Tree Tops

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I checked out the Lake Clifton boys basketball team on Thursday as the Lakers visited Poly.

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Lots to like after watching Herman “Tree” Harried’s kids blister up and down the court. They play with a passion at both ends of the court you just don’t see that often from high school kids.

It’s a tribute to Tree as he demands that from them. He also demands discipline on the court and in the classroom. Not ground breaking stuff, but when you think about where these kids come from, the kind of home life many endure, and it is amazing.

Coach Harried provides the only adult male role model for several of his players. At first, many refused to embrace Tree as a resource. Tough love from a 6’7″ task master, when you’ve never had a male authority figure hold you accountable, that’s a scary prospect.

But watch the kids now. Before they take the court, the demonstrations of family and team blow you over. During the jayvee game, all 14 of the varsity players cheered their younger mates on. And not just lip service. Passionate rooting that the kids on the court couldn’t help but feel.

Same thing then during the varsity game from the players on the bench. There were no discouraging looks or sighs of frustrationg that they weren’t in the game. They were simply into the game cheering and encouraging, waiting their turns.

I know this is an incredibly glowing review from such a small sample. I’m not saying Coach Harried is perfect, that his players are infallible. I don’t have the qualifications. But spending just one hour with his program made it abundantly clear that he is doing good things for his team and school, while his players respond with effort, respect, and passion. That deserves commendation.

It might come in the form of a state championship. Harried led the Lakers to the 4A Title in 1999 and has the depth and talent for a repeat performance.

It should be known though, he took greater pride in talking about how his 26 players (varsity and jayvee) all earned passing grades on their last report cards, than when talking about that ’99 Championship.

Here’s hoping he has bragging rights about both later this spring.


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