Press Herald: High school basketball notebook: Brothers off the court and rivals during a game

Ruay Bol of South Portland and Dierhow Bol of Windham had a special day when their teams met.


Windham High’s 6-foot-5 sophomore center, Dierhow Bol, had Jan. 31 circled on his calendar for months.

That’s because it was the night he would get to go head-to-head with his older brother Ruay, a 6-foot-4 senior forward and captain at South Portland.

“I just wanted to beat him so I could have that against him so he couldn’t talk at home and stuff like that,” Dierhow said.

The unusual brother vs. brother battle came about because Bol Bol, his wife Nyabore Luak, and their eight children moved from South Portland to Windham after the 2015-16 school year. (The parents moved to the Portland area in 1995 from South Sudan prior to their eldest child, Luch, 21, being born.)

Ruay wanted to finish his senior year of high school at South Portland, where he was a key component of the Red Riots’ run to last season’s Class AA championship game, which ended with a double-overtime loss to Portland.

“Last year, when we came up short in the state championship game, made me want to stay here even more,” Ruay said. “I wasn’t about to just start all over with a bunch of new guys I didn’t know.”

The family received a waiver to allow Ruay to continue to attend South Portland. He drives himself to school.

Ruay Bol said he tried to downplay the matchup.

“I was hyped up about it but I wasn’t on his level with it,” Ruay said. “But then at school I heard a lot of ‘Oh, it’s the battle of the brothers tonight.’ ”

Ruay and South Portland won Tuesday’s hard-fought game 62-53, but Dierhow was set for the challenge.

Dierhow snatched 18 rebounds and scored all 11 of his points in the second half. Ruay, saddled with foul trouble, played less than six minutes in the second half and finished with nine points. He fouled out while guarding Dierhow, who got position on him in the paint and caught a lob pass.

“I wasn’t going to let him get any easy buckets,” Ruay said.

Dierhow said he tried to convince his mom to let him attend South Portland for another year. That argument fell flat.

The boys’ parents made it clear that daughter Ling Bol, a junior who is one of the SMAA’s top high jumpers and triple jumpers, and Dierhow would enroll at Windham.

Now Dierhow is glad he’s there.

“We have good teammates. They’re really nice, and I just think we have a good strong team for this year and next year,” Dierhow said.

Ruay said he would have loved having his brother on his team. The two have never played on the same team. But he concurs that Dierhow has been better off at Windham.

“I think he definitely got more playing time over there to develop his own game and I think it’s good for him because he’s not sitting in my shadow,” Ruay said.

“He’s over there doing his own thing and getting his own name out by himself with a whole new team.”

Windham Coach Chad Pulkkinen is pleased Dierhow is on his team.

“He’s only scratching the surface of what he could become,” Pulkkinen said. “I think he’s going to be a big issue for a lot of teams in the next couple of years and he’s got a great chance to be maybe become the best center Windham’s ever seen. Plus he’s got an eighth-grade brother who’s pretty good.”

While the brothers often guarded each other, they have very different styles to their games.

Ruay, who is exceedingly slender, is best facing the basket, where he can adeptly pass or use his long stride to dribble-drive to the basket. He also is a confident mid-range shooter.

Dierhow is bigger through the lower body and right now is a defense-first player. His offense comes mostly from second-chance opportunities or dump-down passes from guards Nick Curtis and Mike Gilman.

“He’s really improved his game and now if he can work on his offensive game a little more, he’ll really be a threat,” Ruay said.

There is one chance for a Bol Brothers Battle II. Both teams would have to reach the state championship game.

“That’s what we’re trying to do,” Dierhow said.

For South Portland, ranked first in AA South at 12-3, a return trip to the final is a real possibility. Thornton Academy, a team South Portland has beaten on the road, is the only other team in the league with a winning record.

Windham (10-5) will have a much tougher road with defending state champ Portland, Edward Little, Cheverus, Deering and Oxford Hills ahead of them in the standings.


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