Lamont Brown loves to play.
He loves to win even more.
Brown is a senior guard on the Samuel Fels High School basketball team, and when the season started, he was in the Panthers’ starting lineup. But as the season went on, guard Kareem Drake made great strides. It was decided he might fit better into the Panthers’ starting lineup.
Drake, a junior, was inserted into the lineup and Brown went to the bench.
Tough pill to swallow? Not at all.
“You play team sports to win,” Brown said. “Kareem is a good friend of mine, we grew up together. He needed to be on the floor. I understood. He was doing things I couldn’t. And I knew that I could still help the team. I just needed to be ready when they needed me.”
Brown was exactly that.
When Mark Heimerdinger needed to spell one of his starters, or if he needed someone on the floor to provide leadership, he called Brown’s number.
And when the coach made the call, he was rewarded handsomely.
Brown would play any position the coach needed, but his primary spot was at point guard. He also saw a lot of time at shooting guard.
He helped lead the Panthers to a 17-6 record, 12-2 in Public League play.
The Panthers’ strong season came to an end on Feb. 6, when they fell to Martin Luther King 50-44 in the first round of the playoffs.
The loss definitely stings because the Panthers accomplished great things this year.
“I didn’t want to have an early exit because I thought we had a great year, but we played a very good team, we knew it was going to be tough for both of us,” Brown said. “Nobody was upset because we lost, we were upset because we wanted to keep playing. We had a good team.
“I think we had a lot of talent, but the reason we won so many games was because of our chemistry. We all had the same goals every day. Coach wants to win. I love to win. I don’t think any of us cared about how we won. Nobody cared what their role was in helping us win. We all just wanted to win.”
The unselfishness displayed by Brown went a long way.
Heimerdinger, who has won more than his share of basketball games, was impressed with the maturity Brown showed when he relinquished his starting spot early in the season.
“You can win basketball games when you have players like Lamont, I wish I had a lot more like him,” Heimerdinger said. “It’s not too often the guys who go out as captains before the game aren’t starters, but every game, he did. He accepted the role he had on this team. There’s not a lot of players who would do that.”
For Brown, it was team-first all the way.
“I loved being a leader on this team and I tried to lead them on and off the court,” said Brown, who lives in Olney. “I did things like make sure the guys would do what they were supposed to do. I made sure they went to class. It really wasn’t that hard of a job because most of the guys did what they were supposed to do. But if they didn’t, I was ready to tell them.”
Now that his career with the Panthers is over, he’s now turning his attention to playing college basketball.
He has had talks with Bryn Athyn College. He’d love to play there because it would give him a chance to continue his career and still have his family attend games.
“I just want to play basketball, I want to play as long as I can,” Brown said. “I have great support from my mom, my dad, my whole family. Bryn Athyn isn’t too far from Fels and it’s not far from my house so they could still come to all my games.”
He also has plans beyond basketball, though he’s still fleshing them out.
“I know I want to study business and then some day open my own business,” Brown said. “I want to make money. I want to be able to buy my mom a house. I want to take care of her for taking care of me.”
He’ll also be back to watch his Panthers when he has down time.
And there’s a good chance he’ll see his leadership in action when this year’s underclassmen become next year’s leaders.
“I’m happy that some young guys got a chance to play, they’re going to be good,” Brown said. “Coach likes guys who play defense, who pass and who play smart.
“I tried to do that. If they do that, they’ll be good next year. I think they’re going to be very good.”