High Hoops, Even Higher Hopes

Hayden Roberts, Staff

Lake Highland sports are well known for championships and producing great players and leaders. One of the best teams that represent this goal is the Lake Highland basketball team. Lake Highland basketball is a program filled with legacies, titles, and commitment. The school has had great success due to the determination of our players and coaches, but what we don’t tend to think about is the pressure they face. Being a member of the Highlander basketball team provides pressure for everyone and what forms a true champion—and a true Highlander—is how they surpass this pressure.

Lake Highland’s basketball program is very determined and humble in how they work on and off the court. Being a student-athlete is more challenging now than ever. When sitting down with the head basketball coach, Mr. Benjamin Fratrik, many values, goals, responsibilities, and rules this team fol-
lows daily were discussed. One of the most important rules Mr. Fratrik explained it was the “Midnight Rule.” The purpose of this rule is to keep players humble and determined. The rule states that with win or loss, no matter what happens, by midnight it is gone, and the next day the player is a new person. Mr. Fratrik shared how the “Midnight Rule” has helped his team when he stated, “Our team comes in with a lot of pressure, and it helps them just remind themselves of all they have accomplished and worked for.”

Some of the high-pressure roles come from different parts of the team. When Coach Fratrik was asked who was a player who exceeded his expectations in high-pressure scenarios, the first thing he said was, “R.J., has been phenomenal. He promotes healthy competition being a positive impact on this team.” R.J. Ingram is a Freshman in the starting lineup who worked his way up by filling in and replacing Senior talent that graduated last year. R.J.” voiced, “[The Midnight Rule] helps me move on and focus on practice and the next game.”

Another high-pressure scenario is being a transfer from another school to a completely different program. Coach Fratrick mentioned Cyrus LaPlant, grade 11, and explained, “[He] is a very beneficial transfer and has been a very key player for us on the court getting the shots we need, and a leader we need.” When Cyrus was asked about what it
was like being on a new team and how his team helped him deal with the pressure he said they were, “Very welcoming when I came in for summer ball, making the school experience much easier. Yeah, being [a] part of the team has helped me adapt.” This is a very young team filled with loads of talent, but with young talent, there’s always a Senior to lead and help his teammates. When Coach Fratrik was asked which Senior had sculpted and led this team, the first name he said was Josh Perry. Coach Fratrick, described Josh as, “The leader we want. He has been so crucial with his step up into varsity; leading this team he is our go-to guy. He can shoot, and score, and when we need someone to defend, Josh will defend.” As a coach, there is plenty of pressure on your shoulders at every program. When asked about the pressure, Coach Fratrick pointed out, “I am surrounded by family. Nothing makes me happier than to see this Highland family that welcomed me. I have a great coaching staff that I can trust.” The team also shares a significant value: the W.E. Moral. The “W” stands for the win, and the “E” stands for every day. Mr. Fratrik went into great detail about what this truly means, as he stated “For example, we want to win on the court, but as Highlanders, it also means being respectful in class, and helping others. There is always a certain way to do something. That is how we win every day even off of the court.” This team is not afraid to back down from a fight, and when the coach was asked about how the quote, “Iron sharpens iron” would relate to this team, he said, “Those challenges shape us, motivate us, and bring us together more as a team.”

This team of Highlanders has such strong chemistry with each other, and it’s obvious on the court. In these tough games, Coach Fratrik is thank- ful for the “Highland Hopeful” who always show up to support their Highlanders. He said one thing he would say to their fans is, “I hope they are proud, and realize how far these guys have come.” Also, a sensitive topic is always the Seniors’ last games. When that time comes, he will give the credit of building the foundation to the past Seniors, “[For] any championship we win, it [is] as much the past Seniors’ championship [as] the ones who won it, because
they laid down the foundation for our success.”

As a school, we should all be very proud of these Highlanders. These players will cause trouble and panic amongst the top-seeded teams in the playoffs and possibly bring home another championship. Although
there are high hoops there are even higher hopes.

(Above) R.J. Ingram, grade 9, shoots a free throw, looking to
help his team reclaim the lead. His teammates wait around
the rim to prepare for the rebound. They have to be quick to
get the rebound, so the other team cannot get the ball and
score. The players cannot be too eager to jump on the ball
because they can draw a foul by crossing the line before the
shooter releases the ball. Ingram’s free throw was successful,
earning his team the lead.
(Above) Coach Ben Fratrick discusses the team’s game plan during a timeout. The team had been hustling and working hard on the court, putting all of their stamina, training, and conditioning to the test. The timeout also helps the players get a minute of rest and keep their heads in the game. Even though the timeout only lasts a minute, the players enjoy a well deserved break. All photos by Tina Zhang ( All photos by Tina Zhang)
(Above) Cyrus LaPlant, grade 11, attempts to block the layup. By doing this, LaPlant tries to help his team convert from defense to offense. He needs to play aggressively in order to successfully block.
(Above) Joshua Perry, grade 12, drives through the paint
looking for a layup. Perry is possibly looking to draw a
foul off of his defender. Even when the layup is successful, it is important to try to draw a foul off of the defense. Fouling out the defender would give the Highlanders another advantage over the opposing team with the opportunity to score a free throw. Although Perry’s layup was unsuccessful, he drew a foul and was awarded two free throw attempts.