Panther pride

La­mont Brown comes off the bench and does the gritty things to help Fels. MARIA YOUNG / TIMES PHOTO

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.”

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