Sports

Tenth of a point — Roles developing for Lakewood seniors

With a roster comprised of 10 seniors, who is going to be the leader?

That is the problem that the Lakewood Cougars had for much of this season.

Oh, they had leaders — for a game or two. But there wasn’t one or two consistent go-to players that made everybody else accountable for their responsibilities.

Finding leadership in high school is hard enough. You either get the soft-spoken underclassman that is more talented, but less sure of his abilities or you get the “leader” that basically tells everybody to get him the ball.

Getting a teenager to understand that yelling at your teammate for not seeing you wide open isn’t leadership is probably the most difficult job for a coach.

Fortunately for Cougars fans, that wasn’t a problem this season. Instead, there was a group of 10 friends who had probably been playing together for so long that they fell into roles without even knowing it.

But a pair of Cougars have recently changed all of that.

It all seemed to start with Lakewood’s second to last regular season game at Sultan Feb. 16 when senior forward Nathan Hesselman scored a pair of buckets, blocked a shot and took a charge within the first 90 seconds of the overtime period. The Cougars won an important road game due to a couple of important plays by Hesselman.

“He’s started to play like the Nathan Hesselman we’ve been waiting for all season,” said Lakewood head coach Matt Hart.

Lakewood then lost to South Whidbey, forcing the Cougars to a necessary district play-in game against Sehome.

At that game, which was this year’s final home game of the season, Hesselman showed even more leadership prowess, at times even pushing his teammates to their correct spot on defense.

“It’s sort of comes naturally to me,” Hesselman said. “I talked to my parents about it and they said I should start being vocal. I’ve been a natural leader most of my life.”

Lakewood’s more soft-spoken leader has been Cameron Fry, whose road to that position began at the middle of the season.

The Cougars own a record of 8-14 overall, but 6-8 in the Cascade Conference, which shows their progress as the season went on.

Lakewood began its season 0-5, but as Hart’s boys started winning, games became close and Fry emerged as the guy willing to take the final shot.

Usually a difficult position for a guard, Fry was often the last Cougar to touch the ball with celebrations and reflections following soon after.

Nevertheless, he kept taking those shots and that sort of developed order for a Lakewood in desperate need of it, not only for this season, but the younger kids as well.

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