tremendous kids, great assets to this high school," the coach said. "You can ask anyone who knows them. They are respectful, and they work hard in the classroom and they are leaders. They come from a great home and get great parental support. They are such a joy to be around."